When Dinosaurs Ruled The Mind #65: Jurassic Park III Toys

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https://whendinosaursruledthemind.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/introduction-remember-dinosaurs-theyre-different-now/

 

As I mentioned in my first Jurassic Park toy review (if you can even remember that far back) I said I wasn’t really around to experience the merchandise of the first two JP films. I was, however, around for the incessant barrage of child marketing this movie threw at us. Even though all the Jurassic Park movies have been marketed to children (because everyone knows kids like dinosaurs), I personally believe Jurassic Park 3 was marketed specifically to kids more than anyone of the movies prior.

No joke, I’ve seen a lot of kid targeted products of Jurassic World, but they pale in comparison of the amount of stuff the JP3 marketing team was spitting out. Almost none of the marketing seemed to be targeted at adults. Heck, if you didn’t know any better you would think it was a kids movie.

And with games like this I wouldn’t blame you.

Heck, I personally believe Jurassic Park 3 was marketed as a genuine kids film. Perhaps they thought that adults would be too smart to actually pay money for this kind of movie, but if we sell it to the kids maybe they’ll beg their parents enough that we’ll actually make a profit. And that’s exactly what happened. Jurassic Park 3 was a box office success, and it’s merchandise sold INCREDIBLY well. Heck, I remember seeing JP3 merchandise  in stores long after the movie came out.

The way I see it, the first Jurassic Park and even The Lost World had enough to them that would entice a movie going audience, so child marketing for those two was only a facet of the marketing itself, not the main goal. But they probably knew this film wouldn’t garner that kind of intrigue, so they focused all their efforts on the kiddies. And it worked. You know how I know this?

Because I fell for it all.

When this movie came out, I was merely in kindergarten. But a perfect storm of dinosaur stuff was brewing at that time of my life, and it seemed like fate that my life would revolve around how awesome dinosaurs were. My cousin introduced me to the first Jurassic Park, The Land Before Time and all of his awesome 80’s dinosaur toys. The Disney movie Dinosaur had also just came out, and at this time Universal was spitting out Land Before Time sequels by the barrel full (and I had them all). Dinosaurs were everywhere in my life at the time. The toy store shelves were already filled up with Disney’s Dinosaur and The Land Before Time and generic plastic dinosaur set pieces, and then this new Jurassic Park movie comes along and fills the shelves with even more dinosaurs. You know I bought into that.

Because of this, I actually owned a lot of the toys I’ll be talking about on this post. Some of them were pretty good. Others not so much. and others still I think surpass the toys from the previous toy lines. Now, without further hesitation, let’s get into it.

Now this was one of the first toys they released, their obligatory Velociraptor. And yes, I had this one as a kid. I do remember having quite a bit of fun with this guy. It had minimal articulation in the arms and legs, but it was just enough to simulate movement. A little lever on the back activated the arms into a swiping motion, and the infamous Dino Damage was actually not on the side like with most of the JP toys, but instead on the backside of the tail, represented by a few exposed vertebrae (it’s less conspicuous placement was one of the reasons I liked this toy more than some of the others). There was a button on the damage that when you pushed it the toy emitted a raptor screech (it was probably crying out in pain because you just pushed down on it’s exposed wound). Although I did like the toy, the plastic was a little to rigid for my tastes, and it didn’t really scale well with the rest of my dinosaur toys. and let’s not even get started on the accuracy. It’s a Jurassic Park raptor for Christs sake. In the end, I think the older generation raptor toys were better.

Next up we’ve got a Brachiosaurus, and strangely enough, I think this might be the first Brachiosaurus (heck, the first sauropod) in any Jurassic Park toyline! That’s such a strange thought, cause I always thought sauropod toys were among the most best selling dinosaur toys out their. But of course, the JP toys tend to focus on dinosaurs with claws and horns and teeth so they can rip and tear each other apart, so it doesn’t surprise me too much that this is the first we see of this creature.

This was another toy I owned as a kid, and I have to say I didn’t really like it all that much. I mean, it wasn’t a terrible toy, but I think as a kid I liked to have my sauropod toys tower over my other dinosaurs, and this figure was about the same size of the JP3 raptor (I demanded realism and feasible size comparisons with my toys). It did have a few cool features, like a rubbery neck and tail for a much easier playing experience (I wasn’t a fan of the more rigid plastic dinosaurs). But as you may notice, the Dino Damage is quite prominent, and unlike the previous toy lines, it isn’t removable. It’s a permanent feature of the mold. As a kid, I hated that, and it was one of the reasons I think I didn’t play with my JP3 dinosaur toys nearly as much as my other ones (but I still had them because they were dinosaurs of course).

