Even for a company who apparently stumble upon scientific fidelity only by accident, Papo have made great strides towards more accurate prehistoric animal figures over the last few years, to the point where they’re even releasing a feathered Velociraptor (which shouldn’t be half as remarkable as it is). However, their Big Beast this year comes in the form of a certain spinosaur, first found in the UK and immortalised in plastic a number of times already. Yes, it’s Walker’s heavy claw, and it really wants to reach out and touch you.
The earliest Papo theropods were noted for both resembling Jurassic Park creatures and being frozen in really awkward-looking squatting postures, like they were really straining to…lay an egg. Thankfully, later figures, like the excellent Carnotaurus and rather bizarre ‘running’ T. rex, were sculpted in more convincing and dynamic poses. For whatever reason (nostalgia?), the brand new Baryonyx has returned to the slightly uncomfortable-looking squatting posture of old, albeit with some tweaks to make it a more outrageously in-your-face toy than ever.
Basically, it looks like it’s missing a grappling partner, which is either fantastically awkward-looking or exciting and unique, depending on your point of view. The limbs are sprawled out (perhaps a little more than they should be), the claws are being brandished, and the head’s being thrust forward at…something. I’m of the view that it would’ve looked a lot better in a slightly more subdued pose, but that’s only because there’s a lot to love about it besides.
By far the best aspect of this figure is the head. It’s simply fantastic. Sure, there are flaws – the crest should perhaps be a little further back, while the jaw muscles could do with a tweak (some seem to be missing altogether at the back of the head, although the articulation probably has a lot to do with that). However, this is still probably the best head on a spinosaur toy yet made. Characteristic spinosaur features such as the ‘rosette’ of teeth, the notch in the upper jaw, retracted nostrils and single midline crest are all recreated quite faithfully, while the level of sculptural detail is in keeping with the remarkably high standard we’ve come to expect from Papo. Best of all, the jaws are just as thin as in real spinosaur specimens, an aspect often overlooked by other manufacturers.
Detail is hardly skimped on on the rest of the figure, either, which looks just as convincing as ever in spite of that very silly posture. Skin sags and folds, muscles bulge, and tendons strain as the big ugly thing lunges forward. In what has become something of a Papo staple, the animal’s aggressive look is enhanced by a line of spiky scales running down the spine and hanging from a dewlap below the jaw and throat. These reach an apex over the hips, which (just as in the real Baryonyx, but moreso in Suchomimus) feature a projection of the vertebrae, forming a small hump. This Todd Marshall-esque embellishment is sure to be divisive, not least because it’s starting to become a little clichéd, but I still really like it – speculative features like this help enhance the character and believability of the model. It’s great to see a nice, fat tail base, too.
Yes, it’s very awesomebro, with a dumb combat-ready pose and an overly shiny paint finish. It’s also big (over 30cm long!), well proportioned, shows an astonishing attention to detail, and has a head sculpt that finally nails the spectacular gharial-like hideousness that has made spinosaurs so beloved the world over. Much as it’s a shame that the pose couldn’t have been less daft and more horizontal (see how much better it already looks in the photo above), this is still a toy I can recommend.
Available from Amazon here.