Since their first Kickstarter campaign back in 2016, things appear to be going very well indeed for Creative Beast Studio and their Beasts of the Mesozoic line. Their Raptor Series, which boasts a wide range of animals from Dromaeosaurus to Mononykus, has been well received by dinosaur fans the world over. They are presently working on a Ceratopsian Series, which looks to be even more impressive. And for their third project, they’re going to tackle tyrannosaurs, which has me very excited—although I reckon it’ll be at least 2021 before we see Tyrannosaurus rex rear its majestic head. Geez, my son will be in kindergarten by then!
Today I’ll be reviewing Creative Beast’s interpretation of Saurornitholestes langstoni. Saurornitholestes was a contemporary of the beefier Dromaeosaurus, but appears to have been much more abundant. Growing to around the size of a large turkey, it possessed distinctive serrated teeth, one of which has been found embedded in the wing bone of an azhdarchid pterosaur. Another very intriguing Saurornitholestes fossil consists of a dentary with three toothmarks that appear to have been made by a juvenile tyrannosaurid, probably Gorgosaurus. That must’ve been one nasty fight!
The packaging for BotM is fairly elaborate and warrants a little description. The large window on the front of the box shows off the figure nicely and the interior features a forest background at sunset (or sunrise). The artwork by Sara Richard on the sleeve depicts the animal in mid-pounce with its wings raised above its head. A smaller rendering of the same artwork on the back reveals that the Saurornitholestes is about to bring death upon a mammal of indeterminate species hiding unsuccessfully in the tall grass. A concise description of Saurornitholestes is also featured on the back of the sleeve. The back of the box lists a few key steps for unpacking the figure properly and utilising the various features. There’s also artwork of all four of the Fans Choice raptors: Dromaeosaurus albertensis, Pyroraptor olympius, Zhenyuanlong suni, and S. langstoni itself. Did I mention that BotM also includes the other species, S. sullivani? Given that S. langstoni was the first species to be discovered, I think it should have been the “regular” version as opposed to the Fans Choice one, but that’s neither here nor there.
Dromaeosaur toys can be notoriously difficult to stand on just their own two feet without the aid of a wing or a tail tip as a third leg, and more so when you add in lots of joints into the equation. To that end, every BotM raptor comes with a base and a clear support rod. The rod attaches to the base via a ball joint and has a socket joint at the other end for attaching one of two different C-shaped clips: a wide one and a narrower one that snaps onto the bottom of the figure’s pelvis like a clamp. The base is sculpted to resemble rocky terrain with a few bits of green scattered here and there.
In order to increase the range of poseability, all BotM dromaeosaurs come with two distinct sets of peg-on toes. One set is flattened with the digits held close, the other is bent with the digits spread apart. Just what you need for achieving a dynamic running stance or a calm standing pose or whatever pose you desire. Moreover, the underside of the base features two pegs for storing whichever toes you’re not using. A very smart idea!
And here it is, the Saurornitholestes! To the best of my knowledge, this and the other version from BotM are two of only three representations of the ‘lizard bird robber’ currently in existence, the third being from Geoworld (and clearly not comparable!). With the exception of its scaly muzzle, feet, and hands (uh-oh!), this animal’s body is covered in an elaborate coat of feathers. These range from spiky ones making up the tall crest on the head to very fine contour feathers on the body and to primary, secondary, and tertiary feathers on the wings. And the painstaking detail certainly rivals anything by CollectA, Papo, or Safari. Different textures are employed for the various feather types, giving this figure a life-like appearance. The teeth lining the mouth are small and fine, yet still appear capable of delivering a vicious bite. And then there are the signature claws on the hands and feet. Smooth, curved, and sharp, it’s not difficult to imagine what damage the Saurornitholestes can inflict with them.
The Saurornitholestes‘ main colours are many shades of brown ranging from dark to beige. The wings have faint splashes of light green and blue, the tail has light and dark green stripes along with white flecks, and the head features black and brown eyes, light blue and orange streaks, and dark blue for the tips of the crest. The mouth is magenta with a pink tongue and off white teeth. Finally, the hands and feet are a greenish beige with black claws. It’s a very elaborate and realistic colour scheme, one that probably would have worked well for a dromaeosaur in the forests and grasslands of Late Cretaceous Alberta. And if these colours looks oddly familiar to you, it’s because they were directly inspired by the extant greater roadrunner. A swift and deadly predator in its own right, although quite incapable of outrunning a coyote in real life!
From the tip of its snout to the end of its tail feathers, the Saurornitholestes measures just over 33 cm and stands approximately 13 cm tall at the tip of its crest. While it is certainly unmistakable as a dromaeosaur, it is not not as accurate a representation of S. langstoni as one would like. The head is too big, the second and third fingers are too short, and the shins are too short as well. The hands ought to be covered in pennaceous feathers, not scales. And finally, it is quite possible that the wings were larger on the real animal, although we may never know for certain.
Like all other raptors in this line, the Saurornitholestes features no less than 26 points of articulation. The mouth opens, the head looks up and down and turns from side to side, the arms can raise, lower, or spread wide apart, the wings fold and unfold, the body can bend at the midsection, the legs can achieve any number of walking or running poses, and the bendable tail is ball-jointed in two places. Oh, and the tongue is ball-jointed to boot!
Moreover, there are two ball sockets where the tail connects to the body, so you have the option of a slightly raised tail or a lowered one. I prefer the latter myself. The only problem is that it takes a good deal of excessive force to remove or reinsert the tail, and I’m reluctant to swap the positions too many times for fear of breakage.
By mounting the Saurornitholestes on its base, any number of dynamic poses can be achieved. Well, that’s the theory at least. In practice, getting it to remain in certain poses can be a challenge. Lots of fiddling and adjusting is required, and the support isn’t as stiff as I’d like it to be. A coating of super glue on the clip knobs, allowed to dry fully, has increased their stiffness somewhat, but even then I worry that repeated use of the narrower one may result in breakage. It is also possible to get the figure in a fair range of poses without the base, albeit by using the tail as a support for some.
Unlike most of the other prehistoric products featured here on the DTB, the Beasts of the Mesozoic line is definitely not a line intended for children. Creative Beast recommends it for ages 15 and up, although I reckon it would be okay for certain dinosaur enthusiasts as young as say, 12. Nor do these figures come cheap (nor should they!), as you’ll see from the listings on Dan’s Dinosaurs and MiniZoo. And as you’ve seen, there are certain anatomical and technical issues with this figure.
That all being said, I really like my Saurornitholestes. Indeed, I think it’s fantastic. It’s clear that a great deal of time, research, and passion went into its creation, and with all the other raptors in the series. The sculpting is absolutely top notch, the roadrunner-inspired colour scheme is realistic and visually pleasing, and there can be no question that it’s fun to fiddle with the many joints and achieve different poses. There can also be no question that the world needs more feathered raptor figures to counter the ongoing false influence of the Jurassic World franchise. And really, how often do you see a figure of Saurornitholestes? Or Adasaurus or Linheraptor or Tsaagan? I think Creative Beast Studio deserves to be commended and supported for this wonderful effort. I eagerly await further reveals in the upcoming ceratopsian series and I’m totally stoked for the tyrannosaur series after that. Cheers!