As much as we all love Tyrannosaurus rex I think even the most diehard tyrant lizard fans among us will admit it, T. rex is overdone. Even if you don’t agree, you must surely acknowledge that Rexy’s popularity comes at the expense of other large theropods, especially other tyrannosaurids. Yes, I know, T. rex was bigger and toothier than all the rest. T. rex is like your older, more popular, jock brother, who enjoys hogging the spotlight. This makes its close relatives the underdogs and there are a lot of us who root for the underdogs. And trust me, if you were face to face with an Albertosaurus you wouldn’t be any less afraid of it than you would the T. rex. In fact, the Albertosaurus might be worse, with more bites required to dispatch you.
Both Tyrannosaurus and Albertosaurus were described in 1905 by Henry Fairfield Osborn but you hardly ever hear about Albertosaurus. I can only think of a handful of Albertosaurus figures and they’re all either rare, crudely made, or both. There’s the Carnegie model by Safari Ltd., another by X-Plus, one by Geoworld, the Schleich Replica-saurus, and a monochrome figure from the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum). But not anymore. Leave it to Mattel and their Jurassic World line to finally shine some light on Ol’ neglected Albert before Safari, CollectA, or even Kaiyodo ever bothered to!
The Mattel Albertosaurus is part of the Battle Damage line and measures about 14” long, and stands about 6.5” tall. It’s a decently sized toy that scales in well with most of the Jurassic World toys. Being a Battle Damage figure means it has a small access panel on the side with exposed ribs underneath. Going one step further the ribs also move aside to expose some pink organ, perhaps a lung. This action feature is easy to use with only slight pressure needed to expose the wound. This is so you can attack the toy with other dinosaurs but I find the sensitivity of the mechanism kind of annoying. Kids will certainly have fun with it, and it’s an improvement over the similar features on the old Kenner toys with their removable skin chunks that would inevitably get lost. But the Battle Damage isn’t why I bought this toy.
I bought this toy mostly because it’s an Albertosaurus but also because it’s downright wicked looking. The head sculpt is particularly fantastic with highly detailed pebbly skin, lacrimal horns, labial scales along the mouth, and some intense large osteoderms down the neck.
Folds of thick, rhinoceros-like skin run down the powerful neck and back, also adorned with a variety of raised scales and osteoderms. The legs, and even the tiny arms, are well muscled and appear strong. The feet are of course oversized for stability but aren’t as jarring as some other toys in this line. This is just a cool looking toy, the design of which puts the design of even the Tyrannosaurus to shame.
I think part of the reason that Mattel was able to design such a brilliant looking dinosaur is because they took inspiration from elsewhere. This Albertosaurus has more than a passing similarity to artwork by Gabriel Lio. This Albertosaurus also has passing similarities to various Allosaurus reproductions over the years and when early pictures of the toy were released some even thought it might be an Allosaurus. With slight modification it certainly could be, and it’s considerably better than the actual Allosaurus produced by Mattel.
Obviously this toy is far from perfect; there are accuracy and body proportion issues typical of dinosaur action figures. The tail is the worst of these issues; it is just too short and spindly. We know that large theropods had long muscular tails, in order to aid in balance and maneuverability. A lot of the Jurassic World theropods have weak tails, probably to save on packaging space or materials, but I find it especially off-putting on this toy.
Other issues are present as well; pronated hands, sunken fenestra, large feet, etc. I’m not a fan of the red slashes on the right leg either. But ultimately this is a toy, you can only expect so much from it, and the pros far outweigh the cons in my opinion. The color choices are a little uninspired but compliment the toy well. The body is olive drab with a maroon red streak down the head and neck, and a white lower jaw.
In addition to its cool design this toy is also just a lot of fun to pose and play with. The tail, arms, legs, ankles, neck and mouth are all articulated and allow for some interesting dioramas or play scenarios. The neutral position of the toy is aesthetically pleasing with a nice horizontal posture, head held high and alert. And unlike a few other toys in the line, such as the Ceratosaurus, this toy is very stable and stands well on its own.
I consider myself fairly picky about the Jurassic World line. There are a lot of great toys, too many to choose from, so I have to really like it in order to purchase it and find space on my shelf. I passed this guy by more than a few times before deciding on it. At $20 it’s more than I initially wanted to pay, and the pitiful tail was really an eye sore. But once out of the package I fell in love with this toy, it’s unique and authoritative appearance make it stand out well amongst the other toys, and its articulation fun enough to make this grown man smile. And on a final note, it’s just great that we finally have an Albertosaurus, Mattel continues to bring poorly represented dinosaurs out into the public eye and we collectors need to encourage that as much as we can.