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A Lost World Birthday

Summer may not have had the dark and mysterious air of Halloween or the festive joy of Christmas, but it was still my favorite time of the year. For one it has my birthday, a marvelous day of the year when you are young;  you get whatever you want, do what you want, eat what you desire, in sum you are the king for a day. Christmas may have gifts but it's all evenly distributed, and you eat what the adults prepare, which in my family was lutefisk and marble rye bread...

Delicious Lutefisk

The year 1997 had seen the release of the greatest movie ever made.

No, not that.

Yes, that!

My brother and I had eagerly awaited the release of The Lost World: Jurassic Park for months, which to a 6 and 9 year old was essentially a life-time. 

Despite The Lost World being a PG-13 movie, my father took us to see it in the theater and we were totally captivated. It had everything a boy could ask for: dinosaurs, explosions, death, rampages, death, dinosaurs, and, not to be overlooked, Jeff Goldblum.

I knew what my desires were for my birthday, any and all toys pertaining to that glorious movie.

Sorry Batman, you've been replaced.

By the beginning of the summer my brother and I had collected a small group of toys relating to the film. We  would sit in our basement and battle it out between my mighty Pachycephalosaurus (with ramming head action), and his Lost World Jeep

Safe to say who won there. 

My brother and I did not have much money, our meager allowances could not pile up fast enough to buy all we wanted of Lost World merchandise, so I made sure everyone knew my birthday was to be Lost World-centric. 
My brother would have to wait until Christmas.

When my birthday finally came, only 2 months after the release of the film, my love for it had not diminished in the slightest. I was expecting to be surrounded that day by the loving embrace of The Lost World.
And, as the ruler of the day, my wishes were granted in full.
I had two sets of grandparents, my parents, and two sets of aunts and uncles giving in to my childhood desires and supplying me with treasure that birthday.  And everyone gave me what I wanted, more or less.
I even got a Lost World pillowcase, for goodness sake. 

Many wondrous dino-dreams were had upon that pillow case, I can assure you. 

But it wasn't pillow cases I was dreaming of for that birthday, it was the action figures.
Now, something to understand about action figures and movies that spawn them. In a given film a character may undergo one costume change, may use at most two separate weapons, and may not be particularly "action" oriented. But when they make figures of these characters they go wild. They made action figures with many different outfits, sometimes two or three unique weapons, paired with many outrageous dinosaurs. They even released figures of things that never appeared in the film.

Trust me, Jeff Goldblum never hang glided away from dinosaurs...though that would have been awesome.

And they would release action figures of characters who looked nothing, nothing at all, like the actors and characters being represented.

Yes, this muscular Duke Nukem wanna-be is Peter Ludlow, the stuck-up InGen CEO killed by an injured baby T-Rex

But that didn't matter, who wants to play with an action figure of some villain in a suit? He never even had a gun in the film, let alone an entire bandolier full of shotgun shells, an electronic super cattle prod, and a machete! The Lost World is a great movie, but it could have been improved by a machete vs. T-Rex fight at the end. 

My birthday also included a cake of course. And mine was Lost World inspired as well, decorated with a thick frosting depicting dinosaurs, jungles, and all manner of Jurassic and Pre-historic decor. My older relatives may not have been excited by the idea of a cake covered in thick dino-frosting, but my brother and I certainly were. My brother's cake five months later would also be inspired by The Lost World.

It was also when he got what he'd always wanted, the High Hide!...So called because it's high and you hide in it. My Brother was obsessed with Tree Houses and Forts, the High Hide was but an extension of that obsession.

I remember using that grappling hook back pack later on for other toys. 

When the cake was done and the presents had been opened it was time to sit and talk. But even this could not be done without the theme of The Lost World, literally. My father had bought a CD of the epic soundtrack, composed by John Williams, and played it on our old stereo system.  The CD came with a wicked awesome fold out scene of dinosaurs and the big Jurassic Park gate; it was unfolded and placed on the table in our sitting room.

Wicked Awesome.

Had the film been released on VHS at that time, our TV would have been playing The Lost World. I couldn't tell you what the rest of my family thought of all this, but my brother and I were so happy that we had more toys to add to our collection, as soon as it was appropriate, he and I were on the floor battling it out. This time our adventure was to see if Dr. Malcolm could escape the dinosaurs in his glider. The possibilities for fun and new stories to be created, spun-off from the film itself, were endless. 

Now, 17 years later, I don’t have much left over from that birthday, the decade and a half of “growing-up” was not kind to my toy chest.  Within a year I had left my Lost World induced mania and became attached to Star Wars, collecting every type of ship, figure, anything Star Wars related. Since the action figures for The Lost World were larger than the Star Wars figures, neither one fit in the other's vehicles, and stories involving both were not fun without the vehicles! As a result, the toys, and in effect my love for The Lost World, fell by the wayside. Sometime in 2001 we had a yard sale in which all of my and my brother's The Lost World: Jurassic Park toys, every figure, vehicle, dinosaur, and play-set, went to some other little boy, just entering his dinosaur phase.

Today, The Lost World may get a bad rap; people think it’s a poor sequel to Jurassic Park. But those people were not turning 7 that summer, and certainly never knew the joy of opening a present, and seeing the plastic visage of a Stegosaurus staring back at them. 

With whipping tail action, no less!

Thank you for reading, and remember: "Life...uh, finds a way." 

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Vaporman87 Posted on Jan 21, 2015 at 10:36 PM

Makes you wonder what goodies will be available when the new movie hits. Kids will still be having JP birthdays.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Jan 21, 2015 at 06:42 PM

While I find JP3 to be a far superior film to this one, I really enjoyed your article. I love the fold out from the soundtrack CD, what a great decoration for your party.

I remember the same confusion with the toys when the original film came out. The Dino-Damage tear away flesh on the dinosaurs was awesome, but Malcolm and Ellie were the only ones that resembled the actors from the movie. What was with Nedry's turtleneck and sunglasses?

echidna64 Posted on Jun 02, 2014 at 09:24 PM

Jurassic Park definitely has some of the coolest toys! I remember designing our own raptor chasing R.V. with a friend when this movie came out.

Vaporman87 Posted on May 30, 2014 at 05:35 PM

It will be interesting to see where they pick up the story and how they move it forward.

I am also looking forward to the JP Ranger Corps fan film (which just happens to be premiering here at RetroDaze in our Theater - whenever it's done, that is). It's a need idea for a spin-off.

kstrom22 Posted on May 30, 2014 at 04:47 AM

In preparation for Jurassic World I should sit down and watch all three JP films back to back, then I can judge them all as an "adult." I'm looking forward to how they continue the story.

I still have my Lost World pillow-case, but the pajamas I got that Christmas are a bit too small for me now.

Fulton4V Posted on May 28, 2014 at 08:44 PM

I remember thinking that Lost World was more fun than the original to me. But then also that it the third was good too. I liked seeing spinosaurus fighting a trex, it was a great scene. Im excited for the new one too.

Vaporman87 Posted on May 23, 2014 at 01:42 PM

Great article!

I would think that to have your birthday in the depths of Summer must be a grand occasion. You can have your choice of locale (inside or outside... if it's not TOO hot), the days are long, and nobody is suffering seasonal depression.

Although I did not feel like The Lost World was a terrible sequel, I wasn't blown away by it either. However, it is very easy to understand why films take on a whole new level of importance and status in the days of our youth. I'm sure there are many films from the 80's that most people would deem "awful" but were so fantastic to me, and likely still are, simply because they affected me in my youth. And you can't fault anyone for that.

Thanks kstrom!

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