The overnight announcement of the previously unannounced LEGO® Jurassic World Dominion sets left be remembering how I used to want nothing more than a toy Dinosaur. Since then, dinosaurs have become a mainstay of the LEGO range, never taking more than a couple of years off. I take a bit of time surveying the history of LEGO Dinosaur sets, from the mid 90s to the forthcoming Dominion releases.
Back in the day, I was dead keen on Dinosaurs. I couldn’t get enough of them. Except, living in a rural town in Australia in the mid-1970s, the best I could hope for was my Ladybird book of Prehistoric Animals and Fossils. Much of the included information is outdated or at least wildly inaccurate except, perhaps, for the fact that the Tyrannosaurus Rex ate meat.
This book strongly recommended trying to get some dinosaur models or toys and building a diorama using chicken wire, papier mache and a few sticks. Of course, these models were not readily available, and it was not until 1976, visiting Melbourne, that we found some plastic model kits. My brother got a brontosaurus(as it was then called) and I picked up an ankylosaurus.
After putting it together and painting it, I glued it to a piece of wood, along with a few pieces of pine bark and a cardboard panel cut from the box, giving some of the animal’s vital statistics. I probably kept it until I was about 30. I can’t find any images of it these days but 7-year-old me was really proud. This obsession with dinosaurs probably lasted until Star Wars was released. But that’s another story.
Fast forward to 1992 and the release of the first Jurassic Park movie, and I remember wondering through Toys R Us, feeling somewhat sad that there were so many dinosaur toys on the shelves. As I was still a struggling student, I avoided diving down that rabbit hole. Now, LEGO® Dinosaurs have a more recent history – with serious sets dating back to around the turn of the century. Join me as we take a look at the Dinosaur sets of the past, before looking at the sets due to be released in April 2022
1997 Duplo Dinosaur World
Like so many innovations in LEGO design, the first dedicated LEGO Dinosaur moulds were introduced in DUPLO sets, first appearing in 1997. While cavemen did not coexist with dinosaurs, we wont let the truth get in the way of a good story.
2000 Dino Island / LEGO Studios
In its third ‘season,’ LEGO Adventurers reinvented itself – yet again – this time taking Johnny Thunder and the team to Dino Island. The classic elements of Dino-based storytelling are here: Pteranodons to harass aircraft and seafarers; baby T. Rex and also the inevitable T. rex – Triceratops showdown.
We also got our first sets from LEGO Studios, including the potential to create stop motion dinosaur action.
2001 Dinosaurs and Jurassic Park III
2001 bought us some simple dinosaurs, with modular construction, allowing alternate dinosaurs to be constructed with the one set. In the meantime, Jurassic Park III, the first in the franchise to be released in an era of licensed LEGO sets had some sets associated with the Studios theme.
2004 Designer Series
We had a wave of creator like sets, including smaller and larger brick-built dinosaurs this year. We have some of the first curved slope elements introduced this year, and these models are some of the most organic brick built creatures released at the time.
2005: Dino Attack / Dino 2010
Two themes, using similar material, released in different markets: With dinosaurs returning to the world, there is a need to get them under control. Dino 2010 involved a contain and control approach, while Dino attack saw the humans using far more…violent means of animal suppression. The sets saw slight modification between the themes, substituting cages and nets for cannons. Otherwise, the content was virtually identical.
2006-2010: Creator and Duplo
During this time, there we saw a combination of brick-built sets in the LEGO Creator range, as well as some new dinosaur moulds in Duplo. I won’t go into the inaccuracies of having cavemen interacting with dinosaurs, because I would then end up having to look at the inaccuracies of having dinosaurs walking the earth in 2020, through the Jurassic World movies…
The most recent ‘inhouse’ dinosaur/Minifigure theme, this theme saw explorers armed with tranquiliser guns rounding up some out of control dinos on their brightly coloured yellow vehicles. I was particular amused by the introduction of lime green syringe elements in this theme:
2015: A Franchise Reborn
The release of Jurassic World in 2015 saw a fresh wave of sets, a fresh wave of dinosaur moulds, and a new – old franchise. It also introduced a whole new variation on LEGO collecting: collecting different coloured raptors, and their babies. We also start seeing fictional dinosaurs being introduced to the pantheon, with the debut of the Indominus rex.
