Review and photos by Bokisaurus, edited by Suspsy
Sauropods are well known for their long necks and even longer tails, but what truly makes the group famous is their gigantic size! Some of the largest animals to have ever roamed the earth belong to this group. But not all sauropods are created equal. For every giant, there are numerous small to medium-sized species as well. There is even a dwarf one measuring in at only six meters long!
Today, we will review one of the medium-sized members of this family. Nigersaurus(Lizard of Niger) was small for a sauropod, measuring in at approximately nine meters long. Nigersaurus belongs to the genus of rebbachisaurid sauropods. It lived during the Middle Cretaceous period in what is now the Republic of Niger in Africa. It is also fairly complete as fossil records go, with almost 80 percent of it being recovered.
There are two well-known figures of this odd-looking sauropod, one by Safari and the other by CollectA. Both were released in 2009, and if I’m not mistaken, they are the first figures of this animal to be produced in toy form. CollectA is famous for producing obscure species of dinosaurs, so it’s not a surprise that they followed their Agustinia (another weird-looking sauropod) with Nigersaurus.
At first glance, this looks like your typical sauropod, although the neck is much shorter. However, Nigersaurus is unique in that unlike other sauropods, it has a mouth that is shaped like the end of a vacuum cleaner, and more than 500 tiny teeth! The odd shape of its mouth makes Nigersaurus a specialized feeder. It is believed that the shape of the mouth allowed the animal to nip at tasty greens rather than to chomp at them. The arrangement of the teeth suggests that they operated much like a pair of shears, sliding by one another as opposed to the peg-like teeth typical of other sauropods. The shape of the mouth is designed for low browsing and it is believed that Nigersaurus preferred soft greens very close to the ground.
Despite having a shorter neck when compared to other sauropods, Nigersaurus still had a pretty long neck. An image of a vacuum cleaner comes to mind when I picture this peculiar animal feeding, perhaps swaying its long neck side from to side as it plucks tasty morsels without moving its body much. In spite of having a mouth that is wider than its skull, and a snout that rivals those seen on hadrosaurs, the skull is surprisingly lightweight and fragile. It is also believed that, based on the structure of the inner ear, the animal usually carried its head in a downward position, with the mouth almost constantly aimed towards the ground.
Released under CollectA’s Deluxe line of prehistoric figures, this 1:20 scale figure is very robust and massive. This baby measures in at 12 inches long and stands 5 inches tall at the hips. It is unfortunate that the figure was released during the dark ages of CollectA, just before the changes that we now see towards better sculpted, more accurate figures. Despite its flaws, there are some good qualities that can be found on this figure. Starting with the head, the shape of the skull and of the mouth are pretty accurate and identifiable as that of Nigersaurus. The broad mouth is open and the rows of teeth are visible. The cat-like eyes (commonly seen in earlier CollectA figures) are painted orange. It is clear that the design of this toy is based directly on a fossil cast mounted in Japan. The figure clearly follows this sample very closely, as you can see on the superimposed skeleton below. The problem is in the finer details once flesh is added to it.
The neck is appropriately short, as it should be. Another major odd feature that was given to this figure is the excessive amount of skin hanging down from the neck. The entire length of the neck has unsightly, lumpy folds of skin. Granted, a small amount of loose skin is a good way to suggest weight and gravity on a figrue. In this case, however, the excess skin is very unattractive and makes the neck looks like a a lumpy tube of socks! The area where the neck connects to the skull is the worst area; it really makes it look like the animal has a goiter or some other strange ailment. This is perhaps the most unattractive feature in this model.
The skin is rich in textures, with multiple bumps of almost uniform size all over the body. There are also lots of skin folds to be seen. A row of dorsal spines runs almost the entire length of the back, starting at the base of the neck and going all the way down to the halfway mark of the tail. The legs are muscular, with the front pair slightly lower than the back one. Like many sauropod figures that came out before it, the feet on this figure also suffer what I like to call the “elephant-like” syndrome, with multiple toenails. The shape of each toenail is also very much like an elephant’s instead of the crescent-shaped form that sauropods are known to have.The overall coloration is a shade of dark green. Luckily, there is some nice shading and some dry brushing done that adds depth. There are also yellowish-orange highlights seen on the sides of the body as well as the tail and underside. In addition, there are dark brown stripes all over the body.
In closing, this Nigersaurus is not the best sauropod that CollectA has to offer, but it is also not the worst one. It is truly unfortunate that it was released before the change in quality in their models. Once can only imagine what may have been if only it was part of the later releases. Despite its many flaws, and perhaps due to these flaws, I am very fond of this figure. There is a certain quality to it that I find very likable. Perhaps it’s the awkward look, or maybe that sad expression that reminds one of an ugly duckling that just wants to be loved. I personally am glad to have this figure in my collection. It may not be the best-looking sauropod in the herd, but its odd and unique look sure does command attention and comments from guests. Oh, and one more thing, it is best to view this figure sideways with its head facing toward you. This view obscures some of the neck deformities, and offers the best view of this figure. After all, we all have our best sides.
Hope you enjoyed the review. Till next time, cheers!