The star of ‘Battle at Big Rock’ is back to bat under Mattel, with a slight makeover in play features and paint job.
Allosaurus was once a king of dinosaur media, second only to Tyrannosaurus in books and film. Featuring in multiple major productions such as The Lost World, One Million Years BC, and (debatably) The Valley of Gwangi, the “other lizard” ended up getting overshadowed during the 90s and 2000s with the advent of the Jurassic Park franchise and its more novel assortment of “villain” theropods like the cunning Velociraptor and the gigantic Spinosaurus. While Allosaurus maintained a presence on the documentary ring with series like Walking With Dinosaurs, history would ultimately vindicate Allosaurus in cinema with the theropod getting its own star time in the Jurassic franchise: having cameos in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in 2018, and featuring as the main antagonist in the 2019 short film Battle at Big Rock. The lion of the Jurassic period has also been confirmed to appear in Dominion later this year, so I think it’s safe to say that Allosaurus is getting some well-deserved attention again.
Allosaurus was among the first theropods featured in Mattel’s toy line once they acquired the Jurassic license in 2018. With the release of Battle at Big Rock the following year, however, the iconic theropod was given a new & and improved design from its appearance in Fallen Kingdom; Mattel, in turn, revised their toy design and released a new Allosaurus to reflect the dinosaur’s bigger & badder image. For Mattel’s 2021 lineup of figures, another retooling of the Allosaurus was released, now with two paint variants released in separate waves through the year. This review is for the first release of this figure, from the first wave of the Dino Escape: Roar Attack series, which eschews the standard film coloration for a more unique color scheme. Let’s see how it holds up overall, shall we?
Measuring roughly 33 cm (13in) long, the Dino Escape: Roar Attack Allosaurus is about mid-sized for a Mattel dinosaur (not indicative of the creature’s greatly enlarged size depicted in the short film). The new “Roar Attack” feature involves a sliding button on the back with three settings; each setting opens the mouth progressively wider, with a unique sound effect for each one (I took the batteries out of mine early on, but some of the roars reminded me of the Spinosaurus’s sound effects from Jurassic Park III). The upper & lower jaws can also be fiddled with manually on most levels, although they will spring back to their set position. All four limbs have the standard swivel/hinge joints (although the legs mostly just swing back and forth) and the tail is equipped with a basic ball-&-socket joint. The toy balances excellently on both feet, so it can be displayed on any flat surface with ease. The belly region features a windowed speaker and the battery casing.
The design for Allosaurus seen in Fallen Kingdom wasn’t very well received by some segments of the paleo-minded audiences; so with the advice and supervision of paleontologist and artist Ethan Storrer, who was brought on board to advise the dinosaur designs for the short, Battle at Big Rock gave the Jurassic theropod an improved likeness that was both more accurate AND more fearsome. Mattel’s Allosaurus was a little less rigorous in retooling; apart from the head, the 2019 Dual Attack toy was largely similar to the first 2018 design. The 2021 Dino Escape action figure also shares most elements with the earlier Dual Attack model. The general body plan appears to be the same, with the primary retooling being done for the new button on the back, as well as a straighter forward position for the neck and a separately articulated head. A row of shifting spikes runs from the neck along the back and halfway down the tail, as seen in the 2019 design. The body and limbs are fairly well-detailed, but retain certain flaws seen since the 2018 design, including exposed ribs, strangely humanoid musculature, bony narrow fingers (with no pronounced thumb claw, as is often forgotten), disproportionate leg bones, and sloppily sculpted feet. To the design’s credit, though, the figure seems to balance just fine, and the hands are still correctly positioned with palms inward instead of pronated. The tail also looks like it may have been slightly revised since 2019, but it’s still much too narrow and short. Thankfully the tail doesn’t hinder the toy’s balance, but it just doesn’t aesthetically look good, especially in contrast with the large robust skull on the other end of the figure.
The head of the figure stands in stark contrast to the rest of the body, being much better in overall design. This 2021 version is largely identical to the 2019 head sculpt, which excellently captures the shape of the animal’s face as seen in the short film. There is much better attention to detail in the shape and fine details of Allosaurus’s skull than was depicted in Fallen Kingdom, with a tasteful level of stylization to make the creature look a little more ferocious. The skull is deeper and more robust than seen originally in 2018, and the genus’s signature lacrimal crests are more pronounced and better integrated into the rest of the skull (albeit still increased in size and stretched past the orbits). Texturing is also better on the head, with finer scaling detail on the face, and an assortment of smaller grooves and ridges along the crests and around the eyes.
What really sets this version of Mattel’s Allosaurus apart from the prior releases (and the 2nd release of this very figure) is the paint job. Instead of the standard two-tone blue & brown pattern seen onscreen in BoBR, this toy features a dark forest green for most of the body, with sharply contrasting white & red mottling on the face and neck. An off-white wash is also applied to the jaw and throat, and the arms and neck spikes are the same off-white (although it’s a bit of a jarring transition for the arms). The irregular patterning calls to mind the kinds of shadows one would see cast through a sunlit forest. Honestly I think I like this color scheme better than the film-accurate version; it’s much more unique and striking overall, without appearing too flamboyant. The Jurassic World films could really stand to distinguish their dinosaurs’ color schemes better.
For those who missed out on Mattel’s prior Allosaurus figures, the Roar Attack Allo is still a solid representation of the theropod and will fill the gap in your collection just fine. For those who already have Mattel’s earlier versions, the new roaring gimmick is pretty fun, and this alternate color scheme might be worth the addition to diversify the colors in one’s JW collection some more. At this time you can purchase both variants of the toy through the regular retail store chains; but beware as new Dominion toys may be pushing them out soon!