Herrerasaurus (Jurassic World Dino-Trackers, Strike Attack by Mattel)

3.9 (85 votes)

The late Triassic Herrerasaurus is one of the oldest dinosaurs known from the fossil record. So old and primitive is Herrerasaurus that there is still debate about where it fits in the dinosaur family tree. At various times it has been proposed that Herrerasaurus was a basal theropod, a basal sauropodomorph, a basal saurischian, or not a dinosaur at all. As of 2014 Herrerasaurus is considered a basal saurischian and not a theropod or sauropodomorph. Despite this, every Herrerasaurus figure on the blog is currently tagged as a theropod so I suppose that’s what I must do too. There are no tags for basal saurischians. Although probably not a theropod, Herrerasaurus would have still resembled one.

Clearly, Herrerasaurus is an important dinosaur that can teach us much about dinosaur origins and evolution. Despite that, it has never been terribly popular and figures of it are rare. Those by CollectA and Schleich are pretty rough and the original Mattel Jurassic World Herrerasaurus (and its various repaints) has to be one of the ugliest toys produced by the company. I’ve wanted a Herrerasaurus for a long time but none of the aforementioned ones appealed to me. Then, this year, Mattel released a complete retool of their Herrerasaurus and the result is one of the best dinosaurs produced by the company.

This Herrerasaurus is not perfect, and we’ll get into that, but on the surface, it looks like a believable animal and that’s not a statement you can often apply to Mattel’s dinosaurs. The entire body is well proportioned with itself, with a lean muscular build, long stiff tail, semi-neutral facing hands, proportionally acceptable feet, and even lips! Yes, lips. At a time when high end companies like PNSO and Haolonggood still don’t give their theropods lips Mattel decided to randomly give them to this toy. The result is astonishing. Gone is the overbite full of oversized teeth that plagues the original Herrerasaurus and most of Mattel’s theropods. It adds a level of sophistication seldom seen on Jurassic World action figures.

There are inaccuracies here, of course. Though convincingly proportioned the head and arms are a bit oversized. Additionally, the digit count on all the limbs is wrong. The figure only has four digits on the hindlimbs but should have five. Only 3 would have been weight bearing and digits 1 and 5 would have been small and reduced. The forelimbs only have three digits where there should again be five. The 4th and 5th digits would have been rather small and lacking claws in life. Interestingly the original Mattel Herrerasaurus has four fingers per hand.

On the head the tip of the snout should be a bit more squared off and the slightly visible fenestra are not the right shape for Herrerasaurus. Preferably they wouldn’t be visible at all anyway. That’s about it for inaccuracies though, which for a Mattel Jurassic World toy isn’t that bad. And like I said before, the overall design still looks like a believable animal. Enough so that I have no qualms declaring this the best Herrerasaurus figure available.

The figure is as elaborately detailed as you should expect from Mattel at this point. The entire toy is covered in fine pebbly scales, including the underside. On the head there are labial scales along the lips and larger feature scales scattered across the face. A cluster of larger scales can also be seen on the mandible.

Ridges run down the nape and terminate at the neck. A row of scutes also runs down the nape and neck but terminates at the body with another short row of scutes along the back, over the torso and hips. Other large feature scales are randomly distributed across the rest of the toy with a particularly large cluster on the thighs. Bird-like tarsal scutes are sculpted on the fingers and toes. Skin folds and wrinkles are sculpted around the base of the neck, shoulders, and underside. Inside the mouth the teeth are small and tightly packed. The teeth on the upper jaw nicely fit into a groove on the lower jaw, between the teeth and lips.

For articulation you have a jaw that can open and close that is not tied to the action feature. The arms are on ball joints and can rotate and swivel every which way. The legs can pivot outwards slightly, and the right leg can rotate completely around while the left leg can only rotate part way. The tail can also rotate around. The action feature is simple, a button on the back raises and lowers the head.

The figure measures 8” long and stands 3” tall at the hips. The actual Herrerasaurus is estimated to have measured up to 20’ in length. Scaled down from that length the toy comes out to be 1/30 in scale.

The paint job is conservative but works well. The head is dull brown and nicely fades to a burnt orange color. The burnt orange dominates the front half of the figure while the rear half is a chocolate brown, dark like the head but a different shade entirely. Where the orange and brown meet you have some horizontal striping blending the two colors. The end effect is simple but still appears complete, with no abrupt changes in color corresponding to different body parts cast in another color like you often see with these. The nails are not painted, but we don’t expect them to be. The eyes are yellow with slit pupils that are not painted, they’re the same color as the head. The teeth are off-white, and the tongue is pink, the roof of the mouth is unpainted.

The Mattel Strike Attack Herrerasaurus is an immense improvement over its predecessor, one of the best toys in Mattel’s mainline, and the best Herrerasaurus ever molded in plastic. It has a few anatomical shortcomings but they’re all minor when compared to the overall presentation which deviates strongly from the typical Mattel aesthetic. I hope Mattel does more toys like this in the future but so far it appears to be a one-off novelty instead of a trend setter, although some recent announcments like the Poposaurus are promising. This Herrerasaurus has proven hard to locate in stores but is currently available online at retail price, including on Amazon.

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