He was resting comfortably in the shade a second ago, but now the chieftain is charging with his mighty arms raised and his eyes blazing. A young tarbosaur has entered the nesting colony and is now attempting to isolate the chicks from their mothers. With an angry screech and a powerful swipe, the chieftain knocks the tarbosaur to the ground. Frightened and injured, the predator beats a hasty retreat. The chieftain then turns to his shaken family and begins cooing softly to comfort them . . .
Growing up as a dinosaur-obsessed child in the 1980s’, Deinocheirus represented a great and potentially scary mystery to me. A set of huge arms “capable of ripping open a sauropod’s soft lower belly” was how one book described the only known fossil specimen at the time. But as time went on, more and more paleontology sources described the arms as belonging to an ornithomimosaur rather than a carnosaur.
From The Amazing World of Dinosaurs, published in 1981.
Gallimimus is clearly impressed by its massive cousin, courtesy of William Stout, also 1981.
Then, in 2013, it was revealed that ample new fossil material had been discovered. To top it off, a skull which had been stolen and sold by fossil poachers was retrieved in Europe and eventually repatriated to Mongolia. And just like that, Deinocheirus went from being one of the most mysterious dinosaurs to one of the best-known! Not only was it confirmed as the largest known ornithomimosaur, but also the weirdest-looking. Which brings us to the subject of this week’s review: CollectA’s brand new 2016 toy!
CollectA’s previous Deinocheirus was a Deluxe figure, and a particularly large one at that. This new version is much smaller, but still a respectable size, with a height of just over 11 cm and a length of just under 18 cm. The main colours on the body are medium and yellowish brown with beige for the underbelly, royal blue on the arms and back, black running from the shoulders to the end of the tail, white tail feathers, and medium grey claws. The head is dark red and black with bold white stripes, the tongue is a dull pink, the eyes and crest are black, and the throat is red. It’s a vibrant and attractive colour scheme, and quite similar to that of the Deluxe’s.
The Deinocheirus is sculpted in a fairly standard walking pose with the head held high, the mouth slightly open, the arms held out in front, and the tail raised. If a major natural history museum ever mounts a cast of this animal (and seriously, when is that going to happen already?!), I imagine it would be in a pose like this. One can envision it in the act of anything from displaying to a prospective mate to defending itself from a predator to simply taking a leisurely stroll. Due to the figure’s proportions, there’s simply no way it would be able to stand up on its own. As such, it is mounted on a small, desert-themed base. The many tracks in the sand appear to suggest both younger individuals and a predator. Indeed, bite marks found on Deinocheirus fossils indicate that it was fed upon by the ferocious Tarbosaurus.
CollectA is one of the few toy companies that has fully embraced the concept of feathered dinosaurs and this Deinocheirus is a shining example. Except for its head, hands, and feet, it is covered in an intricate and shaggy-looking coat of feathers. A prickly crest runs from the back of the head to halfway down the neck. Rows of large feathers hang down from the famous arms and there is a small fan at the tip of the tail. No direct fossil evidence of feathering on Deinocheirus has been found yet, but the vertebrae at the tip of the tail were found to be fused. This pygostyle feature is also found in oviraptorosaurs and therizinosaurs, and it is a strong indication that Deinocheirus possessed a tail fan in life. As for the feathering on the arms, it’s uncertain whether or not ornithomimosaurs possessed primary feathers just like dromaeosaurs did. If that were indeed the case, then there ought to be feathers covering the hands as well. The claws might actually be slightly too long, but it’s impossible to be certain given that they would have been covered by keratin sheathes in real life.
Other notable anatomical features of Deinocheirus are its spoonbill-like beak and the large, triangular hump on its back. Both are well represented here. Moreover, this figure continues the VERY pleasing trend started by last year’s Feathered Tyrannosaurus rex: proper-sized hips!
The CollectA Deinocheirus is a must-have in my opinion. Carefully researched, beautifully sculpted, and definitely one of the strangest-looking dinosaur toys you’ve ever seen. And if they ever make a new Deluxe version, I’d happily snap it up an instant. A big thank you to CollectA for this advance sample!