He Built a T Rex (Jurassic Park)


Well-Known Member
Hi all,

I've been a lurker here for years but I dont believe I ever started a thread. Being we are in the last week of Jurassic June and its the 30th Anniversary of the original film I figured I'd chronicle what has been one of the most involved and daunting builds I ever attempted, the Jurassic Park T-Rex.

The model is Robert Miranda's yankeetrex who scanned it from a SWS asset. With his permission, and alot of $, I got it printed and transported to LA for the "Dino Fest" event at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, this was a year before COVID. The company who we went with who gave me the most affordable quote for a 3D print was out of Canada. It arrived in one piece, and was made out of a more industrial plastic filament, not like the ones that are more commercially available for hobbyist or at home operations. Originally I was curious about foam milling, akin to what SWS did for the Lost World and JP3. However I was surprised that filament was the cheapest option for both shipping and producing something so large.

The finished print arrived in September in a very large shipping crate, it was unpacked by my crew and we pepped it for exhibit as a raw 3D print.

When we premiered it, it garnered alot of attention, naturally. We even had a few from SWS old guard who worked on the Dinos from JP drop by and give it its blessing. The print was 80% faithful to the original SWS prop, most notably in overall proportions but when the show was over I needed to get started on recarving the detail lost from the 3D print process.

Rex w SWS Alum.jpg

When I started I settled on a regular Home Depot brand Dremel and had to used different bits through trial and error. This was well into year one of COVID and the Pandemic so it became more of a shelter at home hobby in between working at home with my then regular job, and to just keep from going stir crazy. I had always planned to work on Robbie (What I nick named her, after Roberta from the original JP film), but when the pandemic hit and we were all stuck at home for year one, it just seemed like the perfect muse to keep me from going batty lol.

The first thing I noticed was how the plastics used reacted to the Dremel, and the hardest part was controlling the amount of carving by the dremel and not punching through the 3D print and creating just more holes. I did this a few times, patched them, smoothed them, and then went about trying to train my hands and gain the muscle memory to keep the dremel from digging another hole. It was a process I wasnt prepared for, and alot of the beginning for me was just trial and error.

While I was working on this stage we started getting heavy rains and winds, so I built a small shelter for Robbie so I could keep her out of storage and just sitting in the backyard while I continued work on her in between work shifts. Sadly this image was the last image of her intact before a heavy storm hit, the end result wasnt good.


To be continued....
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Wow...what a projecto_Oo_O:cool::cool:(y)(y) What's the damage?
Damn large and cool looking piece. :)

Sorry to hear of the misfortune.
Thanks! I'm working on the next update just trying to gather all the pictures together for the next post. It was alot of significant damage though and it happened right before a scheduled exhibit we had back in 2021. I'll try to get post 2 up by tonight.
The Storm,
As I mentioned in the previous post I had set up Robbie with a makeshift shelter outside to keep her protected while the winter storms hit. The goal was to keep her sheltered while I worked on her in between my shifts during year one of COVID. The thing about the print, being a 3D plastic print is even though it did weigh alot it was still a light weight print. I had some stage sandbags near by and used them to weigh her down. However a particular wind storm toppled a few trees nearby, lifted up the canopy, and sent Robbie flying. To give you an ideal of how strong the winds can get in Sothern California, they can and do topple Big Rigs hauling cargo on a regular basis on the roads. Robbie sadly was not spared. I woke up one morning and saw the following damage.

Repair 1.jpg

Robbie had been split among multiple seam lines, one whole part of her neck was even destroyed and broken clean off the print itself.

Repair 2.jpg

Repair 3.jpg

I of course was devastated and I gathered the pieces and kept her in storage for a month. The damage was extensive, and in the moment it was all I could focus on. But as I had some time to gather my thoughts and wrap my head around a salvage plan I did notice the breaks were clean and along each of the areas used to piece together the print. The company who supplied her printed Robbie out in sections of 12" x 12". Those sections are where the cracks happened or where whole sections popped off when the wind picked up the print and dropped it onto the ground. Because the breaks were clean, it would make piecing her back together easier. So after some planning and homework, I settled on Fiberglass resin to put the pieces back together.


I settled on Fiberglass sheets, verses fiberglass shard as it would be easier to get into the contours and folds of the sculpt easier from the inside, as I patched Robbie from the interior so it wouldn't impede the rest of the work I needed to do in re-sculpting her details and gap filling the seams. The glass sheets were surprisingly easy to work with as I had bad experienced with Fiberglass in the past working with second hand FX companies. I'm also very prone to fiber glass rash which is a bear to treat. The way I went about it was using gloves to hand the glass fiber sheets, precutting them with titanium snippers, then mixing the resin in tiny paint trays with an excellerator and then dipping the sheets in the resin and applying. The resin is also partially UV activated so I just worked during the day and pointed the print towards the sun to allow the resin to harden.