Jurassic fever extended into the Toys to Life game LEGO Dimensions, with a brick-built raptor, several minifigures and, finally, the gyrosphere for exploring the park.
We also had our first set relating to Jurassic Park – reconstructing several iconic sequences from that first movie.
2018: Fallen Kingdom; Creator and BrickHeadz
The Jurassic World franchise continues in 2018, with the arrival of JW: Falen Kingdom. One of the big drawbacks previously with the JW sets is the reliance on stickers, which continues to this day, however, the arrival of Juniors Jurassic World set, 10758 T.rex Breakout, we got several printed elements- including the park logo as well as a T rex, all in the one set. There were more advanced builds released in that wave, but we also saw the first of the Duplo sets tying in to the Jurassic World licence, including figures of Owen and Claire. Of course, being 2018, there were some Brickheadz released as well…
2018 also brought us the Creator 3in1 set Mighty dinosaurs: with 3 great models in the set, the set was re-released in 2021 with two colour variations. After 4 years, the set is still on the shelves!
2019: Legends of Isla Nublar/ The LEGO Movie: the Second Part
It doesn’t really matter if there is a current movie in production or not: LEGO fans have present an ongoing demand for sets containing dinosaurs. Rather than simply rehash scenes from movies long forgotten, the LEGO Group were involved in the development of the series Legends of Isla Nublar, set in a bizarre intermediate phase between JP III and Jurassic World. We have Claire and Owen, as well as Danny Nedermeyer, the nephew of the disgruntled IT genius from the first film.
We also had the arrival of Rex Dangervest in The second LEGO Movie. Bringing all of the tropes of things that boys love about LEGO play, and the fact that he is voiced by Chris Pratt, the self-styled adventuring, space-travelling, raptor trainer had his fair share of accompanying sauropods. Some heavily armed!
During the year, we also saw the release of the Dinosaur models, based on the Masterpiece gallery at the LEGO House, as well as the LEGO Ideas Dinosaur Fossil sets.
The final significant release 2019 is the direct to consumer T Rex Rampage, featuring a minifig scaled brick built T rex, along with massive gates to go with Jurassic Park.
2021: Delays. Enter Camp Cretaceous
The COVID 19 pandemic can be blamed for a lot of things. Including, most likely the release of the final Jurassic World Movie. In fact, 2020 was almost devoid of Jurassic World sets, with the exception of the exceptionally cute 75939 Dr Wu’s Lab: Baby Dinosaurs Breakout.
Moving on to 2021 we got more dinosaur delights with a wave of sets tying in with another animated series: Camp Cretaceous. Set on the Isla Nublar, the series follows the adventures of kids attending a summer camp they will never forget! The series brought us more baby dinosaur cuteness overload, especially with the baby Triceratops.
And this brings us to the most recent wave of releases, timed to coincide with the release of Jurrasic World Dominion:
Continuing to build out the portfolio for Jurassic World fans globally, the newest sets, featuring the largest assortment of dinosaurs than ever before in LEGO® brick form, also include fan favorite characters like Owen, Claire, Ian Malcolm, Dr. Ellie Sattler and more. Each set offers a chance for fans to dive into their very own prehistoric world, with endless creativity, storytelling and adventure for all.
The new sets based on Jurassic World Dominion include:
10938 LEGO® DUPLO® Dinosaur Nursery
Piece Count: 27
Price: 19,99 EUR/USD $AUD29.99
Measures: The Triceratops stands over 1 in. (5 cm) tall and the set can be reconfigured to inspire endless imaginative play possibilities
Description: Animal-loving toddlers can join Claire Dearing to care for 3 baby dinosaurs inspired by Jurassic World Dominion. This set includes a Triceratops in a cave, a Pteranodon in a nest, and a Brachiosaurus using its long neck to nibble leaves from a tree. As your little learner plays with the adorable dinosaurs in their forest habitats, they’ll also develop their fine motor skills and emotional intelligence.
