Even before Michael Crichton’s book, Jurassic Park, became a bestseller in 1990, Steven Spielberg believed in the potential of the fictional park. As he read Crichton’s unpublished drafts, he honestly believed the story told the most realistic way for humans to bring back dinosaurs. Understanding that he had a winning idea, Crichton quickly moved to sell the filming rights for his book at a non-negotiable $1.5 million with a percentage of the gross. After Universal Studios bought the rights to the book, they turned to no one else but Spielberg to direct the film.
Years later, Spielberg won multiple awards with his historical drama, Schindler’s List, production on the Jurassic Park film began. Understanding that creating several life-size animatronics would be infeasible, Spielberg turned to Stan Winston to help bring the creatures to life. Meanwhile, he brought in Jack Horner, a paleontologist, to help keep the dinosaurs up to date with the recent theories. Finally, after finding spot-motion animation inadequate, ILM animators proved that computer animation would fully realize the motion of these prehistoric titans.
All this hard work finally paid off in 1993, when Jurassic Park debuted on cinema screens worldwide. Not only did the film gross over a billion dollars at the box office, but it scooped up multiple awards. At the 66th Academy Awards, Jurassic Park snapped up the awards for best visual effects, sound, and sound effects editing.
Meanwhile, Kenner also saw the potential of the film and its dinosaur designs. So, they moved to produce the toys in 1993. These toys are still beloved by collectors today, but which ones best captured the spirit of the film?
Presenting the top ten Jurassic Park toys that Kenner created during the 1990s
10. Raptor Hatchling with Breakaway Egg (1993)
As the visitors of Jurassic Park toured the visitor center, they spotted the genetics lab that bred the dinosaurs. Forcing open the restraints for the carousel, Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler, and Ian Malcolm forced their way into the lab. There, they witnessed one of the most wondrous sights on the grounds of Jurassic Park, the birth of a new dinosaur. As the dinosaur cracked its way out of its shell, Alan Grant realized that he was staring at a newly hatched Velociraptor.
Capturing this scene, Kenner created a break-away egg that held a small raptor hatching inside in 1993. This hatchling came in a rigid plastic shell, resembling the ostrich eggs that the Jurassic Park crew bred dinosaurs in. While the toy came with the egg already opened, it had a second part to the shell that completely sealed the raptor inside. To hatch the raptor, users simply broke open the egg by popping off that cover.
Inside, there was a small Velociraptor hatching with “realistic dino-skin”. To achieve this effect, Kenner covered the toy in vinyl latex. Meanwhile, its eyes had a glassy covering to help give it a realistic appearance. Unfortunately, the hatchling had no articulation at all. So, the only playability for this toy was present in the hatching action.
9. Stegosaurus with Whip-Action Spiked Tail (1993-94)
Not every dinosaur that Kenner featured in their first series of Jurassic Park toys appeared in the first film. For instance, the Stegosaurus, one of the most popular dinosaurs of all time, never appeared in the film. However, the name briefly appeared on screen as Dennis Nedry slipped into the embryo storage unit to steal several samples.
On the other hand, the book prominently featured a sick Stegosaurus, that the film replaced with a Triceratops. The original script for the film also featured a Stegosaurus for this scene. While the Stegosaurus was cut from the original film, he later appeared in 1997’s sequel, The Lost World.
Despite its absence from the film, Kenner included a Stegosaurus in their 1993 Jurassic Park action figures. This large dinosaur featured textured, “realistic dinosaur skin”, helping give this toy a special feel. Around the back left leg, the toy featured a chunk of removable skin, which would reveal muscle and bones underneath. Thus, players could stage their toy in a battle, where the Stegosaurus suffered a massive bite wound from a predator.
Along with the realism present in this figure’s mold, the Stegosaur had an action gimmick, the whip-action of its spiked tail. To activate this gimmick, users pulled the tail to the side before allowing the rubbery nature of the toy to whip the tail to the other side.
8. Electronic Command Compound (1993)
While many Jurassic Park toys from Kenner were dinosaurs and characters from the film, they also created a customizable playset. The Electronic Command Center had no direct parallels from the films, though several parts in this set did appear. For instance, the set featured a replica of the giant gates that the automated tour vehicles passed through. Also, it included several grey fencings that harkened back to the electrified fences of the film.
On the other hand, the main hut of the Command Compound never appeared in the film. This hut resembled the general aesthetic of Jurassic Park, especially its visitor center. This two-story structure also resembles the eatery that Universal Studios would later build in their parks. Several parts of the building’s walls and catwalk could break away, simulating dinosaurs attacking the structure.
Within this hut, a computer terminal sat, containing the buttons that triggered the set’s one hundred phrases. This terminal featured four different buttons. The terminal featured decals that reflected the stats of dinosaurs and other elements of Jurassic Park. Meanwhile, the buttons featured labels to help indicate what each would do, like log-on and security.
Additionally, this playset came with one more security tower, which featured a net launcher. This launcher functionally sent a net flying toward the desired dinosaur toy. Otherwise, the set came with several blue replicas of guns and radar dishes, which latched onto the walls.
