REVIEW: TF Collaborative Tyrannocon Rex & Autobot JP93 (part 1)

The Transformers Collaborative line is still a relatively new endeavour but it’s already spun well beyond what I think most of us would have imagined the scope of it might have been when it first emerged. Seriously, I even wrote an article around that time where I took a wild stab at what other classic franchises we might see homaged in toy form, yet nowhere on that list did I think to include stuff like J Balvin or Dracula. Clearly, I wasn’t thinking big enough.

To my credit, I did ponder the idea of a Jurassic Park mash-up as it always seemed like the kind of classic action franchise that would be ripe for the treatment. However, I considered that it might be the Jeep that they used for the vehicle mode instead of the Explorer, and at no point did I believe that they’d actually throw a dinosaur in the mix too. Maybe they were just so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should. Ahem.

In any case, the JP-inspired Collab set is now here, and the first thing to acknowledge (beyond how incredible it is that it exists to begin with) is that it’s some of the best toy packaging I’ve seen in a good long while. It’s hard not to be immediately bought into this release being a good idea when you see the two toys perfectly lined up to recreate the original film’s most iconic scene in perfect detail, complete with a second Explorer made out of cardboard just for the sheer awesomeness of it all. They’ve really allowed this package a lot of room to breathe too, refusing to just cram the toys in, and the added size and presence of the box really helps to show them off to their best.

Good thing too as it’s not a cheap set by any means. To be fair, none of the Collab efforts have been so far (presumably the costs need to cover the licenses required to make these things happen, after all), but even taking into account that you have two toys in the box here, breaking the $100 wall is certainly going to be a test to see how dedicated Transformers and Jurassic Park fans really are. So, the big question then – once you get all of that pretty packaging out of the way, does the contents actually justify it? I suppose what I’m asking is have they spared no expense or is it just one big pile of… well, you know.

Joking aside, let’s first turn our attention to the most obvious part of this set, which is naturally the whopping great big T Rex taking up the majority of the packaging window, known as Tyrannocon Rex. In this case, it’s a repainted (and retooled) version of the Kingdom Beast Wars Megatron figure, though with a significantly more ‘grounded’ colour scheme to represent the female predator from the 1993 Jurassic Park film. Well, in theory anyway, given that we don’t 100% know that dinosaurs weren’t bright purple, I suppose. Let’s just say it’s accurate to the screen then.

And wow, I have to say it’s a bit of a showstopper! Full confession, I’ve never handled the Megatron version of this design before (nor the T Wrecks repaint) so I was particularly excited to finally give it a once over in hand, but nothing about the experience has disappointed. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is one of the best T Rex Transformers modes I think we’ve ever received.

That might sound like high praise but honestly, there’s just so much about it that works, and if anything I think the more ‘realistic’ colour palette just helps to show it at its best, too. It’s really nice and vibrant despite being mostly brown, with a very effective faded colour pattern all over the body. Some parts are so pleasingly saturated that they’re almost orange, but never in a way that belies the commitment to making this feel like the same T Rex from the film. It’s surprisingly striking.

It’s loaded with finer paint applications and other colour highlights too, including areas such as the claws and of course some very impressive detailing on the head. I love the black scales around the eyes, especially for how they manage to make the vibrant yellow of her peepers pop, and it’s just one of many examples of how the colours work well in bringing out the finer elements of the moulded detail and varying textures going on. There really is so much to admire.

I’d actually go as far as to say that this is one of the best-looking ‘mainline’ toys I’ve seen in a long time, and easily puts to shame the finish found on a lot of recent Generations releases I’ve experienced, even in lines such as Studio Series. If mass retail releases could consistently claim this kind of attention to detail in terms of the moulding and finish then I think we truly would be spoilt rotten. As it is, it just makes Tyrannocon Rex here stand out more than she already does.

Just have a look inside that mouth for evidence of what I’m saying, as there are some exceptionally sharp paint applications over the gums and teeth, not to mention some intricate moulding and clever engineering in how the jaw opens up over several separate pieces. The open-mouthed roar pose is such a staple of any T Rex toy but arguably it’s even more important given how memorable it was throughout the JP film. When I look at this toy in this pose, I can automatically *hear* the sound in my head, it looks so fantastic, so I’d say that’s mission accomplished.

I also love how cohesive this whole mould feels, as it does a very impressive job at concealing the many mechanical elements all within its body. It makes for a bit of a paneltastic result but still, everything clips together fairly well and feels quite solid on the whole, save for perhaps the two halves of the underbelly, which do have a bit of a tendency to come apart slightly during play. It’s also worth mentioning how articulated this form is too, with some clever engineering employed to allow a lot of movement in the head, tail and legs, all of which have more range than you might first suspect. Probably my only real grumble here is that I wish the knees were a little better disguised but overall, it’s pretty marvellous stuff and it makes for a toy that is both great to look at and fun to handle.

