Category Archives: bird

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker (CollectA)

The ivory-billed woodpecker(Campephilus principalis) was one of the largest woodpeckers in the world and certainly the largest to inhabit North America. Tragically, after relentless decades of hunting, pollution, and deforestation, this magnificent bird is largely believed to have gone the way of the thylacine and the quagga. Granted, there have been some alleged sightings in recent years, but nothing confirmed. Even if a few ivory bills do indeed still exist, it’s pretty doubtful that they’ll be around for much longer in these increasingly dark, selfish, and ignorant times.

New for 2017 from CollectA, this ivory-billed woodpecker figure is mounted on a thick pine branch. The bird itself measures around 8 cm long while the branch stands 9.5 cm tall. The bark is coloured dark brown while the sapwood beneath is beige and orange. Both parts have very realistic textures and the many gouges in the branch suggest that this woodpecker has been hard at work for some time.

The prominent red crest on this woodpecker’s head shows that it is an adult male (females had black crests). The bill (which was not actually made of ivory!) is coloured a very pale yellow with some faint orange streaks. The plumage is black with white wingtips and markings, the claws are taupe grey, and the eyes are pale yellow. There’s also a smattering of white on the wings to give them a shiny appearance. All in keeping with the known descriptions and specimens.

The detailing on this woodpecker is really top notch. The many feathers have been painstakingly sculpted and the feet, which are in a zygodactyly arrangement, are appropriately scaly. It really does look like the real deal. Indeed, looking at this beautiful, regal bird, it’s no wonder that its nicknames include the Holy Grail bird, the Lord God bird, the Elvis bird, and the King of Woodpeckers. As I mentioned in the introductory paragraph, there have been recent reports of sightings, and even some purported video, but none confirmed. It is more likely that the ivory-billed woodpecker has joined its theropod cousins in extinction. ūüôĀ

Overall, I find this ivory-billed woodpecker to be a fantastic little figure, albeit a very saddening one. I’d certainly love to see CollectA tackle other recently extinct dinosaurs such as the moa, the dodo, the great auk, and the passenger pigeon. The fact of the matter is that we are in the midst of the sixth great extinction, caused directly by our own hands, and every little reminder of this can possibly help to prevent it.

On a brighter note, this has been my 50th review for CollectA’s products. Over the past two years, they have been immensely generous in sending me various review samples and I cannot thank them enough for it. Keep up the excellent work, CollectA. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next year!

Confuciusornis (Age of the Dinosaurs by PNSO)

Confuciusornis is a prehistoric bird from the early Cretaceous of China, named after the famous philosopher. This small toy by PNSO is one of a handful of examples of this species committed to plastic, and the first Confuciusornis model reviewed on the Dinosaur Toy Blog. This one also goes by the nickname of ‘Yoyo’ and is one of the “Little” figures in the PNSO’s Age of the Dinosaurs series. PNSO they have completely done it justice.

Confuciusornis PNSO

The main reason I wanted to ¬†review this particular figure is because of my involvement in an exciting Dinosaurs of China exhibition coming to Nottingham, UK, in summer 2017. This world exclusive one-time-only exhibition will explore the relationship between dinosaurs and birds, and includes real fossils of feathered dinosaurs and prehistoric birds from China – including a Confuciusornis. So, as the curator of the exhibition, I feel a certain connection to this species! If you want to see a real fossil of this species, plus 24 other dinosaurs including mounted skeletons of the mighty Gigantoraptor and Mamenchisaurus, then make sure to drop by Wollaton Hall this summer. See the teaser trailer, and tickets are for sale on the website: http://www.dinosaursofchina.co.uk. The PNSO are also connected to this Dinosaurs of China exhibition because they have provided all of the stunning artwork for the exhibition graphics.¬†Anyway, that’s enough exhibition plugging, back to the model!

Confuciusornis PNSO

The sculpt is accomplished and finely detailed, as are all of the PNSO’s models. The anatomy is remarkably accurate, even the articulation of the wrists and the relationship between the wing feathers and the fingers, a point that trips up uninitiated palaeoartists. The long, hooked claws on the fingers are very clear, and the animal is in a flying pose. This pose encourages me to fool around and make it swoop: there is lots of playability in a pose like this. It has a punk-like hairdo and a puffed out chest so PNSO haven’t scrimped on the plumage.

Confuciusornis is remarkable because it is known from many specimens that reveal sexual dimorphism. That is, the males are different from the females. The paired strap-like tail feathers in Yoyo indicate that he is a male. For anyone into diorama building, a simple surgery would make him female.

Confuciusornis PNSO

The tail feathers are slightly warped so their tips overlap. They can be adjusted, as I have done for the photos, but their positions quickly revert. A treatment with hot water or a hair dryer might fix this permanently.

The paint work on this tiny figure is expertly applied and quite brilliant – adventurous but still believable. The wing feathers have natural-looking earthy tones in bands, which contrast sharply with the jet-black paired tail feathers. These strap-like feathers terminate with bright blue eye-spots. My only quibble would be that the eyes (the ones in its head!) are white without pupils, which make it feel a bit lifeless. Black eyes would seem more appropriate.

Confuciusornis PNSO

This is a lovely tiny figure that I highly recommend on all fronts. ¬†This brings us lastly onto the topic of how to get our hands on these products. I know that the PNSO are still going through a change of personnel and there seem to be no signs yet of their toys returning to Amazon. These miniature figures also seem to be absent from the PNSO’s most recent catalogue, but one can only speculate as to why. I think it is just a matter of remaining patient while PNSO find their feet.

Thanks to the PNSO for the review sample.

Archaeopteryx (Age of the Dinosaurs by PNSO)

It’s all or nothing now. Having caught the young female’s eye, Jonas fluffs his feathers, spreads his wings, and raises his tail. She continues to watch him from a distance. Encouraged, Jonas rapidly bows his head and utters low clicks and rattles. At last, the female approaches him and the two touch muzzles. Jonas has found his mate.

Say hello to Jonas, the little Archaeopteryx from PNSO. The sculptor has caught this iconic feathered dinosaur in what appears to be the act of courtship display. Jonas’ wings are outstretched and held to the front, his right foot is raised, and his tail elevated, which are all things that many extant male birds do when trying to attract a mate. From his wingtips to the end of his tail, Jonas measures 9.5 cm long and is 5.5 cm tall. Much smaller than the other Archaeopteryx figures that have been reviewed here on the DTB.

Jonas balances well enough on his wingtips and left foot, although he falls over easily. His main colours are light grey and medium brown with very pale beige on the underside of his waist and tail and muddy brown for his fingers and feet. The plumage on his head is mostly very dark brown with white patches surrounding his black eyes and burnt orange on his cranium and snout. Dark brown is also used for the primaries on his wings and the accents on his tail. Finally, white is used to line the tips of the primaries and the secondaries. It’s a realistic colour scheme to be sure, but it’s not in fitting with the studies which concluded that Archaeopteryx had black covert feathers.

In terms of both detailing and scientific accuracy, Jonas rates pretty high. His plumage has been meticulously sculpted, with visible barbs on the feathers on his wings and tail. His wings feature all the major feather groups: front, coverts, secondaries, and primaries. They are also asymmetrical, which is a trademark characteristic of flying birds. His bare feet have faint wrinkles and the feathers covering his neck make it appear appropriately thick. His second toes, however, are lying flat when they ought to be raised just like a dromaeosaur’s.

Aside from this one flaw, Jonas the Archaeopteryx is an exquisite and enjoyable little toy. Definitely worth adding to your feathered dinosaur collection.

Thanks go out to PNSO for this toy!