7. Bush Devil Tracker (1993)
As a planned tourist attraction, Jurassic Park required multiple vehicles for both the guests and the staff. When it came to the staff’s vehicles, they aimed for open vehicles that would allow them to quickly tranquilize, restrain, or otherwise deal with the animals on the island. So, InGen provided Jeep Wranglers with open tops that would give their staff ample vantage points.
In the film, these vehicles prominently appeared in two scenes. First, when Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler, Ian Malcolm, and Donald Gennaro arrived on Isla Sorna, the Park’s staff transported them in these Jeep Wranglers. Since the Jeep had no roof, Alan Grant fully stood up from his seat upon setting eyes on a living Brachiosaurus.
Later, the Jeep also appeared as Ellie Sattler and Robert Muldoon rushed to locate the stranded tour vehicles. After locating the wreckage from the Tyrannosaur attack, they found an injured Ian Malcolm. As they rushed away from the scene, the Tyrannosaur burst out from the trees to chase down the jeep.
Reflecting the legacy of these Jeep Wranglers, Kenner produced the Bush Devil Tracker vehicle in their 1993 lineup. Like the jeeps, this vehicle had an open-top, which allowed riders to use the mounted tranq-missile launcher. Figures that sat in the front passenger seat could slide out to use the dinosaur snare, a feature that later appeared in The Lost World. Meanwhile, owners could use the dino-damage gimmick for the windshield to reflect the damage of a dinosaur attack.
6. Triceratops with Head-Ramming Attack (1993-94)
As the visitors of Jurassic Park embarked on an automated tour through Jurassic Park, they soon found that the dinosaurs were largely absent. Thanks to the huge enclosures that each species required, along with the thick foliage, these creatures did appear for the group. However, they eventually came across a single dinosaur visible within the park, a Triceratops. Spotting this creature, Alan Grant jumped out of the moving vehicle to inspect it. He had spotted the dinosaur that appeared on the tour, a sick Triceratops. Park veterinarians sedated this since it exhibited signs of an unknown illness.
Despite the Triceratops’s small role in the film, Kenner understood the general popularity of the species. So, they decided to include a large Triceratops toy in their 1993 line-up. Along with being one of the largest toys in the line, this dinosaur also featured an action gimmick, a head-ramming attack. So, players could send their dinosaur on a rampage, ramming its head into the gates of the Command Center.
In addition to this toy’s enormous size, it also featured latex “realistic dinosaur skin”. However, a chunk of this skin peeled away to expose muscle and bone underneath. Thus, owners could pair this creature with another toy, like a Tyrannosaurus Rex, to imagine that the predator had taken a large bite out of the herbivore.
5. Jungle Explorer (1993)
As the visitors to Jurassic Park set off to tour the grounds, John Hammond introduced them to a pair of driverless vehicles. These modified Ford Explorer XLTs followed a metal track, like the tracks of most amusement park rides. Thanks to this track, the self-navigation systems within these vehicles would keep the SUVs safely on the route.
Within the vehicles, an interactive tour program, voiced by Richard Kiley, prompted the appropriate information on the park based on the location of the vehicles. This program was possible thanks to the interactive CD and touchscreens present in the vehicles. These tour vehicles also included several amenities for tourists, like drinking water, night vision goggles, and brochures. The Park staff also packed flashlights and road flares in these vehicles, in cases of emergencies.
To the dismay of John Hammond, his grandchildren and the visitors experienced a dire emergency as Dennis Nedry knocked out the power to the tour and electric fences. As they sat stranded in front of the Tyrannosaur Paddock, the visitors hoped for the power to return. Instead, the Tyrannosaurus Rex located these stranded vehicles before she broke free from her enclosure.
Understanding the legacy of these vehicles, Kenner made certain to include a vehicle that resembled these Ford Explorers in their first series of Jurassic Park toys. The Jungle Explorer closely followed the design for these vehicles. However, the hatchback and differed from the film’s design. Rather than having an enclosed back, the Jungle Explorer had a space where a figure could stand in and fire the “blood sample” missile. Meanwhile, the hood featured a dino-damage gimmick, popping off to simulate a dinosaur attack.
4. Dino Screams Electronic Dilophosaurs with Striking Jaw (1993)
As Dennis Nedry rushed through the storm-sieged park, he hoped to arrive at the docks before the last boat left the station. In his rush, he did not see the sign that directed to the dock until he crashed into it. Thus, Nedry no longer knew which direction to drive, so he became lost in the park. The rain continued to obscure his vision, forcing his vehicle off-road on a small waterfall.
As Nedry hooked his jeep to a tree, hoping to unjam it from the waterfall, he found two things. First, he found another sign that showed him where the docks were. Second, he found a small predatory dinosaur, which stood at nearly half Nedry’s height. Assuming that the dinosaur was no threat, he tried to lure the creature away with a stick before leaving it behind.
As Nedry returned to his vehicle, he once again found himself face to face with this dinosaur. Unfortunately, Nedry did not realize that he was looking at a Dilophosaurus, that used a venomous spit to blind and paralyze its prey. So, he was unprepared when the dinosaur opened its frill and spat into his face. The dilophosaurus then followed Nedry into his vehicle, where it continued to attack and slay the man.
