zondag 30 juni 2013

Jurassic Park Series 2: Tim Murphy

Year of release: 1993-1994

-Retracting Snare
-Night Goggles
-Parasaurolophus hatchling
-Collector’s Card # 54 

Description: Tim stands in a largely neutral pose, though his lower right arm is raised a bit, and his left leg is moved to his side, making him take on a relaxed stance. Tim’s hair, eyes and eyebrows are all painted in the same shade of light brown. He wears a yellow T-shirt with a blue collar. Around his chest he carries a (non removable) dark brown utility belt, while a light blue JP tag is found under this belt on the right side of the chest. He has bright blue pants on and wears white sport shoes and socks. His facial expression is rather goofy.
Tim comes with a retracting snare, which is basically a long red tube with a handle on the lower back side so the figure can hold it. A black string runs through the snare, attached to a removable red piece at the very end of the tube. The string can be roped around a creature’s limbs or neck after which pulling the red end backwards makes the noose tighten, thus trapping the creature. If the creature in question is small enough it might fit into the cage (coloured shiny metallic silver), though it was designed for the Brachiosaurus hatchling from the first toy line (but needless to say the new Parasaurolophus hatchling also fits in nicely). It has a hole in it for little captive dinosaurs to stick their neck out, but in some cases this might provide a means of escape. The cage can be opened and closed, but doesn’t spring open on its own accord. Tim also comes with night goggles, coloured all dark grey. They can be placed around his head, though it doesn’t always stay in place.
The Parasaurolophus hatchling stands up tall in a rather awkward and scientifically outdated way, as if it's one of those old pictures where you see a bipedal dinosaur standing up straight and dragging its tail on the ground. This tail is rather short and stumpy, as if it's partially broken off. On closer inspection, this hatchling sports more skin detail than most other JPS1/2 hatchlings. It has a small, gentile face and its head ends in a typical Hadrosaur crest. The paint job is largely light grey, with a brown stripe running from the tip of the nose over the neck and back to the end of the tail and smaller brown stripes running out of the larger one. Additionally, a thick purple stripe runs over its snout and crest. The creature has small yellow eyes with tiny blue irises, and a black JP logo on its left upper leg.

Analysis: like the other retooled JPS1 figures, there's not much new about this figure and the rest of the set. The new colours of Tim's outfit aren't very imaginative, and not very pleasant to look at either, though that's a matter of perspective. The new head sculpt which is supposed to look more like Joseph Mazello, isn't much of an improvement over the previous Tim figure in that regard, and the goofy look on this figure's face doesn't help either. Tim's accessories are identical to those from his JPS1 counterpart; no new paints jobs have been added. The muzzle remains a rather dull instrument, but the goggles and cage are still fun extra gadgets.
That leaves the new hatchling, the Parasaurolophus. It has definite pros and cons. The paint job and skin texture isn't bad for a hatchling, and the head looks pretty good with the extra colour scheme on the crest. The plump body is understandable for a baby dinosaur, but the tail is downright ridiculous: it looks deformed. It appears the main reason for this is the fact that it supports the figure, like a third leg, so it can stand in a tripod pose. Little Para fits in Tim's cage, but he sticks out somewhat, like he should have little difficulty from jumping out. It's clear the cage wasn't designed for this figure specifically.

Playability: same as JPS1 Tim. Tim has both poseable arms and legs and can move his head around. The snare does its job, though it doesn’t provide for as much action as most of the other weapons in this toy line. The night goggles and cage are mere extra gadgets, but quite neat. Like all hatchling figures, the little Para offers no poseability.

Realism: Tim still doesn’t resemble his movie counterpart (played by Joseph Mazello) much, whatever the toy designers had in mind. Nor does his new colour scheme make him look more like the boy in the film.
The retracting snare wasn’t featured in the movie, but is not an unrealistic piece of equipment. It looks somewhat similar to snares used by the InGen hunters in the TLW movie. The cage also seems a plausible instrument to contain small dinosaurs, but it too wasn’t seen in the film. The night goggles were of course featured in the first JP movie, but weren’t this monochromatic. Still, a nice extra gadget to tie in to the movie.
Parasaurolophus was very briefly seen in the first movie, in the scene were Grant and co. first encounter the Brachiosaurus. Sadly, neither Brachiosaurus nor Parasaurolophus have adult figures in the JPS1/2 toy lines, which seems to be a trademark for species that come with Tim Murphy figures. But in Para's case, this oversight would be corrected in the TLWS1 line which did feature an adult Parasaurolophus figure, which (coincidentally?) sported a paint job quite similar to this hatchling.

Repaint: like stated above, this figure is a retooled JPS1 Tim Murphy: new paint job, head sculpt, and hatchling, but other than that identical. Neither Tim nor any of his accessories would be featured in later toy lines.

Overall rating: 6/10. New, but not improved. There's nothing more appealing in this set than in the previous Tim Murphy set. It still has some arguments in its favour (cage, goggles, cute hatchling), but is overall rather bland. Unless you're a completist, you needn't bother with this set if you already own a JPS1 Tim. Especially since JPS2 Tim is one of the rarer JPS2 human figures and can be difficult (and/or costly) to get your hands on, more so in territories were it lacked a release.

Jurassic Park Series 2: Robert Muldoon

Year of release: 1993-1994

-Firing Tranq Bazooka
-Two missiles
-Velociraptor hatchling
-Collector’s Card # 56

Description: Like his JPS1 counterpart, JPS2 Muldoon is taller than most other humans figures, more muscular and heavy. He stands in a neutral pose, though his left arm hangs a bit to the side, making him balanced when he’s holding his bazooka. He wears a dark green suit (short pants and shirt) with a black vest. On the left front part of the vest he sports a light blue tag with the JP logo on it. He has black boots, a black belt and green socks. Additionally, he has a black knife holster strapped to his right lower leg and a black gun holster on a the belt around his waist (gun holster on the right upper leg). He has smooth, very short brown hair (he appears almost bald at first sight) and brown eyes and eyebrows. He has a very unhappy facial expression.
Muldoon comes with a large bazooka, basically a black tube with a small box at the end and a big one up front. On top of the gun near the front end there’s a large red button. When the bazooka is loaded with either one of the two red missiles it comes with, pressing the button makes the missile be fired with force, with a firing range of almost two metres and a good impact force. It’s one of the more effective and powerful weapons Kenner produced. Muldoon also features a black backpack with black straps so he can carry it on his back. The pack has two holes in it, one for either missile.
A Velociraptor hatchling completes this set. It stands in an attack posture, bracing itself for a jump with the right leg posed forward and its left leg moved back, the arms outstretched, showing all its small but already lethal claws. Its tail is raised upwards for balance. It has a puppy like head, its mouth opened, showing rows of small white teeth and a pink tongue hanging out, ready for a bite. Its paint job consists of a beige underside (lower tail, belly, throat, inner part of the legs), while the rest of the body is coloured brown, and a black stripe runs from the snout to the end of the tail, with smaller stripes running out from this main stripe. It has black eyes, and a white JP logo on its right upper leg. Its claws are unpainted.

