Before I begin my review of this figure, I would like to confess something. I’m a bit terrified writing this. It took me a fair bit of effort to work up the gumption to write for this blog to begin with, but now I’m trying to tackle a dinosaur toy heavyweight… one of the legendary Battat figures. The Battat line for the Boston Museum of Science is one of the most sought after groups of dinosaur models in our hobby. For me, finding one is like finding one of the last ivory-billed woodpeckers (well… maybe not quite like that). Needless to say I was pretty excited when I was able to get my hands on the Battat Dilophosaurus, both the normal 1:40 size and the mini! It is with great care that I attempt to do this review so as not to upset our dear readers, some of which I’m certain are die hard Battat fans.
Like all other Battat figures, the Dilophosaurus model is given its species name in addition to the genus name. There is only one species we’re certain about, but it is a nice touch, and in my opinion adds some class to the line. This D. wetherilli has had a few tweaks over the years it was produced. The first was released in 1994, just after “Jurassic Park” came out and introduced the world to the Dilophosaurus, or their version of it at least. The original Battat model, like so many other Battat dinosaurs, had some stability issues; it’s no wonder as they originally tried to make it stand on one foot. Rubberdinosaurs.com has an old advertisement photo of it leaning against a log. Clearly not being able to stand was not going to work, so in 1996 the “snowshoe” version was released with a base under its foot. Finally in 1998 when the company was coming close to its unfortunate demise, they released a version that stood on two feet with the aid of its tail, while the base was removed. Though their attempt to make it unique and dynamic was admirable, the final release is a much better improvement on the original. It was also in ’98 that the mini 1:70 Dilophosaurus was released, and aside from its size, it is identical to the 1:40 model. The larger figure stands 3.5” tall and is 4” long with its tail curled around. The mini stands just over 2” and measures 2.5” long. Battat is well known for their accuracy, even today they stand up to some of the best models produced. Some of the Battat figures are arguably the best representatives of their species… or genus. The Dilophosaurus is no exception; the only current model that can give it a run for its money would have to be the 2009 Safari Dilophosaurus, and that’s not bad with the Battat being a decade older.
All that said however the figure does have some inaccuracies. The older version is especially bad with its pronated bunny hands. The newer version would correct this. Other inaccuracies can be found in the head. Although the company did include the characteristic notch in the upper jaw, it is difficult to discern without close inspection. Dilophosaurus is also known for its long teeth; those in the Battat model are small and uniform throughout the mouth. Aside from some minor problems with the head, there is not much to complain about. Really picky collectors may dislike the tripod pose, but in the days of Battat, I can think of few figures that weren’t in tripod poses.
The positive highlights of the figure far outweigh the negatives. The well known head crests are accurately reproduced and painted red, no doubt playing off the notion that these were used for display. The rest of the head includes openings for the ears as well as fenestra. There is also a nicely sculpted tongue which, along with the gracile build and slender curved tail, gives it an almost serpent-like quality.
Despite its reptilian appearance, this is a very active looking and alert figure; the relationship with birds is easy to see. The feet in particular are very bird-like with the right foot sculpted as though the animal was testing the ground below it, or perhaps hesitating as it dipped its toes in one of the lakes these animals lived around. The nails on both feet and hands are painted brown and sculpted with great detail; they’re actually kind of sharp! The body is given a mottled appearance, being black dorsally and gradually giving way to dark purple blotches. It is easy to view this animal as a nocturnal creature, ambushing small synapsids outside their burrows as evening gave way to darkness. Keep in mind that all this applies to the mini figure as well, an excellent sculpture for its size.
What we’re left with is easily one of the best Dilophosaurus figures produced, especially in a market flooded with “Jurassic Park” movie monsters. It has stood the test of time and is essential to any Dilophosaurus collection, provided you can find it. Be prepared to pay a decent amount, for a toy that is. If you’re persistent, you may be able to find it in a lot on eBay as I did.