Feathered dinosaurs are truly awesome and I adore them all, whether they’re from somewhere in the Mesozoic or still alive in the present, probing for earthworms on my lawn, swimming in the pond at the park, flying high in the sky, and so on. And certain of these extant dinosaurs are, of course, quite yummy to eat, especially when they’re from Swiss Chalet or Mary Brown’s. But I’d be absolutely terrified if I ever saw a live Yutyrannus striding towards me, as it would mean my own flesh-stripped bones would be lying in a pile once the dining experience was over! That’s because Yutyrannus was a 8.5 metre long, 1.5 ton tyrannosauroid with vicious teeth and claws that is currently the largest known dinosaur for which direct fossil evidence of feathers is present. Indeed, its entire body appears to have been covered in a shaggy coat of feathers that may have been for either insulation or display or both. Because of its ample plumage, Yutyrannus is frequently cited in order to justify depicting Tyrannosaurus rex and other tyrannosaurs with feathers, but that debate is far from settled. And certainly not one that I have any interest in discussing here.
Feast your eyes on Yinqi the Yutyrannus, one of a staggering number of top quality toys that PNSO has released in 2021. He is sculpted in a decidedly extreme action pose: hunched over and striding on tippy toes with his left foot forward, right foot extended back, head and tail raised, and arms seemingly at the ready to slash or seize something. Like the other big PNSO theropods, he features a hinged lower jaw which allows his mouth to be opened to a 40 degree angle. Clearly, Yinqi is in the midst of pursuing prey; he could be inflicting deep wounds on a large herbivore’s flanks or about to snap up a small one and kill it with a decisive crunch. Indeed, this pose strongly reminds me of many of the taxidermied predators I’ve seen in natural history museum dioramas over the years.
Yinqi measures an impressive 26 cm long and 11 cm high at the tail tip. Despite the extremeness of his pose, he actually stands rather well on his own two feet. However, he topples over onto his right side with the slightest nudge, so PNSO has once again thoughtfully included a small, simple, and sturdy support rod that fits under the chest. I will certainly be employing it in my display case.
Yutyrannus‘ main claim to fame is its fantastic feathered appearance and Yinqi definitely does justice to this. His entire body save for the tip and top of his skull, his hands, and the ends of his feet is covered in shaggy plumage. And beautifully sculpted plumage at that, easily on par with that of Safari’s feathered tyrant king. There is even a large, vertically flattened tuft at the end of the tail, which could have been used for display or communication between Yinqi and his kin. The non-feathered parts of his head are covered in small scales and atop it is a prominent midline crest and two small hornlets in front of his eyes. The inside of his mouth is also nicely rendered, with sharp teeth, a flattened tongue, and nasal cavities in the palate. His scaly hands end in curved, cruel-looking claws and even the soles of his feet have scales as well.
Yinqi’s head is coloured a very dark grey with feathery white and light brown patches on his fenestrae, white feathers on his lower jaw, light orange eyes, orange-brown for his ridges, a salmon mouth, and white teeth. His hands and toes are also dark grey with black claws and greyish-beige for the palms and soles. Most of the feathers covering his body are orange-brown with a darkened streak running from the top of his head to his tail tuft, which is mostly very dark brown. Finally, the feathers on his underside are a greyish beige. It’s a pretty appropriate colour scheme for a large feathered theropod, very reminiscent of a red fox. It’s also quite a contrast to the splendid 2015 Wild Safari Yutyrannus.
So how well does Yinqi represent the real Yutyrannus? Well, I’d say he’s about tied with the aforementioned Safari version, which is to say, very well indeed! In addition to his ample plumage, he features a correctly shaped skull, from the triangular hornlets to the sloping snout. Like all PNSO theropods, he lacks lips, but we won’t count that as an inaccuracy just yet. His arms are nice and big, far bigger in proportion to the rest of him than the tyrannosaurids that would evolve much, much later in the Cretaceous. He also has muscular hind legs and a long tail. Indeed, the tail is noticeably longer than the Safari version’s, but I’ve seen professional paleoart depicting it around that length.
In wrapping this review up, I will note that Yinqi looks truly dynamic and deadly from all angles, an apex predator ready to make a kill. Yutyrannus was discovered in the Yixian Formation of Liaoning Province, China. It may have been a denizen of the famous Liaoning Forest, in which case its contemporaries would have included fellow tyrannosauroid Dilong, a host of other theropods including Beipiaosaurus, Caudipteryx, Confuciusornis, Mei, and Sinosauropteryx, and primitive ceratopsians like Liaoceratops and Psittacosaurus. There were also titanosauriforms like Dongbeititan and Liaoningotitan, which may have fallen victim to packs of Yutyrannus.
Now that I have Yinqi, I am frankly unsure I’ll ever feel the inclination to acquire another Yutyrannus toy in the future, as I have great difficulty envisioning any other company topping him. He’s got good colours, he’s masterfully sculpted, he’s reasonably stable without the support rod and very stable with it, and he definitely captures the essence of a bloodthirsty tyrannosaur. I’ve heard it said sometimes that feathered dinosaurs somehow aren’t scary and I’ve always thought that notion absolutely preposterous. Even more so now that I have Yinqi. The only caution I’ll offer readers is that as a PNSO product, he’s fairly pricey for his size. That said, I do believe he is worth it.