Analysis: plainly said: Muldoon still kicks ass! His outfit, though less similar to that seen in the film, is quite good, even though it's green and black only. But the use of a darker colour scheme makes for an even grittier character. The new head sculpts definitely looks more like Bob Peck, sporting the infamous 'they should all be destroyed!' grim look on his face, complementing the darker outfit. This makes him even more of a bad ass than the JPS1 Muldoon.
The bazooka, which remains unchanged in paint job and design, is still a formidable weapon. It works very well and has a great firing range for such a small weapon, no doubt making it the weapon of choice for most JP toy fans. The set also comes with the same backpack to store the missiles in when unused. Both backpack and bazooka are still painted black, which does make this set a little monochromatic, since Muldoon himself is largely dressed in black as well.
The feeble T-Rex hatchling that came with JPS1 Muldoon has been replaced by an awesome little Raptor. Standing in a classic Raptor attack posture, this baby looks as butch as the game keeper, and makes a well chosen addition to this set (also increasing the irony, since Muldoon was of course killed by one of these critters). The paint job is excellent, largely identical to that of the adult Raptor figure from both JPS1 and JPS2, again adding consistency to the toy line. This hatchling figure does have some balance issues at times, tending to fall over if not standing on a flat enough surface because the front side is heavier than the back, despite the balance the tail offers. But this is but a minor issue for this otherwise fantastic little creature.

Playability: quite high. Muldoon himself provides for the usual poseable arms, legs and head. His bazooka is one of the most effective and playable weapons of all human figures. It has a great range and good impact force, comes with two different missiles for variety and the backpack provides storage space for both of them, be it loose or on Muldoon’s back. As all hatchlings, the little Raptor has no poseability of any kind.

Realism: this time around, the figure's head is a pretty good toy likeness for the actor, while the outfit looks less like the one Bob Peck wore in the movie (while it's the other way around for JPS1 Muldoon). Nevertheless, the design of the outfit still makes for a fine park warden feel. The bazooka wasn’t featured in the movie, though it’s probably the most realistic weapon of this toy line. The little Raptor is a bit more bulky than the Raptor hatchling seen in the movie, but still has a baby feel to him because of his puppy like head with big black eyes. It's also somewhat bigger, so it's probably supposed to be a few weeks older than its movie counterpart. Its paint job is a great match to that of the adult JPS1/2 Raptor figures, and not much unlike the colours of the movie Raptors either.

Repaint: as mentioned above, this set is a retooled JPS1 Robert Muldoon set, with a new head sculpt and paint job on the human figure, and a new hatchling. The baby Raptor would not be repainted for later toy lines, unlike the bazooka, which was reused for the TLW exclusive Young Tyrannosaurus set, and got a makeover for the TLWS2 Eddie Carr figure, (featuring some minor improvements and a slightly different paint job).

Overall rating: 9/10. In this case the improvements worked out okay, making an already kick ass figure look even better, keeping an excellent weapon excellent and adding a much better hatchling. The catch is that this figure is not as easy to find as its predecessor, being released solely in the USA. Ebay is the way to go in other territories, usually for relatively low prices, though this excellent figure does merit higher prices too.

Jurassic Park Series 2: Ian Malcolm

Year of release: 1993-1994

-Launching Tranq Missile gun
-Tranq Missile Dart
-Gallimimus hatchling
-Collector’s Card # 41

Description: Ian Malcolm is stylishly dressed in an all black suit, except for his shoes which are grey. He has a long sleeved jacket on which extends over the upper parts of his pants. On his shirt he has a silver tag with a black JP logo on it. He dons black sunglasses, has black curly hair and a rather smug look on his face. His pants are rather tight compared to those of other figures, making Ian look somewhat thin despite his broad shoulders. He stands in a largely neutral pose, except for his right lower arm which is raised a little, to facilitate him holding the big missile launcher.
The Tranq Missile gun is quite a big and bulky piece of equipment; when loaded it's almost as big as Ian himself. It's basically a big tube with protrusions sticking out. It has a small handle on its front underside and a big pin at the back, and a long extra handle sticking out its end. A small round button is found on top for firing the missile. It has small circular holes on the handles and the front part. It sports an entirely, somewhat shiny, metallic grey paint job. The missile is almost as long as the launcher itself. It consists of a transparent green tube with a tripod apparatus on top. It has a thick triangular collar, which is retractable. There's a small hole in the dart itself so it can be stored on the backpack.
The backpack is a very strange looking device. It's mostly black, covered with small holes and protrusions sticking out (including a big one for storing the missile. In the middle of the pack there are two tubes with a large hole sticking out on their lower part. These are coloured the same transparent green as the missile, giving the impression of a tranquillizer fluid of sorts, which the backpack “contains” so the missile can be “refilled” when attaching it to the pack. The backpack is quite flat by comparison, which gives the impression there's not as much to it as you would at first glance think due to its complex design. The pack has shiny metallic grey straps on it so Malcolm can carry it on his back.
Lastly, this set comes with a baby Gallimimus. This hatchling is sitting down, its limbs held close to its body and its tail raised in the air. It has a big head with a rather long snout and huge yellow eyes with black pupils: overall, the head has a very bird like quality. Its mouth is opened, showing a tiny red tongue. This creature has a mostly brown paint job: its entire body sports this colour, save for a big blue stripe running from the middle of its face over the neck and back down to the end of the tail. A series of eight small red stripes runs over this blue stripe. Concluding, little Galli features a white JP logo on its left leg.

Analysis: Malcolm is quite a neat figure, being almost totally movie accurate. Even though his paint job is rather monochromatic, he wears black with style, as Malcolm did in the film. In fact, the grey shoes, though adding some diversion, seem out of place. His unique style of clothes makes him distinct from the other figures. His jacket, which runs down over his pants and “hangs loose” next to his hips, isn't something seen on other JP figures. Basically, this dude is as cool as the coolness his clothing style exerts.
The same can't be said for his missile launcher. It too looks quite cool, but it's less special than it looks. The primary argument against it is the fact it's simply oversized. Malcolm has a very tough time holding it and being able to stand up straight, unless he leans backwards (something he can't do very well because the jacket gets in the way of the poseability of his legs). There's also not many places Ian can grip the gun, except for the small handle on the underside and the long one at the back of the weapon. The big pin on the underside, which one might expect would be the obvious place to hold the gun, is useless. Despite these negative points, the gun works: pressing the button launches the missile over a decent distance with a good impact force. However, in this regard it's inferior to Muldoon's bazooka, which also has the argument of originality in its favour. This Tranq Missile Launcher is basically the same type of weapon, just bigger and bulkier.
However, this gun has originality in another regard: interactivity. The missile can “interact” with the backpack. Not only can it be stored on a peg on the pack, the missile can be attached to the pack via the tripod protrusions on top of it. Moving the collar on the dart back and forth thus gives the impression of refilling the missile's tranq fluids. Of course, it's all make-belief, but it's not something seen on other figures' weaponry. As for the backpack itself, the straps should have been a little longer, since now they only fit very tightly on Malcolm, and putting the pack on his back isn't easy. Also, it would have helped if the pack was a bit bigger, since it would have helped both balancing Ian as he holds the gun, and it would have made it look more impressive: when you turn the pack around now it's basically hollow.
The baby Galli is quite a disappointing hatchling. Although it has a very nice head sculpt, looking plain cute and cuddly, its body is quite ugly. The way its limbs are attached to its body makes it look like a deformed foetus with legs that are grown together instead of apart. Its paint job isn't very good either: though it's identical to that of the adult Gallimimus figure of this toy line, which doesn't make it look bad, it causes an over-abundance of brown on this baby. Still, good to see the designers bothered to paint its tiny tongue. 