Much like the raptor, the button that activated the sound effect was located on the exposed flesh, which is kind of terrifying when you really think about it. I distinctly remember the noise the toy made, as it wasn’t the sound effect used in the movies but it was the noise the whale made in Finding Nemo!

 

I tended to notice these sort of things as a kid.

As far as accuracy goes, one of the things that kind of bothers me with the figure is that the front legs seem to be shorter than the back, even though Brachiosaurus is literally known for being one of the few dinosaurs where the opposite is true. In real life, the front legs were much longer than the back! It’s one of the genus’ most famous features!

I mean, it’s even in the name. Brachiosaurus means ‘arm lizard’.

Now, remember who the star of Jurassic Park 3 was?

No…

There you go!

Even today, for better or worse, Spinosaurus is the most remembered thing about that movie. Whether it was because he was a genuinely awesome dinosaur, or because he was the jerk off that killed the T. rex, or because literally every piece of merchandise plastered his Daffy Duck face on it.

For me, it was the latter.

Spinosaurus was all over the Jurassic Park 3 merchandising, he was practically the face of the movie. So it would come to no surprise that there were a ton of toys made about this guy. I owned one of them.

I remember liking it just fine, but I always thought the proportions were off, and it kinda hindered me from playing with it a lot. Still, I was kind of suckered into the awesomeness of the Spinosaurus at the time, and still thought it was a pretty cool toy.

There was also another Spino toy that had pretty much the same features that came out, with the only difference being a slightly different mold and a new paint job. I remember seeing this one and thought the blue coloration was cool. so I begged my parents if they could buy it for me. But they were all like ‘no son, you already have that one’ and I would be all like ‘but it’s different!’ and they’ll be like ‘how so?’ and I’ll say ‘it’s a different color’ and I’m glad my parents didn’t just give into my every whim. I had good parents.

I remember seeing some of the bigger Spinosaurus toys, but I didn’t even try and bother to ask my parents for them. Even though I did constantly try to push my limits to see what they would get me, I knew that if the thing was half my size alone, chances are I’m not going home with the thing.

Still, that didn’t stop the JP toy makers from throwing as many Spinosaurus variations as they could at us. Oh, this one makes sound. Oh, this one moves! Oh, this one is animatronic! Oh, this one is poseable! Geez man, how many toys do you think we can afford of the SAME freakin’ dinosaur?

Alright, lets move on from a dinosaur that was all over this movie to one that wasn’t even in it.

I distinctly remember getting this toy from Target and being getting so excited about it, but as I started to analyze the toy a bit more in the box, I realized I didn’t even want it. I didn’t even open the box! It was the first toy I distinctly remember returning before I opened the package. So, what was my reasoning for not wanting the Dilophosaur? Well for one the Dino Damage on this guy was pretty prominent, which was already a pet peeve of mine from the other JP3 toys. The entire figure was also made of this really rigid plastic that I didn’t really fins appealing. It was also kind of big, and I didn’t really see myself playing with it all that much. you see, I liked my medium sized dinosaurs like the Triceratops, Stegosaurus, and T. rex’s to be all about the same size, my big sauropod dinosaurs to be bigger than my medium sized dinosaurs, and my small dinosaurs to be, well small. I had this system where all my dinosaur toys were pretty accurately sized in relation to each other, and for me that made playing with them much easier. Some of the Jurassic Park toys kind of threw this off, and I kind of tolerated it. But I knew this Dilophosaurus was just way too big for this perfect system I had created.

But strangely enough, that wasn’t the main reason I decided to return it. The main reason was actually the frill. I thought it just looked cumbersome and wonky, and I knew if I were to play with it I didn’t want the frill to be displayed all the time. I tried to see if maybe I could take it off, but it was on their pretty good.

I remember saying on my first Jurassic Park toy review that this particular figure wasn’t very good looking, but one of the great things it had was that the frill was removable, and you can use it or take it off whenever you wanted to. This would have been the kind of toy I would have liked as a kid.

Hmm, is it just me or did I seem very OCD as a child?

Now, another one of the break out stars of the film were the Pteranodons, as this was the first JP movie that they were prominently featured in. Strangely, two different pterosaurs were created for this toy line. One was Pteranodon, obviously, but the other was a completely random and obscure genus: Tapejara.

I didn’t own the Pteranodon, even though I wanted it. I remember going specifically to the Target with that Pteranodon toy in mind, but they weren’t in stock. The Tapejara was, however, and that was the one I ended up getting. And you know what, I loved that toy!

Yes, it still has those eagle talons and mangled body structure that I have come to expect from toy pterosaurs, but I would have to say that it was one of the most satisfying pterosaur toy that I have ever had. In fact, I think these guys are the best pterosaur toys the Jurassic Park franchise has ever spit out. They handled the best, they played the best, they looked the best, and they appear the most anatomically feasible (even though they’re still not).

