Review and photos by Patrx, edited by Suspsy
If ever there was a dinosaur in need of a public relations team, it’s Velociraptor. It seems no matter how far we march into the feathery future, the poor protobird still seems to have one sickle-clawed toe in the past, and this is particularly evident in the area of toys and collectibles. Many appear to have been designed in the early nineteen-eighties, and even the Carnegie Collection’s 2015 version is incorrect in a number of important ways. With this in mind, it was something of a shock to see promo images of this fluffy beast from Papo, a company which seems not so much to strive for accuracy as to trip over it on their way elsewhere. At a glance, it looks quite promising! But we are not here to simply glance. Let’s take a closer look.
At about 6 1/2 inches (17 cm), this might be something like 1:10 scale by my haphazard guesswork. As with all Papo dinosaurs, no scale is noted officially. The animal is posed leaning forward with its left foot in the air, and support is provided by the claws on its wings. It is my opinion that bipedal dinosaurs always benefit from a base to stand on, so as to eliminate the need for support gimmicks such as these, but that’s not how Papo does things. In any case, it’s not a terrible pose. The jaw, as expected, can be opened or closed, lending a bit more variability. The coloration is quite complex, mainly consisting of browns, yellows, and tans. The wing and tail feathers stand out nicely in tan and black, and the greenish head has some red and pink accents, with a white patch on each side of the face. The eyes are very raptorial, yellow with black pupils. Overall, the paint is very carefully applied, with sharp details, subtle blends, and a liberal dark wash to bring out the details. Very impressive indeed!
The level of detail is, unsurprisingly, excellent. Each feather is distinct, with most being appropriately complex and featuring a central vane. Some (equally plausible) simpler feathers adorn the head, back and chest. The claws and teeth are sharp, and even the inside of the mouth features some lovely texturing. There are some cool extra features here as well — the throat appears to have a sort of dewlap, and there are some interesting adornments behind the eyes and along the lacrimal ridges. This is a neat example of illustrating “known unknowns”, those features which are unlikely to appear in fossils, meaning we probably won’t ever know about their presence, or indeed, their absence.
As I mentioned, the level of accuracy on display is surprisingly laudable. The body is covered in complex feathers, and the wings and tail feature nice-looking symmetrical pennaceous feathers. On a flying bird, these would be asymmetrical to provide a flight surface, but not for Velociraptor. There are, however, problems. The wings, on inspection, are not constructed as they should be and have a strange overall shape. The feathers at the front are clearly meant to resemble primary remiges, but a close look reveals that they are attached to the wrists, rather than the middle digits. Alas, this is a common problem. The wing digits themselves are covered in fine tuberculate scales underneath, and tarsal scutes on the top, as though they were feet. In reality, they would almost certainly be fuzzy. The animal’s face is totally featherless, but it’s hard to say precisely what sort of integument is intended to be there. Fine lines sculpted into the surface may be an attempt to illustrate lizard-like scales. The lips look rather snake-ish, with huge circular scutes along their edges.
Unfortunately, the accuracy problems don’t stop with the integument. The whole of the animal is desperately shrink-wrapped. The fenestrae (openings in the skull) are visible, and even the feathery covering doesn’t keep the poor beast’s hips and shoulder blades from poking out of its sides. The skull itself is low and narrow like that of Velociraptor, but lacks the trademark upward curve. The tail, while appropriately straight, is too short.
Essentially, the new ‘raptor on the block is something of a mixed bag. Sharp details and excellent paint make it nice to look at, and from some distance, it almost works as a reconstruction of a dinosaur. However, it’s definitely not the dromaeosaur figure collectors have been waiting for. The erroneous wings, shrink wrappery, and weird skull mean there’s still not really a good option out there for folks who want a V. mongoliensis in their collection. With luck, this guy will sell well enough to convince the folks at Safari or CollectA that it might be time to give it another try!