So this is it – the very end of the Carnegie Collection. At least we got our feathered Velociraptor before the final bow. It’s by no means perfect, but it should at least prove more popular than last year’s bafflingly despised T. rex resculpt. In fact, it might just be the best Velociraptor toy out there at the moment, knocking Schleich’s bingo-winged monstrosity into a cocked hat and even besting Collecta’s comparatively decent effort. Why, there’s even room for a little artistic flair this time. Most of all, this figure can be commended for actually being a Velociraptor.
It’s proportioned like a Velociraptor – from its long, thin tail to its slimline snout, it shows beautiful attention to skeletal detail. Unlike so many figures, it isn’t stocky or overbuilt, while still maintaining, for example, the relatively short feet of the real animal. It doesn’t have a hideous Jurassic Park-inspired scaly monstro-head grafted on, either – rather, the head is as birdlike and beautifully tapering as the real thing. And it’s feathered. Properly. Well, almost.
In so many restorations of dromaeosaurs in pop culture, the feathers feel like an afterthought – something thrown on to a 1980s-style ‘raptor’ just because they have to be there. That’s not quite the case here, but the plumage does still hug the body unusually closely, seemingly the better to give viewers a better idea of the animal’s underlying frame. This simply isn’t the case with the majority of living dinosaurs, where the feathers can often dramatically alter the animal’s silhouette. All the same, it’s not impossible, and nor is the shaggy appearance of the pelt on what was, after all, a flightless theropod.
What stings the most here is the complete absence of primaries, i.e. feathers on the hands. There’s absolutely no evidence that any animal with feathers as ‘advanced’ as Velociraptor‘s (which definitely had pretty significant secondaries) ever lost its primary feathers. They’re a glaring omission on what is otherwise a quite lovely figure, and make it appear almost incomplete. Given that the Carnegie figures have had scientific advisors behind them, I hope this wasn’t a palaeontologist’s choice!
Apart from that, though, there’s nothing especially wrong with the plumage, and there are some nice touches here and there. The tail not only ends in a fan, but also a pair of beautiful streamers. The colour scheme, meanwhile, is attractive and plausible without being bland; a pleasing brown-on-white with red highlights. The paint application on Carnegie figures has (quite justly) come under fire in recent years, particularly as it seemed that, while lines like Wild Safari became increasingly accomplished, the paint on Carnegies just got sloppier. It’s actually quite decent here, although some areas, mostly the head, could have done with a little extra attention.
Criticism from the dino toy geek community has also been aimed at the ever-predictable Carnegie Pose that their theropods have been presented in – head turned to one side, mouth agog, legs slightly spread and tail awkwardly acting as a third leg. It’s less egregious here than in other figures in the line, but one wonders why this look was stuck to so rigidly. Given sculptor Forest Rogers’ considerable talents, it seems likely that the orders for tripodal theropods were given from on high. It’s a shame, and I hope Rogers can find work with another manufacturer – preferably one that doesn’t mind the odd detachable base.
So, the Carnegie Collection isn’t going out with a bang, but we do get one last sleek, attractive figure for our shelves. It has its share of problems (and many of them are sadly typical of the late Carnegie figures), but the 2015 Velociraptor can still be considered a success. If nothing else, it’s a sculpt that strips away all the pop culture baggage and brings us something original; it’s an authentic attempt at restoring the little beastie from Mongolia. For that, I think it’s worth your time.
Available on Amazon.com here.