Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of the release of Jurassic Park and in those past 30 years we’ve seen a plethora of movies, books, video games, toys, and other merchandise come along to capitalize on a film that has now become a timeless classic and a part of the pop culture zeitgeist. But what we haven’t got in those past 30 years is anything like what we’re showcasing today. Like John Hammond said all those years ago, “we have a T. rex”. I’m talking of course about the Hammond Collection Tyrannosaurus rex, new for 2022 and released by Mattel.
Sure, we’ve had a lot of T. rex toys over the years. Jurassic Park merchandise came out the gate strong with the still impressive and highly sought-after Kenner Red Rex. Then with the release of The Lost World: Jurassic Park we got two equally fantastic toys with the Thrasher and Bull T. rex figures. Those 3 toys together represent the holy trinity of JP T. rex action figures. Once Hasbro took the reins, the quality of the toys took a nosedive, but there was still no shortage of T. rex action figures to choose from. Since Mattel got the JP license in 2018, we’ve received at least a couple Tyrannosaurus toys a year, each with its own action feature and slightly improved paintjob, and all of them better than anything we got since the Kenner days. But one thing we’ve never gotten until now is a highly articulated, exceptionally painted, screen accurate T. rex specifically for collectors.
Because of that, the Hammond Collection Tyrannosaurus is the sort of action figure Jurassic Park fans have been waiting for since the franchise began. So, it is no wonder then that there is so much hype around it and that it is probably the most celebrated and coveted Jurassic Park toy that Mattel has ever produced. I was apprehensive of this toy at first. It was hard to deny that it was an impressive piece but with 3 other Mattel T. rex toys already on my shelf was it worth shelling out $50 for another? Plus, this figure is still flawed in significant ways, and I will address that later.
It was only after seeing a slew of pictures and reading and watching multiple reviews that I was convinced that I too, had to have this figure. Even though I write reviews I also occasionally rely on them myself to make an informed purchase. So, without further prelude lets take a look at this thing. There is a lot to cover here, and it won’t all be praise, so settle down in a comfortable place with your favorite drink and crank up John William’s score. This is going to be a long review.
The Hammond Collection T. rex measures 25” long and is similar in size to the Epic Roarin’ or Thrash ‘n Devour toys. Rexy is said to be 40’ long so that puts the HC T. rex at 1/19 in scale, right around perfect for pairing with the humans, vehicles, and many other dinosaurs from Mattel. With the legs extended to their maximum length and the body held horizontally the figure stands about 9” tall at the hips.
Because this is a large, complex toy with a lot going on we’re going to look at it in piecemeal, starting with the head and working down the rest of the figure. The head is the focal point of the figure and needs to look good, and thankfully it does. The fine detail, from striations etched onto the teeth, to miniscule scales, to the bony horns and bosses atop the skull all look fantastic. Inside the mouth there is a rubber articulated tongue and rubbery gum tissue that adds a wonderful little touch of realism to the toy, but I do wonder how the rubber will hold up over time. I’ve seen at least one instance where the rubber gum tissue was torn.
The paintjob closely matches Rexy’s onscreen likeness and is overall the best paintjob of any Mattel toy to date. Various brown and black tones blend beautifully together, and I particularly like the addition of black flecks across the toy. Instead of white the teeth are painted tan, adding even more realism to the toy. The nicely textured roof of the mouth and underneath the tongue are painted with a glossy, pink coat. Noticeably absent from this toy are Rexy’s scars, earned in battle with the Velociraptor pair during the film’s climax. To the best of my knowledge every other Mattel rex has had these scars but this figure is clearly meant to represent Rexy as we see her throughout most of the original film.
The jaw is articulated but it works like a ratchet and can only lock into two open positions. I don’t like this design choice as it limits the number of open positions the mouth can be posed in. I don’t know why Mattel did this when past figures had mouths that can open and close smoothly and hold whatever position you desired them to be in.
Mattel also gave this toy glass eyes and although I appreciate the effort towards realism, the pupil is painted at the back of the eye, and this gives the eyes a fishbowl like effect. Depending on the angle the pupils appear distorted, or you cannot see them at all. I’ve seen some people praise this design choice, stating that it gives the illusion that the eyes follow them around the room. I can see where they’re coming from but from most angles the figure just looks like it has cataracts. I do admit that I enjoy how light reflects off the eyes but ultimately this was a good idea that was poorly executed.
The neck is nicely detailed and textured with abundant skin folds and scalation. It is articulated in two places, where the neck meets the cranium and where it meets the torso. Although the figure is mostly hard plastic the neck is rubbery which allows the head to move around more easily when rotated. It is visually similar to what we see on other Mattel toys, like the Extreme Chompin’ T. rex. It kind of makes the toy look like it is wearing a turtleneck, and it also looks kind of like a foreskin. Such is the price of advanced articulation.