Can you really argue that?

I remember the only thing that really bothered me about the model was the fact that I could rotate it’s arms in biologically impossible ways, but that was just me as a kid being OCD. My real question is, however why make a Tapejara toy in the first place? It didn’t appear in the movie, it isn’t exactly a well known species, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Well, my first thought was that in order to save money the toy makers slightly changed the head sculpt of a Pteranodon and tried to sell it off a a distinct toy. I mean, really, that head just looks like a Pteranodon with a head sculpted onto it. And as you pterosaur buffs know, Pteranodon and Tapejara had very different head shapes.

It’s like comparing a heron to a toucan.

But comparing and contrasting the two toys I can tell there are differences in the sculpt, so they are two distinct molds. So the toy makers actually put some effort into making a toy of a pterosaur that even many paleontology fans aren’t aware of. I’d give them props, but if they put the effort into the body at least put that same effort into the skull cast.

Now, despite T. rex only having a bit part in the third Jurassic Park movie….

Get it? Bit?

…the awesomeness that is Tyrannosaurus is too much to deny, so of course a couple of toys were made from him.

This was the one that I owned. I remember showing it off in first grade during show and tell. I liked it just fine, but it was still made from that rigid plastic that I didn’t like, and even then I could tell that the proportions were just off. And that ever present Dino Damage was just as distracting as ever. Yeah, I did like it, but I had other much cooler T. rex toys that got much more of my attention.

There was another, larger T. Rex toy that was released as well. Such is the tradition of Jurassic World, sell both a cheap version of a certain popular dinosaur as well as a much larger much cooler much more expensive version of that same creature. It’s been happening since the beginning, really. I never did see this guy in person, either it was always sold out or the stores that I went to never carried them, but just by looking at it over the interwebs I can tell that many of the older Tyrannosaurus figures were much better designed.

Now, the last toy I’ll talk about today (there were other JP3 toys released, but I don’t think I can comment much on them) is the Triceratops. This was another one of the toys I owned, and I have to say I really liked this guy. In fact, I think it’s probably the best looking Triceratops toy the series has produced thus far.

I mean, to me, the older Triceratops models always looked a bit too wonky for my tastes. They just don’t capture that ‘Triceratops’ feel that I think a Triceratops toy should have.

But this particular Triceratops felt sturdy, strong, and looked more movie accurate and scientifically accurate than the other Trikes. But still, that Dino Damage and the toy’s somewhat small size kind of prevented me from playing with this, heck any of the JP3 toys a lot.

I think the thing you can gather from this post was that even though I had a lot of these toys, for one reason or another they just didn’t hold my interest for too long. This particular toy line had a strange mix of both some really good toys and some pretty bad and cheap looking ones, and I can certainly see why most fans prefer the Kenner toys from the earlier films. And although I think all the Jurassic Park toys have their ups and downs, I do see why some of the design choices here would turn some people off. But what can I say, I was a product of my time.

I’ll be back some time later to finish my Jurassic Park toy review series with the toys from Jurassic World, but first we’ll return to the series Dinosaurs Over The Years and look At one of the most resilient dinosaurs of our pop culture history.

Brontosaurus. And yes I can finally say that now.

(P.S.: I will also be returning to my other blog Ink and Paint Zoology with a review of The Lion King and hopefully another chapter of my novel Masai Mara. It feels good to be back guys.)

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19 thoughts on “When Dinosaurs Ruled The Mind #65: Jurassic Park III Toys

  1. Oooh, that Tapejara is so cool! Good on them for representing one of the less famous pteranodon species, even if it was just for profit. I would love for there to be a JP Quetzalcoatlus toy someday. Maybe for the JW2 line.

    I have that Brachiosaur (although a lot of his paint is missing), a smaller bootleg of the first T. rex (which honestly I’m okay with, it looks the same and makes a good baby for my TLW rex) and the raptor. Of course the raptor’s design isn’t as good as the Kenner raptors, not by a long shot, but I like this guy for some reason. Maybe it’s the nice detail in the skin and mouth, or the minimized Dino Damage, or the coloration that just strikes a chord with me. By the way, in terms of coloration, do you like this guy or the 2013 repaint better? I have both, and even though the blue feathers and the skull-like face pattern on the 2013 one are cool, I like the JP3 one better. Why, I have no idea. Maybe the red and shades of brown just feel “more prehistoric” or something.

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    1. Well, there was a Quetzalcoatlus in the Lost World toy line, but the creature looks so little like an actual Quetzalcoatlus that I think they just put it on the box to give more credence to the ‘giant scary @$$ pterodactyl thing’ the actually created.
      I think I like the original raptor paint job better. I also had a repaint of that raptor that was completely covered in a sickly shade of green.
      Shudder….

