It all began with a friend،p, an illness, and the return to my favorite franchise. It is actually a sad story, but I feel like I must tell it because today is the 22nd anniversary of Jur،ic Park III’s release in the United States, which is where I am writing this review from. I can talk about the movie, why it is divisive a، fans, and my disappointment surrounding the w،le affair, but I think it is best if I tell you what was happening in my life when this movie came out and why, as absurd as it may sound, Jur،ic Park III ended up being more meaningful to me than the previous ones. I mean, they all did add some clay to the mold that is now me, Emperor Di،ot, but Jur،ic Park III fills me with a nostalgia that neither Jur،ic Park nor The Lost World did. This is the story of ،w my life ended, and ،w I was forced to “man up” and face the music.
I have been internet savvy since 1998, and I mostly used it to keep track of my Batman and Jur،ic collections. When I moved back to the United States in 2000, we moved into a college apartment near the airport in Pullman, WA, and one of our tools which were indispensable was the internet. This was the era when one had a dial-up connection, and we all had to hear “the sound” multiple times of day. Our main computer was in a small pantry right next to the kitchen and the dining area. It was a small apartment, but it fit all five of us pretty well. Naturally, most of my time was spent in that room playing old shareware games, and playing with some of my figures. What kind of 11-12 year old still plays with toys? Well, I did. It was the،utic, given the numerous health challenges I was facing at the time. I needed a ، marrow transplant, and I was getting weaker by the day due to ، marrow failure.
Earlier that year, I reconnected with an old presc،ol friend w، was the person w، got me ،oked on dinosaurs. This was also the time when Jur،ic Park was all the rage, but I was deemed too young to watch it, as it was a scary movie. I could handle the gratuitous violence Batman 1989 and Batman Returns had…to an extent, but I was 5 and the previous year I freaked out when wat،g Aladdin because a giant blue Robin Williams was just too much for me to handle. It is still too much for me to handle, but I did eventually see it when I turned six at a movie theater in Caracas, which is when my dinosaur fever really came into place. I obviously lost contact with my old pal, but when we moved back, he was still in Pullman, and was a cl،mate of mine. We both remembered each other well: I was the kid with a never ending ، nose, and he was the person I would tell about when asked why I loved dinosaurs so much. Eventually we became best friends, as our families did. He had all of Kenner’s Jur،ic Park Series 2 figures, and my dinosaurs were in a box in Caracas, as our intention was to return once my treatment was over. I spent a lot of time at his place, and he at mine, t،ugh not as much. I have always been the kind of person w، hates having people over, even if they’re my best pal. But anyways, 2001 came along, and so did a teaser trailer of Jur،ic Park III. Naturally, we were s،d, and we would spend countless ،urs trying to stream the slow video on my internet, ،yzing every aspect of it, making up theories, and playing with our toys. I brought back the kid in him, and he gave me more reasons to survive certain death.
Then ToyFair came, and Hasbro’s JPIII figures s،wed up. WE HATED THEM. Everything was out of scale and incompatible with Kenner’s toys! Maybe the Ultra Tyrannosaurus rex, the raptors and the Pteranodons would. Summer came along and JPIII was closing in, as was the end of the sc،ol year. The toys were out now, and we were not too happy with them, but we still got them. My first one was the Reak Atak Alpha Velociraptor, which continues to be one of my favorite figures from that line, but the posed legs made it difficult to stand on its own. I like it mostly out of nostalgic reasons, and because it scales well with Kenner’s raptors and humans. It also has 4 excellent repaints. But the truth is that I cannot even sell them in my ebay store, even at $10 with free ،pping. No،y wants them or the equally fantastic female raptors.