Playability: not bad. Ian has poseable arms, legs and head, though his legs can't move as far backwards as those of other figures because the jacket gets in their way. There's no poseability found on the little Gallimimus. The backpack has some issues when it comes to putting it on and taking it off of Malcolm, but has an interesting interactive relationship with the missile. The launcher has some design flaws, but works well enough.

Realism: this Malcolm figure is without a doubt the most movie accurate of all the JPS1/2 human figures. His outfit is largely identical, especially when it comes to the paint job (which wasn't difficult to screw up, because it's basically all black). The head sculpt is pretty accurate too, down to his smug grin and sunglasses, though his hair is a little bit too long. Malcolm's accessories weren't featured in the film, and they look a bit too elaborate to exist in reality. Gallimimus was seen in the film, but no hatchlings, adult Gallis only.

Repaint: no, unlike several other JPS2 figures this is a completely new sculpt, with unique accessories and a new hatchling. Though its head sculpt would be repainted for the TLWS1 Malcolm figures, the rest of the figure would not be, nor would any of his accessories and hatchling.

Overall rating: 7/10. A very good figure, but a lousy hatchling and half decent accessories. Malcolm himself is obviously the main draw of this set. This figure seems to have been released in the US only, but it's definitely one of the more common JPS2 figures: it's not hard to find on Ebay and usually doesn't go for very high prices either.

Jurassic Park Series 2: Ellie Sattler

Year of release: 1993-1994

-Firing Grappling Hook
-Beacon Locater Backpack
-Ankylosaurus hatchling
-Collector’s Card # 55

Description: Ellie stands in a neutral pose with her arms slightly raised. She has long blond hair, tied in a knot at the back. Her eyes and eyebrows are brown however, while her face has a rather emotionless look to it. Ellie wears a dark pink shirt (no sleeves, short or otherwise) with a blue shirt underneath (seen only under her neck). Her shirt is tied tight around her waist by a black belt which sports a pocket on the left side. She has brown short pants and a blue tag with a black JP logo on her right upper leg. A second black belt, holding what appears to be a small camera, dangles on her left hip, while a flash light is found attached to her right hip. She wears white shoes with blue socks sticking out. Above her left hand she appears to be wearing some sort of wrist band, but it’s not painted in a different colour than the rest of her arm.
Ellie comes with a large weapon, called a Grappling Hook. It’s basically a metallic grey tube with some protrusions sticking out, like a handle and a spyglass. Attached to the weapon is a long black string, which in itself is attached to a large orange dart with three curved hooks on it. When loaded into the launch tube of the Grappling Hook, pressing the orange button on the weapon makes the hooked dart being launched, capable of being hooked around any target in range. Ellie also comes with a Beacon Locater Backpack, which appears to be a dark blue radio box with beige straps attached to it so Ellie can carry it on her back. On top it has a small orange antenna. It looks sophisticated, but doesn’t do anything.
An Ankylosaurus hatchling completes this set. It’s a small round turtle like creature, instantly recognizable by the big armour plating on its back, as well as a club on the end of its tail. It walks on four legs. Its head has a triangular shape to it, with a sharp parrot like beak and small red eyes with black irises. The underside of the critter (belly, throat, most of the legs, lower part of the tail and club) are painted white, while the armour, upper parts of the club and head are dark purple. In-between the armour and the white colouring there is a very light shade of blue (only on the flanks and head). A small black JP logo can be found on its right hind leg. The animal stands in a slight walking pose, its mouth opened and the tail pointing downwards.

Analysis: being yet another retooled JPS1 figure, Ellie is still rather good looking and remains fairly movie accurate (though her outfit is less so than on her previous incarnation). Her outfit looks a lot like what Ellie Sattler wore in the movie, though the original light pink paint job of the JPS1 figure was a better match. Though she has no action features of her own, her weapon provides some.
The Grappling Hook is fun to play with, but has several minor downsides. Fortunately it works quite well. Loading the weapon and firing it makes the hook being launched with some force over a respectable distance, though of course limited by the range of the string. It’s a good weapon, but its new paint job is less appealing than the green JPS1 version (which wasn't great either): metallic grey and orange just don't match in a visibly pleasing way. Other than that, the hook is also lightly build and has often trouble doing damage to figures. Also, because the hooks are bend back pretty close to the dart itself they often miss grabbing any parts of targets, so they usually don’t hook onto something, unless by a lucky shot. They might hook around the little Anky's tail, but otherwise this hatchling doesn't have to fear being a successful target for this particular weapon. Also, the string easily get entangled with itself, forming knots which are hard to unravel. Apart from these issues, the grappling hook is a good enough weapon.
Ellie also comes with a radio transmitter pack, which is plain redundant. It has no functions at all. It can be strapped around the figure’s back, but is heavy enough to make her fall over and only seems a burden. Its boring paint job also doesn’t help (this time, the antenna is orange instead of green: not much of an interesting change). If it had been left out altogether, it wouldn’t have been missed. Apparently the designers couldn’t come up with a more interesting extra accessory.
The Ankylosaurus hatchling also doesn’t sport a very good colour scheme. It would surely stand out in a crowd, or a primordial landscape for that matter, which seems an evolutionary error, since even an armoured creature like this would be an easily located prey for all kinds of predators. Maybe an adult Ankylosaurus might be strong enough not to have to care about being in plain sight, but this seems less the case for a hatchling which is surely prone to attacks by carnivores. Nonetheless, it’s still a very cuddly little baby with an innocent but sheepish facial expression. It’s a decent enough dinosaur figure, but not the best hatchling of this second toy line.

Playability: good enough. Ellie herself has the typical range of poseable body parts, namely arms, legs and head. The Grappling Hook is a fine weapon, though it’s hard to really grab anything and its range is limited because of the string (which also has a tendency to get intertwined with itself). Unfortunately the hooks are easily damaged, often breaking off when handled to roughly. The radio transmitter pack does nothing and is basically a useless burden to the figure. The baby Ankylosaurus features no poseable body parts, which is of course usual for hatchling figures.

