Normally I prefer to write about noble fishes, but occasionally I must sully myself with filthy theropods. Today is such an occasion. Join me for a look at Schleich’s Oviraptor. Schleich has earned a lot of derision for their sometimes hilarious depictions of dinosaurs. Their 2018 slate of releases has plenty to mock, but there are several figures that are not too bad. This oviraptorosaur is one of them. It has its flaws (would it be Schleich if it didn’t?), but it’s got plenty to like too. First, a brief aside on its taxonomy.
Oviraptor philoceratops is known from a partial skeleton, including the lower jaw and part of the skull. The part of the skull it’s known from does not include the crest, if there was one. So why do all our Oviraptor toys have crests? Because many of its relatives had them, including Citipati, although the crest on this and most other figures more closely resembles a very complete specimen housed at the Mongolian Institute of Geology, a specimen which has sometimes been called Citipati but hasn’t been formally assigned to any species. Call this figure Oviraptor if you like, of course, but its actual head shape is a mystery! (Thanks to Dinosaur Toy Forum member Sim for directing me to some useful resources on oviraptorosaur taxonomy.)
Some oviraptorosaurs have been found with extensive feathers, including asymmetric ones on the forelimbs, meaning that the whole group was probably quite birdlike. The extensive feathering on this figure is therefore welcome. Other toy versions have given it a less complete set of feathers, or no feathers at all. These feathers are impressively detailed, with discernible barbs within each vane.
The figure is around 17 cm long, making it 1:10 or 1:12 scale. The tail ends in a nice little fan, a plausible anatomy based on both the preserved tail feathers of relatives, and on the fused vertebrae in the tail tip of oviraptorosaurs (like the pygostyle of birds, which anchors their tail feathers). The whole figure is gray with a fairly lazy streak of blue across the top. The face and claws are painted, and there seems to be a thin dark wash across the rest of the feathers, but overall the paint job makes the figure feel not quite finished.
The face is maybe the least attractive part of the sculpt. It’s not shrink-wrapped in the conventional sense, which usually means not putting enough soft tissue in the skull cavities. Instead, it looks like they put the right amount but then bulked up the underlying bones to emphasize them. It makes the animal look slightly undead. Maybe they thought that a mean, scowling Oviraptor would be more appealing to kids.
Despite the lackluster paint job and the knobbly face, this figure does a pretty reasonable job of conveying the appearance of an oviraptorosaur: feathers, no teeth, deep beak, tail fan, and all the rest. You can get it for pretty cheap right now just about everywhere, and I’d happily give this to a kid. The discerning collector might find space for a repainted version, as the underlying sculpt deserves better than the factory paint. Overall, it’s probably the most accurate version currently in production . . . of the unnamed Mongolian specimen.