Time is kinder to some toys than others. The entire Dino-Riders line went from a modest hit to dead in no time flat, but Tyco managed to reuse the dinosaurs for two other toy lines, Cadillacs & Dinosaurs and The Smithsonian Institution Collection Dinosaurs. While the bulk of the dinosaurs aged quite well, the gear is all over the place due to rubber bands and a grey plastic which discolored due to aging, not sunlight. The Monoclonius with Mako sported a rubber band in a trap which dries out (and is easily replaced) as well as a seat and "brain box" dinosaur mask made of a grey plastic which discolored with age-- and is not easily fixed. (I have not yet dared to try the infamous Hydrogen Peroxide dip.) But aside from that? This thing is awesome.
The good guys ("Dino-Riders") were futuristic space hippies with telepathic whatsis and love and all that crap. The bad guys were the Rulons, and since they didn't want to be pals with the dinosaurs they just slapped on a "brain box" to control them after trapping them. Naturally, Tyco thought they should include traps with some of the toys and sure enough, the Monoclonius has a funky log trap. The box says it's "spring action" but it's just a simple rubber band mechanism-- you push the log to the side, and it locks in place. Push the button and it grabs the poor monoclonius by the neck, until you slap a mask on his face and his friends make fun of him for dressing strangely. It's a cruel, cruel toy line.
The "brain box" itself is quite interesting, especially in 2011. The thing is covered in spines and spikes, and they're quite sharp. Not just a little pointy, but definitely nicely-sharpened ABS plastic that could, I bet, hurt somebody if you really tried. Today they'd make this thing out of Nerf. (Damn hippies and/or lawyers.) Due to the grey plastic used by Tyco in this era, the brain box and parts of the seat may "brown" with age-- you can see the original colors in some product photography, and even sealed-box samples will discolor with age. Most of the pictures I found while researching this very article showed discoloration, so even a "mint" one might look a little funky. At least it didn't turn urine-sample yellow like some plastics.
Once you get all the stuff on him, you've got a tricked-out dinosaur that looks a little better than his good guy counterparts. The guns look more savage, the chair more comfortable. Heck, Tyco even included some form of brass knuckles for a dinosaur's tail, and that's a pretty awesome extra right there. The tail's weapon can be tricky to keep on, but gravity holds the mask in place while clips keep the harness where it should be. Also, the dinosaur shares the same mechanism as the Styracosaurus, which is the "push the tail to the side and the head turns" motion you've come to know and love in other old toy lines. The legs are also articulated.
Mako is a shark alien man. Standing under 3-inches tall, he's similar to other small-scale figures of the age, like Starcom or M.A.S.K. The key difference, of course, is that he's got a hammerhead shark head. The body sculpt was reused on numerous Rulon figures, with new paint applications highlighting elements of the design like the chest or a stripe or something to give kids the feeling that it was something new and not the same body sixteen times over. Heck, they did the same thing with some of the dinosaurs, that's why the Monoclonius, Chasmosaurus, and Styracosaurus share everything but the head. Mako's a colorful figure and it's hard not to smile when looking at it-- the little guy is so weird you can't not love him. Several other figures shared this exact sculpt, head and all, and you can find those in figure 2-packs or with other dinosaurs. The names include Finn, Six-Gill, Hammerhead, Troilus, and mind-bendingly original Gill. Gill works for an ad agency in 1985 New York. Anyway, the weapons snap-on to his arms, and with 7 points of articulation he's an example of one of the more poseable figures of his day.
For whatever reason, the bad guys got the better overall toys in Dino-Riders. Even though the Monoclonius is the same body type as the Styracosaurus, his added armaments, better chair design, trap, and awesome Mako figure put him ahead just a bit. When I pulled out my Dino-Riders toys to examine them, this is one I looked at and said "dang, this is a nice piece." And then I noticed the discoloration and the dried-out rubber band on the trap. Time is just as bad for toys as sunlight and kids, so be careful with these-- especially since they're a bit expensive. Incomplete loose samples may set you back only $10-$20, but a nice boxed one may be closer to $100. Or if you just happen to have one from when you were a kid, treasure it.
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