Honestly, it’s a wonderful result all in, and again, I really think it makes mincemeat of a lot of other Generations offerings of late, easily showing up stuff like the dino’ mode on SS86 Grimlock, as one example. Whilst the robot form was good chunky fun, I’ve often felt that his T Rex configuration was rather lacklustre in a lot of regards, and even taking into account the advantages that come from Tyrannocon Rex sporting the more ‘updated’ and upright form for the giant reptilian predator, Grimlock simply looks a bit goofy by comparison.

To me, the biggest disparity between the two of them is the presentation, with the paint, moulding and other visual elements of the Collab effort all outshining the Studio Series toy and then some, making the plain unpainted grey and drab bare white arms on that figure seem rather basic when you line them up side-by-side. Again, it all goes to show just how much effort has been poured into the JP figure here, although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish this was more indicative of the usual standard of finish we see from this type of toy.

Turning our attention back to the other member of this set then, unfortunately, this is where things get a little more mixed. Whereas Tyrannocon Rex is the definite headliner here, Autobot JP93 was always going to have to work a lot harder to step out of her shadow and sadly, the toy in question can’t quite manage it.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a real thrill that comes from seeing the JP Explorer design done up in transformable toy form, and to their absolute credit, the designers have really gone to town on making this guy appear as bright, colourful and faithful to the screen as possible. In that regard, a cursory glance of JP93 yields a lot of positives, as the paint and finish on offer are all pretty good for the most part.

However, the real downer here is the fit and finish, with the vehicle form refusing to tab together in a satisfactory manner and looking rather messy. On my copy, the worst bit is the way in which the rear section needs to connect to the front and how the doors tab in on the sides, all of which is heavily compounded by the writing across the side as the wonky nature of it leaves the franchise title looking a little unfortunate, to say the least. The example you see above was directly out of the box and whilst I have in fairness managed to make it slightly better after a few transformations back and forth, it’s still far from how it should be.

I’d also add that having so much of the top half of the vehicle mode made from painted clear plastic is a choice that will never not make me a little cautious, if not for potential breakage then certainly for the likelihood of paint rubbing. In this instance, the most obvious point for attention would be the rear roof panels, especially in how they flip round to become the bottom half of the feet for vehicle mode, but more on that next time.

In the positives, you can equip JP93 with his rifle atop the roof but besides all that, there is still a thrill from seeing such an iconic film vehicle brought to life in this manner. It’s a similar feeling to Ectotron or Gigawatt or any of the rest made being made real, and at least in that regard, there’s quite a bit of fun to be had from this toy, even if it’s not quite as well-finished as some of those examples.

Still, as part of a set, these two work exceptionally well alongside one another, making for a wholly unique pairing that definitely does justice to the big-screen film. I think Jurassic Park is just one of those timeless classics that it’s hard not to have at least some affection for even after all these years, so seeing it realised in Transformers toy form is every bit as much fun as one would imagine.

I mean, as far as photoshoots go, this was certainly one I’ve been looking forward to for some time, and the opportunity to mess around with these two in front of the lens was an experience that didn’t disappoint in the least!

That JP93 almost ends up being a bit of a side note is a shame but equally, he does a very convincing job as an upturned vehicle ready for Tyrannocon Rex to stomp all over, so in that regard, I’d say there’s still plenty of amusement to be had here, between the two toys.

As for where they might fit in your collection, well, that’s up to you but I did find it all too humourous to pit them alongside other Generations releases in a kind of weird big-screen crossover. I’m sure Optimus Prime’s presence in the 1993 film would have changed events quite a bit but it made for a very memorable result nonetheless!

Turning our minds back to the question of price then, all I can tell you for now is that we’re only halfway through examining this set and already I’ve had a real blast with it. True, the heavy lifting is really being done by Tyrannocon Rex but still, JP93 makes for a fun bit of scenery dressing if nothing else!

If anything he almost ends up feeling like a bit of an accessory somehow – like a complement to the real main event. Whatever the case though, it really doesn’t matter, as I’ve been so preoccupied with the big reptile since this set arrived that I haven’t really worried about it. Just goes to show that sometimes, dinosaurs still do rule the earth, after all.

Anyway, that’s half of our tale done. Join us for the next part when we’ll be getting these two transformed up into robot mode!

TTFN

About Sixo

Transformers collector from the UK, collecting vintage G1/G2, CR/RID, UT & Masterpiece/3P. Find me at twitter.com/SixoTF or on YouTube at youtube.com/SixoTF

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