In the past, Papo have tended to make their theropods either too scaly or too monstrous. Fortunately, the real Carnotaurus was both very scaly and rather scary-looking – why, it even had a pair of devilish horns protruding from its very toothy head. If any dinosaur was begging to be turned into a figure by the French toymongers, it was surely this one – and wouldn’t you know it, they’ve pulled it off very nicely.
That said, you’d be forgiven for thinking that something about this figure looked a little familiar. The lunging posture, the attractive, dappled green colour scheme…there’s an uncanny sense of déjà vu. Which is entirely justified – just as Papo have ‘taken inspiration’ from (mostly) Jurassic Park in the past, this figure’s a pretty shameless copycat of the Sideshow Dinosauria statue, only mirrored (and with both feet on the ground, of course). Your opinion on such cheeky imitation is likely to vary, but it’s a little galling that Papo don’t offer so much as a nod and a wink to the sculptor of the original piece.
Nevertheless, ‘referencing’ such well-informed source material has ensured that this is one of the most anatomically accurate Papo figures to date. Of course, Papo don’t claim scientific accuracy etc. etc., and there are some flaws – notably, the muzzle is too wide, and the head and arms are a little too large relative to the body. In fact, the head (but fortunately not the rest) rather resembles those of the steroidal, gigantic ‘carnotaurs’ in Disney’s godawful 2000 CG lemur-fest, Dinosaur. However, it is still, from an anatomical standpoint, one of the best Carnotaurus toys ever produced – the body overall is excellently proportioned, the head is short and deep, and the horns are correctly flattened and project sideways and slightly upward.
More than this, it’s possessed of that elusive, ‘organic’ believability that Papo bestow in almost all of their dinosaur figures, scientifically accurate or no. This is a creature with suitable bulk – the musculature is convincing without straying into He-Man territory, the tail base is nice and thick, and the twisted pose (copied though it may be) is exciting and means that the figure is sure to stand out, even among the most tightly crowded collections.
Then, of course, there’s the matter of sculptural and paint detail. Papo certainly aren’t about to break their streak of being streets ahead of their rivals in this respect, and this is one of their most beautiful figures yet. While adopting the Sideshow colour scheme has certainly helped them in avoiding their occasional habit of coating their figures in dull, turdy browns, there’s no getting away from the fact that the careful paint application is seriously impressive. Sculptural fine details, too, are once again so superior as to make other figures look like bad jokes (of course, some of them are). The head in particular is a miniature marvel, festooned with scales and spines and tiny, glaring yellow eyes.
So is this the best Carnotaurus toy on the market? Yes and no (what, you expect me to be decisive?). Its only serious contender is the Carnegie Carnotaurus, but that just happens to be one of the best figures that line has ever produced; certainly, it beats the Papo hands down in anatomical accuracy in addition to having a notable size advantage. The Papo is arguably less elegant and certainly less scientifically sound, but is also much more convincing as a living, breathing animal, with superior paintwork and highly intricate sculptural detail. Both of them are worth owning if you love the glorious weirdness of that mouth on legs.
Available from Amazon.com here.