Coming up with something to review for Jurassic Park’s much hyped 30th anniversary was no easy task, simply because we’ve been reviewing Jurassic Park toys on this blog steadily for the last five years, thanks to Mattel. What could we possibly feature on the blog that would live up to the grandeur of toys like the Legacy Brachiosaurus and Hammond Collection T. rex? Well, Mattel made it easy for us this year, with the introduction of their ’93 Classic line, which aims to replicate the original Kenner toys from 30 years ago.
So far, the ’93 Classic line has released four different products that pay homage to Jurassic Park and its original toy line. You’ve got character sets with Malcolm and Grant that come with dinosaur figures, including hatchlings, and outrageous gadgets ala the Kenner toy line. There is also the Electronic Real Feel Tyrannosaurus, with a rubbery skin and retro “red rex” paintjob. But most exciting for me, and the only ’93 Classic toy that really required purchasing, was this Track and Explore Vehicle Set we’re looking at today.
To properly review this product, we must look at the unique packaging it has received. What we get here is a presentation that mimics the Kenner packaging of old. You’ve got a black, red, and yellow color scheme overall. The classic Jurassic Park logo is depicted on the front left while the toys sit on a base behind it, the JP gates and palm trees silhouetted against an Isla Nublar sunset behind them. The ’93 Classic designation is presented in the upper right corner in the iconic Jurassic Park font.
The back of the packaging has a diorama that features the toys as well as smaller images showing action features in use and the other toys in this collection. Overall, this is a beautiful presentation, and although I’ve retained some Mattel packaging this is the only packaging that I felt compelled to display on my shelf. It makes for a wonderful centerpiece for my Jurassic Park display, and I was even able to remove the toys without damaging it too much, they’re just displayed loose on the packaging now.
The set comes with a vehicle and Scutosaurus. We’ll look at the vehicle just briefly, I know that most readers are more interested in the Scutosaurus, and we don’t really do vehicle reviews here. Still, it is part of the set, so it requires closer inspection. The vehicle is a Ford Explorer, like the official Jurassic Park tour vehicle. It is a direct homage to a canceled Kenner toy that was originally set to be released in 1994. That vehicle was called the Jungle Explorer and it came with a “blood sampling missile” action feature.
Mattel’s version is a trimmed down version of that toy, a bit simpler in its execution but what I would still consider a satisfactory replica, especially since the original was never released. It has a deliciously retro paint app with a combination of dull purple, yellow, and black with abrupt and jagged angles along the sides. The hood also has a similar design with the addition of a T. rex looking head-on. Jurassic Park is written on the doors with the JP T. rex logo. The vehicle looks like it drove straight out of the 1990’s…as it should, and the overall aesthetic gives me the warm fuzzies all over.
The inside of the vehicle is detailed with padded seats, a black steering wheel, and various vents, buttons, and a center console. It’s all very nice but the entirety of the vehicle interior is painted dark gray. The vehicle’s patterning and logos are printed on but head and taillights, and the license plate, are all stickers.
All the vehicle doors open and there is a liftable protective cover with bars and rivets over the wind shield. There’s an articulated missile launcher affixed to the bed of the truck and a button allows you to fire the missile it comes with, which has a decent range of several feet. There’s a stand in the bed of the vehicle too with pegs that allow you to stand a human figure. Also included is a gray pole with a rope on the end for snaring dinosaurs. A hole on the side of the vehicle and another two on the launcher platform provides you with a place to store the pole.
Moving on to the Scutosaurus, this was my main motivation behind getting this set. Mattel released this same Scutosaurus a couple years ago with a different paintjob, but it proved to be one of the most elusive of all Mattel toys. I was never able to find it. Why is a Scutosaurus included in this set though? Well like the vehicle, this figure is meant to pay homage to an unreleased 1994 Kenner Scutosaurus. But that Kenner Scutosaurus would eventually see a release in the 1997 Dino-Tracker set, just with a different paintjob than what the original would have had. The unreleased Scutosaurus sported a spiffy paintjob that would have been orange and white with blue splotches and edges between the colors.
This Mattel Scutosaurus doesn’t quite do Kenner’s vision justice. It is orange, white, and blue like the unreleased toy, but Mattel takes their typical shortcuts here. Only the forelimbs are white and there is no blue edging between the orange and white portions, just blue splotches on the sides and metallic blue face paint. Only four of the facial horns are painted white and the toenails aren’t painted at all.
While it is a pity that Mattel didn’t stay true to what Kenner had intended, this is still an appealing toy with an eye-catching paintjob that I find more attractive than Kenner’s 1997 Scutosaurus or Mattel’s original, even though the latter had all its horns painted. Early concept art of this figure show that Mattel originally wanted a more faithful design but something prevented that from happening.
Scutosaurus was a pareiasaur that lived during the Permian, over 260 million years ago. It’s a really cool animal and there aren’t many toys representing it. To the best of my knowledge the only Scutosaurus figures ever made were a 1981 figure by Starlux and the highly sought after 2009 Safari Scutosaurus, in addition to those by Kenner and Mattel. They’re all out of production and rare, which makes this Scutosaurus your best bet for including this animal in your collection.
The Mattel Scutosaurus is appropriately compact with a short tail and limbs orientated directly underneath. Although not a dinosaur, this leg orientation was a feature of the actual Scutosaurus. It was one of the largest animals of its time, with an estimated length of 9’. Mattel’s Scutosaurus measures 6.5” long and stands 3.5” to the top of the shoulder. This puts the figure at 1/16 in scale.
In my opinion, the Mattel Scutosaurus is one of their best sculpts, and certainly one of their best non-dinosaurs. The level of detail on this stout little toy is exemplary. The figure is absolutely covered in scales, osteoderms, bumps, wrinkles, skin folds, and horns, which all make it a pleasing figure not just to study but to hold.
This review is long enough so I won’t get into accuracy but the figure is obviously a Scutosaurus. Not that there’s anything you could easily confuse a Scutosaurus with. The figure is articulated too, though not by much. The limbs can move slightly back and forth but the body prohibits complete rotation. The head is articulated at its base and at the end of the neck, and you can get a few good poses out of it with that. The tail appears articulated but is not.
In conclusion, although I originally bought this set for the Scutosaurus, the vehicle hit all the right nostalgic buttons to make it worth the set’s total purchase price. That’s coming from someone that doesn’t collect vehicles, with only an interest in the Jeep and Explorer shown onscreen in the original film, so the fact that I’m happy to include this one on my shelf should say something. Of course, I’m exactly the demographic that Mattel is aiming for with a set like this. This set is a fantastic love letter to fans of the Jurassic Park Kenner toys, more so than fans of the movie itself. Yes, Mattel did cut some corners and it is a shame that they didn’t stay truer to the Kenner designs, but I think that it’s amazing that they made a set like this at all. The Mattel Track and Explore set is a Target exclusive in the U.S. and only available at Target stores and on their website.
Now, if you’re only interested in the Scutosaurus, I don’t blame you. Fans of Mattel toys that didn’t grow up in the 1990’s with Kenner toys won’t have much interest in the vehicle, nor will collectors only interested in prehistoric animals. But keep in mind, the set retails for $34.99 and that is still cheaper than you’ll likely get any other Scutosaurus figure for. If you’re patient enough, you can also wait for the set to go on sale, I’m sure it will. In addition, there are some collectors that are only interested in the vehicle and are apparently selling the Scutosaurus alone for a cheap price on eBay. Whether you want the entire set, just the vehicle, or just the Scutosaurus, happy hunting.