Feathered dromaeosaurs are always welcome on the toy market, and especially feathered Velociraptor figures. Perhaps rather unsurprisingly – given that a certain 20-year-old film is raking in the cash yet again this year – the biggest dinosaur toy names (in the West, anyway) continue to peddle scandalously nude figures. Even Safari’s Wild Safari line, with its little info-tags and educational bent, remains blighted by a broken-wristed plucked-o-raptor. So, for being decked out in a full coat of feathers, the Favorite Velociraptor already earns some plaudits. Of course, plumage can still look pretty hideous when it’s poorly executed…so how did Araki fare?
Posed dramatically with its jaws agape and backside high in the air, as if confronting some unseen rival (or, er, preparing to engage in an altogether more…friendly activity), the inspiration taken from living raptors is obvious – from the grey, shaggier neck to the yellow face and feet. It is perhaps predictable to dress up Velociraptor as an eagle, but the result is pleasing and believable enough. This being an Araki sculpt, the proportions are generally excellent, and the body has a pleasingly rounded feel, which will be familiar to those who have seen three-dimensional reconstructions of this animal’s skeleton. Attention to detail is also evident in the feet, which (as with other Araki theropods) are furnished with well-observed toe pads and skin folds.
The head on this figure certainly attracts attention – being naked and bright yellow as it is. This sculpt shows off the long, narrow jaws of Velociraptor to great effect, and features commendably fine detailing on areas such as the teeth and eyeballs – which the paint app sadly can’t quite match. However, there’s something a little amiss about the general eyeball area – they appear to face too directly sideways, and sport a pronounced overhanging ‘ridge’ that isn’t really present on the real animal’s skull. Furthermore, the face really could’ve done without the glaringly obvious outline of the fenestrae in front of the eyes – although that’s more of an aesthetic preference on my part.
As for that all-important plumage – well, it actually adheres quite closely to the underlying contours of the body for the most part, which while not implausible nevertheless seems like a missed opportunity to show off a little. My favourite feature is undoubtedly the shaggy ‘mane’, which obscures the animal’s rather reedy neck and adds greatly to its fearsome appearance. Elsewhere, the wings are reasonably well done, with an appropriate coverage of coverts and secondaries, even if some (or most) primaries appear to be missing; the ‘hind wings’, meanwhile, are a nice touch if a little unconvincing-looking. While the missing primaries are particularly unfortunate, as they detract significantly from the overall aesthetic appeal, the sculpt is at least ‘coherent’ in that, for the most part, it resembles a real animal rather than someone’s rubbish attempt at a ‘feathered dinosaur’.
While this isn’t quite the ideal Velociraptor toy – the one you dream about while sighing wearily and averting your gaze as you encounter Schleich’s hideous ‘World of UnHistory’ model in shop after shop after shop – it is nevertheless a huge step in the right direction, and far better than anything the major Western companies are putting out at the moment. It’s a finely-detailed figure that’s definitely worth your time. And, as noted previously, the simple inclusion of a base – that it might stand without falling flat on its face – is absolutely marvellous. More bases please, people!