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      1. I just looked up the Quetzalcoatlus toy, and even though it is objectively a shoddy Pteranodon ripoff. I still think it’s pretty cool, though, and I want one. But I do have a tendency to like shoddy toys, so.

        You have good taste in raptors. I can understand why you wouldn’t like the paint job yours had– one of my favorite things about the JP toy lines is how, while other brands love using green everywhere, JP dinosaurs are barely ever green. The only completely-green dinosaurs in their lines are the ones that are like that in the movies, like Dilophosaurus and the TLW rexes. They avoid taking the easy route and go for more creative color schemes.

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      2. Unrelatedly, when’s your birthday? It just occurred to me that I’ve made either fan art or fan fiction for pretty much all of my online JP friends except you.

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    2. BTW, here’s that raptor I was talking about.

      I also had the pterosaur that came with it. Didn’t like it all that much. I think it was a gift from a family member who knew I liked dinosaurs but just bought the first toy dinosaur she came across at the store.

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  2. Man, I haven’t commented in sooo long, it’s good to see your writing some new content, as well as reviving Ink and Paint Zoology. On the topic of JP3 toys, I had the raptor, Brachiosaurus, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus, and Tapejara. I have a very distinct memory from my early childhood of me watching the discovery channel documentary Dinosaur Planet: White Tips’ Journey with my parents while holding the Jp3 raptor. I decided that it should look more like the velociraptor I saw on the screen and proceeded to color the tip of the tail with white chalk. I was frustrated that I couldn’t make it look any more similar beyond that (This was before I had seen jurassic park and realized how inaccurate the reconstruction really was) and asked my mother why the two creatures didn’t look the same. She didn’t really give me a definitive answer, so I just tried to ignore the differences. I also remember playing with the Tapejara, even after the right wing had fallen off. On another note, because I missed your Jurassic world review, I’ll just post my opinion here. In short, I liked it, but after thinking about it awhile, I decided the best way to describe my feelings towards it was that it was fun but dumb, and overall a missed opportunity.

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  3. I remember being at like universal or somewhere and my parents asked me if I wanted any of the toys that were there all of them were JP3 toys with dino damage which I really hated so I said no. Also if anyone thinks I am a JP3 spinosaurus fan boy well I was when I was younger, but now I prefer the newer more accurate spinosaurus even if it is smaller.

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  4. IIRC, the “Tapejara” featured here has since been reassigned to the genus “Tupandactylus”, specifically (based on the crest) Tupandactylus imperator. What’s weird about that is that I still see that mistake being made in fiction.
    Still, I had that toy too (and a couple of the Pteranodons) and it’s really cool looking!

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  5. I got the very same triceratops toy, and a different pteranodon toy. The pteranodon toy was pretty much like this:

    Except it conformed to the movie’s color pallet for the animal; like this:

    It’s wings weren’t poseable like the one you spoke of; instead having the ability to fold at the finger halfway; as much as the plastic wing membrane allowed. The body was more accurate in this figure in my opinion; having smaller feet that can’t really do much, and skin membrane connecting the inner legs with the end of the vertebrae. Also, you could turn its head and legs to some degree.
    There’s actually two buttons on this one. The protruding rib bone button that makes it shriek in shock and agony, and a switch of sorts on its back disguised as the skin resting against the vertebral column, which flaps the wings. It’s mouth could open easily with a simple flick of your finger of choice down on the head crest; letting out a scream similar to a red-tailed hawk, except deeper.
    One issue I have with the toy is that the arms are a bit further back than they should be, probably so they could fit in whatever mechanisms that control the wing flapping without giving the animal the alternative bird chested look with over-sized pectoral muscles.
    That pteranodon and triceratops were the only JP toys I ever had… I think. I still have them actually. They’re hanging out in a big container filled with toys that my dad had as a kid and gave to me when I was young. They’re mostly dinosaur and ancient animal toys; including a foot long maroon, crocodile skinned, sort of tripod tyrannosaurus (I was about to describe how it stands, but then I found a picture of the exact same figurine I have).

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      1. Yeah. I also feel like there are a lot of easier ways for making toys like these. You’d think at some point a toy designer would think to use rubber similar to that used on the squeezeable T. rex for the wings on a pterosaur toy, or maybe even the entire outer covering of the body with certain parts being supported by an internal plastic frame, so that the wing membranes can bend and flex somewhat realistically, and you wouldn’t have so many joint restraints.

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  6. most of these toys are actually okay in my book.
    i mean they aren’t the worst but they aren’t great either.
    i also have some cool news. a screenshot i took in monster hunter 4 ultimate actually got posted to the wiki !

    this is so cool.

    Liked by 1 person

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