It’s a hot, clear summer day. Birds are chirping in the trees while the pterosaurs overhead call out to each other as they pass in the sky. Turtles and crocodyliformes are basking comfortably on the banks of the calmly flowing river and on one side, a single spinosaur is standing stock still in the shallows, waiting patiently for a meal to swim by. On the opposite side, ornithopods of all ages and sizes are mingling, drinking, wallowing, and browsing without seemingly a care in the world. And each and every one of these herbivores is being carefully observed a pair of eyes concealed in the shrubbery located only a couple dozen paces back from the riverbank. These are the eyes of Nimrod, the most feared and deadly hunter in this realm. Methodically he assesses each and every potential individual, from the lissome juveniles to the robust adults and to the few that are elderly and waning. Years of experience have taught him to take his time, to choose his victim wisely, to plan when and how to attack, and to strike with power and precision in order to best ensure a kill.
Some of the ornithopods have drank their fill. They will be passing right by Nimrod’s hiding spot on their way back to their grazing pastures. They are coming closer to him. His eyes are now fixed on the young female on the left with the slightly lame front paw. Just a little bit closer now. A little bit closer . . .
CollectA released their first Neovenator way back in 2007, and it’s fair to say that that was a pretty crude and ugly toy. Their second one came out in 2012, and it was a decided improvement, though still flawed. Now meet Version 3.0, released in 2021. Measuring a little over 17 cm long and a little over 6 cm tall, it’s the smallest one yet. The real Neovenator was around 7.6 metres in length and two tons in weight, meaning it was not a particularly big theropod. But during the Early Cretaceous, it was an apex predator in the United Kingdom, feeding on famous ornithichians like Hypsilophodon, Iguanodon, Mantellisaurus, and Polacanthus. Other known theropods from the same time and location (the Wessex Formation) were either much smaller like the tyrannosauroid Eotyrannus or probably occupied different niches like the recently described spinosaurs Ceratosuchops and Riparovenator. I chose to name this fellow Nimrod after the biblical character who is described as “a mighty hunter.”
The official name for this toy is “Neovenator Scenting Prey” and one can easily see why. Nimrod is sculpted in a standing pose with his long tail held stiff and swaying to the right. His head is raised and also turned slightly to the right with the mouth firmly closed. He appears to pausing to sniff the air carefully in the hopes of pinpointing his next meal. He stands very well too, to the point where you can even nudge him with your finger and he won’t fall over.
Nimrod’s colour scheme is rather reminiscent of a common iguana. The base colour is light green with bright green stripes and a faint dark brown wash. The underbelly is light grey, the claws are dark grey, and there are also dark grey patches on the limbs and flanks. The spines running down the spine and on the bottom of the lower jaw and the throat (which further the iguana resemblance) are a dull pink. Finally, the head features black eyes and yellow markings. Looks pretty nice on the whole and plausible for an allosaur wanting to lie in ambush amidst the greenery.
The sculpting detail on Nimrod is once again of the same good quality that we’ve come to expect from CollectA: lots and lots rounded scales with a minimum of small rounded osteoderms on the neck, back, and tail. The spines on his back and throat are also well-rendered. His skull is a big improvement over the previous two Neovenator toys, with a more accurate profile and width and more prominent ridges in front of his orbits. And just like the Megalosaurus, Nimrod’s teeth are completely concealed by lips. On that note, recent research into Neovenator‘s skull has indicated that it possessed integumentary sensory organs on its snout, similar to what modern ducks and crocodilians use to locate food in the water. But since Neovenator was most likely a land predator, these sensory organs may have been used for precision feeding, controlling jaw pressure, and helping it to avoid biting into bone while eating.
Nimrod’s hands are properly positioned, as well should be expected on any theropod from CollectA, PNSO, or Safari Ltd. nowadays. His foreclaws look a little small, but I’ve seen skeletal restorations where they’re around that size. His torso and tail also look to be satisfactory overall. His legs, however, are plain scrawny, even more so than on the Megalosaurus. Combined with the oversized feet (necessary for keeping him standing up), it makes poor Nimrod look awkward and less powerful.
I would rank CollectA’s 2021 Neovenator the best of their three versions in terms of sculpting and accuracy, but it admittedly gets dragged down a fair bit by those lean legs. Recommended with some caution then. And thankfully, the 2022 Deluxe Spinosaurus has pleasingly muscular limbs, so hopefully any theropods CollectA releases in 2023 will too.