LEGO 75936 Jurassic Park: T. rex Rampage, the biggest LEGO dino ever [Review + Interview]
Last week, LEGO announced the biggest set yet in the Jurassic World license, 75936 Jurassic Park: T. rex Rampage . While most of the LEGO Jurassic World theme has centered around the new films starring Chris Pratt, this is the second time LEGO has revisited the 1993 Spielberg classic film, following 75932 Jurassic Park Velociraptor Chase last year. With 3,120 pieces, this new set banks on scale with a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex and Jurassic Park gate, which are much larger than minifigure scale. In addition to our usual review, we also had the chance to speak to LEGO Senior Designer Mark Stafford about the set. T. rex Rampage will retail for US $249.99 | CAN $299.99 | UK £219.99 beginning June 19th for LEGO VIPs, with general availability beginning July 1st.
T. rex Rampage dates back farther than you might think. I spoke with the set’s creator, LEGO Senior Designer Mark Stafford, to get some inside info on the set’s history and how this massive set came to be.
Mark: “When we got the Jurassic World license, we were starting off, and we went around the office to see what we had from the old Jurassic World sets, Jurassic Park, LEGO dinos, and anything else dinosaur related. And that’s when we found this model of Mike Psiaki’s behind his desk, right on the shelf. And we asked to borrow it, and it sat on a shelf in our project through all of the development of the first year stuff [released in 2015].”
Mark holds Mike Psiaki’s original sketch model from 2012
Mark: “Everybody was like, why don’t we make this? [The response was] ‘It’s not minifigure scale, it’s too big.’ But James Stevenson built a version of the gates to put with it that was a little smaller than the final one. When those were put together, it was so iconic that it was considered a no-brainer to try to slot this as one of our direct-to-consumer large sets for this year.
“And then I was handed these two sketch models and told by Marcos [Bessa], our design lead, ‘build the ultimate dinosaur.’ Which is when I built one that was far too big. That couldn’t be supported by hinges, and then I came back closer to the scale in the next iteration. The gate I did take a little bit bigger. It’s probably about eight studs taller than the first version.”
Mark shows off his unfinished sketch model that was too big to hold its own weight.
Mark: “This is way over minifigure scale. There are minifigures with it, four of which are unique. But the scale of the gates and the dinosaur are way over the size of minifigures. And it’s one of the issues with doing a vehicle with this; the Jeep or the Ford Explorer or anything like that. The jeopardy of Jurassic is about the figures being in the vehicle, and that threat. But of course, the scale to work with the dinosaur is too big for the minifigures to work with the vehicle. So what do we do for the figures? And the number of scales was not working there. It just wouldn’t work.”
TBB: “Was there any thought of what other elements to it to include with the set? I know you mentioned that you played around with the Jeep.”
Mark: “We didn’t play around with it. We knew it wasn’t to scale for either dinosaur or the gate. So we didn’t–it was never included. We do have versions built at minifigure scale. But from what I understand–and I’m just a designer, so I’m not sure how accurate it is–but there is some complication between the licenses. We have a Jurassic World license, and then a Jeep license is a separate thing. And a Ford Explorer license is a separate thing. So we’re not sure. From what I understand, there are still legal things to be sorted out before we could do either of those as they were in the first movie. And I know from Jurassic World, I designed Owen’s truck, which in the movie was very obviously a particular brand. I was asked to make sure it didn’t look too much like that brand, even though it had to look like that truck. So, you know, as this is a love letter to the movie, it would feel wrong to do a generic vehicle instead of the specific vehicles that it should be. So no Jeep here.”
The box and contents
The box is suitably large for a 3,000-piece set, and is sure to dominate its shelf space in LEGO stores. However, the first thing I noticed is that there’s a Jurassic World logo on the box, not Jurassic Park.
TBB: So I have to ask, the set is branded Jurassic World? But it’s clearly Jurassic Park.
Mark: “From what I understand, the franchise now is known as Jurassic World. It’s like the Wizarding World and Harry Potter. What do we brand it as? And in this case, they prefer Jurassic World. But of course, everything here is from the first movie. It’s a love letter to that first meeting.”
Now let’s look at the contents. There’s plenty to go around, as the box is stuffed quite full despite its size. As with most large sets, about half the parts are packed into a plain white inner box. The 30 bags are divvied among 15 numbered steps, plus a loose 16×16 tan plate and a bag containing the instructions and sticker sheet. There are lots of brown, dark brown, tan, dark tan, and dark grey elements in the bags, but apart from the sudden plethora of greens in the final bags, there are not many other colors.
