Kenner, 1993 (Series I)
Kenner, 1994 (Series II)
Hasbro, 1993 (Series I)
Hasbro, 1994 (Series II)
In 1993 Kenner Parker received license from Amblin Entertainment to
manufacture toys for the blockbuster hit film Jurassic Park. Just like
the movie, the toys themselves quickly made history. Unequivocally one
of Kenner's most successful lines, the toys generated massive sales,
and flew from store shelves like no other. The action figures were,
at the time, revolutionary, rendering them the talk of the toy industry,
and proving once and for all that there is a reason for every success.
Of all the toys to be released for the Jurassic Park line (easily recognized
thanks to the JP logo) none were as impressive as the larger dinosaur
figures. Using innovative molding techniques to create amazingly realistic
skin textures, coupled with incredible paintjobs, Kenner managed to
create instant classics. To this day, many fans and collectors alike
regard the originals as the best, and perhaps most beautiful.
The toy-line was split into two series; the first being released from
March through December, and the second from January through October
(coinciding with the release of the motion picture to home video). Series
I was released nearly worldwide, but unfortunately due to constraints
the second series was, for the most part, a United States exclusive.
On top of that, series II was released in much smaller numbers, and
therefore these toys are not as common.
Five human figures were released in series I; each approximately 4
inches in height, and articulated at the neck, arms, hips and legs.
Although their likeness was not all that great, the toys were still
topnotch thanks to excellent craftsmanship. Each toy came with a weapon,
a collector's card sporting Brain Franczak's artwork, and a small dinosaur
hatchling. The five figures were later re-released in 1994, and redesigned
to resemble the actors from the movie a great deal more.
With the second wave of toys to hit retailers came an additional twelve
human figures. Each came with completely new collectors cards featuring
fun dino-facts, (the artwork was switched to real-life movie stills)
and new PVC dinosaurs. Some were simple updates to previous toys, while
five others were an entirely whole new concept. These were dubbed 'Dino
Trackers' and 'Evil Raiders'. None of the humans included in this line
appeared in the film, and evidently they were only produced to add to
the overall fun factor of the toys.
Just like the dinosaurs were the main focus of the movie, the dinosaur
figures were also the main attention drawers of the toyline. Luckily,
in their creation Kenner Toys took into account that some people are
allergic to a natural rubber called latex. This was commonly used to
construct everything from toothbrushes to toys. In regard for kids'
safety, Kenner decided to make their toys entirely of polyester fiber.
This would ensure the products were safe to play with.
Eleven dinosaur figures were released in series I, and an additional
eleven new ones in series II (three were simple repaints). Most were
just straightforward dinosaur replicas, but the remaining others had
integrated features that would allow them to make electronic sounds,
move limbs, and snap their jaws. Some toys also came with 'Battle Damage'
bite-marks. This would allow kids to remove pieces of skin from the
figures, which sequentially would reveal the flesh and bone underneath.
The presence of this feature allowed children to re-enact key scenes
from the movie.
Vehicles and Playsets
Altogether six vehicles (three for each series) and one playset were
released. The first series consisted of two Jeeps, one helicopter, and
the huge compound. Series II came with vehicles specially designed for
the Dino Trackers/Evil Raiders line. All of the cars could perform several
actions, from firing tranquilizers, missiles, and blood samplers, to
capturing dinosaurs. The effect-laden toys also had unique break-away
parts that resembled dinosaur damage.
Because series II was never as extensively distributed as series I,
some of the toys have become very rare. A good example of this is the
Capture Cruiser, which is considered to be the rarest Jurassic Park
toy ever produced.
Prototypes and Bootlegs
In general, none of the Jurassic Park toys are as rare as the prototypes.
Prototypes are early models that never made it to the later stages of
production, and were thus unreleased. There are various reasons for
this, like productions costs, retail value, popularity, and so forth.
For instance, an enormous brachiosaurus toy was planned for the series
I release, but was scrapped because of its size. It would be hard to
play with, but more than that it would take up too much space in store
shelves. Another toy is the 1993 Gulper T. rex. This dinosaur was never
released due to its cost, which, at about $26.99 in United States currency,
was deemed to be too cheap. Yet another toy was the John Hammond action
figure, which was never released to the public as Kenner believed the
elderly figure would not be especially popular, and as a result not
sell too well.
Bootlegs are illegal rip-offs of the actual product. A Jurassic Park
logo on the package might convince buyers the toys were the actual thing,
but these were usually cheap replicas which were illicitly produced
and distributed. Usually they were manufactured and sold in foreign
countries, but some were imported into the United States. Each legitimate
Jurassic Park figure came with a unique ID number and JP logo stamped
into the figure, usually underneath or on the sides. This helped buyers
recognize genuine toys from their unlawful counterpart. Bootlegs can
still be found in flea markets, among other places.
An unknown number of bootlegs were produced, but there were quite a
few prototypes that eventually made their way into collectors' hands.
These were normally sold at auctions for a huge price. There are about
fifteen know prototypes in existence for the entire Jurassic Park toyline,
which include two figures made completely out of die-cast metal.