Tag Archives: Oviraptor

Baby Louie in Egg (Dino Discoveries by Safari Ltd)

Review and Photographs by Quentin Brendel (aka Pachyrhinosaurus), edited by Suspsy

In yet another museum partnership, Safari Ltd produced a model of the dinosaur embryo known as “Baby Louie” for the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. It’s believed that the dinosaur itself was an oviraptorid, however, not much has been published on it because the fossil was originally smuggled out of China and was in the hands of a private collector. Since then, it was kept in the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis before finally returning to China in 2015. Baby Louie is surprisingly large for an oviraptorid, and it’s possible that it’s a Gigantoraptor. The figure itself appears to be heavily inspired by a model by Brian Cooley, who is also responsible for the impressive sauropods outside the museum.

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The egg is very elongated, as are oviraptorid eggs, and is flat on one side, allowing it to sit on a shelf without rolling off. The flat side is positioned so that the open part of the egg is tilted forwards. The dinosaur itself is in a fetal position with its eyes closed. It is fairly developed as though it’s almost ready to hatch. There’s plenty of wrinkle detail and striations on its body, which are rather subtle and do not distract from the overall form. The background of the egg is flat and veiny. The backside includes the manufacturer’s information and a small indentation with holes in it to attach the tag.

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Baby Louie is light brown with a pale yellow underside. It appears as though the brown was painted over the yellow as the brush strokes create a more varied colouration which makes it look more natural. There are touches of gray on the eyelid, lips, arms, and legs. The claws are not painted a different colour from the body. The background is of a medium red material with darker red paint highlighting the veins. It looks as though this model was made in multiple pieces, with a seam line around the inside of the egg; the interior of the egg was produced separately from the exterior and attached inside. The egg itself was produced in a very pale pink and dry-brushed with a lighter colour.

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For an oviraptorid, this figure lacks some of the trademark features of the group, such as a beak and head crest. Some oviraptorosaurs did not posses crests, however, the original Baby Louie fossil has a beak, witch is relatively difficult to overlook. Comparing it to photos of the original fossil, the proportions don’t look awful. As with many theropod sculpts, the wrists are pronated as well. And to get to the elephant (mammoth?) in the room, the embryo does not have any feathers. I would imagine a baby oviraptorosaur would hatch with downy feathers like those of a chick, however, not all birds hatch with feathers and so not all feathered dinosaurs might have either.

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In length, the egg is just under five inches and around an inch and three quarters wide. It is pictured with a US penny for scale. This figure is more of a model and less of a toy compared to other Safari Ltd products, as it is not something kids would really play with, due to the size of the model and that it is a broken-away egg.

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Overall, Baby Louie is a good figure. The sculpt is great, but I don’t think it’s incredibly accurate. Safari Ltd did make other dinosaurs in eggs, including an Oviraptor and a cringeworthy Tyrannosaurus. Of these, only the Oviraptor is in the same league as this guy, but it isn’t perfect, either. I would recommend this figure, especially if you see one in a shop somewhere, but I don’t think I would have gone out of my way to buy this. They aren’t very common anymore so if you’re looking for one your best chance is to wait for one to pop up on eBay.

Feathered Dinosaurs Premium Box by Colorata

This year has seen toy companies embrace feathered dinosaurs like never before, if not always with perfect execution. Accuracy stalwarts like Safari Ltd and especially Kaiyodo have been giving us feathered dinosaurs for years, but now even Papo and Schleich are getting on the plumage train. Another late convert is Japanese company Colorata. Colorata, named after the specific epithet of a butterfly, is best-known for exquisitely rendered PVC figurines of extant animals. They have also produced several sets of prehistoric animals, some of which are very nice–in particular, they have made some beautiful pterosaurs. To date, however, their only feathered dinosaur has been Archaeopteryx from their “Dino Jurassic” boxed set. Their two “Dino Cretaceous” boxed sets are still in production, and feature featherless versions of animals like Velociraptor and Deinonychus. This year, finally, they have released their largest prehistoric set yet: the Premium Feathered Dinosaurs box.

Colorata Feathered Dinosaurs

This set features seven different animals known or hypothesized by inference to have feathers. The first thing to note is that these figures are much larger than previous releases from Colorata. The sculpts are all lovely, but they contain errors that will irk the more accuracy-obsessed among us. Let’s take a look at each.

First up: Tyrannosaurus. To my eye, this is a believable quantity of feathering, leaving bare the few areas known from skin impressions to have borne scales. Incidentally, although all seven of these figures come with bases that they balance on with the help of acrylic support rods, this is the only figure in the set that stands solidly on its own off the base. This is by far the largest dinosaur Colorata has made, about 20 centimeters long, or around 1:55-1:60 scale. The tail comes in a separate piece and attaches unobtrusively.

Colorata feathered Tyrannosaurus

Next up is Oviraptor, though the head, like most other figures of this genus, seems to be modeled after Citipati. It’s about 14 cm long, around 1:15 scale. The white color scheme with the tan belly and legs is a daring choice, but I think it works. As has become de rigueur for Oviraptor, there are brighter colors around the face. The hands are sculpted in the correct orientation, and spread out–and naked. Fossils of close relatives of Oviraptor such as Caudipteryx and Similcaudipteryx show that it would have had vaned feathers that extended onto the digits, not stopping at the wrist as on this figure. This omission mars an otherwise attractive figure, as well as several others in the set.

