Jungle Runner


Front shot

Back shot

Loose shot


Action feature: With Firing Grappling Hook.


Retail: $11.99


By Roselaar:(Note: the reviewer is not an expert on buggies, so any incorrect technical terms or lack of detail in this vehicle's description ought to be disregarded.)

Description: this four-wheeled buggy sports a black undercarriage (including driver's seat, which has room for a single human figure) with dark grey wheels, which are poseable independently from each other and bounce back on rough off-road terrain. The vehicle's upper parts are all painted in a dark green colour with beige stripes over it. It has various metallic grey highlights: rotatable steering handles, side flaps on both sides to keep the driver from falling out of the buggy, a big 'rib cage' like grid on its right side to hold small creatures or accessories, and a removable roll-bar (which is a dino damage piece) at the back with lights on top. It also carries a big, detachable black gun on top of the roll-bar, which holds a metallic grey grappling hook (with four hooks), attached to the gun by a black piece of string. On top of the gun there's a small grey button: pushing it makes the hook being fired over a distance of over 30 centimetres, unless you remove the string to increase its range.

For decoration, this set comes with various stickers: there's two small computer screens (one showing a map of Jurassic Park, the other an infra-red picture of a Triceratops being targeted at a distance of 25.7 metres). On both sides of the roll-bar there are JP logo stickers, and there's also a big sticker with the number '2' on it (so it's likely the Park holds more than one Jungle Runner). Aside from the stickers, the front part of the vehicle is adorned with non-removable black ropes.

Analysis: JPS2 not only introduced the first motor cycle to the JP toys realm, but also its one and only buggy. Despite its small size, this little car comes with a variety of options to make it worth our while, packed in a sweet design and a decent camouflage paint job (though with an abundance of grey that doesn't really go well with dark green).

The most obvious feature is the roll-bar at the back of the vehicle with the big gun on top. The roll-bar can be torn off by a vicious dinosaur, while the gun is also detachable for use separately from the car. This grappling hook gun is not really original (a very similar weapon came with the JPS1/2 Ellie Sattler figures), but it works well, even though limited by the string it's attached to (which does help for bringing captured prey in). It works best on smaller figures, which can be carried on the grid after they're subdued: even though this grid is pretty big considering the size of the buggy, it's best suited for hatchlings or accessories of human figures, and not so much for dinosaur figures. When not in use, the grid can be flapped inward, also partially protecting the driver's seat, though when folded in there's no place for the driver itself.

As to who should be the driver, there's some confusion. The back of the vehicle's box shows Sgt.“T-Rex” Turner playing driver, but in reality he's a lousy match because he doesn't have enough space between his legs to really fit on the saddle. Of the three Dino Tracker figures (this vehicle belongs to the Dino Trackers/Evil Raiders spin-off line), the only one that is a decent pairing with this car is Harpoon Harrison. Whoever the driver is though, he's protected from falling off the buggy by flaps on either side (though in case of the right side this is redundant when the storage grid is in place). Being an off-road vehicle, such precautions are a clever move. The bouncing wheels mechanism clearly shows the Jungle Runner is designed for tracking dinosaurs on rough terrain which would be unsuitable for other vehicles. These wheels that can move separate from each other are also a useful feature, as well as original, since no other JP vehicles come with this option. A feature like this, along with its small size and unique design, make the Jungle Runner stand out from other Jurassic Park vehicles, and give it a character all its own.

Playability: rather good. This car comes with dino damage, a gun to both hit and grab creatures, additional storage space and realistic wheels to aid it on rougher terrain where other vehicles would be useless. The wheels themselves are also moveable enough to push the buggy a fair distance away when given a nod. Extra touches like the computer screen stickers and the side flaps also help overall playability options and make the buggy look good.

Realism: a vehicle like this was not featured in any of the JP movies, but it's not an unlikely piece of equipment for Park Rangers on Isla Nublar to use off-road in order to capture or track escaped dinosaurs. The independent flexibility of the wheels adds realism, since this is a common feature in real life vehicles similar to this one. Even though it's solely an invention of the Kenner designers' part, this is one of the more realistic JP vehicles.

Repaint: no, the Jungle Runner is a new vehicle. It would not be repainted for later JP toy lines. However, it would be repainted for Kenner's Congo line, for which it was redubbed the 'Trail Hacker'.

Overall rating: 8/10. This is a neat vehicle with a cool design and more action features to it than you would suspect at first glance. It's a rather common JPS2 set, and can usually be found easily and acquired at low costs, so you shouldn't think twice about getting one for yourself.