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Velociraptor (Film Universe)
There are three distinct variations of Velociraptor which were cloned by InGen, not counting sexual dimorphism seen within each individual version. However, despite the surface level variations, each sub-species remains relatively similiar in terms of physical attributes. Each species is roughly 6 feet tall…

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Behind the Scenes Look at Designing Jurassic World Dinosaur Toys with Mattel’s Kristen Sanzari

Since their release in 2018 alongside Fallen Kingdom, Mattel’s Jurassic World line have taken over the toy aisle, and captured the attention of fans and collectors alike. Recently, we spoke to Kristen Sanzari – one of the designers on the Jurassic World toy line – about her work, and how she came to design dinosaurs for this continuously evolving range of action figures.

Kristen provided numerous design sheet images, that document part of the process that designing these toys undergo. In the images you can see reference photos, design change notes, and how things like action features are created.

Read on to learn about Kristen’s work directly from her, and of course, check out the images!

“I have been designing Jurassic World toys at Mattel for almost 3 years now, and people often ask how I got into toy design. So, I will give you a little background. I grew up with a love of drawing animals and my favorite animation characters. I loved my toys and loved animation. When it came time to go to college, I went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where I studied graphic design and ran on the track team. I loved graphic design but knew I still wanted to study animation, so after graduating from Cal Poly, I moved to San Francisco, where I attended the Academy of Art University to get my master’s in visual development for animation.

After graduating, I got a job as a graphic designer/illustrator at a toy and publishing company called Artistic Studios (now Bendon Publishing). I worked on licensed craft sets and toys and loved it, but I was still mostly doing graphic design and package design, with only a little bit of illustration here and there. Wanting to do more concept art, I began applying to jobs at animation studios and toy companies in LA. I interviewed with Mattel for the Jurassic World product design position with a portfolio full of concept art for animation. Although similar in a lot of ways, I had no toy designs to show. So, after the interview I drew up some toy concepts focused on Jurassic, and luckily my now boss had faith I could design toys and I got the job.

Was I a dinosaur expert or a Jurassic park fanatic prior to getting the job? No, but I liked dinosaurs, I had seen some of the movies, and most of all I loved drawing and learning about animals. So, I made it my mission to learn as much as I could about dinosaurs and the Jurassic Park franchise when I began working on the brand. I watched all the movies a bunch of times, took several paleontology courses online, listened to the Jurassic Outpost Podcast, bought and read multiple dinosaur books and made it a point to learn about and know every dinosaur we designed.

When designing our toys, we begin by brainstorming about what we want that toy to do. Is it a T. Rex that roars and has a massive chomp? Or is it a Pachycephalosaurus that rams its head? There are usually so many great and crazy ideas that come up in brainstorms, but we always do our best to make sure the function of our toys are realistic, on brand, and accentuate what the dinosaur would have done in real life. Something we also focus on is our scale, we do our best to make all our dinosaurs in scale to a 3¾” human action figure, which really allows you to imagine how massive some of these dinosaurs were in real life.

As you can see from many of these design sheets, we start off with an initial drawing of the dinosaur concept and what the feature will be. Sometimes these are based on assets from Universal, for dinosaurs from the films, and sometimes we are able to create the dinosaur designs ourselves. We spend a lot of time creating the patterns and textures, picking the colors of the dinos, and making sure they fit into the look and feel of the dinosaurs in Jurassic World. In the Carnotaurus example you can see that the drawing and the original sculpt are different from the final sculpt and product. This is because we often know what dinosaurs are going to be in the film before knowing exactly what the dinosaurs are going to look like in the film. The toy production timeline is longer than the time it takes to make a film and so often we need to begin our design process before we have all the information. We frequently have to figure out the feature of the toy prior to knowing exactly what the dinosaur will look like, and we just have to be nimble and adjust our designs to fit the look of the movie as soon as we do get the actual assets. Our partners at Universal always do their best to get us the assets and information we need as soon as they can.

Once we have a sculpt we are happy with, and the mechanism is figured out, we can make our first model. The first model is never perfect, but we use it to see if we need to change anything about the sculpt and details, the mechanism function, the articulation, and the color choices. We then take notes on any revisions and make adjustments to improve this model. After all the changes have been accounted for we make a new and improved model. During the entire process there are multiple check points with Universal to make sure they approve the look and function of the dinosaurs.

