Review and photos by Fembrogon, edited by Suspsy
I think we can all agree that Mattel has been doing a solid job with the Jurassic World brand. Since picking up the IP from Hasbro in the buildup to Fallen Kingdom, Mattel has been pumping out a wide range of species with generally strong sculpts and fun gimmicks. The line has still had its share of misses among the hits, of course: one particular point of controversy was surrounding the release of the 2018 Extreme Chompin’ Spinosaurus, a Target-exclusive figure of a fan-favorite dinosaur which promptly became extremely scarce in both online and physical stores. Plenty of collectors (myself included) were quite frustrated with what seemed like a mishandling of this highly-coveted figure, and were left wondering if another chance to obtain it at normal retail would arise. Another release did indeed happen in 2019, repurposing the figure with bright colors and battle damage effects, but this Walmart-exclusive release ended up being as rare as the Target one. But at last, 2021 has seen another reissue of the Spinosaurus, now sold under the Camp Cretaceous banner. Whether or not this release is foreshadowing an appearance by the giant theropod in Netflix’s animated show has yet to be confirmed, but in the meantime, collectors have their best chance yet to add the Egyptian Spined Lizard to their Mattel collection.
To my eyes, the 2021 Spinosaurus is essentially built the same as the original Legacy Collection version. It is packaged in a large “Camp Cretaceous” open box, and unlike the original release, the tail is already attached. The Spinosaurus stands just under 25 cm (10″) tall at the sail and 56 cm (22″) long, placing it around 1:24 scale to the creature in the film. Some artistic license has been taken for the proportions of the toy: the sail and tail are noticeably reduced and the feet are enlarged for stability. Ironically, the shortened tail causes the figure to be front-heavy anyway, making the stabilizing job a little more difficult.
Thick, scaly texture patterns cover the skin in different sizes according to body parts, with muscular pronunciation on the jaw, throat, and limbs. Obviously, this Spinosaurus does not reflect modern scientific reconstructions; instead, it faithfully represents the long-legged, snarling visage of Stan Winston’s iconic monster design. Articulation is fairly standard for toys of this line. The Extreme Chompin’ gimmick is activated by a button on the arch of the neck, extending both jaws wide. The tongue is loose and rests on the bottom jaw. The neck has two ball-and-socket joints, plus one at the base of the tail. The limbs each have a swivel/hinge joint, plus basic swivels at the ankles.
Some of the joints aren’t as flexible as would be ideal – and I would have preferred more complex articulation in the ankles – but it’s serviceable overall and certainly fun to play with. One downside is that, due to its front heavy nature, the Spinosaurus may have trouble holding all poses, since the legs “lock” in a specific way and are looser in other positions.
The key difference between the 2021 Camp Cretaceous release and the previous two is the colour scheme. I daresay collectors who missed out before may be vindicated here by what is probably the nicest-looking version of the Spinosaurus yet. Instead of the slate grey of the 2018 release, the 2021 version is primarily a sandy brown with darker grey-brown along the back and a creamy white on the lower jaw and throat. The face and sail remain predominantly red, along with solid orange for the eyes. It’s not as piercing as the original green, but the orange is still effective. The white striping along the flank and sail is mottled and irregular, matching the sculpt detail more naturally, with additional white markings highlighting the face. These stripes help break up the more basic brown and red coloration with simple yet attractive results. Neither release of Spinosaurus is strictly accurate to the movie coloration, but the 2021 version is arguably the closer of the two overall to the film appearance – and who knows? Perhaps this colour scheme reflects a new appearance for the Netflix show. Only time can tell on that one.
I admit, I’m pretty nostalgic about JPIII and its sail-backed supervillain, so Mattel’s Extreme Chompin’ action figure has ended up becoming one of my most desired figures in recent years. No, I wouldn’t consider this a definitive rendition of the creature – there are higher-end collectibles who can vie for that title – but for the price range and gimmicks, this toy is a delight to display and play with, and is sure to delight fans of all ages. Let’s hope this time it can stay in stock!