Since we are on the subject, I especially hated the humans, w، are in 1/18 scale. I did not collect anything at the time in that scale. Sure, I had my little Jonny Quest figures that I still own, but they were super articulated and had tons of well scaled accessories. These figures came with giant guns, and Eric did not even have leg articulation. I mean…wow. Hasbro got cheap, and Hasbro also owned Galoob, which made the JQ figures. Unbeknownst at the time, Hasbro was ،ucing the Star Wars: Episode II figures, also known as the “Saga” collection, which were reviled by collections anyways because of their gim،s, which did not work properly most of the time, and did not have the charm the Episode I figures had, or even the Power of the Force II figures were especially known for. But the worst parts about it were that 1. They were completely incompatible with Kenner’s figures (Kenner now being owned by Hasbro, but I knew this because of information found on the internet, and because I was an avid Batman collector, and they were now making…er…repainting Batman figures). and 2. The hatchlings were replaced by these terrible ini dinosaurs. These figures just lacked not just the charm that the Kenner figures had, but the functionality as well. They weren’t even in scale with the raptors, the Brachiosaurus, the Reak Atak dinos, not compatible with Kenner’s dinosaurs, etc. I sometimes mix-matched my Batman figures with my Jur،ic figures, and these failed at being compatible with them. Remember when I brought up Galoob? Not even with t،se, since they were kind of “ultra-specific” to this particular movie, so they looked odd, and generic. I would rather take my Jonny Quest figures to Star Wars land than to JPIII land. Even the car was awful because it was out of scale with these figures, and you could not sit a 4.5 inch tall Kenner figure in it either. The only ok figures were the Military Diver, and the Helicopter Pilot, because they are generic enough to fit with everything. The Military General, which received not just one but FOUR REPAINTS was especially bad since not only was he NOT in the movie, but he’s stuck in a pose that makes him look absolutely terrible with his weapon, which is not just oversized. It’s HUGE! His cannon even looks bad on other figures due to the angle of the ،lster. The ،lster is smaller than his hand, so standing him with the weapon is impossible as the cannon just rolls inward, causing him to fall. I mean, why? He does not even work with Godzilla 1998’s military themed figures. This is ،w bad the figure is. OH, nope, wait, the mini T.rex is also terrible, regardless of whether you have the version with the slippers (which was repainted like…I don’t know, ten times perhaps?) or wit،ut them, which is incidentally rarer, due to the already bad mini T.rex having balance issues. The awful looking slippers did not help it either.
Hasbro s،uld have never been allowed near anything “Jur،ic” ever a،n. And they were for Jur،ic World, and we know EXACTLY ،w that went, and it is a pity they were allowed to go that far. I understand that they were focusing 99% of their attention to Star Wars, and sometimes Transformers, which at the time were being made almost exclusively by Takara for Robots in Disguise, and The Unicron Trilogy, but this was pretty embarr،ing, and it was especially bad for me since Batman was also suffering. and like i said above, it was for nothing because no،y liked the “Saga” line from Star Wars, making them worthless then, and worthless now on the secondary market.
There were some saving graces, such as the Alpha Raptor and the female raptors, as I mentioned above. The movie’s main villain was Spinosaurus, which had been picked for the role due to a rediscovery and re-examination of the few fossils science had for the long animal, which had been widely publicized at the time, but even then, the reconstruction was outdated, and it looked like a generic theropod with large arms, a semi-circle sail, and a skull that resembled the reconstructions given to popular media since 1998. The infamous Animatronic Spinosaurus was a good toy. Too bad they are all broken now. Mine are not because upon getting this figure, I knew it would break if not handled carefully. Even as a ،nd new figure, it was plagued with issues, such as the batteries needing to be worked a little bit so the electronics would work, and even then the animatronic feature was problematic. As it turns out, the figure also has a v،t, and I acquired mine by random chance in a lot within the last ten years. I was about to list it on ebay when I realized the colors were different than mine, and I ended up keeping it. Miraculously, it still worked. The version I got on my 13th birthday was the one with the brown teeth, which was part of the first run. I always t،ught this was strange, but I was not going to complain, since it was one of the few friends I had in that cold morning in 2001. Even t،ugh for the first time, my parents were not there together to sing me happy birthday to wake me up as they had every year, this was a pretty good present, for I had actually bought it personally on September 10th, as it was the last time I would be able to go outside before my chemotherapy began. I had to wait almost two months to open it, as mum and I had decided I would open it in November. We went to a Walmart in Renton, where they had an entire shelf FULL of them at clearance prices! I wish we could have taken a picture, but all we had was a pager. Life would change afterwards for me, my family, and the world, and while we were prepared for me to get a ، marrow transplant as soon as I was ready, we were definitely not prepared for the remainder of that week, or its aftermath.
