Fukuiraptor isn’t a dinosaur name one hears too often – at least outside of Japan. First discovered in the 1990s, the “thief of Fukui Prefecture” is only known from fragmentary remains between a few specimens, consisting mostly of arm and leg bones. Like its relative Megaraptor from South America, Fukuiraptor was initially described as a dromaeosaur, only for later studies to reveal that the large fossil claw discovered among the remains belonged on the predator’s thumb, not its toe. Since then, Fukuiraptor has been classified within the clade of megaraptora, which has bounced between allosaurs, spinosaurs, and most recently alongside tyrannosaurs in the theropod family tree.
Not very many dinosaurs have been discovered in Japan, but the country seems to be pretty proud of the ones they have so far. Over half a dozen toys of Fukuiraptor alone have been produced by different toy brands, primarily Japanese brands like Takara Tomy and Kaiyodo. Perhaps the most striking and most demanded of these figures, at least among Western collectors, is the soft model by Favorite co. In 2015 Favorite collaborated with the Fukui Prefectural Museum to produce a series of exclusive models for sale at the museum’s shop. Among the first of these special releases, naturally, were Fukuisaurus and Fukuiraptor.
Favorite’s soft model of Fukuiraptor is packaged in a spacious red-and-orange box, with a black-and-white drawing of the dinosaur on each side of the box, and informational text (all in Japanese, so I’m only guessing) about the dinosaur and the museum exhibit spread across the back. A miniature skull replica, similar in size to the main figurine’s head, is also included in the package on a fused display base. There are no twist-ties or plastic bands in the package, so one need merely open the box from the top and slide out the plastic tray to access the figurine inside. The soft model itself measures 19.5 cm (7.75 in) long, which is about 1:25-1:26 scale for an estimated real-life adult length of 5 meters (16 feet).
The figurine is posed with its body angled upward, tail raised, as if in an attack or display position. The mouth is opened wide and the arms are reaching forward with claws spread, suggesting the theropod is trying to grab prey or threaten a rival. A base is included for the figurine, like most models Favorite produces; the base has a rocky texture with some nice sandy-brown washes to enhance details, and a name plaque decorating the front, enhancing the museum display aesthetic. The figurine itself is a little front-heavy, however, so even with the base and peg it may be prone to leaning over after being displayed for a while.
Since Fukuiraptor is known from largely incomplete specimens, reconstructing the animal – much less producing a toy likeness – comes with a lot of risks and artistic licensing. Most of what we have of Fukuiraptor is its limbs, which are long and slender in the familiar shape of many coelurosaurs and certain carnosaurs. The Favorite model does a good job replicating these slim features, although from some angles they look a little under-muscled. The model does, however, nail the look of the hands, with digits tipped in the long, lethal claws that prompted the “raptor” namesake. There are plenty of theropod toys on the market which veer too conservative on their sharp weaponry, so it’s a relief to see Favorite doing justice to this theropod’s signature trait.
The head on the figure reflects the megaraptorid family’s common association with carnosaurs and spinosauroids; in this case Favorite’s Fukuiraptor bears a resemblance to the elongated snout of megalosaurids like Torvosaurus. The fossil skull replica, however, has a stouter shape akin to an allosauroid, which is closer in design to the official mount on display at the Fukui Prefectural Museum. I suspect this discrepancy in the product items was accidental; otherwise the details in the main figure’s head are nicely defined, albeit lacking in soft tissues to fill in the fenestrae. The dentary also features a neat variety of tooth sizes, rather than a plainly-sculpted straight row of teeth.
Going down along the body, we see some more signs of sculptor Kazunari Araki’s tendency to underfeed his models, resulting in figures with an outdated “shrinkwrapped” physique; however, these tendencies actually appear more modest on Fukuiraptor, so the theropod looks a little lean, but not too scrawny. The ridge of the backbone is appropriately pronounced, based on the vertebra featured in the Museum mount; however this is technically a speculative feature since we don’t have any fossil vertebrae (to my knowledge). Creases and folds of skin atop large scale textures add definition to the figure’s anatomy; for such a fragmentary genus, this model feels reasonably and substantially lifelike.
Coloration for the model features a tiger-like scheme of dual-tone orange, darker on top and lighter underneath, broken up by shifting patterns of black stripes and spots. A single row of vertical stripes runs the length of the backbone, with an irregular mesh pattern on the flanks underlined by a crude row of polka-dots. Orange and black/brown is sometimes so commonplace in dinosaur figurines that it becomes tiresome, but it’s applied pretty well here. Additional details which benefit the appearance include a mild dark wash to enhance the skin texture, and sharp, beady eyes eyes finely painted in bright orange and yellow. Painting of the teeth and gums is a little sloppy, though.
Favorite Co. has a fairly consistent track record of good (but not great) dinosaur models, and the Fukuiraptor is overall one of the better examples. Due to the exclusive nature of this model, more casual collectors are probably better off acquiring the widely-available Collecta version of this theropod; however more enthusiastic collectors can try keeping their eyes peeled on eBay or Mercari for occasional sightings, or look for 3rd-party sellers who can access the Museum’s official shop.