Since its description in 2001, fans of the Madagascan abelisauroid known as Masiakasaurus have longed for an affordable yet accurate model of this obscure beast but no one would deliver, not even CollectA despite all their obscure critters. Now, 15 years later, we finally have one and who better to sculpt it than Paleo-artist Doug Watson for the Wild Safari collection. For those not familiar with the genus, Masiakasaurus was described in 2001 and lived in late Cretaceous Madagascar. At about 6’ in length Masiakasaurus was a small theropod with a fairly conservative body plan and belonged to the noasauridae family. Its most outstanding feature is its forward projecting whorl of teeth at the tip of the jaw. These teeth are structurally different from the rest of its teeth and have led some to believe Masiakasaurus was piscivorous but it also may have fed on other small animals.
Doug Watson is a man who can be trusted to do his homework and this model appears to be a very accurate rendition of Masiakasaurus. It has the typical noasaurid body plan and appears very graceful and elegant. The mouth is open, showing off the creature’s bizarre dentition and the changes in tooth anatomy between those at the tip and towards the back of the mouth. The teeth while clearly eye catching aren’t the only bizarre feature on this theropod. The cervical ribs in Masiakasaurus didn’t permit the high degree of neck flexibility seen in other theropods. As such its neck would have been relatively stiff horizontally with only a slight curve and this is also properly shown in the model. If you look closely at the neutral facing hands you’ll notice the reduced fourth fingers that Masiakasaurus had. Finally, critics of Safari’s increased theropod foot size, used to aid stability, will notice that the feet on this Masiakasaurus are much more in proportion on this model than in other Safari theropods. The balance doesn’t seem to be affected either as mine stands firmly on its two feet. The Safari Masiakasaurus is a decent sized model, standing 2.5” at the shoulder and measuring about 8” in length.
Like all of the latest Safari models the detail work is immediately noticeable. The scales are very small and finely sculpted across the body with bird-like scutes running down the toes and fingers. Some larger, bonier looking scales can be seen on the head. The folds of skin where the ribs meet the chest are a nice touch as are the hip bones that bulge slighting under the skin. The model looks well-muscled while still appearing agile and elegant.
The paint application is very clean and precise. The teeth are all individually painted white with only slight bleeding down over the mouth. The palate and tongue are pink and the toe and fingernails black. The tiny eyes are orange with black pupils and a little line of black running around the orbit. The body is painted in various shades of green that blend into each other, darker dorsally and lighter towards the belly. Dark green stripes run down the neck and along the back and tail. The only hint of color is the orange tip of the tail, reminiscent of various snake species that use the colored tips of their tails to lure prey. Somehow I can’t imagine Masiakasaurus doing the same thing though. We all get a little tired of green dinosaurs but when the patterns are well conceived and paint well applied it works and I can totally see this little hunter using its natural camouflage to hide in the foliage waiting for food to stumble by.
The attention to detail and accuracy that Safari models are increasingly well known for coupled with their decision to make this obscure and interesting theropod make this a model well worth seeking out. Theropod fans will love it. Obscure genera fans will love it. Dinosaur collectors in general will love it. This model is hot off the press for 2016 so you should have no trouble hunting it down.