Megaraptorans are an unusual clade of theropods that are all presently known from incomplete fossil remains, yet are generally characterized by powerful arms terminating in frightfully huge claws. Just where precisely they fit into the greater theropod family tree has been an ongoing debate for years, but there is a growing consensus that they are either nested within Tyrannosauroidea, or represent a sister taxon to it. Personally, I rather like the notion of megaraptorans being tyrannosauroids; their oversized arms make them quite the cool juxtaposition to the tyrannosaurids with their famously reduced arms. Megaraptor itself was discovered in the Portezuelo Formation of Argentina and formally described in 1998. It was initially believed to be a gigantic dromaeosaur based on a 30 cm long curved claw, then a spinosaur following the discovery of a complete hand, and then finally determined to represent an altogether different animal along with relatives like Aerosteon, Australovenator, Murusraptor, and Orkoraptor.
Probably due to their relative obscurity and fragmentary nature, megaraptorans have not been very well represented by prehistoric toy companies; up until now, the only ones here on the blog were Australovenator and Fukuiraptor. But once again Mattel has beaten all the popular “serious” companies to the punch by releasing toys of Megaraptor (not the first one, though) and Orkoraptor (definitely the first one).
The main colours on the 2022 Roar Strikers Megaraptor are navy blue and flat red with tiny navy blue spots. Very pale grey is used for the mandible and the stripes on the skull. The inside of the mouth is salmon pink, the teeth are yellowish, and the beady eyes are orange. Like most Mattel toys, the claws have been left unpainted and it’s a real shame in this case, as the toy looks particularly odd with blue claws on its hands and red claws on its feet.
The Megaraptor measures about 33 cm long and stands 12 cm tall. It is posed in a horizontal stance with the tail held straight out and twitching slightly to the left, the right leg stepping forward, the elbows bent, the fingers spread apart, and the mouth wide open. The arms have universal joints at the shoulders and the legs rotate at the hips, but like all the Roar Strikers theropods, they’re really designed to only be in the standard pose. Pushing down on the toy activates a series of guttural snarls and causes the head to lunge down and the mouth to clamp shut. Nothing unique, but satisfyingly fun. The pull-up tab with the scan code is located above the hips.
Sparse feathery integument is growing on the back of the Megaraptor’s neck, on the top of its back, on the bottoms of its forearms, and on the lower half of the tail, with some very long feathers at the tip. The rest of the body is all scaly. Rows of scutes run down the tops of the fingers and the feet, as usual. The musculature is also well defined and adds to the feckful and dangerous appearance of this predator.
Accuracy-wise, however, it suffers from a number of major shortcomings. The head basically copies that of the male JP3 Velociraptor, whereas the real Megaraptor had a much more elongated skull. The aforementioned Orkoraptor toy boasts a head that is more in keeping with what we know about megaraptorans. The claws on the hands look reasonably good, especially the enormous inner pair, but the arms look a bit undersized. The feet look ridiculously oversized, even for a Mattel theropod, but I guess that was necessary in order for the toy to remain standing. Finally, the tail is too short (as expected) and looks too much like a plucked dromaeosaur’s. Indeed, many casual fans are likely to mistake this toy for Velociraptor or some other dromaeosaur, even without the famous toe claws, rather than the fascinating and unusual Megaraptor restored in skeletal mounts and paleoart using what little information is currently available. I dearly hope that other companies start tackling it and other megaraptorans in the future.
And there you have it. This Megaraptor‘s strengths lie not in the realm of science, but rather in its scary looks and solid play value. It certainly doesn’t belong on the shelf next to the vaunted likes of PNSO, Eofauna, and Beasts of the Mesozoic, but it’ll also certainly bring a smile to any youngster’s face with its savage cries and snapping jaws, and probably irritate a number of parents in the process (it is not recommended for long car trips). This toy never appeared in Canadian retail chains to my knowledge, but I was still able to buy it on Amazon Canada. I’m not sure what its availability is like nowadays in the US and abroad, so Amazon and other online stores are probably the best bet for anyone still hoping to acquire one.