Hesperosaurus (Jurassic World: Wild Roar by Mattel)

3.7 (18 votes)

Pop quiz: which Upper Jurassic dinosaur from the famous Morrison Formation of North America had two rows of large plates on its back and four long spikes on its tail? I reckon the majority of respondents would immediately say that the answer is Stegosaurus, and of course, they wouldn’t be wrong. But what fewer of them might know is that it’s not the only correct answer. Hesperosaurus mjosi was a stegosaur that lived a bit earlier and was a bit smaller, but still bore quite a strong resemblance to the iconic roofed lizard. Its closest relatives, however, appear to have been Dacentrurus and Wuerhosaurus.

Once again, Mattel has beaten out a whole lot of other companies by being the very first to produce a toy of Hesperosaurus for their Wild Roar series this year. From the tip of its snout to the points on its second set of tail spikes, it measures almost 30 cm long and stands 15 cm tall at the plates over its hips, making it 1:23 scale. It is posed in a walking stance with its tail curled in a slight S-shape.

The main colour is a dark muddy green with olive green for the plates and the top of the torso and tail. The eyes are orange and dull grey is used for the beak and the markings on the cheeks and flanks. There are also tiny pink flecks scattered sparsely across the dark green, which frankly strike me as unnecessary given how you can barely make them out. As usual, the claws are unpainted. Overall, it looks pretty plausible, but not what you’d call exciting or vibrant. But who knows, perhaps Mattel will eventually release a snazzier repaint.

With Kenner’s Lost World Stegosaurus.

The sculpting detail is pretty standard for a Mattel toy. The beak has a slightly coarse texture, the body is covered in an array of rounded scales and thick wrinkles, the plates feature plenty of grooves, and the spikes have faint grooves. The spikes and all but one of the twelve plates are made of soft plastic to help prevent breakage or accidental injury to youngsters during play. The remaining hard plate is where the slide-out scan code is hidden. The JW logo is one the sole of the right hind foot.

The Hesperosaurus’ front limbs have universal joints at the shoulders, but the hind ones merely rotate at the hips. The thagomizer can also be rotated, and unlike with many other Mattel dinosaurs’ tails, it actually looks okay when you do it. Turning the green wheel mounted between the largest two plates in either direction with your fingertip causes the tail to lash from side to side and activates a series of groans, growls, and grunts. I like this new activation system, much more so than the one the Roar Strikers had, although it may be a bit harder for very young children to operate effectively.

The Hesperosaurus’ head is quite different from that of any of the Stegosauruses that Mattel and Kenner have put out. It’s shorter, wider, and deeper with a very large beak and prominent brow ridges. It has been suggested that Hesperosaurus had a deeper skull than Stegosaurus, but not to such an extent as on this toy. It’s also far too big compared to the rest of the body. Another defining feature of Hesperosaurus is that it possessed a longer neck, and the one on this toy certainly reflects that. But perhaps the easiest way to distinguish Hesperosaurus from Stegosaurus, apart from the difference in size, is the shapes of the plates. Whereas the latter is famous for having tall plates with triangular tips, the former’s plates were shorter and more rounded, but also longer.

Like many Mattel dinosaurs, this one is afflicted with glaringly inaccurate digits. All four feet terminate in four clawed toes when the front pair ought to have five with claws only on the first two and the hind pair ought to have three with claws on all of them. I sometimes wonder if the designers at Mattel have never bothered to take a closer look at dinosaur feet, or if they are aware of the inaccuracies and simply not inclined to improve on them. It would be very nice if they did!

As a dinosaur known from ample fossil material, but also relatively obscure and largely overlooked by the public, Hesperosaurus was definitely in need of a toy, and all in all, this is a pretty good one by Mattel standards. It’s a good size, it’s noisy and fun to play with, it looks neat and it can be distinguished from Stegosaurus–although I suspect many children and parents will still assume it’s one at first sight. It is presently available online and in stores.

Confronting its main enemy, Ceratosaurus.

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