76943 LEGO® Jurassic World Pteranodon Chase
Piece Count: 91
Price: 19,99 EUR/USD $AUD32.99
Measures: Over 3.5 in. (9 cm) high, 4.5 in. (12 cm) wide and 5 in. (13 cm) deep
Description: This awesome set, inspired by the upcoming Jurassic World Dominion movie, has everything you need for action-packed play. It includes a brick-built dock, fish stall and buggy, Owen Grady and Maisie minifigures with a fishing rod and lasso, and a Pteranodon figure. Let the chase begin!
76944 LEGO® Jurassic World T. rex Dinosaur Breakout
Piece Count: 140
Price: 49,99 EUR/USD/ $AUD99.99
Measures: Over 6 in. (15 cm) high, 6 in. (16 cm) wide and 2.5 in. (6cm) deep, and the T. rex stands over 4 in. (11 cm) tall
Description: Enjoy hours of thrilling dinosaur action with this playset inspired by the upcoming Jurassic World Dominion movie. Build the airport with a helipad, a helicopter and a fence for the mighty T. rex to smash through. The set also includes Owen Grady, Zia Rodriguez and wildlife guard minifigures, plus a dinosaur egg, walkie-talkie and tranquilizer, to play out your own exciting stories.
I love the T. rex in spring yellowish green – it feels like a good colour for the beast, when combined with the olive green on its back.
One of the things that I love about 4+ sets is no sticker sheet: they are all printed elements. as such, I really appreciate some of the elements we have in these 2 sets. I am particularly fond of the US Fish and Wildlife Service sign. It is a little different to the one currently in use, but I am sure it will have lots of use in MOCs beyond the Jurassic World context.
76945 LEGO® Jurassic World Atrociraptor Dinosaur: Bike Chase
Piece Count: 167
Price: 19,99 EUR/USD $AUD32.99
Measures: Over 2.5 in. (6 cm) high, 7 in. (17 cm) wide and 5 in. (13 cm) deep. This playset combines with the T. rex & Atrociraptor Dinosaur Breakout (76948) set
Description: Get set for action-packed play with this brilliant set, inspired by the upcoming Jurassic World Dominion movie. It’s got a market with a wall for the fierce Atrociraptor and a cool motorcycle to smash through, a battle pit for 2 small dinosaur figures, plus Owen Grady and Rainn Delacourt minifigures.
76946 LEGO® Jurassic World Blue & Beta Velociraptor Capture
Piece Count: 173
Price: 29,99 EUR/USD $AUD49.99
Measures: Over 2.5 in. (6 cm) high, 5.5 in. (14 cm) long and 2.5 in. (6 cm) wide, and the whole playset can be combined with other LEGO® Jurassic World building toys
Description: Check out this fantastic playset, inspired by the upcoming Jurassic World Dominion movie. It features Maisie and Rainn Delacourt minifigures, dinosaurs Blue and Beta, a truck, bike and a dinosaur cage with a trap, plus a chicken drumstick to use as dinosaur bait. So, get building and then play out your amazing action-adventure stories.
76947 LEGO® Jurassic World Quetzalcoatlus Plane Ambush
Piece Count: 293
Price: 49,99 EUR/ 39,99 USD $AUD79.99
Measures: The Quetzalcoatlus dinosaur figure measures over 11.5 in. (29 cm) wide and has posable wings and a snapping beak; The airplane measures over 3.5 in. (9 cm) high, 8.5 in. (22 cm) long and 11.5 in. (30 cm) wide, and Owen’s motorcycle from the 76945 set fits inside the cargo hold
Description: Recreate epic action from the upcoming Jurassic World Dominion movie with this exciting playset. It includes a cool airplane with space in the cockpit for Owen Grady, Claire Dearing and Kayla Watts. The plane also has spinning propellers, an opening cargo hold and engines designed to break off under attack from the Quetzalcoatlus. Are you ready to fly?
I love this ‘plane, using ‘classic’ LEGO plane cockpit, while also employing removable engines, this set is one of the highlights for me – I love the size of the Quetzlcoatlus – a fitting triumph in this final installment.