Using a chip brush (more like a whole bag of them) I would pre coat the area, then place the fiberglass cloth, then brush the resin over it with a notable coat and would move on to the next patch. I had planned to coat the interior of the print with resin at some point as the print iteslf was fairly thing, roughly two to three walls which is likely why it snapped so easily. So this gave me the excuse to fortify it as well.

To be continued....
These days they said they had lips:

One project for a time travel film might be an attempt to make a T-Rex look as uninteresting as possible---with the "villain" dinosaur being a herbivore.

There is a new fictional take on that in fact:

Holy cow. That is definitely some devastating damage to come out to. Glad it was in the seams, so it was a clean and easier fix than if ragged. The repair looks great. :)
Yeah the inital shock took some time for me to wrap my head around it. It was quite a bummer. But yeah the damage was along the seams which was very fortunate. there were only one or two pieces that popped ragged and even those were pretty clean thanks to the material used.

Man that really suck...but as Too Much Garlic said, it's good that it was in the seamso_O:oops::oops:

Agreed. And now that shes part fiberglass she's much more solid.

These days they said they had lips:

One project for a time travel film might be an attempt to make a T-Rex look as uninteresting as possible---with the "villain" dinosaur being a herbivore.

There is a new fictional take on that in fact:


I actually do work for museums part time and am up to date on the latest research. The Lip paper isnt really a good study due to the small sample size so currently the null hypothesis for Theropods, notably Tyrants, is limited to no oral facial tissue like seen in their relatives, Crocs (Who are also Archosaurs).

But I dont want to derail too far from the main post in this subject, build, and repairing, a Jurassic Park T Rex.

After about a week of fiber glassing the interior of the Robbie I was finally successful in piecing her back together. Even though I had worked with fiber glass before on film this project had to be my most extensive fiber glass job I had ever done. I will say after all was said and done, fiberglass sheets and cloth is definitely more managable then shards. It was a night and day experience for me, and I suffered nearly zero glass rash wearing simple latex gloves when compared to having my arms completely red wearing two layers of long sleeves and wearing gloves. For anyone who works on FX here, if you ever work at a shop and see the shop boss insist you work with glass shards for glassing, insist on working with cloth. It will make your life so much better.

Here is Robbie after she was pieced back together again.
Repair 5.jpg

Not shown here was the means I had to do the prop the mouth open, as the weight of the sculpt on the front end was causing the whole print to bow, making fitting all the cracks and seams nearly impossible. I had to prop the mouth open with a home depot bucket, and then with Bungie cords, bungie the loosed pieces to close the seam completely while I glassed and waited for the resin to harden. It took alot of on the fly innovation.

Repair 4.jpg

I also used wood putty epoxy (2 part, comes in a tube, not the canister kind its too crumbly) to gap fill the seams and resculpt areas that had been too badly damaged. I wasnt to worried about making the seams perfect, as there was alot of seam work I needed to deal with just from the 3d print itself. So once the seams had dried, I went back to work resculpting all the details with a dremel.

Repair 6.jpg

At this point I had gained the muscle memory and control to utilize the dremel and also purchased a few more bits. there was no one bit that was right for the job, it took a combination of two to three bits to really get the job done. But once I found a rhythm, no doubt my confidence boosted by the successful repair job (It was quite the mental boost I needed while in quarantine) I was sculpting very quickly and going throgh the details at a good pace.

Repair 8.jpg

Another thing I did, as its easy to get lost in so much detail on such a large object (you can develop a type of sculpting tunnel vision) I would pre-mark with a sharpie marker the areas I wanted to sculpt to enhance things like the natural wrinkles of the print. I also referred to pictures of the Stan Winston Rex to make sure I got enough of the skin folds and so on for it to really start looking like Roberta. This was achieved by ironically not doing every single scale, but enhancing the larger details and scales as those details are what really register to the minds eye. Whereas if I just went over each and every scale, it would have washed out all those neat details. So it was a nice learning curb to experience.

Repair 12.jpg

Repair 9.jpg

A fun side effect or dremeling the details was a type of glowing effect in the areas I was working on while the sun hit the inside of the 3D print making these kind of glowing skin folds. It was a fun effect I caught a few pics of. A kind of light guided sculpting experience.