The torso is articulated in the mid-section which allows for a greater degree of up and down and left to right motion than just having an articulated neck would allow. I have seen where some people have complained that the torso will not hold its position and eventually sags down, but mine holds fine for the time being. The torso and main body itself are mostly detailed with wrinkles and skinfolds without as much fine scale detail as we see on the head and neck.
Thankfully, any missing detail is made unnoticeable by the fantastic paintjob. The various black and brown tones, complimented by black flecks and striping along the back, are all convincingly integrated together. It is only on the underside of the figure where we really lose paint detail as this portion is mostly a uniform tan color. Details are also lacking on the underside with it mostly being limited to larger, plate-like scales that look like cracked earth.
The forearms are articulated at the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, which finally allows us to position them in a realistic manner, instead of them just foolishly sticking out into space. It’s nice to finally be able to tuck them in against the chest and orientate them palms inward. The fingernails are painted with a glossy, black coat. I also like how the musculature is bunched up around the shoulders where the arms attach to the torso.
Now we’re moving on to the elephant in the room, the legs and feet. The feet are ridiculously enormous, much larger than they are on the comparably sized Epic Roarin’ T. rex. It is not quite as egregious as what we see on the Hammond Collection Velociraptor but still this figure’s greatest aesthetic flaw. The excuse for this is obviously going to be stability. And the toy is stable. I’ve gotten it into a few positions where I think this front heavy toy would have fallen over with smaller feet. That said, I have seen some smaller custom-made feet on these toys where it appears stability was not sacrificed.
It’s not just the feet however, the legs themselves are much longer than they ought to be. When standing straight up the toy looks positively absurd. But posture goes a long way and with a few bends in the legs their length looks far less obvious. The length of the legs allows Mattel to fit in the articulation and the legs are articulated at the hips, knees, ankles, and toes. Because of this, Rexy can be posed running, standing on one foot, or pressing a foot down on a Ford Explorer. The legs allow for many of the best positions you can get this toy in, so I can’t really take their size to task.
At the hips the legs can rotate completely around but lock into place when the figure is standing neutrally, the legs can also pivot in and out at the hips. At the double-hinged knees the legs can move forward and back but cannot rotate around. They can rotate around at the ankles and toes though. Aside from the scales on the tops of the toes, the legs and feet are mostly devoid of fine detail, aside from wrinkles, and the legs have also received the weakest paintjob. They’re dark brown on the front and atop the toes but the sides and back of the legs quickly fade to light brown without much variation in tone and none of the black speckling. All the toenails are glossy black in color.
Lastly, we have the tail which is articulated at its base where it attaches to the body and then again about 4” past that point. At both these points the tail can rotate around and swivel about. About an inch from the last articulation point the rest of the tail is made of rubber with a bendable rod inside. I must admit that I have been hesitant to bend the tail too much for fear of breakage. The tail moves rather stiffly, and I don’t want to force it too much. The tail itself looks great and is properly proportioned with the rest of the figure. The tail has the same blending of browns and blacks, and the black stripes and flecks, as the torso. On my copy however the black stripes on either side of the seam of the tail’s base don’t line up right but I’m not sure how prevalent this error is with this toy in general.
Overall, despite a few criticisms regarding the eyes, foot size, and jaw articulation, this toy represents a monumental achievement from Mattel, one that has been 30 years in the making. Say what you want about it, but no action figure of the Jurassic Park Tyrannosaurus has ever been this screen accurate, articulated, realistically sculpted, finely detailed, or handsomely painted as this one for the Hammond Collection. It ranks up there with the very best from Kenner while usurping all previous T. rex figures from Mattel.
Those flaws that it does have do prevent this toy from being perfect, but one must consider the $50 price point at which this toy exists, which is only $5 more than most other previous Mattel T. rex toys. And make no mistake, you’re getting your money’s worth here. I feel like I can finally say with some degree of confidence that I will never buy another Mattel T. rex, certainly not from the main line.
The Hammond Collection Tyrannosaurus has been out for about a month now and has proven elusive for many collectors. They’re largely sold out online and not being stocked in stores as they should be. As a result, it might be tempting to give in to scalpers charging $100+ for this toy. Don’t do it! Be patient! I waited a month for my local Target to get this toy in stock and once they did all I had to do was drive four miles and pick it off the shelf. I believe that they will be readily available once the hype dies down, just give it time, don’t turn your hobby into a chore, and happy hunting.