After many years away, Dino-Riders has more or less recently made a comeback as part of Mattel's Fisher-Price Imaginext Dinosaurs collection. A new Ankylosaurus has just been released for about ten bucks, and it comes with a boring ol' human instead of Sting the ant man. The name is misleading for this vintage toy, as this is not the singer for The Police but rather is an alien ant man. Filthy toy lies.
As the bad guys, the Rulons include meaner and in some cases more ridiculous gear. Their technology affords them the ability to travel the galaxy and time itself, yet they arm their specially mind-controlled dinosaurs with a giant crossbow. Not a laser cannon, not an RPG, not a railgun-- but a crossbow. Aliens, oh you're so dumb. The giant crossbow plugs into the back of a purple plastic harness, which incorporates the "brain box" for the toy-- so you can't opt to have him wear it separately. He has to have it on with the guns. The harness and gear don't allow the figure to sit on the dinosaur, which is somewhat disappointing. It's a much simpler toy than the others, but it's still a fun idea. It'd be more fun if it could shoot, or if the dinosaur possessed some form of action feature, but it's still pretty neat and the box art was gorgeous. It also showed the ankylosaurus as brown in both the painting and the product shots, while all samples of the final toy are in fact grey.
With jointed legs, the Ankylosaurus isn't particularly amazing as a toy, but as a species his toys aren't so impressive. When Hasbro finally made a Transformers toy of him, he was initially a bright orange and tiny Japanese exclusive-- the US release isn't much easier to find. A "drone" was included in the Dinobot Grimstone last year, but the new Imaginext one is pretty cool-- his tail can slam down on bad guys. The Dino-Riders release has a nice sculpt with a cute little open mouth, but his oddly misshapen head has always troubled me. While other dinosaurs in the line had more impressive eyes, this one has simple painted dots-- nothing set in the skull, or anything like that. Just little dots.
His crossbow started life as grey. I stored this in a box in an air-conditioned residence for years, but despite never seeing sunlight it still slowly turned brown-- so be careful, and be careful if you pay for a grey specimen on the secondary market. It might change on you.
Sting is a alien ant man. Standing under 3-inches tall, he may remind you of other smaller-scale figures from the day, which presumably downsized to keep toy costs down as the figures were companions to the much-cooler large vehicle toy, and not the other way around. Today, we're lucky to get any vehicles at all in a toy line aimed at older (7+) boys. He has 7 joints and a nifty head sculpt, while the body was used for other Rulon figures including Mako and numerous repaints of the ant character.
Considering what you get in the box, this toy would probably retail for about ten bucks today-- but there's no way the packaging would look as cool as the 1980s original. Boxed samples are north of $100, but loose ones can go for as little as $20-- a fine deal, a bargain really when it comes to owning a small piece of what made the tail-end of the 1980s toy market really special. I'm trying to think of something else special about this one. I think I got it on a day where I had Carl's Jr. for lunch and was in the second grade. That sounds about right.
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