Anyone that has read up on their dinosaurs knows who Coelophysis was. This small, lithe theropod is one of the oldest dinosaurs to have been described. Their massive late Triassic bone beds are among the most famous fossil sites in North America and the genera holds a special place in my heart as one of the only dinosaurs known to have lived in my home state of New York. Similar fossils have been found around the world but Ghost Ranch in New Mexico contains the best and in some cases even complete specimens. Unfortunately, due to its fairly standard small theropod structure, the Coelophysis is rarely produced by toy or model companies. Among the best that have been made were those by Kenner in 1993 for the original Jurassic Park toy line. Why Coelophysis was chosen over the hundreds of other genera that could have taken its place can only be guessed at but luckily Kenner nailed it with their duo of dinosaurs as these are among the best in the Jurassic Park line.
Unique from the other dinosaurs in the original line, the Coelophysis was packaged not singly but as a pair. Having been found in mass bone beds it is thought they traveled in flocks (I’m going to use the word flocks, not packs) but aside from being dead together there is little evidence to support the hypothesis. Regardless, this particular pair goes good together. Marketed as “sprinters with constrictor bodies” their action feature is simple but effective. A wire runs down the length of their neck and into their tail. Combine this with their moveable limbs and you get a very versatile toy that can be posed in many different ways, in particular latching on to a human or other dinosaur. Though bendable I would discourage collectors from playing with them too much as they seem fragile. I never had the joy of playing with these two as a child (my wife did, lucky her) but I can see limbs breaking as well as the wire down the spine (she insists they did not on hers). Paint wear certainly would be an issue. The bodies themselves are the soft rubber typical of the Kenner dinosaurs, the limbs are hard plastic. One is standing completely upright while the other crouches, balance is certainly an issue and it is difficult to stand them up. Though I would discourage play the temptation is certainly great, these two look made for trouble. I wonder how many mischievous adventures this pair had together in the imagination of a child.
In terms of accuracy, well, they are toys. They aren’t too bad but they’re clearly made with playability and child appeal in mind. Aesthetically they are pleasing to look at; they look sinister and reptilian while maintaining an active and birdlike appearance as well. They look like they came straight out of a William Stout painting or a 1980’s dinosaur movie. They appear graceful and supple, but also dangerous and cunning. I imagine the actual animal looked much the same though less creepy. They also look kind of malnourished and sickly and I’m sure that was intended as well, they certainly have some city miles on them. The proportions are all fairly good for Coelophysis. The hands are incorrectly positioned and the feet are interesting to say the least. Perhaps in an attempt to make them stand better the manufacturers put a base on each foot but not only do they not help them stand they also make them look webbed like duck feet. A minor quibble really but something you’ll no doubt notice. The skin is covered in wrinkles and ridges, ribs can be seen along the torso, the muscles are well defined and toned and the team looks scarred up as well. Maybe they fight amongst themselves or frequently get into situations that get the better of them. They’re scary looking animals. If you saw them alive in person you’d be afraid of being eaten simply because you would know they must be starving to death. They must be a mated pair too as they are different colors with the crouching individual green dorsally and the upright animal grey. Both are white on the undersides of their body with purple snouts. The eyes are yellow and the teeth white. The claws are unpainted. Coelopyhsis bauri is the most well known of the genus and measured about 10 feet long, that makes these toys at about 8” in length 1/15 in scale.
When I started up my dinosaur collection and learned of this little pair of Triassic predators I knew I had to have them. They have tons of personality, more so than any other toy in the original Kenner JP line, at least in my mind. They are quite unique from most any other dinosaur toy that I can think of and represent a dinosaur rarely made. What is not to love about these two? Despite their age they can still be found for a decent price on eBay here.