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Tyrannocon Rex & JP93

Transformers Collaborative
by yo go re

First was Ghostbusters. Then Back to the Future, X-Men, and even Top Gun. And now Transformers Collaborative has done its biggest set, Jurassic Park!

*kazoo music intensifies*

Tyrannocon Rex is loose. Repeat: Tyrannocon Rex is loose. Do not panic. Autobot JP93 has been dispatched and is equipped to handle the situation. JP93 will track down the asset out of containment and return her to her paddock promptly. If you see Tyrannocon Rex, do not approach her. Please call Jurassic Park Security when you are safely out of range.

Considering Hasbro just developed a new Beast Wars Megatron mold, this is a pretty brilliant crossover: they'd already reused the pieces once for an updated version of T-Wrecks, and now they get to use them a second time.

It is a fairly nice T rex mold, but it does suffer the same flaw that makes all "realistic" beast-mode TFs look bad: big, obvious panel lines that break up the surface. We can except big breaks like this on a truck or a plane, because machines have gaps necessitated by manufacture; on a living animal, they look like it was taxidermied badly.

The toy is surprisingly articulated, however - a decent trade-off. The head can lift and turn, two hinges allow the tail to swing side-to-side, the jaw opens, the arms are balljoints, and the legs move at the hips, knees, and ankles. The hips are interesting, because the "skin" that covers them needed to be on a slider so it could move with the leg. The panels around the top of the neck seem designed to keep things looking "intact" when you move the head, but they really don't work.

The majority of the T rex's skin has been molded from a soft PVC that's then attached to harder ABS frames beneath. Was this some sort of attempt to make it feel real? Because it was a bad idea. Now the panels that barely fit together anyway really don't want to meet the way they should. With ABS plastic, you push things to where they go, and they go there; with PVC, the extra little bit of "give" in the material means you have to push them past where they need to go, because they'll spring back; that doesn't work when two of them are supposed to connect together.

Converting the dino is slightly challenging at first, but easy to get the hang of. The trickiest part is remembering which major pieces need to rotate 90° which way at which point. Also, getting the hips together is tough - though not nearly as much of an ordeal as getting them apart again when you're returning to the robot mode.

Tyrannocon Rex doesn't really have any personality, yet. All we know about her is what's on the back of the box (reproduced up above). To wit: she's a resident of Jurassic Park, or at least spends enough time there that she has her own dedicated personal space, and the park has plans in place for if she escapes. That's it. If she's anything like the T rex in the movies, then she's no fan of humans, but generally considers them beneath her notice when other threats are around, meaning she'll often inadvertantly save them. A Decepticon with a fan club!

Since I ignored Beast Wars as a kid, BW Megatron's design holds no deep nostalgia for me - which means I'm free to find the robot design utterly stupid. Turning the T rex head into a hand is possibly the dumbest, laziest thing to come out of the era. Well, no, that's not fair: there are plenty of shellformers that are a lot lazier, so this is just a bad idea. It's iconic, sure, now, but that doesn't mean it was good to start with. And I've always found using animal legs as robot legs to be uncreative. Tyrannocon's altmode is brown and striped, like the movie dino, and her robot parts are mainly red and black, in homage to the Jurassic Park logo. (The fact that it is also reminiscent of the G1 Dinobots is purely coincidence.)

Tyrannocon gets a new head. No, not the grimmacing Megatron head T-Wrecks was supposed to get, an actual new one. It's black with a red visor slit for the eyes, and a few angled flares on the top to give it personality. Unfortunately, due to the shape of the base of the head and the placement of the balljoint's socket, the head wants nothing more than to tip itself backwards and stare at the sky.

This is the first Transformers Collaborative release to include more than one figure. More than one Transformer, at least: Ectotron came with Slimer and Muncher, and X-Spanse came with Wolverine and Sabretooth, but this set gets two TFs. Since it's based on the big "T rex breakout" scene in Jurassic Park, it makes sense that the second toy is one of the Park tour vehicles.