When the final model is approved we move on to make a “first shot,” which is the first run of the product in plastic. First shots are made in the factories with any leftover or extra plastic they have, so they usually are really crazy colors. For example, we could get a raptor first shot with a pink body, black left leg, blue right leg, green head, and neon yellow arms. We make comments on the first shot and make sure the toy can stand and that the detents and articulations function properly. Next we get our first painted plastic toy sample. At this point the toy is almost complete, but we make sure the plastic and paint colors match, we make sure the mechanism and any electronic features are functioning the way they should, and make sure all the packaging information is aligned with the product. After all these comments are captured we pass them along to make sure our final product is the best it can be. Then, finally we receive the final product!

As a whole the toy design process takes an entire team and I have to say that team Jurassic is made up of some of the most passionate and hard-working people I know. Our design team couldn’t make the toys we do without the enormous help of our awesome marketing team, packaging team, and engineering team. It is truly a team effort and an awesome brand to be a part of.”

Thanks so much to Kristen for taking the time out to speak with us, and to share many of these images! For more from Kristen, you can check out her website here and her Instagram here. With the 2020 Primal Attack line coming soon (which the Sarcosuchus belongs to) , there will surely be more toys to learn about in the future!

What toy do you like the most from Mattel’s line, and what would you like to see more of? Sound off in the comments below, and as always, stay tuned to Jurassic Outpost!


44 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes Look at Designing Jurassic World Dinosaur Toys with Mattel’s Kristen Sanzari

  1. We have such wonderful tools like Zbrush for toy sculpting and a way more developed way of production but we just keep spending them with the wrong people. Now I know why the proportions look ugly and overly cartoonistic, because her style is amateurish at best.

    1. She’s probably got a better job than you bro. I love the Mattel line. Admittedly, some are better than others but created by talented people, no doubt. Loved this article.

    2. Start a Kickstarter. Do a Beasts of the Mesozoic-style line. If they’re any good…people will buy them. Until then this is comes across as sour grapes.

    3. Wow. Way to be rude and childish, sounds like you’re just jealous you don’t have her job. Everyone has their own art style, you calling hers amateurish is just petty since she’s had her job for years. Pathetic.

      1. I’m not jealous, I’m just sad. Amateurs shouldn’t be doing such a project, leave that to someone capable and that loves the subject. You’re just in the way of something that could have been great, instead of the derpy sculpts we have now.

        What? Did you really thought I couldn’t see you hiding behind generic fake names and the same writing patterns? Instead of being mad a people disliking your work, go improve your skills, because from all I’ve seen they’re pretty lacking.

        1. So let me get this straight…you are honestly under the impression that all the replies to your comment are from the designer of these toys, and you actually think you’re telling her to make better sculpts?

          Sure. I suppose next you’ll be telling me that I’m actually Bryce Dallas Howard. Honestly, the chances of this person knowing this site is a thing are a million to one.

        2. Wow you just proved how stupid you are. Seeing patterns where there are none, or at least believing your own nonsense. If you honestly think I am her you’re incorrect and that makes you incredibly laughable and pathetic. Seriously quit being salty and arrogant and make better use of your time, like not thinking you’re better than everyone else for some reason jackass.

        3. Uh oh someone’s tinfoil hat is showing.
          Go spew arrogant self-righteousness elsewhere, no one cares about your so-called skills or elitist view on how the figures look. Because at the end of the day you’re throwing a hissy fit about toys like a spoiled child.

        1. He means the Ben who’s always complaining about how depressed he is about where the franchise is going and how it’s all doom and gloom and oh so sad.

          Unless you’re that one. I don’t know, there’s like five different Bens on this site and I can’t tell any of them apart except for what they write in their comments. It’s too confusing!

        2. Simply put Ben (whichever Ben that has/had very outspoken opinions and a bit of an arrogant streak) has been shown to be not the worst person here. The pathetic moron who claims to be an amazing digital artist now holds that crown. Forever. So if you are said Ben take it as a compliment that your attitude has improved noticeably.

  2. Why does “Jurassic World” have a number of non-Jurassic creatures? Don’t you think that, just as with the Jurassic Park films, it sends the wrong message to children, i.e. anything that lived in the Mesozoic can be regarded as “Jurassic”? Is it not time to introduce a little science to children by showing them that there was more than just the Jurassic in the Mesozoic, and by giving the creatures their correct timeline?

