Rex on the Highway…
The Jurassic Park franchise is poised for reintroduction with the release of Amblin Entertainment & Legendary Pictures’ Jurassic World (JW) on June 12. You already know the plot premise of dinosaur DNA dithering posited by the late Michael Crichton in his original novel and assayed in three previous films. This new movie takes us a couple of generations down the timeline when the theme park concept is in full bloom and InGen bio-techs endeavor to combine several carnivores into one heavy hitter of a crowd attraction – Indominus Rex. What could go wrong? Ask Victor Frankenstein. Ask Carl Denham.
As I write this, NBC is spinning up some interest with an airing of the original Jurassic Park including some spiel from director Steven Spielberg and I’m guessing a new or expanded JW trailer package. It seems quite appropriate (and about time) I post some views of the Hasbro Toy Company’s related Jurassic World merchandise.
Hasbro was kind enough to afford us a look at their Jurassic World licensed products way back in February during a special New York International Toy Fair event. Some of what is presented here may have been altered by the time it hit the shelves, particularly the paint schemes.
Immediately evident at the JW display was the wide range of age levels the toys are aimed at. I was surprised to find myself drawn to the more idiosyncratic items oriented toward a younger audience. Maybe I’ve seen too many dinosaurs since my first Louis Marx set in the late 1950’s, more likely it was the fun factor that attracted me.
In particular I got a smile thinking about these toys in live play rather than displayed on a shelf. The PlaySkool T-Rex has a goofy “I’m going to eat you” smirk and there’s potentially frenetic hands-on competition with the Wreck ’N Roar Play-Doh Game. I especially love the mix and match nature of the Jurassic World versions of Hasbro’s Hero Mashers, which have a serendipitous connection to the film’s mixed DNA concept, and give kids a creative outlet to make their own dinosaurs.
This is not to say that the choices within the more standard collectors line are not without note. In particular the “Stegoceratops” is a neat recombinant oddity that will make a remark worthy addition to any dinosaur collection, and I found the winged Dimorphodon really excellent in sculpt and paint job. It’s something I’ll want to own.
The “chomper” Indominus Rex is the flagship of the Hasbro JW action figure line. Though it has no other scale analog to pair it with, you could very effectively terrorize your pet cat or shitzu with it – or send it into battle with the 40” Godzilla you got last year.
Based on the JW trailers, one toy package that seems representative of what is unique in the film’s narrative is the Indominus Rex and Gyroscope Craft box set. If I was grabbing only one JW piece this would be it. The sculpt on the iRex is very good. It’s scary mean glower seems to suggest it is thinking about its next maneuver.
Nostalgic dads will be glad to see that Hasbro has honored some design features of the old Kenner Jurassic line. The creatures sport JW “tattoos” and visible internal body parts behind removable or clear patches. It’s what collectors call “dino damage” and part of what made the original toy line unique. Some of it even creeps into the Wreck ’N Roar gameplay.
BTW, humans are apparently generic “green guys,” not representative of the film’s cast. It’s not such a big deal as I suspect open ended play will be the order of the day once these items get mixed into your child’s toy box. You can never have too many “red shirts.”
It will be very interesting to see how Jurassic World and the Jurassic Park franchise resuscitation is received. What were in 1993 stunning CGI effects of dinosaurs come to life, are now common place on TV commercials. Audience expectations are going to be super high but I hope the filmmakers avoided the temptation to overwhelm with effects. I believe the success of the film will rest mostly on how engaging the characters are, and with Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy’s Starlord) and Vincent D’nofrio (who did a masterful job as KingPin in Netflix’ Daredevil) we should be in good hands.