Unlike the film version of the Dilophosaurus, Kenner’s electronic dinosaur stood over a head’s height above their average human figures. However, it was only half the height of the Stegosaurus and other large dinosaurs in the line. To activate the striking jaw gimmick, users pressed down on the left forearm. This gimmick also activated a screeching sound, which did not sound quite like the dinosaur from the film. Finally, this toy featured a frill that clipped onto the back of its neck.
3. Young Tyrannosaurus Rex with “Deadly” Slashing Jaws (1993-94)
For some Jurassic Park toys, Kenner took liberties to add in dinosaurs that never appeared in the films. Highlighting this fact, they created a Young Tyrannosaurus Rex action figure in 1993. While the film’s Tyrannosaur was a juvenile at some point, we never saw it at this stage. Notably, the book did include a young Tyrannosaurs Rex.
Furthermore, The Lost World, which came out in 1997, did feature an infant Tyrannosaur. However, this dinosaur was still young enough to remain with its parents in the nest. So, not even that creature resembled the young Tyrannosaurus Rex that Kenner created.
To differentiate this toy from the full-grown Tyrannosaurus Rex, Kenner designed a sculpt with several unique elements. While the head clearly resembled a Tyrannosaur, it was not as long nor large as the adult figure. Also, while the adult was a deep reddish-brown color, the young Rex sported a sandy brown coloration. The dinosaur’s torso was also slimmer than its adult counterpart.
To help bring this toy to life, Kenner coated the toy in a textured plastic, which they advertised as “realistic dinosaur skin”. On the Tyrannosaur’s right side, a chunk of the skin was removable, which would reveal the muscle and bone beneath. Thus, this youth could sport battle damage from another dinosaur’s attack. To activate the action feature, the “deadly” slashing jaws, players had to press or squish this figure’s neck.
2. Dino Screams Electronic Velociraptor with Slashing Claw (1993)
Becoming the core elements of the Jurassic Park franchise, Velociraptors have prominently featured in every single one of the five movies. Testifying to their popularity, players of the Sega Genesis version of the Jurassic Park game gained the ability to play as one of these pack hunters. However, their popularity began as they terrorized Lex and Tim through the visitor center.
As Alan Grant and the other visitors arrived at Jurassic Park, they became entranced by the living dinosaurs on display at the park. However, Alan quickly realized the danger that one species would pose, the Velociraptors. Likewise, park staff kept the Velociraptors far away from the open enclosures. Instead, these dinosaurs were in a heavily reinforced enclosure. Likewise, when Dennis Nedry brought down electricity to the park’s fences, he knew not to mess with the raptor pen.
The danger these creatures posed came to the forefront after Ray Arnold reset the circuit breakers for the entire park. This power reset cut power for the pen long enough for the raptors to escape. They then displayed their ferocity and ingenuity as they hunted through the Visitor Center. These dinosaurs even quickly figured out how to open doors.
Understanding the star power of the Velociraptors, Kenner created multiple Velociraptor toys. However, one of the most fun versions of this dinosaur was the electronic version, which featured a screeching gimmick. To activate this gimmick, users pulled back either one or both legs, which triggered the arms to spread out as the dinosaur screeched.
1. Electronic Tyrannosaurus Rex (1993-94)
Along with the Velociraptors, one other dinosaur defined the Jurassic Park franchise, the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Even before anyone set eyes on the Rex, they knew it was important when John Hammond mentioned the park had one. Alan Grant became so excited and stunned at the news that he had to sit down. However, that excitement soon melted away into terror after the Park broke down.
As the tour jeeps sat helplessly in front of the Tyrannosaurus Paddock, Lex realized that the goat inside the enclosure had vanished. Soon after, the goat’s severed leg crashed down on the vehicle’s windshield, announcing the presence of the huge predator. As the Rex realized that electricity no longer ran through the fence, it broke free from its confinement.
What followed the Rex’s escape set the tone for the rest of the film. Not only did this once extinct predator chase down and devour Gennaro, but it began to attack the jeep that the two children were in. Even after the attack was over, the Rex continued to terrorize the park, often appearing to chase humans and dinosaurs alike. The climactic finale even featured a battle between the Tyrannosaurus and the two remaining Velociraptors.
Noticing the inherent popularity of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Kenner created the largest toy within the 1993 line. The Electronic Tyrannosaurus Rex stood at 10 inches tall, measuring a total of twenty-four inches from head to tail. By pressing down on the sides of the ribcage, users activate the Tyrannosaur’s roaring sound and action. Pushing the feet against the ground also activated the stomping noise.
What were your favorite Jurassic Park toys from Kenner?
Kenner made a name for itself by producing several spectacular licensed lines that fans love to this day. Jurassic Park fans still fondly look back at Kenner’s toy lines, often returning to find used versions of these toys. Other fans never let go of their favorite toys and still have them to this day.
So, what were your favorite toys from Kenner’s Jurassic Park toyline? Let us know in the comments below.
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Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!