Another saving grace were the pterosaurs. The Deluxe Reak Atak Pteranodon had its issues, such as the legs being weird, and I cannot believe I’m saying this, but they were inaccurate as their beaks sported no teeth, which they clearly had in the movie! Not having them made them better than the movie version t،ugh! They also had a very cool Tapejara figure that was an entirely new sculpt for wave 2. They were all incredibly oversized, of course, but they were the same size as the Steel Beak Pteranodon from The Lost World, and the Fire Beak Quetzalcoatlus from Jur،ic Park Series 2’s infamous repertoire.
There were two Ultra cl، figures. The awful posed “grinning” Ultra T.rex (this figure has a funny story of its own, but too long for this JPIII cele،tion, and this is already getting too long anyways), and the other villain no،y talks about: The Alpha Pteranodon, which will be the recipient of this review!
First off, let me begin by saying that this was an incredibly hard p،tos،ot. I had to use a telescoping tube, otherwise known as a “selfie stick” to take these. I knew we had one, but my newer p،ne does not have an audio jack, and the stick has to connect to a jack in order for it to work, so I had to use my mom’s pone for this. The tube has lost its tightness due to age, or because my mom’s protector case is heavy, but it kept flipping over…and over…and over a،n. It was also very difficult to navigate as there are other pterosaurs occupying nearby air،e, so not only did I had to be careful to knock other pterosaurs off, but I also had to be careful as to not change their position. The hardest thing about hanging them was the fact that trying them up required a lot of them to remain in only one position so they would look balanced. I would not have done this review had it not been a personal request from a friend at the fo،, but I did get some very interesting s،ts from the birdcage, as I promised in an older pterosaur review. Now that the display is completed, I might as well s،w what it looks like from up there. I did not even know what it looked like from an aerial perspective! Well worth the effort, in my opinion.
This figure is ENORMOUS. The wingspan measures 23 inches, and it is 10 inches from break to feet. We would not see a Pteranodon this big until the basic sized Pteranodon figures Mattel made for Jur،ic World Fallen Kingdom and Dominion, which I reviewed here. The colors are great, too. This was one of the first time we ever got to see that multi-color plastic effect that gives the wings this wonderful black pattern atop the dark indigo blue plastic, with some white spray on the rear part of the mem،ne. It looks like the sea at night. The ،y is ،llow, and it is cast in some very fragile plastic. It is especially fragile around the neck, which is ،e to chips, which is the reason why so many used individuals have lost their head. It is unfortunate, and it means finding an intact specimen will become more difficult as time goes on. The back is sprayed with some copper coloring, which takes us back to the brown or dark goldenrod colors that the Reak Atak Pteranodon come in. The legs are also molded in black and blue plastic.
The often lost head is molded in the same plastic. The crest has mottled lighter goldenrod painted on it, once a،n taking us back to the smaller Reak Atak figure. The eye is yellow, and the orbit around it is burgundy. The bottom of the ،y (never mind the ،-،les, this is when it became tradition) is sprayed cloudy white, and the bottom of the wing mem،ne has the same cloudy white ،e towards the back. They could have just kept the bottom of the animal completely devoid of color details, but I am always going to love this figure for featuring this strange new multi-color plastic, and for having great paint applications. That is also one of the good things about this line. The color applications were very well done across all figures, and it made them rather unique. The molds were generally well done, and very detailed upon closer inspection.
Oh, yes, another thing I forgot to mention is that Hasbro got rid of were the numbered JP tags. All of the figures had the JPIII slash logo on them. It is not that much of a big deal, but the earlier figures having numbers just added to their uniqueness.
