North America during the Late Jurassic was terrorized by a number of large and lethal theropods such as Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, and Torvosaurus. But there were also much some smaller meat eaters roaming around such as Ornitholestes. A mainstay of many of the dinosaur books I read as a child during the 1980s’, it was usually depicted preying on Archaeopteryx—despite the fact that the latter was from Europe.
This Chap Mei Ornitholestes is an appropriately small figure at slightly under 7 cm tall and 13 cm long. It is posed with its mouth open, its arms held low and spread apart, its left foot forward, and its tail curling down. Looks like it could be displaying to or threatening another individual. While it is possible to get the toy to stand on just its feet, it’s pretty unstable. Better to prop it up with the tail.
There are at least two colour variations of this toy. One is beige with black and red markings, bright green eyes, white teeth, and a dark pink tongue; the other is bright green with maroon markings, dull orange eyes, and white teeth. Neither one has painted claws, as is the case with nearly as Chap Mei dinosaurs. For myself, I much prefer the beige one.
The Ornitholestes‘ head is covered in pebbly scales while the body has a wrinkled texture as well as overlapping scales on the hands and feet. A prominent spiky crest runs down the back of the neck and there are feathers on the forearms and the end of the tail. No Ornitholestes specimen has yet been discovered with feather impressions, but it seems reasonable to surmise that it possessed them in some degree. Another plus is that this toy features non-pronated wrists.
Unfortunately, there are some noticeable errors as well. The small horn on the animal’s snout is a concept that arose out of a damaged fossil skull. It fell out of favour with paleontologists some years ago, but given that a horned Ornitholestes was depicted in the famous BBC Walking With Dinosaurs series, it’s understandable that some sculptors would think to include the feature. Less forgiveable are the forward-facing, raised dewclaws. And finally, the tail is too short and stocky.
Overall, this Ornitholestes has its problems, but as far as Chap Mei toys go, it’s definitely one of the lesser offenders. It also gets points for uniqueness, as you certainly don’t often see Ornitholestes in plastic form, sadly. Indeed, this is the first such review on the DTB!