Review and photos by Patrick ‘Patrx’ Bate
Available from Amazon.com here
Quick! Name a Triassic dinosaur. Odds are you thought of Coelophysis, or perhaps you intentionally named a different one just to be clever, but Coelophysis may yet be the most famous of the lot. With well over a thousand specimens known to science, (including those that were once called Longosaurus, Rioarribasaurus, Syntarsus, and Megapnosaurus,) it’s one of the best known dinosaurs of all. Lightly-built, bipedal, and armed with an array of sharp teeth, Coelophysis is the very model of a theropod dinosaur. It appears frequently in books and documentaries as an example of what made dinosaurs successful early in their evolution. However, Coelophysis is rarely represented in toy form, which makes this new figure from Safari particularly interesting!
Although often annotated as a “small” dinosaur, Coelophysis was hardly miniscule, measuring about three metres (9.8 ft) in length. This puts the 18.4 cm Safari version at about 1:16 scale. The animal has been sculpted in a calm standing pose, with its mouth shut and its head turned to the left. The tail arcs gently downward, acting as a tripod support. It may be that the figure was designed to stand without the aid of the tail, but unfortunately, the feet on my own copy do not appear to rest flatly on the ground. The overall proportions are a close match to the fossil material, with a long tail, long neck, and delicately built, bird-like legs. The fine details are there, too, despite the figure’s relative smallness. The skull is actually pretty unusual, featuring a very triangular shape, and a pronounced subnarial gap just behind first maxillary tooth. The figure’s small, grasping hands, are rendered with similar veracity, each featuring three functional digits and one barely-visible vestigial fourth digit embedded in the hand.
Excluding the scaly texture of the snout, hands, and feet, the body of this Coelophysis is covered in short, simple filaments. Though this might seem overly-speculative to some, it isn’t a particularly recent notion; Coelophysis has been restored with feathery structures beginning as early as 1975. This fluff remains thoroughly plausible today, and provides the model with an active, bird-like demeanour which I find quite suitable. The pebbly reticulate scales on the snout are similarly believable, but I do wonder about the flat scutes on the fingers and toes. The figure’s jaws are reconstructed without any sign of “lip” tissue, the truth of which is hard to determine and subject to active debate.
A particularly dynamic set of colours and patterns was chosen here, and I approve of the overall effect. Rusty brown colours the dorsal surface and head, abruptly switching to a pale off-white beyond a black lateral band. The snout is colored in faded blue, with red along the lacrimal ridges, and the tail ends in bands of black and off-white. As is common for mass-produced PVC figures, the application of paint is somewhat imperfect. The black band, in particular, looks a little like the work of a flat paint marker.
I do wish I could get mine to stand a little better, but the tripod stance is much less distracting here than it is in some other figures. Personally, I think it’s great that Safari doesn’t stick to one scale, lest this little beast be reduced to a tiny 1:40, but the inconsistency may put off some collectors. In all, this is a very charming and long-overdue representation of a famous but rarely-seen dinosaur. It’d be easy to overlook it in the wealth of brilliant toys that have appeared this year, so I encourage most anyone to pick it up!
Available from Amazon.com here