Nigersaurus is a genus of rebbachisaurid sauropod that was discovered in the Elrhaz Formation in Niger, Africa. It lived during the middle Cretaceous and is notable for its small size (by sauropod standards), short neck, and bizarrely shaped broad muzzle packed with over 500 teeth. The muzzle would have been wider than the skull with the teeth laterally placed across the front. This appears to be an adaptation for low level browsing, allowing the animal to indiscriminately clip away vegetation close to the ground. In addition, the orientation of the inner ear shows that Nigersaurus normally held its head downwards and close to ground level. All of this makes Nigersaurus one of the strangest of all sauropods.
Nigersaurus is a genus that frequently pops up on the wish lists of those interested in unusual or small sauropod species. Unfortunately, there are not many options available currently. CollectA has one still in production but it’s from 2009 (the Procon days) and does not match CollectA’s modern level of quality. Safari also made one in 2009 but it is now retired, and although an excellent model it does suffer from a few inaccuracies. We did manage to get a Nigersaurus this year though, for Mattel’s Jurassic World line. And yes, I know, it’s not the Nigersaurus most collectors have been wanting.
Initially I didn’t want the Mattel Nigersaurus myself and thought it an easy pass. Although mostly decent and with a high level of detail, the dopey expression on its face practically ruined it for me. But it was the same stoned expression on this toy that ultimately endeared me to it upon seeing it in person. Gazing upon its goofy visage put a dopey smile on my own face and sometimes that’s good enough.
The Mattel Nigersaurus is part of their Dino Trackers Wild Roar line. The packaging indicates that it comes from a forest biome, but it looks like it would be more at home on a Colorado pot farm. Pushing a button that’s discreetly disguised as some osteoderms on the back allows the neck to swing left and right while letting out a few different roars. I think it’s a missed opportunity that the head is not in an accurately lowered position so that the neck swinging action feature allows the figure to graze.
There is some standard articulation here too. The hindlimbs can rotate around and pivot in and out. The forelimbs can swing in and out and rotate around too. It’s all pretty much useless for a sauropod toy, unless you want to make it sleep off its buzz. The figure measures 13.5” long which puts it at 1/26 in scale when scaled down from the 30’ estimated length of Nigersaurus. It stands 5” tall at the hips.
Starting with the head, the skull is severely shrink wrapped and the open mouth curls up at the corners, making the toy look rather relaxed and carefree. The sunken eye sockets and wrinkled skin around them gives the illusion of “high eyes” but at least they’re not red. And of course, the shape of the head is inaccurate as well, with a muzzle nowhere near as wide and flattened as that of the actual Nigersaurus. The fact that the teeth aren’t painted doesn’t help either and Mattel basically fails with giving their Nigersaurus the features that make Nigersaurus distinctive. Nigersaurus is also in the Jurassic World: Evolution video game and their model for it is far superior to this one. I wish Mattel would draw more inspiration from this obvious source.
The rest of the figure is acceptable for a Mattel toy with a high level of fine detail and bodily embellishments that make Mattel dinosaurs appealing to those that collect them. The entire toy has a rough, bumpy texture that makes it fun to hold and study. A covering of scales decorate the entirety of the figure and I especially enjoy the exceptionally minute pebbly scales extending from the lower jaw, across the underside, and down the tail. Several rows of osteoderms run down the neck, body, and tail, and clusters of larger scales decorate the limbs. The skin along the neck and flanks is saggy with many creases and skin folds. The osteoderms are inaccurate, as are the four clawed digits on each limb, but you likely know that already and if you collect Mattel, you probably don’t care.
The toy is painted the same color as whatever it’s been smoking. It’s a mix of three different shades of green with an emphasis on patterning towards the front that makes the rear end look unfinished in typical Mattel fashion. The head, neck, forelimbs, and portion of the back are light green while darker green blotches over the neck and back eventually give way to a completely dark green back half. A paler shade of green is painted on the underside of the neck and chest. The claws, inside of the mouth, and teeth are all unpainted and the eyes are yellow with black pupils.
I find Mattel’s Nigersaurus to be an amusing fellow and bought it entirely because of that reason. This is not a toy I would recommend to any intellectually mature or serious collector. I even waited for it to be on sale before purchasing and at $12 I was still questioning my life choices while gleefully adding it to the cart. There’s no denying that the toy has personality, and if you can appreciate it then it’s worth picking up, but maybe not for the $18.99 it normally retails for.