Tyrannosaurus rex (Jurassic Park by Kenner)

4.9 (73 votes)

Much as I feel bad for peddling nostalgia yet again, here’s  a real classic – a toy that will be instantly recognised by anyone who grew up during the 1990s and loved dinosaurs. Just as the movie dramatically raised the bar when it came to on-screen dinosaurs, the original Kenner action figure line was, as my fellow reviewer Dan might say, “a slap in the face” for anyone used to small, poorly-detailed dinosaur toys. Most impressive of all was this towering Tyrannosaurus, still one of the largest dinosaur action figures ever made.

Known among collectors as ‘Big Red’, ‘Red Rex’ and occasionally ‘Rexford‘, the demonic dark red of this beast may not be movie-accurate but it certainly makes it look suitably sinister and fearsome. In spite of the unusual colouration this toy most definitely stands out as a Jurassic Park figure, sporting the distinctive pyramidal eye-ridges and overly-long and puny arms associated with its movie counterpart. The articulated arms on this figure are particularly noteworthy for being bent outwards at bizarre angles, as if the dinosaur is about to do a chicken dance – a feature shared by exactly none of the other Kenner JP tyrannosaurs (not even the ‘young’ version from the same toy line). It’s something you won’t notice when displaying it in profile (as above) but it can be offputting when looking at it head-on.

As long as you are prepared to take serious liberties with scientific accuracy (it is Jurassic Park, after all), this is a very nicely detailed figure, particularly for the time. The head would be refined in the later ‘Thrasher’ rex but is still well done here, with beady, glowering eyes, a well-textured mouth with tongue, nostrils and scales. This toy also had an action figure, whereby pressing a button hidden under its flank would result in the mouth opening slightly more and a rather feeble growl being emitted. Unfortunately this was extremely prone to breaking, with the toy stuck roaring on a loop until it was thrown across the room in a fit of rage (or the batteries were taken out – whatever). I got through about 3 of these as a kid before I gave up and settled on making the noises myself. I was just as sad as a child as I am now. It also made a stomping noise if you bounced it up and down on a surface, but that was just silly.

Note the slit pupils and white (absent?) gums...

I’m rather fond of the handsomely-proportioned legs on this figure, even if the hips have been made uncommonly wide in order to house the batteries. The toes are backed by a small ‘heel’ that allows it to stand proudly on two feet without relying on its tail for support – eat your heart out, Papo. In contrast to the somewhat slimmer Thrasher, this Tyrannosaurus is convincingly barrel-chested and powerful in appearance – ready to chase  Jeff ‘Must Go Faster’ Goldblum and cohorts into the jungle.

The mightiest carnivore ever known for having thunder thighs.

This toy is a must-have for Jurassic Park fans of course, as in spite of the occasional oddly-proportioned body part and those jutting arms it really does look good sitting on a shelf. Its sheer size combined with the quality of the sculpt see to that. For palaeontologists and others who are ABSOLUTELY SICK TO BLOODY DEATH OF HEARING ABOUT JURASSIC PARK, THANKS, there really isn’t a lot to offer, although I would point out that it’s a very common figure that, because the electronics are broken more often than not, changes hands at very affordable prices. Besides which crimson red is a very cool and too often neglected colouration for giant theropod dinosaurs.

"If it's not Jurassic Park, it's extinct!"

Should you now be old and unfortunate enough to have sproglings of your own, this will make a great gift for them as its soft skin and flexible jaws make it highly playable even without the electronics – and kids always love huge dinosaur toys. Just beware that it can’t be handled too roughly over too long a period, as the torn stuffing-leaking neck on my childhood copy (RIP) will attest.

The Jurassic Park Tyrannosaurus rex – pleasing children of all ages and eating lawyers since 1993. What’s not to love?

Often available on eBay here

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Comments 19

  • Got mine Today for only 65 Euros!

  • Great review of this wonderful toy.
    Although I wish they released it in the more yellow-orange prototype colour as shown in various promotion items. Would have been more movie-accurate.

    I still have mine as well. I got a lot of dinosaurs from the first movie. Including multiple Velociraptors and Dilophosaurs when they were really cheap at the local Toys ‘r Us.

    But like yours the mechanism was not the best. I remember getting one together with my grandmother. It broke in about two days but we could still exchange it for a new one. I’ll need to see if she still roars after 25 years…

    And yes, the obvious kink in the tail. I think it was a production error. Mine has it as well.

  • Looks like yours has just as much of a kink in its tail as mine did. There was just no hope of that soft rubber not deforming somewhat

  • Love this toy. I bought one for my new born daughter in ’93. Fun memories. I collected toys in the 80’s and 90’s. Decided to inventory my stuff from when I moved to hawaii in ’97 (20 years of sealed toys in moving boxes is just irresponsible.)
    I had completely forgotten that I bought 6 more T Rex’s and stored them away. Also 4 juvenile rex’s as well. Can’t remember why i bought so many. Now I’m thanking my 22 yr old self. Anyway. This is a fun toy to play with your children.

  • […] Appraisal: It is a nice toy. Sure this is no classic Big Red, Bull, or Thresher T-Rex, but its not bad. The positives: It has your typical Jurassic Park T-Rex […]

  • That either was or still is my favorite toy of the first Jurassic Park movie.

  • Hey Rexford! There’s still no page about you on your own site…! Lots of adventures though! 😀 I have a brother/sister of yours and my four-year-old son really likes him/her. Still a hit after 20 years!

  • […] makes it only logical that it has appeared in every single Jurassic Park toyline. From the classic Red Rex of years long gone to the recently released JP 2K9 T. rex, large T. rex toys have always had a […]

  • […] in a dark corner of the cupboard under the stairs when the Jurassic Park toyline came along and made everything else seem a bit rubbish. It’s crude, it’s chunky, it’s a little bit […]

  • Very nice review.
    I always like to see my name ‘in print.’
    Of course I am still waiting for my own page on my own bloody site.
    Shoemaker’s children and all that I guess.

  • I remember when I first saw this one, many years ago (maybe five? lol ) on a JP toy selling website, I thought it was the most beautiful thing ever and that I’d never own it, or any other jurassic park toys… Now I’ve got most of them!

  • […] JP toys managed to capture the flavour of their movie counterparts quite nicely (the big, imposing T. rex, the lithe Dilophosaurus), this Velociraptor just seems a little dumpy and toy-like – its […]

  • Just found your blog…hooray! Great stuff. This T. Rex toy is amazing; so amazing, in fact, that I bought it as soon as the movie came out–and I was 22! Wish I’d had it as a kid myself; it is perfectly to scale with Kenner’s famous STAR WARS figures. While its mechanics broke a few years back–no idea why, just stopped working one day–I still display it proudly atop a bookshelf. Don’t think I’ll ever sell it!

  • I kind of regret selling this killer T.rex toy. Among the large-sized playable T.rex toys out there, it’s definitely one of the best so far and the overall sculpt and details are quite amazing for a toy.

  • Thanks for pointing out the ‘queen’ thing – the opening paragraph of my most recent review didn’t make much sense (gender conflict ahoy). Amended…

  • The QUEEN of the Jurassic Park toys (assuming, as i always did, it’s a female like the Rex in the movie)… All hail the queen!!!

    My first JP toy, back in ’93… Sigh, the memories! :,)

  • I have three!

    Two are in various states of brokenness, though….

  • “Much as I feel bad”

    Don’t! The Jurassic Park figure reviews are some of the most popular on the blog. And it’s about time somebody reviewed the big rex 🙂

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