TBB: “So it looks like there might be a few re-colored elements in here. Are there any totally new elements?”
Mark: “Not that I’m aware of. It was filled with existing elements. That was part of the agreement.”
TBB: “So when you’re designing a set, is there is a goal in mind to not necessarily use new elements?”
Mark: “Yeah, I mean, with this because it was a brick-built dinosaur, in some ways designing a new brick felt like cheating. ‘Oh, I can’t build a nose, so let’s build a new nose element.’ I don’t like that. So it was: all right, we have these existing elements. How can I build this? How can I make his toes? How can I make his mouth work? What’s his tongue gonna be?”
Speaking of stickers, there are only seven on the sticker sheet. It’s dominated by the UCS-style placard and Jurassic Park sign, leaving just three small stickers for the park’s computer systems.
The instructions are split into two manuals. The first is a landscape-orientation booklet that builds the T. rex, while the second, portrait-orientation booklet has instructions for the gate and placard.
Lending evidence to the supposition that this is an exclusive, Ultimate Collectors Style-set rather than just a very big “normal” set is the panoply of introductory materials in the front of manual 1. These give an overview of the set, characters, and design process, including brief interviews with set designer Mark Stafford and graphic designer Casper Glahder.
Starting with book 1, the dinosaur model starts off the torso, which is mostly built studs-up for the center core. Hiding right at the very center is a green frog, because, as Mark put it, “frog DNA is necessary for Jurassic dinosaurs.”
Very quickly we move on to the neck, which is supported by two large Technic click hinges. Already we can see the abundance of SNOT bricks and brackets which will hold the T. rex’s skin, which are large plates with lots of curved slopes.
Next up are the legs, which are mirrored versions of the same structure. Each leg is about 26 studs tall, and supports the entire creature’s weight despite the complex shape. The “knee” joints don’t move at all, and although the ankles do, when extended the dino’s center of gravity is no longer above the feet, so it can’t stand. More interesting, though, is the hip joint, which employs two small 12-tooth gears mounted on Technic friction pins rotating around a larger 28-tooth gear. This introduces a considerable amount of friction to the system, and incredibly it’s enough to balance the weight of the dino. The legs actually connect to the body via the two ball joints on the top and bottom of the gear assembly, and this gives the legs a tiny bit of lateral rotation.
Attach the legs to the body, and voila, the creature can stand. Although, at this stage it looks more like a headless, plucked chicken…
Now we move on to the massive tail. The tail segments are connected with ball joints, which Mark says is “something Mike figured on this the original sketch, and I couldn’t find anything better cause it’s an awesome way of doing it.” There are two types of ball joints used, however, because the 3 Mixels joints used on top give the tail the necessary friction for side-to-side movement, but they don’t stop the tail’s weight from just ripping the joints free. The bottom towball element is turned 90° however, so it functions as a stop. “Lots of trial and error with this one,” Mark says.
There are 10 tail segments in total, each built around the same basic structure although no two are the same.
Finally, we’re ready for the T. rex head. Much like the body, the head is a core of SNOT bricks with a cladding of plates covered with smooth curved slopes. Mark says this is his favorite part of the model. He even made sure to include a tiny pink 1×2 plate as the brain. “I’m kind of happy with the head,” he says. “Especially as it’s one of the things that’s so different from Mike’s original. A lot of the other things I kept the same, but the head I completely changed. That’s completely me. One-hundred percent my head. So I’m happy with that.”
The head connects to the body with a single large ball joint, which is enough to give it a bit of side to side range, but not enough to support the head’s weight when looking up. The head can be raised, but it won’t maintain that position. The dino’s eyes are the only new printed element, apart from the minifigures.
Finally, the full dinosaur is ready to behold. My guess is that kids and adults alike will pause here between booklets to do whatever the prehistoric dinosaur equivalent of “swooshing a spaceship” is. We’ll return to look at the dino’s features more after the set is complete, though.
Book two dives straight into building the gate, saving the placard for last (unlike the recent Stranger Things set 75810 The Upside Down , which put the placard as the very first item built). In a move that will shock no one, the gate begins with a large swath of plates for the ground. The plates are quickly covered over with brown bricks and plates, including dozens of brown 2×2 rock elements for the tracks.
Inside the gate are little vignettes of iconic scenes from the film. These vignettes are minifigure scale, akin to the way some Star Wars sets like 75222 Betrayal at Cloud City mix scales to create a playset within a more sculptural model. Unlike that set or the Death Star playsets, however, here the sculptural model takes precedence over the vignettes, as the model is first and foremost a large-scale Jurassic Park gate. Nevertheless, the rooms have surprising amounts of detail. It’s clear that although tiny, they weren’t throwaway designs crammed in at the last minute.
