Mattel’s Jurassic World Legacy Collection is delivering the best Jurassic Park toys ever released at mass market.
Truth be told, I didn’t pay much attention to Mattel’s takeover of the Jurassic Park/ World toy franchise when they debuted at Toy Fair. Sure, the news of the master licensing deal months earlier caused enough ripples in the toy industry’s collective water glasses that I was aware of it, but… let’s be honest, beyond the 1993 Kenner series (released at the peak of Kenner’s most cuckoo-bananas era which also included kid-friendly action figures based on THE TERMINATOR and ALIENS), Jurassic Park toys have always… kinda sucked.
And when the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom toys hit shelves last week, I still didn’t pay much attention, though I appreciated the inclusion of human victims companions for the prehistoric creatures that made up Mattel’s latest toy line.
But then, out of nowhere, I got bit– like so many Compsognathus swarming the book version of John Hammond (deep cut, for my fellow Jurassic Park book readers)– when I saw the Legacy Collection at my local Target. Since Mattel’s license covers the entire dumb franchise and not just the latest movie, they’ve teamed with Target to delve into the history of Jurassic Park, with a line of figures, dinosaurs, and vehicles based on Steven Spielberg’s classic original film.
It’s been 25 years since JP stomped its way into the cinematic zeitgeist, and it’s taken us just as long to get movie-accurate versions of the great cast including Sam Neill’s Dr. Alan Grant, Laura Dern’s Dr. Ellie Sattler, and Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm… but here we are, and Mattel has done just that.
The new Jurassic Legacy collection is 3.75″ scale (for the humans), and the sculpts on each figure included in Wave One is outstanding. Not only am I impressed by the actor likenesses in the portraits of Grant, Sattler, and gameskeeper Robert Muldoon, but they sport outstanding real scan facial paint apps, similar to what Hasbro has been doing with their Star Wars Black Series and Marvel Cinematic Universe figures. I’ve never seen this paint work done on a 3.75″ scale, but Mattel really pulled it off, and the end result is a trio of outstanding miniature likenesses.
I wish the rest of the figures matched this amazing face work. Unfortunately, aside from the faces each figure is largely cast in a semi gloss colored plastic with very limited paint apps on top. This causes a discrep between the painstakingly accurate heads and very toy-like bodies on each figure, which is odd. Not helping either are the strangely shaped hip joints, clearly designed for functionality (allowing the figures to sit naturally in the Jeep vehicle also released in this series) over aesthetics. It’s not a deal breaker, especially because the figures manage to pack in an impressive range of motion with their ball joint necks, hinged swivel shoulders, elbows, and knees, and swivel waists.
A full body repaint of the human figures will certainly do wonders, leaving us with clearly definitive toy versions of the awesome characters from the original Jurassic movie (Malcolm is apparently on deck for a future assortment, as he’s teased on the back of the Jeep’s box art).
But you can’t have humans in a Jurassic Park toy line without some dinosaurs! The Legacy line also features a mix of smaller sized dinos in scale with the humans, including a Velociraptor, Pteranodon, Pachysephalosaurus, Dilophosaur, and young Tyrannosaurus, as seen in The Lost World.
The sculpts on these dinosaur figures are really nice, with a decent amount of texture worked into the scaly skin, and the overall look for each creature is quite on model to their film appearances. But– again– paint work betrays the quality of these figures. The raptors in particular are pretty bad, cast in orange plastic with very basic brown and tan highlights on either side of the figure. It’s frustrating because of the quality of the sculpting beneath the inaccurate paint… not unlike the humans, I think a full, movie-accurate paint wash could make these very close to definitive Raptors from Jurassic Park.
That last part is subjective, though, since the Raptors are also bogged down with a spring loaded leaping action feature, which is cool and pretty functional, but which kills any leg articulation. The Raptors make up for it to some degree thanks to the ball jointed shoulders and very nicely design neck articulation, but I’d have happily surrendered the gimmick for some funtional articulation in their legs.
I honestly never thought I’d be buying Jurassic Park toys again, but the quality of the sculpting and the nostalgia of these characters and creatures from the first, hands-down best entry in the Jurassic franchise left me totally charmed. I’m excited to see how Mattel’s Malcolm turns out, and what other surprises they have in store for this very cool sub-set of Jurassic toys. In the meantime, you can find the humans, dinosaurs, that iconic Jeep, and a comically undersized T-Rex exclusively at Target stores now.