    1. Wrong message my ass. When I was a kid playing with the original Jurassic Park toys in the 90s it inspired me to learn about the dinosaurs by reading, thus discovering their correct eras etc etc. You’re simply nitpicking over a book/ movie title- plus due to the movie source material the dinosaurs aren’t even in their correct timelines to begin with, they’ve been reintroduced during our timeline so what would the point in that be? You’re making a big deal about nothing.

    1. The world must be ending. The only positive comment on this article is from Ben.

      (I agree, though. The Brach is incredible!)

      1. Now if only they sold them in Australian stores. Right now I have the lovely choice of either spending $300AUD from scalpers on ebay, or go without 🙂

  3. Very interesting article thanks. I bought many of these toys because I really like the sculpts. But that Spino is just a mess 😅, I hope they will make another sculpt for the next movie.

  4. My favorite line on the market right now! Love the designs and the wide range of products. I hope it continues to expand. I’ve had almost as much fun collecting the Mattel line than I had the Kenner line!

  5. Always fun to see the behind the scenes process but I can’t help but notice the distinct lack of any mention of human figures. I guess Mattel has given up on those sadly. I know I’d love for the Legacy Collection to make a comeback, maybe make it more available instead of store exclusive y’kow? But hey I have no control over it except which figures I buy, which has dropped significantly since the line began. Also I’m loving my Brachiosaurus- she makes a beautiful center piece in my living room lol.

  6. cool interview im not a fan of all the designs especially final colour choice on some figures but i love the brachiosaurus and carno. Next can we get someone from distribution so we can get a clear founded explanation on what the blazes is going on with it?

  7. I thought it was neat they had notes correcting the design of the Brachiosaurus head so it looks more movie accurate. You don’t see enough of that in toys.

  8. No one ever going to criticize Concaventaor? Obviously that nonsense on it’s back is an interpretive error. It’d be an incomplete sail like Spinosaurus. It’s just ridiculous, it doesn’t make sense and looks super dumb. It’s OBVIOUSLY incomplete, whatever it is.

  9. I would like so much that Mattel also does (as long as the proportions and details of the dinosaurs figures are well respected exactly like those of “Walking with Dinosaurs the Movie 3D” by Vivid Toy Group Ltd):
    -the Tarbosaurus “Primal Attack” with some modifications: especially the smaller feet;
    -deinonychus: the feet as small as this model and the head as big ;
    -Utahraptor based on the indoraptor of “Grab ‘n Growl Indoraptor” where there is just to change the arms and head;
    -Velociraptor male of JP3 based on this model not forgetting to add the proto feathers behind the head but especially the feet as small and the head as big;
    -The Mount Sibo volcano (30 to 50 centimeters wide), deinosuchus, Apatosaurus STEM skeleton;
    -The skeleton of the “t-rex STEM Paleontologist Kit” with some modifications: the tail a little longer (measuring half of the body), the feet a little smaller and the skull more based on t-rex AMNH 5027;
    -After the “Alpha Training Blue”, I hope so much that they will also do the t-rex taking care to respect the proportions and details: the feet not big, the jaws not short, the scars, the eyes located frontally , and the remote would look like a flare.
    -a skull of a velociraptor Playset with “the resonance chamber of a velociraptor” emitting these same sounds of Jurassic Park 3 by blowing ;
    -For “Extreme Chompin ‘T-Rex”: especially smaller feet and a little longer tail (measuring half the total length of the body);
    -For the “Super Colossal Tyrannosaurus Rex”: slightly longer jaws, the slightly more detailed fanon connecting the lower jaw and the neck, and the slightly smaller feet;
    -For the t-rex and velociraptor of “BASIC BUDGET 6 INCH ASSORTMENT”: especially the shorter and shorter feet, and for the t-rex the tail a little longer (measuring half of the total length of his body).
    -For the velociraptors of “Battle Damage”, “Attack Pack” and “Savage Strike”: the head a little bigger, the jaws less convex on the sides and especially the smaller feet.
    -For the “Mosasaurus Real Feel Skin” with some modifications: the body a little longer, the tail longer and bigger;
    -a t-rex in “BASIC BUDGET 12 INCH ASSORTMENT” respecting the proportions and details: the feet are not big, the tail as long as the half of the body, and the jaws not short ;
    -Teratophoneus of “Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom”–816025914 (Especially the feet not tall, the tail longer (measuring half the total length of the body), the arms a little smaller, and jaws as long so not short).

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