Dancing Jeep to Jeep: 76958 Dilophosaurus Ambush vs 76960 Brachiosaurus Discovery

Nobody will deny that Dinosaurs are the principal non-human characters in Jurassic Park. They make the place unique and provide the narrative with a sense of drama. The humans share in their part of the heroics, but the Dinosaurs steal the show. There is, however, something else that contributes to the Character of Jurassic Park: The vehicles. They give the humans a way to travel at speeds that might be able to escape a rampaging Raptor, a terrifying Tyrannosaurus or a stationary Stegasaurus… wait- scratch that last one.

After years of waiting, the iconic Jurassic Park Jeep Wrangler – used as a utility vehicle around the park – has finally arrived in LEGO® form, in not just one, but two sets.

They are 76958 Dilophosaurus Ambush and 76960 Brachiosaurus Discovery. Priced at $USD19.99/AUD42.99 and $USD79.99/AUD139.99, respectively, they represent the entry-level and premium sets in the range. One comes with a single minifigure, while the other has 3; one has a small side build, while the other dedicates half its part count to a most delightful tree. But they both have a JEEP WRANGLER, and that is what I want to focus on today.

I’d like to cover past the dinosaurs, minifigures and side builds, quickly. But first, I need to shout from the rooftops:

PAPER BAGS HAVE BEEN SEEN IN THE WILD: BUILDABLE DINOSAURS ARE PACKED IN THEIR OWN PAPER BAGS. I’ve been looking forward to this for a few years now, and last year, we got a sneak peek at the bags used to pack some new Creator 3in1 sets. This may be restricted to parts produced in a particular factory, so they might not be included in all Jurassic Park sets, from all factories. Mine was packed in Kladno, Czech republic (410S3 – day 4, week 10, 2023. Factory S= Kladno).

The bags do not appear to have as much plastic lining in as the white bags we saw last year, with some sets being shipped out of Europe. Indeed, with one set, I saw a claw poking out of a hole it had made in the bag.

The Figures:

We have Dennis Nedry as the sole figure with the Dilophosaurus, and fair enough, as it was in the presence of that dinosaur that he otherwise died alone. He is wearing a bright yellowish-orange raincoat with his Jurassic Park ID underneath. He has a dual face print, featuring an anxious look on one side, while the other is after he has been on the receiving end of Dilophosaurus spit, having lost his glasses. Both faces are true to the on-screen character and do a great job of depicting the desperate man that Nedry was.

The Brachiosaurus Awakening contains 3 minifigures: Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler and John Hammond. Grant and Hammond appear much as they did back in T. Rex Rampage in 2019, while Ellie has a more detailed hairpiece in this set, to say nothing of the use of Vibrant coral for her torso. The leg printing in between her shorts and shoes appears a little odd, but probably works better than printing the clothes onto nougat-coloured legs!

The Dinosaurs

The Dilophosaurus is a similar mould to that used previously – devoid of articulation with the exception of the jaw. The olive green/dark green combination, with the yellow and red frill decoration, is more to my liking than the olive green-nougat combination seen with the previous version from the Jurassic World: Dominion sets. The tail and dorsal region are made of a softer rubber material to prevent injury.

The Dilophosauruses (?) from Jurassic Park (left) Jurrasic World: Dominion (right)

It has been long since we saw a Brachiosaurus in LEGO form. Over 20 years in fact, from the Dinosaurs theme at that time. Most of the moulds at that stage have long evolved, and this is the first time that a brachiosaurus has been depicted in a Jurassic Franchise set.

The Brachiosaurus stands 24 bricks high but can also balance on its rear legs and tail, to bring this up to 30 bricks! The tail can rotate, while the head and neck rotate and possess limited flexion and extension. The tail has a rubbery end, reducing potential injury. I was initially disappointed that the legs are rigid. Still, after taking a couple of photos, it became apparent that the posing of the legs is perfect, conveying the right amount of action for these lumbering giants.

The Side builds:

The small side build to go with Dennis Nedry has barely 30 pieces but is full of play features. There is a can of shaving foam (used to disguise some stolen dinosaur eggs), while a white frog is used to represent a blob of shaving foam. There is a sign pointing to the west dock. Unfortunately for poor Dennis, it rotates freely, leaving him unsure of where the dock might be.

A couple of fronds of leaves give the Dilophosaurus something to leap out from and leave Dennis terminally surprised.

On the other hand, roughly half of the pieces in the Brachiosaurus Discovery go towards constructing a massive tree with intertwining branches, a design that I have not previously seen used in LEGO sets. There is a ledge half-way up – perfect for looking eye-to-eye with the Brachiosaurus. It also allows you to reenact the scene from Jurassic Park where Alan Grant and the kids spend the night in the tree, to be awoken by a brachiosaurus looking in on them (so long as you have their figures – otherwise available in the T. Rex Breakout set from last year, or the Visitor Centre in this year’s selection. The tree has plenty of leaves in conjunction with the standard foliage element, while vibrant coral flowers abound, as does a frog, I suspect, as some form of malignant fungus. There is a broken egg on the ground by the tree, reminding us that no maker how hard humans try to control these incredible forces, Life will always Find A Way!

The Jeep Wranglers

Both Jeeps use round about 230 elements to create cars which, at first glance, look virtually Identical. Closer examination of the final models reveals a few more things: Nedry’s car is extremely muddy, as you might expect if it slid off the road into the mud during a rain storm.

As an example of some of the differences, let’s look at a couple of details:

The doors of the cars are quite different: in 76958 (left) the doors are built of bricks, while in 76960, the door panels are 2×6 tiles (right).

Both cars are the same size, using the same wheels, while the bonnet is formed using a 2×4 tile and 2 wedge plates. The distinctive vertical grille from the Jeep is replicated here with a printed 2×2 tile. The Smaller model used a few more bricks (as opposed to plates) and made fewer interesting angles. The majority of building in 76958 was done by stacking bricks initially, and moving to plates as the level of detail increased. The larger set uses plates from the outset, and a minimal number of classic bricks, opting rather to use more plates and brackets.

The Dilophosaurus Ambush builds an enclosed cabin on the jeep, only one minifigure can be seated in that vehicle. Two Figures can be sat side-by-side in the Jeep from the Brachiosaurus set, with another in the rear.

The roof on JP12 made it difficult to get a good view of the driver, when it was in place. The click hinge 3×1 click hinge plates on JP18 were possibly the weakest part of the build, lifting off when I tried to open the roll-cage.

This difference in complexity is appropriate, given the recommendation for the Dilophosaurus set being a +_ set, and the Brachiasaurus 9+. I certainly found that particular version to be the more engaging build for myself, and it felt just a little more detailed.

Here is my speed-build of the Jeeps going together step by step in parallel:

Of course, it remains an underexploited feature of these dinosaurs that their elements are interchangeable, so I would like to present to you… Tyrannosaurus Necks.[Sorry, Not Sorry]

Both sets offer appealing versions of the Jeep Wrangler, while I found the version in Brachiosaurus Discovery to be more enjoyable to build. These sets fit into different niches in the market. As always, the larger dinosaurs do result in the sets being quite expensive. As such, the smaller set may be the better option for some people.
I’ve got to admit… I really like the brachiosaurus. When I first saw it, I was concerned that the fixed legs would reduce its playability somewhat. Still, the designers have managed to give it such an expressive face that I feel it has just about overcome any such deficiencies.

These are both fun sets for reasons other than Jeeps, though, and there is lots of scope for storytelling and photography. I was excited to see paper bags ‘in the wild’ but I suspect this will become par for the course in coming years.

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Play Well!

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