The walls are sheathed with plates on the sides and front, in many areas three plates thick, that give a smooth exterior to the rough structural framework underneath. The side panels are hung from the top, and don’t attach at the bottom.
TBB: “So in terms of the structure of the gate, you’ve got it all clad with plates Was there any thought of doing it a different way?”
Mark: “I looked at building it as a fully studs-up, brick-built object. But one nice thing about the plates, especially on the front, and then the beam I’ve got on the back, is I can pick [the gate] up with the one hand. It’s structurally strong. By having all of that sideways locking, I have that strength. Also, when I went back to the movie and looked at the gates, it’s not a smooth slope. It is three separate angles, which meant I had to build three separate angles and we don’t have bricks at those angles. We did happen to have wing plates whose angles were close enough–mainly because of the new wing plates that Star Wars just made (the 6×4 wedge plate ). Otherwise, I couldn’t have got that central angle and I don’t know what I would have done. And this was it, that certain things just came together to allow the stud-cladded version to work.”
Mark: “One thing I really enjoyed about this set was these three panels that are loose on the side and just hang from the top, when I took them to our MCC–which is an internal group to see whether this was a legal build or if I was in some way stressing the bricks–it’s the only time they’ve ever come back to me and said, ‘We don’t know–it’s too complicated. It seems okay to us.’ I’ve never broke them before so I was really happy with that!”
The doors are so large compared to minifigures that as I was building them I was reminded of ancient city gates. The minifigures themselves are sprinkled throughout several bags in the second booklet. The top of the gates have a simple mechanism to connect the doors together. They can be opened and closed together by spinning the gears in the middle.
A few more stacked bricks for the structure, and a few more plates to clad the exterior, and the park gates are complete. Finally, the placard comes last. It’s a straightforward build, though you do have to be careful with the stickering for both the info card and the Jurassic Park sign, since they’re huge stickers that are easy to misalign.
Overall, the set was an easy build, with both the dino and the gate going by quickly. That’s not to say it was simple, but the comparative lack of minifigure-scale details such as those from other similarly large sets I’ve built recently (like 70480 Apocalypsburg ) means that there are fewer fiddly bits, and overall this was probably the quickest I’ve ever built a set of this size. There was one exception, however, and that was the plantlife around the gate’s base. Aligning each of the plants to its precise stud location on the wall and the ground took some close scrutiny of the instructions. For most people, it probably won’t matter if they’re a stud or two out of place, but I like models to be accurate to the instructions for our reviews.
The complete model
The set’s 3,120 parts are split about evenly between the gate and the dinosaur, and both are massive. However, there’s no question that the Tyrannosaurus Rex is the showstopper here and the reason most people will buy the set. It is a masterwork in LEGO building. With mottled brown and dark brown stripes down its back and a dark underside, the beast looks ready to claim its place as the apex predator of your LEGO collection.
It’s probably the most accurate T. rex LEGO has ever made–and they’ve made a lot of them. Ignoring the awkward brick-built step-child from the Dinosaur line, here are all of LEGO’s T. rex variations through the years, which began with the Jurassic Park-inspired Steven Spielberg Studios sets of the early 2000s (whose classic green dinos are second and fourth from the left). Of course, the new dinosaur isn’t intended to be minifigure scale, but this evolution of dinos is too much fun to ignore.
Mark: “We have a guy at work, Neils, who’s been there since the 70s. He worked on classic space, and has sculpted so many of our models, but he’s a bit of an amateur paleontologist. So I kept going to him and saying, ‘How’s this look? Because I know the Jurassic Park dinosaur, and I’m staring at it all day.’
“But it’s like, to him what’s working and what isn’t? And one of the things he noticed–because I took it from Mike’s original–was that I didn’t have the arch over the top of the eyes. And a T. rex has very prominent eye arches. When I went back and looked at the movie, and yes, they are there in the movie, but I had one realized I didn’t put them in the Lego model. So again, just bouncing it around at work, especially with people who really know a lot about dinosaurs, is really useful.”
And as Mark noted earlier, this dinosaur is about as large as it’s possible to build using “legal” techniques for an official set, while still having a model that can balance and support its own weight. The T. rex is very poseable for a model of its scale, with the tail and head perfectly balancing each other.
The T. rex’s main points of articulation are the tail, hips, neck, and head, though the jaws, arms, and toes are movable also. The giant lizard poses easily in a variety of manners, from stooping down with its nose to the ground to rearing up for a mighty roar.