Colorata Oviraptor

Like this Deinonychus. This is one of the finest plastic models of the genus ever made, recreating the dynamic pose of the earlier, and smaller, featherless version. Nevertheless, the hands are missing the primary feathers that Deinonychus is almost certain to have had, and the body feathers adhere to the underlying form too closely, giving the animal a slightly wet look. This figure is larger than the previous Colorata version, coming in at around 1:20 scale.

Colorata feathered Deinonychus

The Velociraptor follows more or less the same pattern: larger than the previous incarnation (a bit over 11 cm long, 1:18 scale), with feathers, but not enough feathers. The feathers along the arm flex with the wind under the animal as it jumps, a nice touch, but the hands are again glaringly naked. This won’t spoil it for everyone, but it might prove intolerable for those who are sticklers for complete feathering. At the same time, for the moment, maniraptorans with 100% accurate feathers are pretty thin on the ground.

Colorata feathered Velociraptor

The Dilong fares a bit better. It’s more distantly related to birds than Deinonychus or Oviraptor are, and the basically hairlike feathers look believable here. This might be my favorite of the set, perhaps in part because of the blue coloration. It’s a species that Colorata hasn’t attempted before, and it comes in at about 11 cm long, or 1:18 scale.

Colorata Dilong

Sinosauropteryx was one of the discoveries that convinced skeptics that feathers must have been fairly widespread among theropods. Its feathering reflects the distribution seen in the fossil, and its position in the family tree of coelurosaurs, more distant from birds. This is one of the few fossil animals from which we know a little bit about the color pattern, and remains suggest that it had bands of reddish and white on the tail, which would have looked nice on this figure. But the part that bothers me is that it has a strong overbite. It might just be a molding error, but the lower jaw is much too short, making it look just a tiny bit goofy. This figure is just a shade bigger than the Kaiyodo version, about 1:13 scale.

Colorata Sinosauropteryx

The Microraptor is another attractive sculpt, with a beautiful base featuring a cycad trunk. But like its larger relatives, it suffers from incomplete feathering on the hands, and a slightly misshapen tail. Finally, studies of fossilized melanosomes (subcellular structures that store dark pigments) suggest that the black coloration on Microraptor was more extensive. Still, an elegant little figure if you can look past those flaws. It’s about 7 cm long, or about 1:13 scale.

Colorata Microraptor

Some previous Colorata releases have featured pegs on the feet of the animals, with holes in the bases to receive them. Thus, the animals couldn’t stand on any other surface. Most of the new ones don’t stand well on their own, either, but the fact that they don’t have foot pegs makes them much less distracting when removed from the bases for play time. In that sense, and in the sense that they are at least a good-faith effort at feathering, these are an improvement over previous Colorata versions of theropods. However, there are more accurate versions of almost all of these animals available, and the price tag of this set is commensurate with the larger-than-usual figures (about the equivalent of $70 USD in Japan, and up to twice that much elsewhere). If you’re willing to shell out for them, and you don’t mind a few reconstruction mistakes, you can find them on auction sites, or get them from a retailer that deals in Japanese imports or exports.

Oviraptor (CollectA)

Oviraptor is one prehistoric animal that’s been saddled with a terribly inaccurate name (Basilosaurus has the same problem). It was dubbed the “egg thief” because its remains were found atop a nest of eggs that was assumed to belong to Protoceratops. But the discovery of several nesting Citipati specimens in the 1990s’ shows that Oviraptor was in fact only guilty of being a dutiful guardian of its own eggs.

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CollectA’s 2010 Oviraptor is one of the smallest figures in their dinosaur line. It stands about 4.5 cm tall, measures 8.5 cm long, and has a wingspan of 6 cm. This individual has been sculpted with its mouth open and its wings spread out. Possibly it is meant to depict a virile male displaying before a prospective mate. Like many CollectA theropods, the Oviraptor is mounted on a pitted, sand-coloured base.

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Oviraptorosaurs are frequently depicted in vibrant colour schemes and this one is no different. Its main colour is yellowish brown with darkened patches and a white underbelly. The bare fingers and feet are dull orange with large, dark grey claws. The wings are flecked with white and dark brown. And the head and tail fan are decked out in bright orange and electric blue. The eyes are brown, the bill is black, and the mouth is pink. Such snazzy colours lend to the idea that this animal is male. Despite its small size, the figure boasts some pretty decent detail. The body is covered in a fine coating of plumage and the fingers and feet have faint wrinkles. The feathers on the wings and the tail fan are well sculpted, although it’s harder to tell due to all the colours painted over them.

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Accuracy-wise, this Oviraptor scores reasonably well. It’s certainly unmistakable as an oviraptorosaur, the hands are appropriately large, and the impressive tail fan is in keeping with feather impressions and pygostyles from close relatives such as Caudipteryx and Nomingia. The wing feathers do not appear to be attached to the second fingers, but I’m willing to overlook that error. The large, cassowary-like crest is in keeping with how Oviraptor is usually depicted, but keep in mind that the only known skull is crushed to the point where we can’t say for certain how it really looked. In the mean time, a crest such as this one is perfectly possible. At first I thought the sculptor had omitted the dew claws, but a quick Google image search shows that the mould does indeed have them; they’re simply concealed by the base.

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Overall, I think this Oviraptor figure is even better than its catalogue photo suggests. It’s not nearly as spectacular as CollectA’s most recent feathered dinosaurs, but it’s still a very unique, affordable, and enjoyable little toy.

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