LEGO Jurassic World: Designing the dinosaurs

With a range of new Jurassic World sets comes a host of new dinosaurs, as LEGO designer Luis Castaneda explains to Brick Fanatics

LEGO will find a way, it seems, with Jurassic World back in the brick after proving surprisingly successful back in 2015. Dinosaur tracking and capturing is very much on the agenda in the new sets, predominantly inspired by the portion of the film that takes place on the doomed island.

One of the most important elements in the theme is the dinosaurs. Without the prehistoric beasts, the sets would just be trucks, jeeps and helicopters. The Jurassic World theme this year, inspired by the new film Fallen Kingdom, includes the new Carnotaurus and baby dinosaur moulds, adding to the number of dinosaurs released by the LEGO Group.

Brick Fanatics sits down with Model Designer Luis Castaneda to find out about how the LEGO dinosaurs are selected and designed.

How did you select which dinosaurs to include in the theme?

The reasons that the dinosaurs were chosen were for their ‘iconicness’, the ones that were clearly different, and a couple of novelties – dinos that we hadn’t seen before. We really loved the fact there was a flying dino, there was a dino that is not a flesh eater but is quite dangerous because he butts with his head, and the Raptors. I mean the Raptors are almost like the main stars in the franchise and we know this one, Blue, from the previous movie. At the end of that movie she turns out to be some sort of a hero because she ends up saving everybody. We like Blue a lot. Then we have the Carnotaurus, which I don’t think we’ve seen in the previous movies. So that’s one of the novelties.

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There are deco changes on the dinosaurs from their previous releases. How do you decide on the colour and printing?

Sometimes it is because of the concept art that we get, so at that early stage they already come with some colour suggestions that make sense with the dinosaurs. And then as a toy experience we also have that freedom to tweak it a little so it resembles the concept art but ‘pops’ as well, so it looks fun, it’s not as dark. They’re supposed to be quite scary but we like to brighten them up just for the fun of it.

It can also be to differentiate previous dinos from the newer ones. Sometimes we have new sculpts, sometimes we might borrow the top part of another one, which is the case with the Carnotaurus. They are actual hybrids from the LEGO perspective because they actually borrow some of the different elements from the previous sculpts.

With the new dinosaurs, such as the Carnotaurus, what is the development process?

What we normally do in the concept phase, before we actually do anything, we just throw everything out there. We create sketches, drawings, sculpts, then we decide and see what makes sense. We do sketch playsets, tentative playsets. I know at some point we considered the Mosasaurus, the one that has flippers. It was a nice beautiful thing with a pool. There were also sketches I saw for a Triceratops. Then it’s a selection process, we also need to have concept feedback from our partner and see what makes sense for them as well.

We have dedicated sculptors, 3D sculptors, physical sculptors and concept sketch artists. It’s a process of trial and tweaking. It began with concept art that we got, then one of our 3D sculptors did this render, an interpretation of the concept art into that. He modelled that in our 3D programme. Then it is 3D printed, then reviewed with the rest of the team, where we discuss considerations of what to try and re-use, talking to the graphic designers about where they can print and where they can’t.

Then it is just the fine adjusting, cleaning up and reaching the LEGO DNA of creatures. This is the second interpretation which is a little smoother and smaller. That’s one of the things we work with, different prints and different sizes to decide. That’s the beauty of 3D printing. Back in the day when I started, all of these were sanded and made by hand.

Why did you include eggs and baby dinosaurs this time around?

I think it is quite a lovable contrast to the menacing dinos. The eggs and baby dinos always have a presence, we see it in the original trilogy, even in the first one, we have the lab – the first time we see a Raptor it is actually a baby just breaking out of the egg. So that’s why Universal want to keep it alive, or present, and from our point of view, kids love that. Kids love that dual quality, there’s a menacing dinosaur but there’s also baby and nurture play.

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Graham was the Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education. Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.

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