By now, I think it truly is safe and reasonable to say that Mattel has done better with the Jurassic Park license than any other company. Granted, outshining Hasbro was hardly difficult given what a substandard job they did, but what about Kenner? They may no longer around, but back in the glory days of the 1990s, they bestowed on us collectors a slew of awesome dinosaur toys, plus humans and vehicles if you were into that sort of thing (I never was). And if we’re talking strictly in terms of scientific accuracy, I do think that Kenner still edges out Mattel. But in terms of sheer number, variety, and availability of products (granted, certain Mattel toys have been very hard to find, but Canada never received JP: Series 2 at all back in the day), Mattel is the clear winner. For example, while Kenner only ever gave us one single genus of tyrannosaurid, Mattel has given us four thus far. Here we’ll be looking at the smallest of that lot: Alioramus.
Mattel first released this mould in 2020 as part of the Attack Pack assortment, coloured in dark brown, crimson red, and very pale green. This 2021 Wild Pack version is mainly medium brown with flat dark brown markings. The lower jaw is pale pea soup green and the same shade is applied to the throat. The skull is dark brown with yellow eyes, sparkly metallic medium brown streaks in front of the eyes, and sparkly metallic orange streaks on the jugals and quadratojugals at the back. The lower half of the mouth is dark pink and the teeth are yellowish. As is typical of toys in this size category, the claws are unpainted. I much prefer this colour scheme over the previous one’s, and the use of metallic paint is an interesting touch. The JW logo and the Facts app are located on the soles of the feet.
The Alioramus is sculpted with its left leg forward and its tail curving in an S-shape with the tip pointing right. This gives it a respectable length of about 17.5 cm along with a height of 8 cm when standing in a horizontal pose. The tail rotates at the base, the legs rotate at the hips, the arms rotate at the shoulders, the lower jaw opens to roughly 60 degrees, and the head and neck can pivot either to look up or down at the ground. Although as you can see below, bending them all the way down makes it look like the animal is practicing its Quasimodo impression.
Most of the Alioramus‘ body is covered in scales ranging from small ones on top of the body to large rectangular ones on the underbelly as well as the usual overlapping rows of scales on the feet. However, the back of the head and neck boasts a sleek mane of protofeathers and there are also some small bumps on the forearms which could be interpreted as more protofeathers. The same goes for the orange patches on the skull. Alioramus was an advanced Maastrichtian tyrannosaurid that coexisted with the much larger Tarbosaurus in what is now called Mongolia, so the possibility of possessing of such feathers is debatable, but open. Another plus is that this theropod possesses proper, non-pronated wrists. Good on you, Mattel!
Like many of Mattel’s theropods, the tail on this one is much too short, although I get how that was necessary in order to get them to fit into the packaging. Less forgivable, however, are the legs. As you can see, they are quite thick and beefy, easily as much as the ones on the bigger toys shown in the earlier image. By contrast, the real Alioramus was more gracile than its bigger brethren, with relatively long and slender legs that enabled it to pursue fast prey such as Conchoraptor, Gallimimus, and Mononykus. It probably included the likes of Prenocephale and juvenile Nemegtosaurus, Saichania, and Saurolophus in its diet as well.
And then there’s the head. In profile, it is fairly recognizable as Alioramus with its long muzzle adorned by five pointed crests and deadly-looking teeth. But like so many other Mattel theropods, the fenestrae visible beneath the skin are much too big. Moreover, when viewed from the top, it becomes apparent that the skull is too wide, especially the muzzle. Indeed, if you were to file off the nasal crests, this toy could pass for a fairly decent juvenile Tarbosaurus or T. rex.
The Mattel Alioramus is a lot like the Herrerasaurus in that while it is recognizable as its particular genus, it suffers from a number of anatomical errors–although really, what Mattel toy doesn’t? That said, it’s a fairly well-sculpted dinosaur toy and definitely fun to play with. And it absolutely has the uniqueness factor going for it; it’s only the third Alioramus to appear on the DTB. As such, I think children and adult JP collectors will enjoy it quite a bit!