Our fave find this week was a Jurassic Park (JP) full body Triceratops puppet. As is often the way with toy hunting, we found the full body T.rex the week before the Triceratops popped up, although we hadn’t seen any dinosaur puppets at all before that.
It took a while to track down the toy company that made the puppets as the majority of JP toys were made by Kenner in the 90s (at that point a division of Hasbro). However, it turns out there was a separate puppet toy line, produced by the short-lived American toy company Resaurus, at the time of the second JP film, The Lost World in 1997.
These are big puppets but not in comparison to the life-size dinosaur puppets used in the Jurassic Park films. As this blog post explains small-scale and life size animatronic puppets were made by Stan Winston Studio to bring the Triceratops to life, or rather close to death. Shannon Shea recalled his fun if unglamourous task on the day of shooting, “…I was responsible for doing all of the cosmetics on the dinosaur for the shoot. I had to do all of the pus and the spit and the rheumy eyes and all that stuff…”
It seems very appropriate that these two dinosaur puppets have come along at the same time, given their frequent pairing one way and another. One of my favourites was when Giant Tyrannosaurus met Giant Triceratops in this battle to the death. Made decades ago, this fight scene is from The Last Dinosaur, a joint Japanese-American TV movie that aired in 1977 and has been described (rather well) as Jurassic Park on a Godzilla budget.
The pair surfaced again in 2005 in the BBC documentary The Truth about Killer Dinosaurs when Bill Oddie joined forces with a team of experts who used scientific evidence to construct life-sized, bio-mechanical replicas of dinosaurs’ weaponry. In part one he considered the science behind T.rex vs Triceratops and dramatically demonstrates their awesome potential.
Amazingly last year an actual fossil of T.rex and Triceratops embraced in a fight to the death was discovered by a ranch owner in Montana, US. Expected to sell at auction for millions of dollars the 68million-year-old fossil proved too pricey for the world’s museums and ended up back in storage and doesn’t seem to have been in the news since.
How much the puppets resemble real dinosaurs is open to question, the T.rex in particular may have looked very different as research now suggests that many meat-eating dinosaurs had feathers. So it will be interesting to see how the dinos look in the next of the Jurassic Park series. Happily there’s not too long to wait, the fourth film, Jurassic World, is apparently in the works and due for release next year.
In the meantime if you haven’t stumbled across this sci-fi classic here’s a snippet from the first film featuring the T. Rex at the moment it all starts to go wrong…