Repair 11.jpg

Repair 13.jpg

With carving and dremeling well underway I moved on to the next phase, but not before just taking a moment to relax and breathe. It had been quite a disaster which struck Robbie, I honestly thought I was going to have to write her off as a loss. I think it was just because during COVID, the whole world was just dealing with so much adversity, she kind of became this embodiment of tenacity for me. It wasnt just me working on a T-Rex, it was me just trying to survive 2020. And so she survived, as did I, and I took a few personal pics, if only to dwell in the moment. enter the typical LA Starbucks selfie....but with a T-Rex haha.

Repair 7.jpg

To be continued...

So after the majority of the dremel work was done I needed to reculpt more detail to actually match up the scales from the SWS Roberta Rex. Normally this process would be done in the modeling phase but because of the quick turn around for the Natural History Museum exhibit in LA I sped up the process to be sure we got it shipped in time from Canada to LA.

With the wind storm and the accident, there came alot of opportunities to address things like reinforcing the interior of the 3D print with Fiberglass to be stronger, resculpting details w the drememl, but as I went through that process I discovered how much didnt match up to the SWS sculpt. So as I applied wood putty to gap fill the seams where things broke I also took the opportunity to resculpt areas that didn't match up and recarve the putty epoxy to better match the screen used prop. This was well before the Icons of Darkness exhibit set up shop in LA so I couldnt see anything in person, and had to rely heavily on BTS photos of the movie production. The best way to do this was to print out pictures and tape them to the 3D print while I sat there and worked the sculpt.

Repair 16.jpg

This phase lasted the longest, as it was a contstant juggle of dremeling, sculpting, re-dremeling, and then resculpting. Not only was there detail to attend to, but also the large seam lines from how the 3D print was assembled which had to be carved away as well. Just like when I was dremeling, I also used sharpie marker to mark where new larger scales had to be sculpted or fused with other scales to match up with Roberta.

Repair 17.jpg

One of the tools I would use to sculpt the epoxy was a simple wooden sculpting tool I got from Michaels. The epoxy when freshly mixed and kneaded was actually quite tacky and would stick to everything. I had to smooth out the details with the knife to keep it from sticking to my hands and fingers and when it was hardening, go over it again with the knife to smooth it out. Then, after that was done, I would use the sanding bit on the dremel to finish or polish it more.

Repair 14.jpg

Repair 18.jpg

One additional trick I would use is actually hit an area with Primer to blow out the textures so I could see what areas still needed reworking or smoothing. The print itself always had a type of print pattern to it, as all plastic filament prints do, so it also gave me a chance to see how much of that texture needed to be addressed as well.

Repair 15.jpg

After a good week of consistent work, Robbie was finally ready to begin paint. Another milestone down as the deadline for the 2021 exhibit loomed closer.

to be continued....
Yeah, if the scan was off a smaller scale SW piece, then naturally it wouldn't match up completely with the full scale one. Cool to see the different details and the work you put in.

You can check out a full scale Rex head from Lost World Jurassic Park at Icons of Darkness in Hollywood.
Yeah, if the scan was off a smaller scale SW piece, then naturally it wouldn't match up completely with the full scale one. Cool to see the different details and the work you put in.

You can check out a full scale Rex head from Lost World Jurassic Park at Icons of Darkness in Hollywood.
I can now and I have since went to visit Roberta and the Lost world Buck head at IOD, but when I was working on this IOD was still on the East Coast, so I couldn't do any real comparisons.

And the scan was off of a 1:1 scale Rex, there are a few of them both at the theme parks and in the wild. In fact one turned up at SDCC in 2014 and I think ended up at KNB Fx. Robert is the one who did the initial scan however so this was his model printed. Again, because the scan was done so early, the technology was still being proven so a print produced would still need some detail work done to it. Now 3D scanning is alot better with detail preservation so now its just the printing machines that need to catch up with quality of print. When you get to something this size however, no matter how well the preservation of detail is the print will need some kind of work.

Which is cool for me it was a treat just being able to work on a SWS Rex and do sculpting on it. And kind of justifies doing a thread here being there was alot of work and love put into Robbie. Its been fun sharing the story and I'm glad you all are enjoying the wild ride I had to go on :)
Cool. I've seen some videos on youtube of people filming when visiting and getting a tour by the owner, who seems like a really nice guy. Very talkative and informative.

But I cannot imagine being up close to the T-Rex head or any of the other props and costumes for that matter. Must have been an awesome experience.

Oh WOW on the scan being of a full scale one. Damn impressive.

Looking forward to hearing more about the process. :)

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