Psittacosaurus (Beasts of the Mesozoic 1:18 by Creative Beast Studio)

4.9 (54 votes)

A few quibbles over design don’t stop this lively little figurine from exceeding my expectations and becoming one of my new favorites in the Beasts of the Mesozoic line.

While fans of the “Beasts of the Mesozoic” articulated action figure line eagerly await the release of the formidable Tyrannosaur series, Creative Beast Studios founder David Silva has provided another treat for collectors in the form of six re-scaled genera from the prior two “Beasts” series. Originally released in 1:6 scale, these new 1:18 versions allow for collectors to display their collection in a more consistent range. Three dromaeosaurs (raptors) and three ceratopsians are featured in this group, two of each which I was quick to preorder. I anticipated that these miniature action figures would be a worthwhile addition to my collection; what I hadn’t anticipated was which figure would end up taking my fancy the most.

Psittacosaurus might not appear to be that remarkable of a dinosaur; it lacks the sharp teeth of a Tyrannosaurus, the sheer size of a Diplodocus, the fancy ornaments of a Stegosaurus, and the novel weaponry of a Velociraptor. Despite its seemingly unassuming appearance, however, Psittacosaurus is probably one of the most valuable dinosaurs known to paleontology today. An early member of the marginocephalian clade, which includes pachycephalosaurs and ceratopsians, Psittacosaurus is known from 12 different species and hundreds of specimens discovered over the years, allowing it to become one of the most well-documented and extensively-researched dinosaurs ever known from the fossil record. One particularly well-preserved specimen of Psittacosaurus sp. has provided information on the animal’s coloration and body parts (quills, skin, and even a butthole and a “bellybutton”) to produce a complete picture of a prehistoric animal on an almost unprecedented level. Truly, Psittacosaurus is a dinosaur with a remarkable scientific record. Only a few earnest attempts have been successfully made in depicting the “parrot lizard” accurately over the years; of these attempts, the Creative Beast action figures are surely among the best.

The 1:18 Psittacosaurus by Creative Beast Studios comes in an attractive, collector-friendly package with a removable 2-level tray; the backdrop features splendid artwork by Jax Jocson and Carlo Arellano, which was also featured on the original 1:6 figure packaging. The figurine measures 10.5 cm (4.25 in) long, appropriately placing the figure around the intended 1:18 scale for a large 2-meter individual. The overall design and articulation setup is ported over from the 1:6 version, to impressive results. The entire figurine is exquisitely textured with fine scales, enhancing the life-like appearance and providing great tactile detail. Certain regions such as the belly and the forelimbs feature relatively larger or smaller scales, respectively, which further add to the naturalistic appearance (and potentially allude to the description of varying scale sizes from the Vinther et. al. 2016 study of Psittacosaurus sp.). Other fine details include choice folds and wrinkles in the skin around the neck, chest, and hips, much like the traits one can find in reptilian skin today.

The details don’t stop there, either! The Psittacosaurus figurine is toned nicely in musculature, depicting what appears to be a very fit and healthy specimen. The head portrays the distinctly rounded, flat-topped skull shape known from P. mongoliensis, the particular Psittacosaurus species this toy is labeled as. Scale definition isn’t as sharp as the rest of the body; but one can definitely make out clearly-marked eyes and nostrils on the face, and even a teeny-tiny pair of earholes on the rear of the skull upon very close inspection. Even a faint seam line down the belly just in front of the pubic region ends up (accidentally?) resembling the mark of an umbilical scar, which was confirmed as an anatomical trait of the animal in a 2022 study of the “mummified” Psittacosaurus sp. specimen. This action figure might be small in stature, but it goes big in capturing every possible detail possible at its size.

Yep, eeeevery detail – or maybe that’s just a quirk from the articulation cut. I’m not sure.
Sorry to embarrass you, buddy.

Fine detailing is great and all, but what about general proportions and skeletal accuracy? Like most of its Creative Beast brethren, the Psittacosaurus does a fine job at matching known materials and current reconstructions. The species depicted for Beasts of the Mesozoic is P. mongoliensis – the type species first described in 1923, and the species with the most fossil specimens to its name (over 75!). P. mongoliensis is typically restored as less robust than some of its fellow species, including the undetermined species featured in Vinther et. al. 2016. The figurine closely matches body proportions to the skeletal illustrations I’ve seen for P. mongoliensis; the beak and jugal (cheek) protrusions are relatively short, the neck is of modest length in relation to the head, the torso is oblong with a slender stomach, the tail is of ample length and muscle, and the hind legs are clearly longer than the forelimbs to promote bipedalism.

