Back in 1993 Safari Ltd. released a rather large Velociraptor that allegedly belonged to their “Dinosaurs of China” line. As it turns out, it didn’t and while it has been briefly reviewed on the blog already that review was the old style “single paragraph” review. That, in conjunction with our new revelation as to the true origins of this model has compelled me to review it yet again, and this time a bit more in depth.
So, first we’ll tackle the back story surrounding this figure. It has long been thought by the dinosaur toy community that this Velociraptor was part of the “Dinosaurs of China” series released by Safari Ltd. around 1993. Also known as the DoC, the series consisted of three dinosaurs unique to China, all sculpted by dinosaur artist Ely Kish. Each came in its own box indicating what line it belonged to and came with a stand that had a fossil skeleton of the dinosaur figure meant to be displayed on it. It was a wonderful series overall, especially for the time and depicting some unique dinosaurs; Therizinosaurus, Mamenchisaurus and Yangchuanosaurus specifically. And then there was the Velociraptor. Although it too came out in 1993 and was often advertised alongside the DoC line in various catalogs it was quite different from the rest of the line. For starters, it was much larger, not in 1:40 scale like the rest. At 13” in length it is actually in the 1:6 scale range. In addition, it was sculpted by Greg Wenzel, not Ely Kish and did not include the fossil background and the packaging was quite different as well. Why it was assumed to be part of the DoC line is a bit of a mystery. That said, Velociraptor is a dinosaur from China, they were all advertised together and the model came out at the same time too so collectors have long lumped it in with that line, even if they always knew it was a bit of an odd duck. Our own Dinosaur Toy Blog has even claimed it to be a part of this collection but it has long been an issue of debate. But just this past summer our own forum member Ikessauro sought out to end the mystery once and for all, and he did. Upon asking Safari Ltd. himself he was told that the Velociraptor WAS NOT a part of the DoC line and that a thin blue line dividing it from the DoC collection in the advertisement was meant to convey that fact. His question was even featured on the YouTube show “Safari Scoop” in August. So that finally settles it, right from the source. The Velociraptor long thought to be a part of a larger Safari collection is in actuality a completely separate entity that belongs to no specific collection. So now that the origins of this thing are settled we can all catch up on some much needed sleep we’ve no doubt been losing pondering over this model. Don’t leave yet though, I still have to actually review the model!
So obviously this Velociraptor is lacking a very important feature we know Velociraptor had: feathers. But it was 1993 and to get a decent Velociraptor model not inspired by “Jurassic Park” was something to be celebrated. Velociraptor was still an obscure genus, its production may have very well been motivated by the upcoming movie release that same year but at least Safari modeled it after the real animal and not the movie version. Anatomically, this is clearly a Velociraptor and not Deinonychus. The long slender upturned snout makes this quite clear. The rest of the model is well proportioned as well. Although the tail should be stiff it is bent at the end in order to fit it in its display box. The model stands on two legs with the aid of one of its neutral facing (yes! non-pronated in 1993) hands, though is still susceptible to stability issues, especially after all this time. But this at least makes it more accurate than the recent Velociraptor release from Safari. You know, the naked one with pronated hands that came out AFTER the discovery of feathers on dromaeosaurs? That one is still a beautiful model too though, I hate to admit it.
Given the age of the model it would be unfair to compare it with the advances in toy production made in recent years. Though the details are a bit iffy it was still leagues better than most of what was coming out in 1993, even the Carnegie Collection has some wonky figures. The fact that this Velociraptor is so large helps with more minor details. Bony looking bumps and horns adorn the head, a totally speculative feature and something you’re more used to seeing on larger theropods. An unlikely line of scutes run along the back too. The teeth are blunt and tightly packed but individually sculpted. Somehow there is something off putting about them. Too neatly packed I think. The claws, and scutes on the head are all painted grey. The yellow eyes have black pupils (must have been nocturnal) on an orange iris. The tongue and pallet are pink. The fingers on the hands are blunt, thick and fused together in places. The feet look adequate enough. Musculature is sculpted in the appropriate places and a fleshy flap of skin adorns the neck. The overall body color is yellow with thin orange/brown stripes throughout. A light brown re-paint would later be released with wide, dark brown stripes running down the sides. Viewed laterally, the model is very thin. The figure is striding towards the right with its head tilted in that direction. This in conjunction with its size lead to a lot of falling over, as mentioned earlier but it is still a dynamic posture.
So there we have it, a proper review of the huge Velociraptor with the ambiguous back story. While it may not stand up compared to modern models it is still a beautifully sculpted and (for the time) highly accurate restoration of an animal often poorly represented. The model was retired a few years back but due to its long production run is still easy to find. If naked dromaeosaurs are your preference or you like retro figures you won’t want to miss this Velociraptor, a model far ahead of its time.
Often available from Ebay.com here.