76948 LEGO® Jurassic World T. rex & Atrociraptor Dinosaur Breakout
Piece Count: 461
Price: 89,99 EUR/ 79,99 USD/ $149.99
Measures: The market measures over 7 in. (18 cm) high, 10 in. (26 cm) wide and 3.5 in. (9 cm) deep, and it combines with the LEGO® Jurassic World Atrociraptor Dinosaur: Bike Chase (76945) set
Description: Get ready for dinosaur drama with this playset inspired by the upcoming Jurassic World Dominion movie. Build a market with an enclosure for the T. rex and a big rig truck with a cage to transport the Atrociraptor. Then play out your own exciting stories with Owen Grady, Claire Dearing, Rainn Delacourt and Soyona Santos minifigures, plus 2 tranquilizers to calm those dinosaurs down!
These sets add to those already announced a week ago:
76950 Triceratops Pick-up Truck Ambush 7+; 210 Pieces AUD79.99
The perfect gift for creative kids aged 7 and up who are into cool vehicles and dinosaurs, it features a pickup truck with a break-off front section that is easy to rebuild after it has been bashed by the Triceratops figure, plus an escape buggy. Each LEGO® brick-built vehicle has space for 2 minifigures.
76951 Pyroraptor & Dilophosaurus Transport. 7+; 254 pieces; AUD79.99
The off-roader has seats for 2 minifigures, a removable dinosaur tracker and a detachable trailer with an opening cage that can hold a dinosaur figure. There are also 3 LEGO® minifigures – Ian Malcolm, Dr. Ellie Sattler and a guard with a tranquilliser accessory element – plus Pyroraptor and Dilophosaurus dinosaur toy figures to inspire creative storytelling.
Of course, it’s not all about the young folk and their new movies: there is also a set based on the iconic T Rex attack in the original Jurassic Park…
76956 T. rex Breakout. 18+; 1212 pieces. AUD199.99
Ready to direct the action? This LEGO® Jurassic Park T. rex Breakout build-and-display model (76956) is as worthy of repeat viewing as the epic Jurassic Park movie scene that inspired it. It features a posable T. rex figure stomping on a flipped, crushed Ford Explorer, a second Ford Explorer and a smashed ‘electric’ fence. Recreate the drama with Alan Grant, Ian Malcolm, Tim Murphy and Lex Murphy minifigures, buildable night-vision goggles, a flare and 2 water glass elements, plus many other references to the famous scene.
Even before Jurassic World began in 2015, LEGO Dinosaurs have been a fairly regular fixture in the release schedule, and the quality of moulds has improved significantly over the years. With the current Jurassic Storyline coming to its conclusion in Jurassic World Dominion, we might have a couple of years before we next see some Dinosaur based sets. I do suspect, however, that they will have some background in an animated series somewhere, to provide scenarios for sets and play inspiration, as we have seen with Legends of Isla Nublar and Camp Cretaceous. Will those sets continue in the Jurassic Park/ Universal universe? I suspect so, But I have to admit, I think some of the more creative sets have come when there has been no specific licence to lock in to. Dino Island was so easy to run as a Lost World or Journey to the Centre of the Earth scenario, rather than worry about what to do with all of your security personnel and ACU team minifigures.
I remain intrigues me that one of my other favourite childhood dinosaurs, Stegosaurus, has not been incorporated in Jurassic Park or World – either in the movies in a significant role or in moulded LEGO form. Other notable absences (for our household faves, anyway) include parasaurolophus, and a brachiosaurus. I wonder if there are there intrinsic problems with creating moulds for these particular shapes?
I find myself imagining the scene in Jurassic Park where Dr Grant and the Children wake up, having escaped the T. rex, and spend the night in the tree, before waking to see the Brachiosaurus close at hand… Perhaps as next year’s D2C set…
Thanks for joining me on this survey of LEGO Dinosaur sets across the years. I apologise: I spent so much time wondering whether I could do it, that I didn’t stop to ask whether I should!
Do you have a favourite LEGO Dinosaur theme? A favourite Dinosaur? What would you like to see released? Are you Looking forward to any of the new sets? Why not leave your comments below, and until next time…
Images in this article have been provided by the LEGO Group, or sourced from Brickset.com (the latter particularly for historical sets)