Jurassic Park was my Star Wars. When it first appeared in 1993, I was 10 years old. As you can imagine, that Christmas I asked for, and received, many Jurassic Park toys. With the previously reviewed Electronic T-Rex, and other miscellaneous dinosaurs, something was missing. The Electronic Command Compound pretty much brings everything together. You can put all dinosaurs in one place, as well as any human you want to have eaten or battle the dinos.
While it can never replicate the movie exactly, this is a good attempt. This playset features many of the main elements of the movie. The iconic gate that leads you into the park is there. The electric fences that keep the dinosaurs within are there. There is a combination of the visitor’s center and command center from the movie. While the main building looks nothing like the visitor’s center from the movie, it conforms to the park’s visual style, with the pale colors, dinosaur skeletons embedded in the walls, and the Jurassic Park logo prominently featured.
Like any good playset, there are things around to play with. There is a catapult that can shoot out a net and take out dinosaurs. There is also a tranq launcher gun, which is basically an excuse to fire your missile at anything you want. On the backside of the compound, you have a reasonable facsimile of the control room from the movie. There are a few computers that make noises when you push a button. There is a unit with removable eggs that resembles the scene with Nedry stealing the embryos from the movie. There are little things that can stand around the area that aren’t really necessary, but to a child, it gives more options to play with.
My favorite feature of the set is the “dino damage” that is used in the compound and gate. The building itself has removable pieces that, when taken out, look like the dinosaurs have thoroughly destroyed it. The coolest, movie accurate piece is the main gate. It matches almost exactly, the gate in the movie. I displayed that gate for a while, even when the set itself was put away. The gate could open both ways, so either the dinosaurs can escape, or other toys can get in. When you’re done, you can put it all back together and start over again the next time.
The Lost World had an equivalent to this with the Mobile Command Center Playset, which replicated the trailer from the movie. With the release of Jurassic Park 3, cheapness took a familiar form. Hasbro literally recycled everything from this set except the command compound, creating the “Raptor Attack” playset. Seeing as the movie itself didn’t take place on the same island as Jurassic Park, and the raptors weren’t fenced in, it doesn’t make sense. In a cost saving move, the set just recycled elements that were nearly a decade old, while ditching the Command Center, with its costly electronic elements and many pieces.
Just last week, I saw a Jurassic World set that was basically this set miniaturized, and again, the Command Center removed. All successive versions are just derivations of the original, losing the major thing that made the original set so fun as a child. On their own, they’re fine, but compared to the original, they fall far short, much like the toy line in general.