Realism: Ellie’s outfit is still reminiscent to what her movie counterpart, as performed by Laura Dern, wore in the JP movie, but qua colour scheme it's less similar. The retooled head does resemble her more closely, but it's still a far cry from an exact match: nevertheless, this is a very acceptable toy version of Laura Dern. Her weapon is a bit over the top (especially the colours), but can be handy in dangerous encounters with prehistoric vermin (though a weapon like this wasn’t featured in the movie, nor was the radio pack). Ankylosaurus wasn't featured in the movie (but would be seen all too briefly in Jurassic Park III). Unfortunately, of all the hatchlings of the first two toy lines, this species would be the only one not to get an adult figure ever (Parasaurolophus got one for TLWS1, Brachiosaurus for JP III Wave 2), making this the only released Ankylosaurus in JP toys history (an adult Ankylosaurus was scheduled for JP: Chaos Effect, but sadly remained unreleased). Lonely little beastie...

Repaint: as mentioned above, this is a retooled version of JPS1 Ellie Sattler, featuring a new paint job (and this time not only on the human figure but also repainted accessories), a different head sculpt and a new hatchling. None of the parts of this set would be repainted again for later toy lines.

Overall rating: 7/10. Ellie is still a pretty decent figure (as well as the only woman in the first toy lines), though the changes didn't improve her that much. Her weapon is still fifty-fifty, as is the hatchling (cute as it may be). JPS2 Ellie is definitely harder to find than her Series 1 counterpart (though not exactly rare), apparently being released in the USA only. If you feel you need a female action figure and prefer this one over JPS1 Ellie, you'll probably have to look online for it.

zaterdag 29 juni 2013

Today's bunch of minireviews: young people, old people and sex

Spring Breakers: ****/*****, or 7/10

Harmony Korine's provocative take on the death of the American Dream – or the exact opposite, its ultimate realization – follows a quartet of young college girls (including Harmony's wife Rachel) who will stop at nothing to celebrate Spring Break in Florida just to engage in endless mindless, decadent sex and drug use. Being penniless proves a bit of an obstacle at first, but their solution is as shocking as it is effective: just rob a restaurant, get in a car and don't look back. It's only the beginning of a nightmarish thrill ride into the mind of America's hedonistic youngsters who, despite beind educated and full of opportunity, prefer to opt for the easy way out in order to live a careless/carefree life, even if only for a short while. Just when they're living their fantasy to the fullest, the police intervene and haul their asses to jail for abuse of illicit substances. Fortunately, a rapper/gangster/parasite called Alien (James Franco being quite the chameleon, to say the least!) bails them out and introduces them to his world of everything. Thanks to his wild and violent life style leeching off the American way of life, he has loads of guns, loads of dope and loads of sex to offer, which the girls accept all too eagerly. Except for the devout Christian of course, who decides to return home: quite the hypocrit, considering her religious values ought to have kept her from coming along for this ride in the first place, knowing full well what she got herself into but opting to look the other way for her own pleasure. The other girls have the time of their life for a while, until the situation turns dark when a rival mobster threatens Alien's turf. Soon however, it appears Alien got more than he bargained for when the remaining teens prove quite resilient in helping him deal with the aggressor in a surprisingly violent manner. 

Casting several former Disney Channel stars like Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place) and Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical) was a brave and perfect choice, both underscoring the point Korine tries to make and allowing these girls to break completely with their 'sweet & innocent' stigma. People who expect lots of booze and boobs in an overly simplistic story get exactly what they expected, just handed in a different way than they would probably have liked, since Spring Breakers is not a simple exploitation flick, but a mesmerizing descent into madness rife with wildly divergent visual gimmicks and hallucinatory effects, making the audience less of a viewer and more of a participant. Korine's rebellious denial to uphold to cinematic conventions made distributors rather uneasy, since the expectations of mainstream teen drama mixed with evocative artsy display caused them, in their limited money driven line of thinking, to be unable to successfully classify this film. As a result, Spring Breakers witnessed a release in both multiplexes and arthouse theaters, but failed to fully win over both audiences due to its rough, offbeat style and confronting thematic contents. Mission accomplished, Korine!

Thérèse Desqueyroux: **/*****, or 5/10

Dull French period drama, set in the 1920s, about the daughter of a wealthy land owner who is forced to marry an older man just so her family can improve its social status by getting its hands on his lands as well and thus becoming a major player in the pinery business. Thérèse (played by Audrey Tautou) soon finds that her loveless marriage revolves all around her child her husband sired with her, while she herself matters little anymore. She's as much a commodity as the pine trees her family trades in, and she receives as little affection. Yet she is expected to help convince a female relative, who's deeply in love with a boy of low status, to also marry for money. The continuing lack of care and interest in what she wants soon drive Thérèse to take outrageous, increasingly dark measures to get noticed again, including setting fires in the plantation and poisoning her husband. When her disturbing deeds come to light, her family threatens to take her child from her and gives her house arrest to avoid the scandal from becoming public knowledge. Though Tautou gives a convincing performance of a cold and calculating woman who sees her freedom and personal space deteriorate more and more, it's hard to feel much for her, since she and those around here are all despicable people who base their lives on increasing the family fortune and their social status instead of aiming to live a happy family life. Interesting parallels can be drawn between this French film and the TV-show Game of Thrones, which have much in common from a plot perspective. However, the latter does succeed much more in squeezing compelling drama out of nasty people out to strengthen their family and riches by marriage and procreation. Thérèse Desqueyroux has to make do with annoying people dancing around each other for two hours. At least the period setting of provincial France in the Twenties offers some diversion from the otherwise tedious story progression of this film.

Song for Marion: ***/*****, or 6/10

Cheerful feel-good movie that is bound to make anyone smile. Grumpy old Arthur (Terence Stamp) is married to the ever optimistic Marion (Vanessa Redgrave), whose favorite passtime is singing in a local choir with other old folks under the tutelage of the beautiful younger woman Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton, a joy to behold as always). Arthur thinks little of her hobby, thinking she'll make a fool of herself, but when she passes away from cancer he feels he must honour her passion and join up with the choir which has entered a singing contest. Arthur does so despite suffering from stage fright and general lack of interest in basically everything, including his estranged son (Who? Christopher Eccleston!) and his granddaughter. The utterly sympathetic and optimistic old performers in Elizabeth's choir, quite a colorful band of singers with their various funny idiosyncrasies, prove to be the most charming and uplifting element of the film (especially when they cheekily start singing about sex), but the emotional core revolves around Arthur and Marion. Though it is rather puzzling to find a spirited woman like her marrying a cynical old fart like him, their devotion towards one another is pulled off convincingly enough to make you believe Arthur would bother with putting up with her hobby, going so far as to save the day in the choir competition where Elizabeth's merry band of singing enthusiasts is as out of place between all the professional top choirs as Arthur is in Marion's choir itself. Of course father and son also become closer to one another due to all the merriment the songs deliver. This movie is utterly devoid of narrative surprises but proves just as pleasing all the same for all ages. An overly simplistic and predictable story does not stand in the way of strong, touching performances throughout and an overall 'don't worry be happy' attitude that nobody can resist. The song may be for Marion, but the movie is for everybody who expects nothing but 90 minutes of cheerful delight.

