Now here’s a treat we weren’t necessarily expecting for 2013. A brand new range of dinosaur action figures: official accompaniments to the new Walking with Dinosaurs 3D movie, set for release in December 2013. The figures were produced by UK-based Vivid Toy Group Ltd in affiliation with the BBC (a BBC Earth logo adorns the box) and they are currently available in the UK (e.g. Amazon.co.uk here) and a few other European countries, with the possibility of a more extensive distribution soon.
The movie has been on the cards for a good while now, and although there were rumblings earlier in the year concerning possible merchandise, things didn’t look too promising. The first item to come to my attention was some electric dinosaur feet, which I don’t think we’ll be reviewing on our blog. Mainly because I don’t think they’ll fit, otherwise, perfect attire for a curator such as myself going about my daily business. Anyhow, a few months on, and here we are with a good bunch of ‘proper toys’, a term I’ve just coined, all ready for review. So, let’s begin with one of the standard sized action figures: Gorgon (not to be confused with the much larger Ultimate Gorgon figure).
Gorgon is listed on the box as a “Gorgosaur”, which is presumably ‘Jurassic Park speak’ (another term I’ve just frivolously coined) for Gorgosaurus. This genus of tyrannosaurid, from the Cretaceous of North America, is the villain in the movie. Gorgon is also dubbed ‘The Dark Prince’ in the movie publicity (sigh). I should mention, in passing, that based on recent trailers, I don’t have particularly high hopes for the movie itself, but I won’t let those feelings get in the way when it comes to the toys.
After prying the figure from its casing (it feels like Christmas!), the first thing that struck me was the huge number of articulation points – there are 13 in total, many of which rotate in all directions. Funnily enough, the tail doesn’t articulate even though it looks like it should. This poseability lends itself to creative posturing and I had to resist taking shots of every possible position when taking photographs for this review. I could almost arrange the limbs so the animal adopts a lying/crouching position. The joints are all tight, robust and hold position, so the limbs don’t flip flop around, and the figure even balances on two legs if you have the patience to manipulate it into position. The toy is listed as suitable for ages 4+, which sounds about right – I could certainly envision heavy-handed youngsters pulling the joints apart. This particular figure is 22cm long.
How about the anatomy? If you ignore the excessive range of motion in the joints (the ankles can bend far backwards, for example), then the proportions and anatomy are actually excellent. This is to be expected as the figures are based on the dinosaurs in the movie, and the Gorgosaurus was designed by dinosaur artist (and Dinosaur Toy Forum Member!) David Krentz. So no red flags to raise here. A little on the slim side, perhaps, but a Gorgosaurus it is. There are some nice details in the figure too. Krentz endowing his Gorgosaurus with distinctive sharp protruding brow horns, which are present in the toy as well. The figure also has a individually sculpted tongue, and the ear opening is visible at the back of the skull.
How did I get this far into the review without mentioning that the figure makes sounds? These are activated by a button on the back, and there are four different varieties of grunts, roars, and hisses. Despite being marketed as a ‘talking’ figures, there is no speaking, thankfully. Perhaps I’ll record the sounds and put them on youtube later.
In conclusion, I’m really impressed, much more impressed than I was expecting to be. The design and details are excellent, the quality is great, and the playability and displayability is very high. The first point of call for comparison would be with Jurassic Park action figures by Kenner, but I’ll save that discussion for a later review.