Review and photographs by Loon, edited by Suspsy.
When I got back into dinosaurs in the mid-2010s, there were really only two criteria for becoming a paleontological sensation: having feathers and being big. Aside from having both, Dakotaraptor steini also lived alongside the famous fauna of the Hell Creek Formation, making it quite the superstar for a while. It starred in highly anticipated video games, featured in popular traveling exhibits, and had the dubious honor of appearing in the fifth Ice Age movie. Toy makers, however, haven’t been quick to jump on this popularity, as Dakoraptor is presently quite fragmentary. Luckily, you can count on Paleo-Creatures to make figures no one else will, as they released their version a couple of years back.
Like all Paleo-Creatures figures, this figure comes with a base. The toes and the tip of the wing slot into indentations in the mud. I find my model is more stable standing on its own, so that’s how it will be seen for the rest of this review. The underside of the base lists this figure as being 1:35 scale, but at 8 ¼ inches (21 cm) long, this figure is actually around 1:25 scale (assuming a length of 18 feet).
Even though no skull is known from Dakotaraptor, this figure’s head is a pretty reasonable approximation. It resembles Deinonychus, which is reasonable, as the rest of Dakotaraptor seems to have been similarly lithe. The head also features an articulated jaw, which can jut out a little bit too much when fully opened. And it features some of the best paintwork on the figure. The tongue and nostrils have a glossy, almost wet, appearance, and the eyes are painted with gold, giving this creature a life-like look.
Despite the real animal’s relatively lanky body, this figure’s torso seems a bit scrunched. That may be for casting reasons, as I imagine having the thin wings completely separate from the rest of the body could lead to breakage. The legs also seem a little short but are quite well detailed, with feathers that end around the knees, like in some ratites.
The tail has an appropriately beefy base, and ends in a large fan of feathers; whether or not these contour feathers would extend along the side of the tail, like Zhenyuanlong, is unknown. The ischium and pubis should also extend back a little more, but it’s not too noticeable.
The blue coloration of the figure may be a little off-putting to some collectors, as such a bright color might seem out of place on an 18-foot long theropod. However, I feel that the blue is blended well with the rust and white of the body, really pulling off the look. The non-feathered parts of the figure are predominately yellow, which is a little bit of a meme, but it works.
If you’re like me and got back into dinosaurs in the paleontological whirlwind of the mid-2010s, Dakotaraptor most likely has a place in your heart, and this figure should have a place in your collection. Even if you’re not in that demographic, this is a really well-done figure; good detail and a unique paint job help make this figure stand out, particularly among the other feathered dromaeosaur figures available.