vrijdag 28 juni 2013

Jurassic Park Series 2: Dennis Nedry

Year of release: 1993-1994

-Tranq Spray Gun
-Dino damage arms
-Gas mask
-Pachycephalosaurus hatchling
-Collector’s Card # 57

Description: this second Dennis Nedry figure stands in a neutral pose and is somewhat fatter than the other human figures. He sports a red sweater with a brown gun holster and straps over it and a blue tag with the JP logo on his chest. He wears light blue pants and shoes and black gloves. He has brown hair, eyes and eyebrows, and a rather goofy facial expression. Like his JPS1 counterpart (of which this figure is a retooled version) Nedry comes with an action feature of his own (instead of solely in his accessories): both his arms are removable, as if they’re torn off by some vicious dinosaur. The arms can easily be put back.
Nedry comes with a Tranq Spray Gun. This weapon consists of a yellow sack, which can be carried in the metallic silvery grey backpack Nedry is also equipped with, attached to a gun (same shiny colour as the backpack) via a small transparent tube. Holding the gun in water and pressing the sack multiple times makes the sack be loaded with water. Pressing the sack when filled makes the gun spray water. The pack can be carried on Nedry’s back by strapping it around his upper body. Additionally, Nedry comes with a small silver gas mask, which fits over his head.
A Pachycephalosaurus hatchling completes this set. It looks quite bizarre, featuring a large head covered with tiny spikes (and less of a bald head dome like the adult Pachy figure). It has big green, cat like eyes with black pupils, and his teeth are exposed like he's grinning. It stands in an aggressive posture, with its arms outstretched in a sort of 'boxing' pose. The tail points downwards, while its left leg is posed backwards and his right leg forwards. The critter has a mostly red paint job, except for its underside (lower part of the tail, belly, chest) which is coloured beige. On its back, neck and parts of the head it shows a darker shade of red, as well as a single dot of the same colour on each upper leg. It carries a white JP logo on its left leg.

Analysis: this retooled version looks a lot more similar to the Nedry character seen in the film, though it's still nowhere near as fat. His head does have an obese quality to it the JPS1 Nedry lacked and looks much more like Wayne Knight. The sunglasses have also been removed so we get to see all of the face this time. Nedry's paint job is less inspired on this retooled figure, more work could have been done on it (like colouring the shoes differently for example). The best part of this figure is still the dino damage, which make for fun times when Dennis faces the dinosaur toys of this toy line in close encounters. Since he’s supposed to be the bad guy nobody feels guilty when making some nasty predator tear off his arms (especially since repairing the damage isn’t hard either).
Nedry still comes with the Tranq Spray Gun gear. No modifications have been made to the gun, it works like the JPS1 Tranq Spray Gun does (so I'll refer to the JPS1 Nedry's review for further details). Interestingly enough, the gas mask did get a new paint job, silver this time. This does make it more consistent with the rest of the gear, but makes little difference otherwise.
The Pachycephalosaurus is quite an odd little hatchling. Its face is grotesque (which can be said for most Pachycephalosaurus figures, but is true even more so in this case), especially because it has a sort of grinning quality to it due to the big eyes and opened mouth: I wouldn't dare to call this baby cute. This hatchling tends to have balance issues because its head is rather heavy, and slightly leans to the left, often falling over. The paint job is quite similar to the adult Pachy figure of this toy line, adding consistency. It's not the most appealing hatchling, but it is sweet in its own right.

Playability: Dennis himself is quite playable, not only because of the usual range of poseable body parts (head, legs and arms) but more so due to the removable arms which make him a good target for combat with carnivorous dinosaur figures (though I don't think his arms would be capable of being knocked off by a head butting Pachycephalosaurus). The baby Pachy isn’t poseable in any way, like all hatchling figures. The gas mask is a nice extra accessory; though it hasn’t got a real function it fits well over Nedry’s head, as well as on several other figures. The spray gun is the weakest part of the set and one of the lesser weapons of the first two toy lines. The filling and spraying system is adequate enough, but the spray blast itself isn’t really powerful and won’t knock over most figures, except for bipedal hatchlings (like the Dilophosaurus). Also, the water is a danger to electronic figures and even paint jobs of some other figures, so it’s better to keep in mind what figures you are using it on.

Realism: this Dennis Nedry figure benefits a lot from being retooled, because he does look a lot more like the actor portraying him in the JP movie. It's still not a perfect match though: his attire looks a lot different, and despite the round face he's still not fat enough. The dino damage arms aren’t too graphic: though the inside parts of the arms are red, they’re not bloody or gory in any way. Still, it’s good to have a human figure with damage options for a change: after all, why must dinosaurs always be the victims with those nasty wounds?
The Tranq Spray Gun with its water blasting makes this figure feel more like a toy than the other figures. It’s not a very likely weapon to have been used in Jurassic Park. The gas mask is okay, but also doesn’t seem a first priority on a dinosaur infested island.
The Pachycephalosaurus hatchling has a paint job very similar to the larger Pachy figure of this line, though qua appearance it's a lot more spiky. Strangely enough this baby has green eyes, while its “mother” has orange eyes.

Repaint: Like stated above, this figure is a retooled version of the JPS1 Dennis Nedry figure, featuring a new paint job, head sculpt and hatchling. The accessories remain the same, though the gas mask also got a new paint job. Dennis, the little Pachy and the gas mask would not be repainted again, but the Tranq Spray Gun and backpack would be repainted and slightly retooled for the TLWS1 Nick van Owen figure.

Overall rating: 6/10. This Nedry figure looks more similar to the real deal, but has a rather dull paint job. The Tranq Spray Gun also isn't very good, and even dangerous to other figures because of water damage. The hatchling is okay, but nothing special. JPS2 Nedry is less common than his predecessor, since it was released solely in the States. It can be hard to find in other territories, and often fetches higher prices.

Jurassic Park Series 2: Alan Grant (Bola)

Year of release: 1993-1994

-Double-Barreled Bola Launcher with bola
-Bola Launcher harness
-Bola support stick
-Lycaenops hatchling
-Collector’s Card # 40 

Description: The second Alan Grant figure of the JPS2 toy line stands in a totally neutral position. He wears a grey jumpsuit, with brownish orange pieces mixed in around the torso and a scaly silver shirt underneath. On the left part of his chest he sports a silver badge with the JP logo. His pants carry pockets and an odd TV-screen like ornamentation (or is it a knee patch? If so, why doesn't he have one on his other knee too?). He sports brown boots, orange gloves, a big red arm patch over his left lower arm, and a small grey walkie-talkie on his back. Being Alan Grant, he naturally comes with a white cowboy hat. His eyebrows and hair are dark brown.
This set comes with a Bola launcher, a double bola, a harness to attach it to the figure, and a stick to support it while attached to the figure. The Bola Launcher is basically two big tubes stuck on a smaller triangular apparatus with a big grey button in the middle, a small hole at the tube's intersection point (for the support stick), hand grips on each side so Grant can hold it with his own hands and a bigger grey grip on the lower end to attach it to the harness. The weapon is painted entirely bluish grey (except for those parts described above). The double bola itself consists of two big silver darts, resembling claws, with a black string between them. The harness is a small silver pack that fits around Grant's torso and features points to attach the launcher to on both sides. The support stick, also metallic silver in colour, ends in two hooks on top and has a handle on one side for Grant to hold it. After loading the launcher, pressing the button causes the double bola to be shot away, hooking itself around any creature in its trajectory (though its range is somewhat limited and because of the length of the string between the two bola darts it's less effective on big dinosaurs).
This set also comes with a Lycaenops hatchling. This muscular dog like creature is sitting down, its short tail on the ground and its front legs stretched wide, assuming a relaxed posture. It has a big boxy head with a closed mouth, some of its upper teeth sticking out. Its underside (belly, throat, lower part of the tail and inner part of the legs) is white, while most of the tail and neck, its back and upper part of the head is black. The rest of the figure (most of the head and legs, flanks and the sides of the neck and tail are coloured brown. Very near the back of the head this baby has blue eyes with black, cat like pupils. Finally, a black JP logo is located on its right leg.

