Sunday, September 04, 2016

The Lost World of Unforgettable Franchises

Kenner's Thrasher T-Rex (1997)
The Lost World, Jurassic Park was the very first film I ever saw in theatres, or at least, the earliest one I can remember. For years, this was my favorite movie, rivaling even the original Jurassic Park for top spot on my own personal list. However, it’s anything but a consensual topic between fans of the franchise. Swallowed by a loud voice of angry critics it’s easier to go along with the overall hate, than to defend this movie’s many positive points. But there is one thing about The Lost World that all fans can agree on: It gave us the best toy line that Jurassic Park’s franchise has ever had.

Kenner’s original The Lost World series was awarded the best toy line of 1997. And for many collectors like me, it’s one of the best toy lines of the past decades. The beautiful artwork of the Dinosaur molds, their color scheme, the range of vehicles and characters from the movie, the playability of the sets, and most of all, a very affordable price, made its sales go up through the roof over the next couple of years. So much so that an unscheduled second series ended up being produced, hitting the shelves only one year after this series original release.

As a little kid I used to dream about Dinosaurs. There was nothing I wanted more than to be a Paleontologist. I wanted to discover my very own Dinosaur, a brand new species that could finally bridge the gap between the evolution of Dinosaurs and Birds. But there was only so much that a child could get from books and documentaries, in truth, I need something that felt more real, and that’s where Jurassic Park came in.

In spite of all the scary scenes both in the original and in its sequel, Jurassic Park was the first movie to really show us how a Dinosaur could look like. Even if we skipped through all the scientific inaccuracies of the film, we’d still find plenty of material to aid us in our dreams. 

The minute I found out about The Lost World’s toy line, I put my Power Rangers aside and dedicated my time to collecting and playing with its toys. My parents were more than happy with this switch, since the price of a single Zord could pay for more than five or six Dinosaurs and Action Figures. 

To this day, this is one of my most complete toy collections and quite possibly, the one that I have cherished the most. Somehow, I’ve managed to never lose any part, no matter how small it may have been. In truth the only sets that are incomplete are two Dinosaurs that I wasn’t able to find back in 97, and ended up buying on eBay a few years back.

Sadly, growing up in Portugal, especially in the 90’s, meant that a lot of the toys that you know to exist today never made it into stores. My teenage toy neglectful years didn’t help either, so for years, I was convinced that my The Lost World collection was complete and that I had owned all of the Dinosaurs, vehicles and action figures ever released from that series. I soon realized how wrong I was, mostly due to Jurassic World’s premiere in 2015. 

As it happened with Power Rangers’ upcoming movie, Jurassic World’s premiere made me venture into online forums in search of any information about the movie and its official merchandise. Although this new line was somewhat disappointing, I soon made my picks of must have Dinosaurs and limited items from this movies’ original release. However, as I was reading through the new toys’ discussions, The Lost World’s series kept coming up, and some of the Dinosaurs and sets that they were mentioning were completely new and, almost, alien to me.

I soon found Jurassic Park’s toy database, and was overwhelmed with the cheer quantity of items that had been produced over the last couple of decades. First Kenner, and now Hasbro, were keen on keeping the franchise alive, in spite of a general detachment of the fans from this franchise, especially after Jurassic Park III flopped at the box office.

In truth, my collection is far from complete, and sadly, some of the cooler looking sets were never sold in Portugal. Some of them have even had its value skyrocket over the last couple of years, due to an increase in demand for this unforgettable toy line.

It pains me sometimes to see how low the original cost of some of these toys was, especially when compared with how much you need to spend today to own them. Living overseas also means that the shipping cost for most of these items will sometimes exceed how much they’re worth. And as an investment, it’s a collector’s series that is hardly going to have any sort of return on profit. 

As someone who doesn’t seek to resell any of his toys, just owning the ones that I love the most is worth more than any profit. Thankfully, as incomplete as my collection may be, I can honestly say that the sets that I really want, I already own. So, nine-year-old me is very happy playing with his Dinosaur toys, still blissfully ignorant of all the ones he’s missing out on. 

Jurassic World brought back the excitement of waiting for a new line of Dinosaur toys. I ended up investing what little money I had put aside for this release, on Jurassic World’s Lego sets and on some of its Dinosaurs. As a cautious buyer I waited for the best sales and discounts to get the ones that I want, and as of now, I am only missing the Allosaurus from the Bashers & Bitters set, and the Hybrid Raptor from the upcoming Hybrid series, which I believe won’t even see the light of day on this side of the pond. 

Being a collector with a very short budget means a lot of hours dedicated to searching for the best discounts, and the best opportunities on eBay. Sometimes, you only get a few dollars off the original price, but if you’re lucky you might get them for half price or even a bit cheaper than that. 

One of the most awkward moments was probably when I was on a weekend away with my girlfriend last year, and I read about a 50% discount from an online store on Lego sets. It was my chance to get the Indominus Rex Breakout set at half price and I had only a few hours to buy it. The worst part was, I was nowhere near my laptop and could only access a very user unfriendly site using my own cell phone’s data plan. I ended up waking up early that Saturday morning, and after a few failed attempts I finally managed to place my order. It was a lot of unnecessary anxiety for the start of a weekend that was supposed to only be about rest and relaxation. But that is the life of a serious collector. 

Between rushing through crowds of angry shoppers and waking up at 6 a.m. to bid on an eBay auction, it’s a somewhat stressful hobby to have, but a very rewarding one. Especially for that brief moment when you finally have it in your hands and you’re no longer that adult filled with responsibilities and surrounded by stressful environments. No, you’re that nine-year-old boy playing with his brand new Raptor on Christmas morning. And life just doesn’t get any better than that.

For in that single moment, nothing else matters, there is only bliss. 

No comments: