Several other companies have made Mapusaurus figures before, including Bandai, Playmates, and CollectA. So far, however, we’ve only reviewed CollectA’s four (!!!) versions on the blog. A brief re-introduction might be useful, then: Mapusaurus hails from the Huincul Formation (English approximation: “ween-COOL”) in Argentina, just like its recently described relative Meraxes and the famous Argentinosaurus. That places it in the Turonian stage of the Late Cretaceous, close to the end of the carcharodontosaurid lineage. It would have been one of the largest carnivores in its environment.
This figure is PNSO’s third release for 2023, number 68 in its Prehistoric Animal Models line. Its base color is a pale gray, with irregular dark streaks along the back and the lower flank. On the upper flanks a rusty-colored band grades into the dark dorsal stripe. The stripe breaks up into blotchy vertical bands along the tail. It’s a harmonious palette, and on my copy it’s cleanly applied. It did arrive with some minor scuffs on the left thigh where the skin folds were abraded at some point during packaging or shipping. This appears to be pretty common; others have reported that the paint flakes off readily.
The pose is a variation on the ‘striding forward menacingly’ motif, slightly slouched with the head lowered. Maybe it’s after some low-slung prey, or it’s signaling to a friend or rival. It manages to look graceful and powerful at the same time. The proportions are good, to the extent that they can be appraised–Mapusaurus is known from most of the skeleton, but split among quite a few individuals. The long, deep head, the very small arms, the powerful hindlimbs. All in all, it looks very theropod-y.
The scale detail is wonderfully subtle.
The head looks like that of a member of the Giganotosaurini. There is a bit of paint slop on the teeth, which is par for the course. If that sort of thing bothers you they wouldn’t be terribly hard to touch up. Large individuals of Mapusaurus have highly sculptured maxillae and lacrimals, which are shown pretty conservatively here. PNSO could have gotten away with a somewhat gnarlier head. Like nearly all of PNSO’s theropods, there is no soft tissue to cover the teeth at rest. Dinosaurs wouldn’t have been able to blow raspberries, but if we take a broad view of sauropsid evolution, the permanently bare teeth are pretty unlikely. There’s always going to be a wisp of a chance that the fanboys who think they just look cooler that way are right. However, I view the exposed teeth as a demerit, and I think they look silly with the mouth closed. Keep the mouth open and it looks a little less goofy.
The last few years has seen a glut of carcharodontosaurids, and of large predatory theropods more broadly. The third release from PNSO this year was also their third carcharodontosaurid of the year. After Lucas the Giganotosaurus (version 2.0) and Mungo the Meraxes came Mila the Mapusaurus. While the figures themselves are perfectly good, it’s a little hard to get excited for three nearly identical animals in a row. (And yes, to head off the carcharodontosaur stans who memorize specimen numbers, each of these taxa has its own autapomorphies. They’re still animals you’d have a hard time distinguishing between if you met them in real life armed only with current knowledge.)
If you are the sort of collector who thinks the only ecological niche that matters is apex predator, then this will be right up your alley. If you like a little more variety or novelty, the extremely minor variation on the mega-theropod theme you see here will not do much for you. I myself would probably not have spent my own money on this, because doing so just encourages PNSO to make more of the same.
That said, it’s a mighty fine figure. PNSO has only improved their sculpting, even if they have recently grown a bit stale in how they’re using their talents.