The tour vehicles in the movie were 1992 Ford Explorer XLTs, rather than the Toyota Land Cruisers from the novel - clearly somebody was willing to pay more for product placement! This is a fully licensed model, with the Ford logo and copyright info printed on the box confirming it. Would anyone have noticed if they just used a generic SUV design? No, nobody who matters. After all, the colorful paint would draw most of the attention.

The green, red, and yellow colorscheme was designed by ILM's John Bell to look like a mix of dinosaur skin and camouflage, and the trucks were loaded with off-roading accessories: extra lights, brush guard, vista roof, etc. George Barris modified them so a stuntman could drive them from a hidden compartment in the back - sorry to ruin the illusion, but they didn't really run on tracks like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

This is a fairly good re-creation of the movie vehicles. It's got the big black brush guard with the high headlights, the clear roof with the three lamps behind it, the spotlight on the passenger side, and even the distinctive style of hubcaps. The glass is smoky translucent plastic, and all four wheels roll. The numbering on the back end identifies this as Tour Vehicle 04, which was the one Tim and Lex were riding in before Rexy smished it - the packaging here includes a second upside down tour vehicle (just cardboard) for Tyrannocon Rex to step on, but that's identified as number 02. The way the logo had to be painted onto the toy leaves a slight gap at the edge of the pieces, meaning one side says "Jur Assic Park" and the other side says "Juassic P Ark." Whoops!

Converting the SUV is a lot more intuitive than the dino. It's typical stuff for a car TF: open the doors to get the arms out, get the head up through the hood, pull the legs out of the back and flip the roof over to be the feet. In a way, it feels a lot like G1 Skids. It's way easier to get the hang of than the big girl was. You have to get the roof panels past some thin clips to lock them into place, which could be a problem if this clear plastic turns out to be too brittle, so be careful with those.

Not only does this Autobot not get a personality, he barely even gets a name! They call him "JP93," a reference to the year of the film's release, but after things like "Ectrotron" and "Gigawatt," this is lacking. It's a Tour Vehicle, call him Torvee. Hell, channel Ian Malcom and call him Findaway. Or Mustgo. Nublarbot. Tracks. Electrum or Elektron (the Latin and Ancient Greek words, respectively, for amber resin). If B-127 got a real name, JP93 should, too! The box text implies that he works for the park, just as his counterpart lives there, so neither of them must care about the Autobot/Decepticon war very much.

He's got a pretty standard "car Transformer" body: the hood is his chest, the doors hang off his back, etc. There's nothing particularly clever or inspired about the body, like the way Ectrotron looked like he was wearing a Ghostbusters uniform - granted, there's no memorable Jurassic Park employee uniform, and even if there were it almost certainly wouldn't match the red and green colorscheme, but there still had to be something they could do. The only imaginative area is the head: the top of his head is beige, and looks like a hat with an up-turned brim. Like Robert Muldoon wore! (Also Alan Grant, but he was a visitor, not an employee.) The eyes are black, suggesting Ian Malcolm's sunglasses, which seems like a missed opportunity: the Tour Vehicles all had night vision goggles in the glove box, so why not do those?

The other reason we feel this is patterned after Muldoon and not Grant is the weapon: JP93's gun is quite clearly designed like the heavy Franchi SPAS-12 shotgun the game warden favored. It's a solid piece, but it has a bit that looks like a pump slide, the back is angled like the collapsed stock, and there's a sight rising up off the top barrel. The gun can be held in either of the robot's hands, stored on his back, or underneath the vehicle.

This Transformers Collaborative set isn't as special or creative as some of the others, with one repaint and one simple new figure, but the theme is strong and getting two at once is admittedly pretty cool. The set was an Amazon exclusive, which means you can probably get a good deal on one with a scratched or dented box. That's what I did, to knock a couple bucks off the price. If nothing else, buy it so you can give your JP93 a name!

-- 02/08/22

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