Not every detail appears quite perfect; the row of quills along the tail are slightly speculative, since we have quills preserved from Psittacosaurus sp. but not P. mongoliensis yet. The hind limbs on the figurine appear just slightly long, even for the more gracile from of this species. The femur-to-tibia/fibula proportions appear skewed, with the femur being too short; however this might be a discrepancy from the articulation cut. The forehands are correctly proportioned with the 3rd finger the longest and 4th finger the shortest; but the hind feet are designed with all four toes on the ground in similar length, rather than a shortened, raised first toe. This might be a choice made for stability’s sake, but it doesn’t seem to match most current reconstructions I’ve seen of the animal – and as an aside, it makes the left and right leg pieces hard to distinguish from each other when exchanging pieces for poses.

Posing, or articulation, is of course the primary selling point of the Beasts of the Mesozoic line alongside scientific accuracy; and in this department the Psittacosaurus particularly surprised me. Of the six miniature dinosaurs released in this “wave”, Psittacosaurus has the body plan best suited to both sturdiness and flexibility. Handling my raptors warrants extra delicacy due to their slender parts, and the Protoceratops is a little more stiff in certain regions; but my Psittacosaurus brings the best of both worlds to deliver a very lively piece for play. There are nine articulation points in total; some articulation has been sacrificed in the limbs, but a second pair of hind legs allows for alternating poses between standing, running, resting. et cetera. One standing and resting leg each (the right one, I think?) has a peg hole on the foot’s bottom to attach to the small plastic base provided with each of the 1:18 minifigures. Be warned that, although this setup is intended to allow this lightweight figurine to hold more dramatic poses without a stand, I did start to notice warping issues on the foot if certain poses were held too long. Despite its small size, this figurine is still front-heavy; be sure not to bend the foot out of shape.

Strutting with all it’s got.
What’s caught your interest there?

Other articulation includes a single midsection joint to the body, and a socket at the base of the tail; these joints are more for subtle adjustments than dramatic ones, but they serve their functions very satisfactorily. The most fun I have is with the head and neck joints, which allow very good multi-directional movement and make for great little gestures like a tilt of the head in curiosity. The jaw hinge serves amply also, although it looks a bit odd if opened too wide. The arms, despite only being articulated at the shoulders, remain highly mobile and can be spread in display or tucked closely to the body. All together, the articulation allows collectors to bring ample life and energy to the miniature action figure without fearing any breakage from simple handling. The possibilities for poses, natural or unnatural, are broad and beckoning; I’ve found myself frequently picking up this toy and fiddling with it on a frequency I haven’t obliged the other figures in this scale.

Hm, stretching to start the day, or readying a threat display?
Ah, threat display it is then. Whoa, easy there, fella!

Like its larger-scale sibling, the 1:18 Psittacosaurus comes patterned in modest but striking hues of burgundy and near-black with cream yellow undersides and facial highlights. The overall pattern alludes to the countershading patterns described from Psittacosaurus sp., while following a unique arrangement for artistic license, since P. mongoliensis has no confirmed pigment remains yet. The patterns are a bit harder-edged on this smaller figurine, but all details are applied carefully and neatly. There’s no slop around the minuscule eyes or toes, and a very nice gradient wash makes the tail quills pop without being overtly vibrant. The skin has a mostly matte finish, capturing just enough shine to emphasize sculpt detail without obscuring the color in light. Dinosaur toys can often risk looking drab with overly conservative hues and patterns, and figures in the BotM line have sometimes been criticized for the opposite case of exaggerated and seemingly implausible coloration; but the Psittacosaurus strikes a natural balance between these schools of thought quite smoothly.

Now that’s a good stretch.

The Beasts of the Mesozoic 1:18 Psittacosaurus mongoliensis has become my favorite of the new minifigures in this line; it’s an exquisitely detailed, highly articulated toy which met and surpassed my expectations for play and display. At this time, the figurine can be preordered from the Creative Beast website, and should be readily available by this September. By all means, go and order one at your soonest convenience; this little parrot lizard gets my highest recommendation!

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