Ah, Velociraptor. Thanks to its starring role in the Jurassic Park franchise, it is arguably the second most popular dinosaur after Tyrannosaurus rex. But the funny thing is, it might never have become so famous had it not been for a taxonomic error in a certain book: Predatory Dinosaurs of the World.
Written and illustrated by acclaimed paleoartist Gregory Paul in 1988, PDotW combined meticulous research, vivid art, and a writing style that was appealing to an eleven year old dinosaur buff. It is still one of my favourite books, one that truly revolutionized my perception of dinosaurs. Michael Crichton clearly felt the same way, as he relied heavily on Paul’s book when he was doing research for the novel that would be titled Jurassic Park. The problem is, PDotW contained a number of erroneous or highly dubious claims regarding dinosaur taxonomy. One was to lump Deinonychus and Velociraptor as the same genus, with the latter name taking precedent. Had Paul not done this (he has since acknowledged the error), or had Crichton not relied on PDotW, it is very possible that Deinonychus, not Velociraptor, would have been the dromaeosaur featured in Jurassic Park.
Enough musing on what might have been. The toy I’ll be reviewing here should be a familiar face to most readers. Recall that Papo released their first Velociraptor toy way back in 2005. In 2010, they rereleased it in grey with reddish brown markings. In 2015, they released a multi-coloured version in a two-pack with a similar repaint of the original Tyrannosaurus rex. In 2016, they released a rather dull green version. And finally, for this year, Papo has opted to release their 2015 version again, with the official name is ‘Blue Velociraptor.’ And indeed, it does feature purple-blue on its back and bright blue around its eyes on and on the tip of its tail. The main colour, however, is a dull olive green with very faint pink for the underbelly. Reddish-brown and faint pink stripes run in a line down the neck and spine. The lower jaw and throat are tinged with rusty orange and there are black spots lining the mouth. The wide eyes are dark orange. Finally, the inside of the mouth is medium pink with a pale pink tongue, the teeth are white, and the claws are black. Not quite as flashy as the T. rexes, but easily the most colourful of all the Papo raptors.
The Acrocanthosaurus is similarly coloured too.
This Velociraptor stands 9.5cm tall and measures slightly over 17 cm long. I’m not going to go into a description of the fine sculpting or the many, many glaring inaccuracies riddling this toy, as both have been covered in the review of the original version.
So why did I even bother with this toy given my passion for dromaeosaurs depicted with feathers and my disdain for those that are still depicted without them? Well, as an educator, I love squeezing dinosaurs into my lessons whenever possible. And I figured an outdated, inaccurate toy such as this one would be a perfect contrast to say, Papo’s 2016 Feathered Velociraptor or Safari’s 2017 masterpiece. Show this toy to the kids first, ask them where they’ve seen raptors like it, then show them the feathered version and explain that this is what they really looked like.
For those of you who do thoroughly enjoy the JP franchise, or just vintage renditions of dinosaurs in general, the Blue Velociraptor will probably be a good addition to your collection.