Analysis: for a second toy line featuring no less than 12 figures (even though five of them were made up for the toy line), one Alan Grant simply wasn't enough, so JPS2 featured this second Grant figure, sporting an entirely new, and definitely original, outfit. It seems to be a dinosaur-resisting suit, much more heavy and bulky in stature as the simpler outfit the other Grant figures wore, but still a neat design (and despite the obvious usefulness of some sort of protective helmet, still sporting Grant's famous white cowboy hat!), albeit asymmetric (why not a big red arm patch on the right arm as well?). Despite its odd looks, it's obvious this Grant is ready for close combat, not surprisingly since his Bola Launcher is a short range non-lethal piece of equipment.
This new weapon is one of the coolest accessories of any of the Kenner JP figures. It's a bit heavy, so it's a good thing it comes with harness and stick to support Grant when using it. When Grant dons the harness he can either keep the launcher right in front of him (supported by the stick which functions as a third leg to keep the whole set-up standing) to use on a charging dinosaur, or store it on his back when he's not using it. The Launcher works really well: pressing the button slings the bola away over a distance of roughly half a yard, hooking the darts around anything that comes in contact with the string between them. It's a great sight to see, though it's most effective on smaller dinosaurs (like the regular JPS1/2 Velociraptor or Dilophosaurus) which can actually be trapped by the bola. As for bigger creatures, it works decently well on their legs, but the bola is too small to wrap itself around their bodies. Of course, dinosaurs may get trapped by the bola, but they're not totally subdued and certainly ever aggressive. There is a likely theory circulating that the support stick is also a stun stick for stunning the captured dinosaurs. Grant would have get to come close to his prey, a task for which his armoured outfit seems well suited. All in all, this set seems quite functionally thought out in this regard.
As if the weapon isn't cool enough, a little Lycaenops hatchling completes this set. It looks very cute, almost like a puppy, but with a much bigger head and some vicious little teeth sticking out. It has a good paint job, much like the adult Lycaenops figure of the JPS2 line (but with blue eyes instead of orange). Like the Gallimimus hatchling it's sitting down, but in this case such a pose looks a lot better since its limbs aren't attached to its body. Even though it's a bit low to the ground, as far as hatchlings go this is a decent prey for the bola launcher, since the bola can hook itself around the baby's head. This is definitely one of the more attractive hatchlings of this line.

Playability: very nice. Grant comes with the usual range of poseable body parts (arms, legs and head). Baby Lycaenops offers no poseability. The Bola Launcher is a very good weapon, despite its limited range. It comes with a whole set-up to support the figure when using it, making it easy to fire for yourself. With some imagination, some of the additional accessories (the stick, and maybe the harness too considering its big points of grip) can also be used in other ways.

Realism: the only thing that really tells you you're dealing with Alan Grant here is his hat. His face doesn't resemble Sam Neill very much, nor is his suit like anything we've seen in the film. The Bola Launcher, though a bit on the bulky side, is not that far-fetched a weapon and certainly useful for trapping dinosaurs (though in reality such a weapon would be smaller so it's easier to carry around and handle). The Lycaenops is a close match to its adult counterpart, mostly because of the very similar paint job. Given the dog like nature of the adult Lycaenops, it's not surprising this baby looks like a puppy.

Repaint: no, this is one of the new additions to the JPS2 toy line. Grant's head sculpt is identical to the one from the other JPS2 Alan Grant figure though. Bola Grant (or at least his body, not his head) would be repainted as the TLWS2 Eddie Carr figure, as well as the Dino Tracker from the TLW Exclusive Dino Tracker Adventure Set. The latter set would also include the Bola Launcher with the same accessories as in this JPS2 set, which would in that case be reused, not retooled or repainted. However, a third set that came with this Bola Launcher, the JP III Exclusive Dinosaur Tracking Set, would feature a repainted Bola Launcher instead, again with all the original accessories (also repainted). The Lycaenops hatchling would stay exclusive to JPS2 Bola Grant though.

Overall rating: 8/10. Grant himself is a bit of an odd figure and slightly out of style with the other JPS1/2 figures, but he's not bad, and he comes with an excellent and original weapon, and a very sweet hatchling to top that off. This set seems to have been released in the USA only, but it's not rare in that country, making it relatively easy (and often cheap) to find on the web. All the better, because this figure definitely comes recommended.

Jurassic Park Series 2: Alan Grant (Net)

Year of release: 1993-1994

-Aerial Net Trap with net
-Smart Bomb
-Stegosaurus hatchling
-Collector’s Card # 53

Description: Grant sports a simple set of clothes. Most notable is his famous white hat, basically the hallmark of the Grant character. This hat is not removable since it’s stuck to the figure’s head. Second, there is the white shirt with short sleeves, which is adorned with a small, light blue tag carrying a black JP logo on the left part of his chest. Grant sports blue pants and brown shoes, as well as knee patches of the same colour. A black flash light and walkie-talkie are attached to his belt at the front side. Grant’s hair, eyebrows and eyes are all coloured in the same shade of brown. He has a rather grim look on his face and stands in an almost fully neutral position, except for his right lower arm which is raised upwards, almost like it’s gripping his belt.
The Aerial Net Trap is basically a large dark green backpack, carrying a black arm with grips on it which can slingshot the net (when loaded obviously) away when the small black lever on the bottom of the pack is pressed. Two pairs of large clamps stick out on the left side of the pack, so Grant can carry the net on his back by storing it between these. On the front side a frame of grey straps sticks out so the launcher can be attached to the figure. The net consists of two long grey sticks with small hooks on each end, and a black net between them. It can be loaded on the launcher by placing the sticks between the grips of the pack’s arm. The smart bomb is basically a thick grey tube with several protrusions sticking out, adorned with a typical ‘radioactivity danger’ logo (not painted in a different colour). Grant can hold it by gripping either one of his hands on the underside of the bomb.
The Stegosaurus hatchling is posed in an walking stance, with its right front leg raised upwards as if taking a step. Its head is posed as if the creature is looking at something to the left of him. He has very small dark green plates on his back, and no tail spikes like adult Stegosaurs have. Its predominant colour is light green: its entire body sports this colour, while its underside has some yellow mixed in. The beastie has dark green spots on his back and tail on both sides of his plates, and an additional spot on his nose. He has black eyes, relatively small for his size. A black JP logo is found on the upper left hind leg.

