Microraptor (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd)

Now available from Amazon.com here.

Microraptor is a relatively recent discovery, but it has quickly become very popular with dinosaur enthusiasts. And why not? It’s one of the best known dromaeosaurs, with a whopping 300 or so fossil specimens spread out globally in various museums. It’s also one of the smallest known dinosaurs, being only around the size of a crow. And with its full plumage and four wings, it would have been truly wondrous to see this unique little animal swooping through the Liaoning forests of China some 120 million years ago.

A Microraptor is one of thirteen new Wild Safari toys for 2017. Appropriately, this individual has been captured in full flight with its front wings outspread, its legs bent, and its long tail held straight out behind it. Well, it’s supposed to be straight, but the one on mine is slightly warped. This gives it a length of just over 18 cm as well as a wingspan of 17.5 cm. Unlike its tripod counterpart in the Carnegie Collection, this Microraptor balances on just its feathery hind limbs, with its tail held off the ground.

It’s presently unknown who the sculptor of this figure is, but he or she clearly possesses genuine talent. The contour feathers covering the Microraptor‘s main body are too small for a lot of detail, but the larger flight feathers on its four wings look very marvelous indeed. Each of these feathers features visible vanes and barbs. The flight feathers are arranged in multiple layers just like on extant flying birds, beginning with the large primaries and secondaries at the edges, then going to greater coverts, median coverts, lesser coverts, and scapulars at the shoulders and hips. The tail features a small fan with two extra long feathers trailing out from the tip. The featherless muzzle, fingers, and toes have faint wrinkles and the mouth features tiny but sharp teeth. The feet feature the distinctive “killing claws” that mark this animal as a member of the famous and deadly dromaeosaur family, in spite of its small stature. For a long time, paleontologists debated over whether Microraptor was a mere glider or a proper flyer, but the most recent studies have concluded that it was indeed the latter.

Another admirable feature of this figure is just how full and streamlined it looks. As you can see from the group shot below, the Carnegie Microraptor has a rather skinny neck and body that gives it a reptilian appearance in spite of its ample feathering. By contrast, this one’s neck is covered in so much contour feathering that it looks nice and thick. This Microraptor really looks and feels like a true bird to me. My wife feels the same way. She’s rather averse towards birds in general (especially ones that aren’t afraid of coming up close and begging/attempting to snatch food), and her initial response to this toy was a decisive “EWWW.” I love her so much. 🙂

Another fascinating fact about Microraptor is that we actually know what colour its feathers were! In 2012, a team of researchers used scanning electron microscope techniques to analyze fossilized melanosomes found in a particular fossil specimen. They concluded that Microraptor had dark, iridescent plumage just like a modern grackle. But here’s where my one beef with this toy arises. As you can see, it is coloured black all over with pale yellow for its muzzle, fingers, and toes, medium skin tone for the mouth tissue and the patches around the orange eyes, pink for the inside of the mouth, and white teeth. But the black is a dull, flat tone, not iridescent at all. Whereas the 2015 Archaeopteryx figure has a much more vibrant appearance despite the fact that it too is mostly black in colour.

Flatness aside, this is still an absolutely superb figure in terms of anatomical accuracy and sculpting detail. The Wild Safari Microraptor is definitely going to please any feathered dinosaur fan.

Heartiest thanks go out to FaunaFigures.com for selling me so many awesome prehistoric toys over the past two years. This has been my 125th review for the DTB! 😀

The Safari Ltd Wild Safari Microraptor is now available from Amazon.com here.

7 Responses to Microraptor (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd)

  1. CarnegieCollector

    I Love it! What a gorgeous model! Very crow/Raven like.

  2. I would love to repaint this as a grackle, the sort of crazed expression reminds me of them! Really nice figure.

  3. That is a very angry looking Microraptor. I do give it credit for having coverts on the undersides of its wings, which many depictions of dinosaurs leave out. The one thing that makes me slightly dubious is that the leading edge of the wing is very thick, making me wonder if that’s supposed to be the arm or a down covered propatagium. If it’s the former, it should be hidden beneath skin and the covert feathers, not bulging out in front of them. The hind wings definitely seem to have the leg bulging on front of the feathers, which makes me suspect that it’s the same for the forewings. It doesn’t really make sense from an anatomical or aerodynamic perspective to reconstruct them as such, but either way, it’s not particularly noticeable, so it’s not a big deal, but I’m hypersensitive to the construction of wings, so I notice. My only real “complaint” is that I wish the sculptor was as good at sculpting fingers, toes, claws, and teeth as he is at sculpting feathers, but even so it’s a handsome model.

    • I’d really love to know who the sculptor is. There’s been speculation that it’s Forest Rogers, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

      Perhaps the mere fact that the hands and feet are so tiny is why they’re relatively undetailed. The Archaeopteryx’s feet aren’t very detailed either, and that one was sculpted by Doug Watson himself.

  4. Great review! I was a little on the fence regarding this piece due to the unconvincing paint, but the accuracy really shines here.

  5. By the way the figure is a beauty and what I observe above all that Safari has interpreted the figure of the microraptor as a voluminous figure with dense plumage and have to realize all their modern figures of winged dinosaurs as archeopteryx and now this black.

    Of course what I like most is the realism of the figure. Apart from this is a magnificent contribution to Suspsy’s article, I congratulate you for your new review as the rest of the netizens.

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