This year’s new Collecta figures represent a huge leap forward from their rather ugly forebears, and one of the most handsome in the lineup is this sizeable model of the phorusrhacid ‘terror bird’ Kelenken guillermoi, released as part of the ‘Deluxe’ range. It’s a real treat for anyone who’s recently developed a fascination with these
sadly extinct enormous carnivorous avians (as I have).
Kelenken had the largest head of any bird yet discovered, so it’s natural that this is the figure’s most striking feature, particularly as Collecta have chosen to give the animal a bright yellow beak. The speculative feathery display crest is a great touch, as is the red patch surrounding its tiny, beady yellow eyes – the miniscule size of which shows excellent attention to detail. The colouration overall is relatively drab, as might be expected for a flightless hunter, but there are splashes of blue and white on the wings, perhaps hinting at a (quite likely) communication/display role. Overall, it is subdued and naturalistic without being too dull, and the dark plumage certainly gives it a suitably threatening appearance.
Anatomically this is by and large an excellent model, correctly portraying the hugely elongated and hooked beak, stubby wings, and overall gracile build of Kelenken. (Although only the skull and parts of the feet have been discovered, there’s enough to determine that it was particularly gracile for a phorusrhacid, and therefore probably pretty nimble.) Impressively, it even stands up on two feet without falling over, although the rubbery nature of the plastic means that it probably shouldn’t be left on a windowsill for any length of time. Unfortunately, this means that the terror bird talons have been somewhat blunted and made more ‘hoof-like’, but it’s a fairly small concession to make for a stable figure (as is having the toes on the foot that’s furthest back bent in a rather odd way – lots of other theropod figures have done it).
Four paragraphs in – it must be nitpicking time. While it is excellently detailed in some areas (like the head), others are somewhat lacking. Not all of the plumage – for example on the wings – is particularly convincing in appearance. The tail fan especially is much too square and the feathers oddly uniform in length. Elsewhere, the large scales on the feet are represented by simple, horizontal bars – this is a shame as the recent Collecta Velociraptor had rather well-rendered scales on its toes. If nonavian theropods are so worthy, why not their birdy bretheren?
Still, this is one of the best (out of the few) terror bird toys out there, and its impressive size and lively pose really catch your attention from across the room. A big yellow beak’s all well and good, but it’s the long stride, splayed wings and gleaming, sinister eyes that really make this figure come alive. Collecta’s Kelenken is a real stand-out figure – one of their best to date – and definitely worth hunting down.