Among prehistoric collectible enthusiasts, the company currently known as CollectA has a considerable reputation to cope with. Their figures, although competitively priced, have ranged anywhere from decent to embarrassing over the past few years. Fortunately, their lineup for 2011 kicks off with a batch of fresh faces that have clearly been more carefully constructed than their predecessors. So far, my personal favorite would be the Ampelosaurus.
The Ampelosaurus was an armored titanosaur discovered in France. The armor is certainly a big attraction for artists, who must arrange the many osteoderms along the creature’s body in a way that would seem appropriate for predatory defense; after all, it was a somewhat modest size for a sauropod. CollectA’s reconstruction definitely pops within a crowd, bearing an excellent textural buffet of spines, scutes, and pebbly skin.
The photos above highlight some of the figure’s strengths in coloration and texture, respectively – capturing both in a single photo is difficult without the aid of professional lighting. The artistically impressed collector will also be treated to a myriad of hues on display here. A charcoal underside flows into pale blue, with light spots on the flanks and a pinkish flush on the head. Unfortunately, it may be a bit much to give CollectA full credit for this design.
A lazy search for “Ampelosaurus” on Wikipedia reveals the artwork shown above, which was almost certainly the basis for the design of the figure. In defense of the figure however, I will say that it looks fantastic – perhaps even better than the artwork – and somewhat differentiates itself with a raised foreleg and neck craning to the left. Perhaps more importantly, the original artist appears to have released their work as public domain, and this is far from the worst case of manufacturers nabbing original paleoart without permission. In any case, the interesting pose really helps seal the deal for this figure. The gentle, almost coy quality recalls the simple charm of Safari’s five star Nigersaurus. Accuracy enthusiasts should be relatively placated by CollectA’s increasing dedication to authenticity, as well. Just look at those feet, complete with bizarre footprint outlines.
As CollectA continues to raise the bar, the pressure will no doubt be raised for competing manufacturers to work even harder. Such competition can yield great fruit for collectors, and this Ampelosaurus is surely one such treat.