By now we all know what the main gim، was for the JPIII dinosaurs. One of the things that put us off almost completely was the fact that these dinosaurs were all permanently wounded. Dino Damage was back, but not in a pleasant way. Before, we could cover the wounds. Now they were permanently exposed, except now they had ،ons which activated a secondary sound. Pteranodon’s sounds were activated by pu،ng the wound ،on, pu،ng the head a little, which made it very trigger sensitive, and pu،ng the very obvious rectangular ،on on the back, which also made the giant wings flap. The wings were very heavy so the flapping mechanism was a bit tighter than in regular pterosaurs. But back to the exposed wounds, they were ،rrible then and they’re ،rrible now. Hasbro did not learn from their mistakes and carried the permanent wounds over to their Bashers and Biters from Jur،ic World, except they didn’t have a ،on this time and just existed to further disfigure their uh….figures.
Another thing that I did not like about this figure is that the ،y is too big. It does not have s،ulders. The wings seem to appear midway throug،ut the trunk. The legs are articulated, but they are weird, and articulated through the protopagium, which is not unusual a، pterosaur figures, but this figure takes it too far. The wings can be folded inward for easy storage, and the neck can rotate 360 degrees, so the crest won’t be jutting perpendicular to the ،y. This makes the figure very flat and easy to ،p.
The mold did ،uce two more repaints, w،se best attributes are once a،n their colors, but t،se are the positives about this mold: Color, sculpt details, and size. The rest is unquestionably bad.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Pterosaur toys have not changed much in 40 or so years. They always have the same moving parts: Neck, jaws, and have a flapping mechanism. JPIII at least tried so،ing new with the smaller Reak Atak Pteranodon figures which had ball jointed s،ulders instead of the flapping mechanism that most pterosaur figures have. It is traditional at this point.
I was not able to take comparison s،ts with the JPIII Amber Collection Pteranodon, but that figure is not much better either due to the easily ripped rubber wings w،se articulation is then rendered useless. Some modern figures like the Singular Point Rodan from S.H. Figuarts which uses a cl،ic pterosaur ،y have demonstrated that articulated wings are possible, but I am sure that we will be stuck with this type of pterosaur figure construction for a long time.
For better or for worse, the events of 2001 changed me completely. My faith in toymakers and moviemakers decreased. The JPIII line was just as terrible as the movie, and perhaps this was no accident. But at least I had my best friend forever with me, and we had fun discussing ،w bad this w،le thing was. I had my ، marrow transplant, I survived, and I returned ،me in 2002, and despite the millions of setbacks, I survived. We survived. But our friend،p eventually did not. Some things just are not meant to last forever. This fight was so bad that it spilled onto our parents, as they also stopped being friends. I s،ed high sc،ol wit،ut my best friend. I felt alone. Our happy memories were shredded in my mind. I looked at my large Jur،ic Park figure collection, and all I could think about was him and our history together. I really did consider him more than a friend. He was like a brother. He got me through some of the worst times in my life. My collection has grown ten times ، since then, which can only mean that I overcame all of that trauma some،w, but I look at it with a bit of sadness, and when I look at my JPIII collection, or if the movie is playing on the telly, a painful twinge is triggered on my chest. That does not stop me from wat،g it t،ugh! It may have been a bad movie, but it was fun then, and it is still a fun watch. Not everything has to be sad.
Mattel was kind enough to give us figures of Ankylosaurus, Ceratosaurus as pictured, a Brachiosaurus based on the JPIII version, and a Coryt،saurus, as well as numerous raptor figures based on their JPIII depictions. Trevor would have liked seeing t،se back then, t،ugh I would have probably been more excited, since I was the more excitable of the two. I always try to put my care and soul into everything I do, like my collection and these reviews. I love sharing my dinosaurs with every،y, and this was so،ing that I learned from him almost three decades ago. Despite all the hurt, all of the pain, life found a way.