Nope, that’s not a spelling error or practical joke. There really is a dinosaur named “Irritator”. The Irritator was named as such because, as it passed through the unscrupulous hands of commercial fossil markets, many modifications were made to the original fossil in order to make it appear more desirable. Separating the real from the fake was a real pain in the ass for the paleontologists who finally got hold of it, so they named it “Irritator”. A cursory glance makes this theropod’s relationship to spinosaurids such as Baryonyx and Suchomimus quite clear. With such a distinguishing name, it’s actually rather puzzling that no company has attempted to mass-produce this creature before.
Still, if any company was to make a figure of an obscure species, CollectA would be a likely candidate. A small fistful of dollars gets you this six inch long figure in any decent shop carrying the 2011 lineup. Typically manufacturers struggle with the ever-popular theropods, relying on either oversized feet or a droopy tail in order to keep the figure standing on its own. Irritator does a fine job of it however, with perfectly flattened feet (still digitigrade, of course) and a plump midsection that keeps his weight nicely centered. Not some gaunt skin-and-bones reconstruction, this hefty little guy appears to enjoy a lavish sushi diet.
Like many dinosaurs once depicted as “sail-backed”, this modern reconstruction keeps the trunk of the body rounded; only the segmented dorsal ridges hint at the high neural spines below. A predictable but pleasantly crocodilian assortment of textures and colors adorn the body, with plate-like polygons and rows of osteoderms along the flanks. A pale dry-brushing makes these textures pop nicely. The cranial crest and maxilla are highlighted in yellow, while the eye is lined in pink.
One of the advantages of smaller figures is that they manage to avoid the heartache often associated with individually sculpted teeth. In mass produced figures, these are often too fragile, too blunt, misshapen, or otherwise unsatisfactory. Here they are crisply defined, to a pretty surprising degree for a CollectA figure.
The subnarial gap is easy to spot, strengthening the resemblance to its taller-spined kin. Given the cartoonish toy spinosaurids CollectA released over the past two years, it is nice to see a serious effort like this.
The most obvious flaw to paleo-enthusiasts will be spotted rather quickly in the arms. These hands should not be pronated; that is to say, the palms should be inward, not in a “bunny” position. Even so, most casual collectors will not spot this issue, and even fewer will care. It’s too rare that we see such a great reconstruction, and its friendly price and size have made it one of the most difficult new releases of 2011 to resist.