Year of release: 1998
Description: this hybrid bipedal carnivore stands in a stalking posture, with its legs braced for action, possibly running or jumping on prey. Its left arm is held backwards, while its right arm is extended, mostly for supporting the creature in a sort of tripod position because it wouldn’t be able to stand up otherwise. Its tail, which like the plates on its back is made of a softer material than the rest of its body, is bent downwards, because otherwise it wouldn’t fit on its card. Compstegnathus has a rather small body with a long neck and a large head by comparison.
Its upper jaw is poseable, which also supports the tongue lashing action this creature is equipped with. Between the larger spiky plates on its back there’s an orange lever which can be pulled towards the front part of the animal. Doing this makes a large orange tongue stick out of its mouth, similar in look to a snake’s, being split in two at the top. Figure’s limbs or accessories can be clamped between the two parts of the tongue. Above the right flank of the creature there’s a small orange button. Pushing it makes the tongue retract back into the mouth, the intention being it pulls whatever is clasped between it along with it. This doesn’t usually work as well as it should though.
Most of the Compstegnathus’ body is coloured sickly green, except for the lower end of the tail which is blue, and also excluding the upper jaw. A large black stripe runs on either flank from the back of the head towards the tail, with the upper tail being all black. A thin yellow stripe is located in the middle of both black stripes, running to about halfway the tail. The monster’s arms and legs are all black, including the claws. The plates on its back and the spikes on the end of the tail are also black, though the three largest plates on either side of the creature, above the legs, feature spiky patterned yellow spots on them. All spikes and plates are arranged in a totally symmetrical pattern. The upper jaw is black, adorned with a trio of large blue spots and tiny orange eyes. The creature’s teeth are yellow. Additional black spots are found on the lower jaw. A large blue JP CE logo is located on the right upper leg, along with the number .49.
This creature does not come with any pieces of capture gear.
Analysis: this creature features a cool hybrid design with a very colourful paint job to match, but has some serious flaws which hamper its overall coolness.
The most obvious point of criticism lies in the tongue assault action. Though it’s quite original (and in fact the first and last time such an attack feature has been seen on a JP figure), it just doesn’t work very well. Pushing the lever forwards does make the tongue stick out far enough, and pressing the little button makes it retract with speed, but it’s just not strong enough to make for an effective or impressive attack action. Though plenty of arms and legs or weapons and other parts of both human and dinosaur figures fit between the two halves of the tongue, they slip loose too easily when the tongue retracts. So the Compstegnathus doesn’t get them between its hungry jaws, but makes them fall down at best. Also, the lever and button, due to their orange colouring, are so blatantly visible they give a way too artificial look to this creature. I get that this was done to make them easy to find and handle, but it would have been preferable to camouflage them within the creature’s overall colour pattern.
Another nuisance this beastie comes with is the lousy playability and poseability. The creature needs to put its right arm on the ground because it falls down otherwise, and this greatly takes away from its playability. In fact, the only pose it looks cool in is the way it’s carded.
Still, there are some positive aspects. The paint job is quite neat, though there’s a little too much black for my taste. The design of this hybrid monster, as a small bipedal hunter with nasty spikes and plates and a retracting tongue for catching unsuspecting prey, also scores some points qua originality. The good ideas found in this figure would have been worthy of a better sculpt.
Playability: feeble. Like stated above, the creature can’t stand on just its legs but needs its right arm to do so. Though both arms and legs are poseable, they’re located quite close to one another and get in each other’s way (this goes especially for the left arm and leg). It would have been cool if the tail was bendable (to apply some good old Stego tail action onto this figure) but despite the softer material this is not the case. The upper jaw can also move but flaps right back.
Realism: the overall look of this animal is well designed and contains sufficient elements from both the large bulky spiked Stegosaurus and the tiny agile Compsognathus, making for a medium sized pack hunter with nasty spikes for protection. The African Tree Frog, which is also part of the DNA mix according to the card, is less visible and seems to be added only to justify the interesting tongue lashing action. It’s also a bit redundant, since the Jurassic Park dinosaurs already featured African frog DNA into their genetic makeup (according to Mr. DNA that is). However, since none of the normal JP dinosaurs featured lashing tongues, the frog connection obviously had to be made more clear because the tongue action made less sense otherwise.
Repaint: no. This figure, like all of the new Chaos Effect sculpts, would not be repainted for later toy lines either.
Overall rating: 5/10. Though original qua concept, this figure suffers from some irritating design flaws decreasing its potential as a successful sculpt. It’s one of the more common Chaos Effect figures and shouldn’t prove too difficult to get should you want one yourself. Ebay is probably your best bet, though this figure was also imported in some territories were this toy line didn’t get an official release, so it may pop up in unexpected places. Costs tend to vary.