Analysis: there's not much new stuff in this figure, since it's basically JPS1 Grant with a different coloured outfit and a new hatchling. His new colours are a little bland, the designers could have gone with something more appealing than a dull white shirt and blue pants. They also tweaked Grant's face a bit, though you would hardly notice. The point of retooling the JPS1 figures for JPS2 was so they would resemble the actors more, but this Grant figure doesn't look much more like Sam Neill than his JPS1 counterpart does.
No modifications have been made to the aerial net trap or the smart bomb, they are identical in shape, size and colour to the gadgets that came with the previous Alan Grant figure. The net trap thus has the same ups and downs as it did before (I refer to my review of JPS1 Alan Grant for further details).
The only thing that really stands out in this set is the Stegosaurus hatchling, which fortunately does not disappoint. It's a very cute little creature, and because of his big eyes, tiny plates, the lack of tail spikes and a small plump body it's a obvious baby dinosaur. It is a great addition to the Jps1 Stegosaurus figure, due to its very similar paint job. Interestingly enough, its plates are shaped in a more anatomically correct fashion than the plates of its mother.

Playability: the same as JPS1 Alan Grant. This new Alan has the same range of poseable body parts. The Stegosaurus has no moveable parts of any kind, as is usual for hatchling figures. The Aerial Net Trap works the same way (as good, or as bas, judge for yourself) as ever. Therefore, the word of caution remains: the net easily gets entangled with other toys and is thus prone to damage. So if you want to keep it intact, go easy on it.

Realism: despite the designers' intentions, this figure looks less like the Alan Grant in the movie than the JPS1 figure did. The new outfit isn't something Grant wore in the movie (except for the iconic head). And though his facial features have been changed a bit, it's still hard to look at them and think 'yeah, that's Sam Neill'. Alan’s weaponry wasn’t like anything seen in the movie, it’s just accessories to give the figure some action features. Though Stegosaurus wasn't featured in the first movie, it's good to see this hatchling resembling the adult sculpt, so a level of consistency is added to the line.

Repaint: as mentioned, this is a repainted (and in case of the head sculpt, retooled) JPS1 Alan Grant, with a reused Aerial Net Trap and smart bomb. The only real new thing in this set is the baby Stegosaurus. Neither Grant nor the hatchling would be repainted again, but the Aerial Net Trap would. It was repainted for both the TLW exclusive Dino Tracker Set and the JP III exclusive Dinosaur Tracking Set, featuring different colours and a redesigned launching system (which was unfortunately inferior to the one used for this figure). In both cases it would come with a repainted smart bomb.

Overall rating: 6/10. This figure doesn't add much to the line, except a less interesting colour scheme and more of the same weaponry. The only reason you would want this set (other than being a completist like myself) is the new hatchling, which is its great redeeming feature since it's so cute and cuddly while staying consistent with the JPS1 Stegosaurus. This figure in nowhere near as common as JPS1 Alan Grant, though it's not really rare. Its release was most likely limited to the North American continent, so for other territories it can be harder to locate. Ebay is your best bet, usually for relatively low prices, since this figure isn't in great demand for obvious reasons.

woensdag 26 juni 2013

Today's News: Liam Neeson Taken once more

Here's a scoop I delivered to MovieScene:


Without having seen Taken or Taken 2 (and certainly in the latter case I know I have not missed much) I can quickly deduce this project to be a prime example of a studio doing some cash grabbing. The original Taken in itself was nothing more than a solid action thriller, as is typical for a Luc Besson production. A good cast, compelling action sequences, etc., but nothing more than an average action flick, released just before the 2008 blockbuster season kicked off, which is one of the reasons it did so well since cinemas didn't have that much else to offer. The second one was predictably more of the same, except of lesser quality. But apparently it still did wel enough despite a largely negative critical reception. And now there's Taken 3 in the works, making us wonder just how often one unlucky person can get involved with abductions of his own family without the feeling of the plot forcing the issue. But hey, Besson and co., never did care for plausibility. They do care for money, just as any commercially motivated film studio. And apparently they feel confident enough to hand Liam Neeson the big bucks for gracing the production with his presence, offering him a whopping 20 million dollars. It's an excessively large sum of money for one actor in any action vehicle, even if it's a third installment in a surprisingly successful franchise. Good for Neeson, but it does mean some cuts have to be made to protect the film from running rampant in the budget department. Expect the writing to suffer at least.

Still, 20 million dollars for Neeson isn't nearly as preposterous and insane as 50 million dollars for Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3. And we all know how "good" that movie's plot turned out to be...

And yes, I accidentally made a typo in the original news posting on MS. I know it's supposed to be 'rondt', I'm not an idiot.

dinsdag 25 juni 2013

Jurassic Park Series 1: Electronic Command Compound

Year of release: 1993

-Compound building with four pieces of dino damage (including catwalk door), roof, catwalk, crow’s nest, hatchery with four eggs and electronic talking computer with computer probe
-Six pieces of fencing
-Main gate with two pieces of dino damage
-Two pieces of equipment
-Tranq missile launcher with two missiles
-Net Launcher with net

