“This one was always my favorite when I was a kid. And now I’ve seen one, it’s the most beautiful thing I ever saw.”
Those words from Alan Grant resonated with me upon my first viewing of Jurassic Park, because like Alan Grant, Triceratops was my childhood favorite too. In that moment I felt a feeling of kinship with the character that would ultimately become one of my childhood heroes, and that’s powerful stuff for a 9-year-old boy. At the time though, I was also disappointed that the Triceratops never actually did anything. As an adult I can now appreciate that moment of close interaction between human and dinosaur as one of the film’s many awe-inspiring moments. And let’s not forget, that Triceratops was physically there, a full sized animatronic that in its masterful execution appears to have elicited genuine emotional responses from the film’s actors.
Over the last 30 years we’ve received many action figures replicating that now iconic Triceratops, but none of them really captured the essence of that creature, or faithfully replicated its design. Despite criticisms over its size, and abundant repaints, Mattel had done it the best so far with their mainline Trike. Now, Mattel has upped the ante for their fancy Hammond Collection. And I must admit, upon removing it from the packaging I couldn’t help but quote that famous Alan Grant line. But let’s take a closer look at the Hammond Collection Triceratops and see if it is finally the definitive “sick Triceratops” we’ve all been waiting for.
Starting off with the size of the thing the HC Triceratops stands about 4.5” tall at the hip and measures 11.5” from snout-to-tail. The actual Triceratops was the largest of all ceratopsians, measuring about 30’ in length. Scaling down from that size this toy is about 1/30 in scale and way too small to accurately scale with the T. rex, as well as most other Mattel dinosaurs.
Now, all that having been said, it has been widely pointed out that the original film’s Triceratops was not a full-sized adult. To properly scale with the 1/18 human figures the HC Triceratops would have to be scaled down from a length of about 18’ and although I looked for it, I could not find how large the animatronic Triceratops used in the film was. Having the toy, I can safely say that it appears accurate enough when recreating the film’s sick Triceratops scenes and so I cannot criticize the toy for its size too much. I think it is more important that the toy scales with the humans it shared screen time with than with the dinosaurs it did not. I would still like to see Mattel do a larger Triceratops someday.
The Hammond Collection Triceratops boasts 15 points of articulation. The head is on a ball joint and can swivel completely around and lift upwards. The forelimbs rotate at the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The hindlimbs can pivot in-and-out and are articulated at the hips, knees, and ankles. The tail is articulated in two places, and you can either lift it high in the air or have in dragging on the ground.
Unfortunately, the degree of articulation is quite limited on the head and limbs. They don’t have the range of motion that would allow you to create very many dynamic poses. The head cannot be lowered to the ground to drink, graze, or charge an adversary. Also, the bulk of the body prevents the limbs from being rotated around completely. It can stand, run, or lay down, and that’s about it. But you can recreate the pose from the movie, and I suppose that’s what matters most.
Most egregious, however, is the inability to open the mouth. Even though there is an obvious seam between the jaw and cranium, it is not a point of articulation. Why Mattel would give their Parasaurolophus an articulated mouth, but not the Triceratops, is beyond my understanding. In its scene, the Triceratops has its mouth open. Because this one does not, Ellie Sattler is unable to examine its tongue, and that is a huge oversight when making a film accurate articulated toy. The only valid reason I can think of to affix the jaw and cranium together is because it allows the entire head to swivel around as one piece.
Despite the limited range of motion and the lack of an articulated jaw this Triceratops redeems itself with its level of detail and uncanny likeness to its movie counterpart. The detail work is some of the best I’ve seen on a Hammond Collection toy so far. The entirety of the figure is covered in intricate scale detail, and even often ignored places like the belly and behind the frill are not forgotten. Larger scales are sculpted along the back and running down the limbs. The face and hide have skin folds and wrinkles sculpted where appropriate.
The paintjob looks fantastic too, with various brown tones blending beautifully. It’s not colorful or eye catching, but it shouldn’t be. The beak and horns are light brown with the horns given a mix of both dark and light browns to help create a cracked appearance. The claws are all unpainted but still appear accurate to the film. In fact, the horns and beak are too light in color when compared to the film and should probably match the body color closer. The eyes are exceptionally well painted. They’re a burnt orange color with brown irises and black, round pupils.
I probably don’t need to say it, but I will anyway, this figure is not accurate to the real Triceratops in many aspects. And it shouldn’t be. This is a toy replicating a dinosaur from a 30-year-old science fiction film. You buy it because you want that creature design, from that movie. And although this action figure does have its limitations and shortcomings, its pros outweigh its cons. There is no way around it, this is the best Jurassic Park Triceratops ever made, and one of most screen accurate dinosaurs from Mattel. The Hammond Collection Triceratops is currently available online and in Target stores for $21.99.