Review and photographs by Patrx
To me, Baryonyx is the quintessential British dinosaur. Perhaps a more classic taxon like Iguanodon or Megalosaurus really deserves the top spot, but there’s something about Baryonyx that stands out in my mind as inescapably British, and I think this is very likely to do with the fact that, for a long time, the best Baryonyx toy available was the classic monochrome rendition produced by Invicta Plastics for the British Museum. These days, possibly due to Old Heavy Claw’s recent role in a Jurassic World film, a few more of these plastic piscivores have surfaced, including the subject of today’s review, which, suitably enough, comes from another ostensibly British producer, CollectA.
At about 3 ¼ in. (8 ⅓ cm.) in height and 10 ¼ in. (26 cm.) in length, this Baryonyx is reasonably close to its advertised 1:40 scale. Contributing to that height is a robust, sandy-coloured base that gives the animal support and allows it to have a natural-looking pose and accurately-sized feet. Opinions tend to be strong on the subject of bases like this, but I’m in favour of the idea in general, and this one is well-executed. Like most CollectA bases, it could use some paint, but it’s quite sturdy and has some nice details. It’s a separately-cast piece from the dinosaur itself, so a steady hand and a craft knife could help those who want to have a go at building a new base or finding some alternative method to keep the creature upright.
Another potentially divisive feature is the articulated jaw, something I’m not usually too keen on. This one is a little rough, with some pretty visible seams and even a small gap where the pieces of plastic connect. It does lend a bit of playability and poseability, but the jaws don’t exactly come together very closely. There’s some ongoing discussion regarding exactly how spinosaurid jaws fit together anyhow, so perhaps it’s best to display this figure with its mouth agape.
Despite these issues, the skull itself is pretty impressive. Baryonyx had a rather distinctive head, and that’s reflected well in this sculpt. The snout and jaw are long, narrow, and extremely shallow. the gap between the maxillary and the premaxillary tooth rows is illustrated properly, and the distinctively procumbent array of teeth at the end of the mandible is accounted for. The eyes are suitably tiny and the nostrils are correctly retracted from the end of the snout, theoretically enabling the dinosaur to lower those fish-catching teeth into the water without drowning. Finally, a triangular crest protrudes from the top of the skull, just as it should.
The postcranial anatomy is quite good too. The neck is relatively straight and quite bulky, and the proportions of the arms, legs, and tail all correspond to typical skeletal reconstructions fairly faithfully. The animal’s namesake, those hook-like claws on the forelimbs, are nicely big and sharp. Typically, Baryonyx is restored without much in the way of a neural “sail”, (a trait seen in other spinosaurids) but this reconstruction does show a distinct ridge or hump along the back, evidently inspired by some isolated vertebrae recovered from the Isle of Wight, tentatively attributed to a “baryonychine” theropod. It’s pretty speculative, but I think we’ve come to expect that sort of thing from CollectA, and personally, I quite like it.
In terms of soft tissue elements, my impressions are largely, but not entirely, positive. It’s almost universal that spinosaurid reconstructions include very crocodylian-like skin, though fortunately, CollectA haven’t gone too far in that direction here. Big, gravelly “scales” make up the bulk of the integument, with some flat scute-like structures on the ventral surface. Some larger, rounder structures appear in lateral lines along the flanks, which lends some nice variety to the overall texture. Big, triangular spines line the back in three rows which converge at the base of the tail. The skin itself is sculpted to wrinkle and stretch in logical places, though it probably conforms to the musculature of the upper legs a little too closely–a minor holdover of the “shrink-wrapping” practise which CollectA have in other ways avoided brilliantly here and in most of their other work in recent years. The tail base is appropriately robust, housing the powerful muscles that powered the animals legs, but the legs themselves, particularly the calves, look a little underdeveloped and lizard-like.
Paint applications are reasonably sharp on this one, the issues are minor and mostly appear around those extremely small teeth. The eyes are done in CollectA’s usual beady black, which always looks pretty good to me, and the claws have a muddy brown color. The main piece is cast in a muted orange plastic, decorated with some dark reddish spots, a sandy yellow underside, and a bright orange highlight for that sharp crest on the skull.
In all, I’m pretty happy with this piece. A few minor complaints don’t detract from the overall impression of the animal notably, and it’s great to have a modern reconstruction of this somewhat underappreciated creature to join my other spinosaurids. I’ll happily recommend this one to anyone on the fence about picking it up for themselves.
Also, heartfelt thanks are due to forum member Suspsy, and the folks at CollectA, for their help in getting this review together!