(For convenience’s sake I will describe these three categories together to decrease repetition and redundancy, as well as to make this review as short as it needs to be.)
-Compound building: the Compound building itself sports a largely circular design save for the window sticking out of the wall. It measures some 60 centimetres in height. It features grey walls constructed on a dark green platform and includes a beige roof (removable, though only for assembly purposes). Some parts of the walls are decorated with sculpts showing dinosaur skulls and bones. On the front part there are two protrusions: the fences can be hooked to these so they’re attached to the building.
The Compound consists of three levels: first, the ground level which stores the computer and the hatchery and is basically the command centre of the play set. On the left wall (from the inside that is) it features a removable dino damage wall piece, allowing a ferocious dinosaur to burst through the wall to attack the puny humans inside. It’s randomly patterned and looks quite convincing, but it’s not always easy to put back in place. On the other side of the room there is another piece of dino damage, the window. The entire window can be removed, again looking random and chaotic, like some large carnivore just took a chunk out of the building. The window is easier to replace. The hatchery, basically a large round dark grey device with storage room for the four blue eggs it comes with, is located directly beneath the dino damage window, so when suffering a dinosaur attack the first thing to be knocked over when the window has been chewed off is the hatchery. Interesting detail: two of the four eggs sport a small Ceratopsian crawling out on top of the egg. The other two eggs show cracks only, like the eggs are about to hatch. In the middle of the room the electronic computer is located (see below).
The second level is the catwalk, which runs from one side of the building to the other, in about a 250 degree angle, giving the humans a wide vista of the environment outside. It too features dino damage, in two different places. Most obvious is the actual catwalk damage as described on the play set’s box, on the front part of the catwalk directly above the computer. A large enough dinosaur (say, the Red Rex) attacking the building is able to break off a piece of the catwalk in order to grab any human figures unlucky enough to stand there between its jaws. Fortunately for them there’s a door (dark grey with a round top sporting a JP logo sticker) directly behind them providing them with a means of escape. This door itself can also be called a piece of dino damage, though it’s not labelled as such. Since the back side of the Compound is entirely open (so kids can play with the building’s inside sections) dinosaurs can also attack human figures from the other side, thus allowing a big dinosaur to burst through the catwalk door unexpectedly and demolish both the door and the catwalk at the same time. Fortunately, the catwalk need not be totally defenceless, since it provides ample space for the missile launcher (see below).
The third level is the crow’s nest, right under the straw roof. It’s basically a lookout station, allowing the human figures to see dinosaurs coming from afar (though it’s also an obvious target for an aerial attack). It has no actual options and provides room for only a few figures.
-Electronic talking Computer: this large dark grey computer module is adorned with various computer screen stickers to make it look like the computer is keeping track of the dinosaurs in the park. The computer itself features four red buttons, the one which is located near the screens activates the computer (at which point a voice is heard stating ‘Jurassic Park Compound: secure!’). Pressing this button always causes the same sentence to be heard, while the other three buttons provide a multitude of different sentences, voices and sounds (including various dinosaurs roars and damage sounds). On the back of the computer there’s a hole: when the computer is put in its proper place inside the Compound building it allows for one of the fences to be attached to the computer. When this fence is moved (as in, attacked by a dinosaur) it also causes sounds and voices to be produced by the computer. The same applies to the computer probe (which can be placed on a small blue arm sticking out of he dark green base of the Compound) which is attached to the computer: pressing the front part of the probe (which is actually a button) activates additional phrases. The box states that the computer is capable of producing over a 100 phrases, though I for one never kept track of this. However, there’s sure a lot of them, so it might very well be true. Apart from the sounds in some instances pressing a button will activate the red light on top of the computer, which flashes three times in a row, usually paired with a somewhat annoying alarm sound. The light is quite strong and looks damn cool in the dark. When no button has been pressed for ten minutes or so, the computer says ‘Operator, please log in’, along with the red light flashing without the alarm. If no buttons are pressed, the computer shuts itself down some minutes later. Be careful playing with this computer, you wouldn’t want to ruin it as it’s one of the coolest components of this play set.
-Main Gate: the gate stands some 30 centimetres tall and sports an all black paint job. It basically consists of a small platform with two large pillars on it, each holding a door and sporting protrusions on one side so the fences can be connected to the gate, which are attached on the top side by a large plate adorned with the JP logo. It’s decorated with two small red flames on top as well as a large Jurassic Park sticker on the plate (much like in the movie). On either side of the top of the gate there’s a small platform with room for a figure or small weaponry like the missile launcher. The gate is also equipped with dino damage: it can be locked by closing it with a large black bar (sporting ridges on the front giving it a wooden look). However, when trying hard enough dinosaurs can split the bar and break through the gate. The bar can be made whole again by simply attaching the two pieces together.
-Fences: this set comes with a total of six identical dark grey fences. Each fence is made of a small platform with two large bars on each side and rods and “wires” in-between. The fences can be linked together (as well as to the Main Gate and the Compound building) via the protrusions on each side. Each fence measures some 30 centimetres wide and 20 centimetres tall. Some of them can be adorned with a small sticker which can be wrapped around a wire on the fence, thus forming a sign saying ‘Danger! 10,000 Volts’, like in the film. The fences have no actual action features of their own.
-Net Launcher: the net launcher consists of a small black platform standing on three large black legs, thus forming a tripod. On top of the platform a large grey contraption is located, with a red button on the back and a huge black arm sticking out on top. Pushing this arm down and placing the net on top of it springs the mechanism with which to fire the launcher. Pressing the button launches the net, in distances of up to half a metre. The net itself (black, with a small grey weight on each end) is quite small, and since the launching pattern is hard to predict it often misses its target (which makes hitting the target all the more worthwhile). Thanks to the tripod the net can easily be launched over the fences, and as such it’s a useful tool (though not very accurate) for capturing dinosaurs on the other side of the fence and guarding the Compound.
-Missile Launcher: the missile launcher is coloured dark grey and is placed on a blue arm (thus adding consistency with the two pieces of equipment and the computer probe, which sport a similar design). It can be rotated up and down. It comes with two different blue missiles, one with a round design and one with a star like design. It can hold one missile at a time, so the other is kept as a reserve, and is fired by pressing the red button on top of the launcher. It has a good range (up to 70 centimetres) and a decent impact force, enough to knock over most smaller dinosaur figures.
-Equipment: additionally this play set comes with two different large blue pieces of equipment. Neither has an action feature, they both serve as extra detailing of the set as a whole. One of them looks like huge syringe, while the other is labelled a diagnostic screen. Apparently these items can be used as aides in processing a captured tranquillised dinosaur.

Realism: the whole design of the building and it’s paint job make it a good toy version of various constructions seen in the JP movie, i.e. the Visitor’s Center (which is of course too big to make a more accurate toy model of), the Jurassic Park main gate and the fences found all over the park. The grey paint job with the sculpts on the walls and the beige straw roof is an obvious nod to the look of the Visitor’s Center as seen in the film, while the inside of the Compound consists of both a control room and hatchery, so two locations of this building have been joined together in this toy model for convenience. The main gate with the flames on top and the large doors is also a fine approximation of the gate seen in the film, but smaller in size (the JPS1 cars only barely fit through the gate) and with less detail (only two flames instead of the multitude seen in the film) and a darker paint job. The fences are quite different from their movie counterparts, smaller and more open (allowing smaller dinosaurs to fit through and escape!), though still recognizable as based on the fences seen in the film (the little ‘Danger! 10,000 Volts’ signs are a dead giveaway). The various pieces of weaponry and equipment this play set comes with are made up to add more playability to the set.
Overall, the design of the Command Compound seems based on the design of the Raptor Pit as seen in the film: a single building as a watchtower to keep dinosaurs locked up inside the fencing in check, with a gate for removing and adding dinosaurs to this prison and weaponry to make people feel secure while dealing with potentially dangerous dinosaurs.

Repaint: as part of the first JP toy line the Command Compound is obviously not a repaint. Some parts of it, namely five of the six fences, the main gate, the missile launcher with both missiles and the net launcher, would be repainted for Hasbro’s JP III Raptor Attack Playset, adding some much needed Kenner feel to the disappointing JP III toy line. The rest of the Command Compound play set would never be repainted for later toy lines.

Overall rating: 10/10. This play set is an absolute brilliant piece of work on Kenner’s part, sporting a great design and numerous interesting functions (though most of them not very original), loading it with enough playability to keep you busy for hours, especially when you add some human and dinosaur figures to the mix. As such, the Command Compound is a real must have for any JP fan; fortunately it’s not rare, though complete or MIB sets aren’t always easy to find. Costs may vary, but this play set is definitely worth your money.