The year was 1985. When the world was first introduced to Carnotaurus sastrei, the stock market went wild, the streets were flooded with panicked mobs, and the skies became saturated with an eerie purple tinge.
Alright, maybe that isn’t entirely true. The first big break for our brow-horned friend probably came in Crichton’s bestselling sequel to Jurassic Park, The Lost World, where Carnotaurus prowled the darkness with chameleonic camouflage (speculative, naturally). Of course, this scene never made it into the film, so the 2000 Disney film Dinosaur could be credited with launching the creature’s colossal career. Unfortunately, mainstream media is rarely a good reference for accurate reconstructions of prehistoric life. That’s where the Carnegie Collection comes in.
In 1997, the world’s premiere line of museum-authenticated replicas first unveiled the Carnotaurus. Like most other Carnegie figures at the time, it was crafted at 1:40 scale. This modest size, combined with the relatively crude manufacturing of the time, resulted in a somewhat stocky Carnotaurus figure – a chipper little dinosaur that was only too happy to be let out of some suburbanite’s backyard. Charming perhaps, but not quite conveying the ferocity necessary to be taken seriously among so many intimidating carnivores.
Many managerial and technological changes have occurred since that time, and the Carnegie Collection has always held its position as the premiere prehistoric collectible line. In 2011, an entirely new sculpt was released at a generous 1:30 scale. This could cause a little confusion among casual collectors, who will see this new Carnotaurus standing high among the true giants like Giganotosaurus and Tyrannosaurus (crafted in the more conventional 1:40 scale). From a strictly commercial standpoint however, a bigger replica makes sense. People love giant predatory dinosaurs, and Carnotaurus is gaining more renown each year.
For the paleontologically informed, the increased size of this Carnotaurus also has its perks. Aesthetic and anatomical details that might be obscured in a smaller scale replica become crystal clear. The tiny hands bear four separate fingers, and the body is lined with patterned bumps and scutes. This is particularly relevant for Carnotaurus, as it is one of the rare examples of a dinosaur for which skin impressions have been discovered. Sculptor Forest Rogers often crafts these animals on the lean side, which is particularly well-suited for the leggy abelisaur. Muscles bulge from the powerful legs, ensuring the beast was well-equipped for quick takedowns. More recent studies have also suggested that Carnotaurus was built to bite speedily with its jaws, reinforcing the idea of a Patagonian predator bent on running down prey and striking like lightning with its lengthy neck.
Much like the Cryolophosaurus and Spinosaurus of years gone by, the new Carnotaurus starts in a modest beige base color. Moving up the flanks, the warmer gold and orange continue to the dorsal side, where dark mottled patterns taper back down the body. The effect beckons to our primitive response to fire, crackling flames with plumes of ash and smoke. The patterns are actually reminiscent of those favored by Steve Riojas – his own designs for the Sideshow Carnotaurus seem a potential source of inspiration.
The head is naturally a major area of focus, and the replica appears to follow the contours of the Carnotaurus skull very closely. The signature horns are black-tipped, while the cheeks are spotted and look a bit like freckles. The eyes sparkle in gold, a classic trait of a Carnegie dinosaur. On the snout is a flush of red, yet it does not blend quite as softly as the meticulously painted prototype sculpture. The slightly rougher application of paint, combined with the copious amount of glistening red inside the mouth, actually lends the appearance of an animal that has recently fed from a carcass. It is doubtful this was an intentional effect – after all, children represent a huge proportion of the market for these collectibles. Even so, if you allow your imagination to take flight, this is a pretty cool idea for a mass-produced replica, one that I haven’t seen implemented in any other figure. Those who detest the idea, can simply go on pretending it’s some sort of pigment flush of sexual maturity. Interpretation is where the fun begins.
Like the 2009 Spinosaurus, the Carnotaurus does seem to have the “half-balance” trick. In other words, some models seem to stand their own two feet without a tail supporting it, but this can vary greatly depending on the individual model. Often an inclined surface or prop is necessary, and there’s no telling how long it can hold the pose, so the safest thing is to just use the tail for long-term display. The tails themselves actually differ wildly in between models, with some going straight down and others coiling around. This extra bit of variability among already hand-painted models truly makes each one unique; shopping for the one you want might feel a bit like shopping for produce. Awesome dinosaur produce, with teeth and horns instead of stems and leaves.
The high-contrast patterns really help to make the wonderfully sculpted 2011 Carnotaurus stand out among the other Carnegies. It is a perfect example of dedicated manufacturing, expert craftsmanship, and steadfast paleontological authenticity – certainly worthy of the Carnegie name. This is easily one of the most anticipated dinosaur figures of the year, and there can be little doubt it will dominate the shelf as it makes its way to a shop near you.
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