Diabloceratops, thanks no doubt to its distinctive appearance, media exposure and – of course – that irresistible name, is proving to be quite popular with dinosaur toy manufacturers. This year, both Collecta and Safari are releasing a figure (the latter in their Wild Safari range), with Collecta’s being first out of the blocks. It’s a far cry from their bad old days, but there’s still room for improvement.
What I like most about Collecta’s recent output is that they’re really, honestly trying to get it right; there’s no sign of the deplorable laziness that blights, for example, Schleich’s figures. As with all their ceratopsians from the last couple of years, this Diabloceratops sports a row of speculative, Psittacosaurus-like quills, hands with properly differentiated digits (including two reduced, clawless ones), and a wonderfully vibrant colour scheme on the head. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Collecta are to be commended for employing the heads of ceratopsians to provide a striking, brightly coloured display, especially since it’s quite likely that that’s what they were used for on the real animals. It always seems such a shame when other companies opt to paint them in the same dull earthy colours as the rest of the figure.
It’s also especially fitting to draw attention to the head in this case, as Diabloceratops is only known from its skull. Unfortunately, while it’s beautifully painted and lovingly detailed (check out the tiny tongue), the head on Collecta’s Diabloceratops is a little out of proportion. In particular, the snout is too long and shallow, while the frill may also be a little too large. On the other hand, the frill is at least the right sort of shape and the brow horns curve slightly backwards towards their tip as they should. Nevertheless, it looks like Safari might have the edge on Collecta here, even if not in ‘carousel horse’ good looks.
Fortunately for Collecta, the rest of the body is somewhat speculative, so there is some scope for Making, uh, Stuff Up. The figure is posed in something of a ‘braced’ posture, with the forelimbs slightly sprawled, the elbows very flexed, and the head brought down closer to the ground, as if the animal is standing its ground against some unseen adversary. The limbs are a decent length, and sculpting of the muscles is well executed, without being exaggerated. The tail may be a little short for a centrosaurine – more reminiscent of the much later, larger chasmosaurines like Triceratops – but of course, it could have had a ridiculously tiny nub for all we know. The scaly skin is pleasing enough, without being quite as convincing, somehow, as Safari’s efforts – nevertheless, such fine detailing is always commendable.
While it doesn’t quite make me want to declare its unexpected greatness through a megaphone in the midst of a crowded shopping street on a Saturday afternoon (as the Dead Triceratops did – that trip to the magistrates’ court was totally worth it), this is a worthy, not to mention highly affordable, effort from Collecta, who continue to improve year-on-year. Other manufacturers could learn a lot from their approach, and I’m looking forward to getting a closer look at this year’s other releases.