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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.