The latest in Amberley Books’ colourful merchandise guide settles, appropriately enough with movie five lumbering across the horizon, on stuff and tat released over the years as a result of the Jurassic Park feature film phenomenon. But where previous guides on Doctor Who and Star Wars, collated by Paul Berry, have cast their nets far and wide and cantered through a broad range of highly collectible books, games, action figures, records and assorted ephemera, Kristof Thijs’ book - the usual rather thin 94-page format - focuses almost entirely on toys on action figure.
As the author is a lifelong collector (he has his own website on which he displays the fruits of his collecting labours over the decades), there’s an unmistakable air of completism in this latest effort if only because Thijs has filtered out much of the other JP merchandise and concentrated on the items that have obsessed him since the release of the first Jurassic Park movie in 1993. So what we’re presented with here is page after page after page of lovely colourful photographs of Jurassic Park figures, ranging from human types such as Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm and, of course, the near-infinite varieties of dinosaurs created by toy manufacturers much more wily and imaginative than the fictional scientists of Isla Nublar who largely contented themselves with bringing the big crowd pleasers - your bog-standard Tyrannosaurs, Velociraptors, Brachiosaurs etc. - back to life.
Toy-makers Kenner and Hasbro spewed out literally hundreds of wild variations on the Jurassic Park theme, rainbow-coloured predators (early versions of which came complete with ‘dino-damage’ wounds, little skin flaps which could be removed to display the bone and flesh beneath the skin), fanciful vehicles, gizmos and gadgets which were either based on early script drafts, creatures and characters from Michael Crichton’s two books who didn’t make the transition to the big screen or else were completely made up to keep the franchise ticking over between movie releases.
If you’re a dedicated JP action figure fiend you’ll find this book invaluable as you try to track down that elusive milk white CamoXtreme Arctic Tyrannosaur figure from the 2002 line or the comical-looking Ultimasaurus hatchling figure from the 1998 Chaos Effect line based on an aborted animated JP TV series. Collectors of other JP merch won’t find much of interest here although a few children’s spin-off books and various board and computer games get a look-in and come on, who wouldn’t want to spend a night tossing and turning in the JP-inspired bedroom pictured on page 24?
Thijs clearly knows his JP stuff and even if the cursory text isn’t hugely inspiring then there’s some fun to be had in gazing at hundreds of photos of blister-packed toy dinosaurs and assorted terrible lizards. It’s hard, as ever, to shake off the feeling that these things were made to be played with, broken in half and thrown away and not preserved forever and treated with the reverence cheap bits of plastic rarely, if ever deserve. Collectors will want and need this book; for anyone else, it’s just another lot of pretty pictures of well-packaged, nicely-produced kid’s toys.
JURASSIC PARK COLLECTIBLES / AUTHOR: KRISTOF THIJS / PUBLISHED BY AMBERLEY BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW