Review by Dan L, Photos by Jeremy K.
Despite the public’s insatiable love of maniraptorans, it took over a year before Sideshow added one to their Dinosauria line of statues. This introduction is not without a few twists, however – and not all of them will be well-received by the foaming, rabid consumer base.
This diorama focuses on the classic clash of Velociraptor and Protoceratops, a scene which strikes an instant chord with any paleontology enthusiast. This is because it is based on an extraordinary fossil find, where both species were found locked in combat, apparently killed and preserved in a sudden manner (many believe a collapsing sand dune was the culprit). Whatever the case, this find has inspired many a work of paleoart, revealing various stages of the battle as the artist envisions it.
The robust ceratopsid has its horny beak clamped onto the carnivore’s arm, just as it appears in the original fossil. Twisted painfully and crunching through the delicate bone, fresh blood smears the raptor’s hand, as well as the herbivore’s face. Several lacerations can be spotted across the ceratopsid, evidence of the frantic slashing and gouging of this desperate predator. The raptor struggles to bite at the big, boxy head, to no avail. The herbivore’s right eye is also clamped shut reflexively, a nice touch of realism.
A fairly conservative color scheme was used for the Velociraptor, which has a bit of naked yellow skin, and a mottled charcoal integument. The sculptural detail on the creature is stunning, with individual filaments and feathers intricately crafted, exceeding the detail seen in many previous Dinosauria statues. The entire scene is provided with a great vertical flourish from the raptor’s elevated tail, which is bent only at the base, a sign the artists really knew their stuff.
The Protoceratops receives a slightly less impressive treatment. The product backstory refers to this animal as an agitated bull, yet the opportunity for flushing displays of color seems to be largely missed. The reds and oranges across the body and frill are rather subdued, credible but not exactly striking to the eye. Bumps of varied sizes adorn the body, which appears to plow into the predator without remorse. Interestingly, there is a slight row of spikes along the Protoceratops’ tail, hinting at the lineage of this animal, which included the Psittacosaurus with its flamboyantly quilled tail.
Another great point of interest is the base itself. Multicolored and intricate bases sometimes lose their believability once they hit mass production, but this sandy chunk of Cretaceous Mongolia is certainly of the best Sideshow has created for their line. The texturing is simple yet very fine, lending an extremely convincing illusion of real sand, complete with fresh footprints from the struggle.
Sadly, the paleontological relevance of this statue may be lost on some mainstream audiences. A few have yet to feel comfortable with the sight of feathered dinosaurs, and many more will hesitate to spend so much on a statue depicting a raptor “losing” a battle. Most likely, Sideshow will release a large statue of a Utahraptor or something similar, roaring or leaping into the air in a more crowd-pleasing fashion. There’s still no denying the presence of this scene, though. True dino-lovers will have no trouble appreciating this stunning recreation of an ancient battle.