Baryonyx (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

4.5 (39 votes)

Before Spinosaurus was all the rage, and before we even had a good grasp of what Spinosauridae was as a family, Baryonyx was the bizarre piscivorous theropod that was capturing the public imagination. In much the same way modern companies try to keep up with new discoveries, Invicta Plastics was able to produce a Baryonyx in 1989, only 3 years after it was fromally described. For me, I first became aware of Baryonyx while looking through Dougal Dixon’s Dinosaurs, a common occurrence as a youngster. In the book there was an image of a Baryonyx silhouetted against the sun, catching a fish from a river, flicking it out of the water with its claw. The picture was extraordinarily lifelike to me, recalling images of grizzly bears catching salmon. Such is the power of such imagery at an early age that despite the discovery of more glamorous Spinosaurids the Baryonyx still remains a personal favorite for me.

Baryonyx is one of those dinosaurs that has been done often, but seldom done well. For that reason, the Invicta Baryonyx remained the best Baryonyx for an absurd amount of time, and until this writing, was the only Baryonyx in my own collection. Older lackluster representations exist by Carnegie, Schleich, and CollectA. More recent figures by Papo, CollectA, Mojo, and Schleich are better but still failed to impress me enough to buy them. Favorite produced a Baryonyx that could arguably be considered the best, but it was a museum exclusive and is now hard to obtain. I held off on all those Baryonyx toys, in hopes that Safari would eventually tackle the beast. Now here we are.

Safari only has 3 figured slated for 2021, all of them theropods, and two of them Spinosaurids. It’s not a diverse lineup, and some might feel underwhelmed by this, but considering the environment of 2020 I think we need to be forgiving, and happy about what we got. Since one of those releases is my long coveted Baryonyx I am personally ecstatic about the lineup. Now my 31-year-old Invicta Baryonyx finally has some company.

The Safari Baryonyx measures 9” in length and stands 3.5” tall. Estimated lengths for Baryonyx range between 25-33’ so that makes this Baryonyx about 1/35 in scale. It is depicted stepping forward with its left leg, the head leaning leftward, and the mouth open. The Baryonyx is sculpted by Safari’s premier dinosaur sculptor, Doug Watson.

The Safari Baryonyx is sculpted with the same attention to detail and accuracy that Safari, and Doug Watson, are well known for. Immediately noticeable highlights include the robust build of the animal, no shrink-wrapping, the various skin folds around the torso and tail, and the muscular legs, especially the calves. When looking at promotional images a lot of small details appear absent but holding the model in hand, they are certainly present. Miniscule pebbly scales cover the dinosaur’s body in a believable way, and up and coming companies should take note. It is possible to put scales on your dinosaurs while also keeping them at a realistic size.

In terms of accuracy, I have come to trust Doug Watson’s design choices. I know they’re always well researched, even if they seem initially off to my untrained eye. Mr. Watson has an extensive knowledge bank and many resources at his disposal. As an example, one of the things immediately noticeable about this Baryonyx is the nostril placement, which is farther forward than we would typically expect it to be. Doug Watson directly addressed this perceived inaccuracy with a post on the Dinosaur Toy Forum, where he informed us that the nostril placement of his Baryonyx is based on the paper “Nostril Position in Dinosaurs and Other Vertebrates, and Its Significance for Nasal Function“, by Lawrence M. Witmer, 2001. In short, the nasal openings in Baryonyx are quite large, and most people have placed the nostril farther back on that opening whereas Mr. Watson has placed it farther forward, in keeping with Witmer’s study. As I write there is a great deal of chatter about the number and size of teeth on this Baryonyx. Mr. Watson hasn’t addressed those concerns but for me it’s a non-issue. The number of teeth won’t influence my opinion on an otherwise masterfully sculpted $15 toy.

We don’t have a complete skull of Baryonyx, but based on what we do have, the head on this sculpt looks sufficiently spot on. It is appropriately elongated, with a long, narrow snout. The subrostral notch is there, as is the sagittal crest. The name Baryonyx means “heavy claw” and the claw on the first digits of the hand are appropriately large when compared to the others on the hand. On that note, all the claws as well as the teeth are much pointier and sharper than one might expect.

The Safari Baryonyx is painted in various brown tones, darker dorsally and transiting to a lighter shade along the neck, torso, and underside. Brown speckling is also present along the neck and torso. Doug Watson claims that he wasn’t inspired by other Baryonyx reconstructions with regard to color, and I believe him, but these colors are still remarkably similar to the Baryonyx by Favorite and CollectA. What is it about Baryonyx that attracts a brown color palate? I personally enjoy the subtle earth tones painted here. Their subtlety helps draw attention to the finer details that might be overlooked with a flashier paintjob. The claws are all painted gray, the eyes yellow, and the inside of the mouth is painted with a glossy pink finish.

It’s not all praise for the Safari Baryonyx, unfortunately. It does look similar to the Favorite Baryonyx and if you have that model you might be bored by this one and inclined to skip out on it. I personally think the Safari figure looks significantly better than the Favorite and if choosing between them was the issue, I would go with the Safari.

The paint application while mostly decent is especially sloppy on the teeth, giving this toy the dreaded “milk mustache” appearance. Also, although the toy comes with an elaborate plastic case to protect the legs, they do still seem prone to warping. My toy was having severe stability issues before I gave it the hot water treatment. Once properly positioned the figure stands find, but I don’t know how long it will hold until the leg warps again.

All in all, I think this is the best Baryonyx figure to date. For me, all other Baryonyx figures since Invicta’s have disappointingly missed the mark. The Favorite was a solid take on the genus but this one surpasses it not only in craftsmanship but also availability. For the time being, this is the definitive Baryonyx, and it deserves much more attention than it’s getting. It seems that between the combination of Safari’s meager lineup this year and the hype over PNSO, that this figure is being overlooked. Don’t sleep on this one.

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Comments 8

  • With all three Safari 2021 theropods in hand, I think Baryonyx is definitely my favorite. It’s an excellent figure all around, and I’m amused to consider how spoiled we really are to have a toy of this quality for its going price, even amongst numerous attempts by other companies. Safari ltd. is still going strong!

    • I see this comment a lot, but I don’t get it. The dead Baryonyx model is a gray and off-white, the Safari toy is brown and lighter brown. Aside from the fact that there is counter-shading, which is something just about every dinosaur figure these days has, I don’t see any similarities at all.

    • Perhaps you’re thinking more of the DK/Eyewitness model?

      I can see more of a resemblance there, but CollectA and Favorite have vaguely similar color schemes too. I think patterned-brown-on-tan/yellow has just become an accidental default for the genus (although it looks pretty good).

  • I really cannot wait to get this figure at the end of January… I think Doug really outdid himself on this one…

  • As a Safari fan and an admirer or the work of Doug Watson in particular, I applaud both the sculpt and review. I have both the Invicta and Favorite models and this will be a most worthy addition. I know that the issue of a certain sloppiness in painting the dentition of Safari theropods is a recurring problem, but NOT a serious one. For $15.00, no big deal – it’s easily remedied with a bit of color matching and touchup. I have little regard for those who disparage quality work like this simply because they don’t like the color choice (I’m good with it and it could be effectively repainted if so desired) or for trivial defects. For heaven’s sakes, it’s a $15 dollar toy that is loaded with quality characteristics, as the review points out. Hopefully it sells well. Great review as usual.

  • This is the 20th Baryonyx review on the blog. Fitting!

  • Great review, Gwangi! This awesome figure definitely isn’t getting enough attention.

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