Dino-Riders Boxed Toy Set
Item No.: No. 9124 Manufacturer:Tyco Includes:Driver, dinosaur, harness, smattering of silver plastic gear Action Feature:n/a Retail:unknown, est. $9.99 Availability:ca. 1988 Other: Later repackaged as "Smithsonian Institution Dinosaur Collection" toy
The Dimetrodon was technically not a dinosaur, but let's leave that discussion here. As a toy, it's really neat-- so neat, in fact, that I balked at the idea of buying the Kenner Jurassic Park toy in the 1990s based on the creature as this one was, clearly, a superior thing. Nearly 20 years later, I'd like to thank myself for being smart and just sticking with this one. Made of a harder plastic, this toy feels like if you aren't careful, it just might crack. So be careful.
The pre-terrible lizard has articulated legs and a button-activated jaw, plus these really nice reddish orangey eyes which you can sort of see through. Just as a dinosaur by itself, it's sculpted quite nicely with lots of bumps and wrinkles, plus it's coated in a swell green color which really brings out some of its lizard-ness. The texture-- and see below for the texture-- is really exceptional for a toy from this era, particularly when you compare this finback creature with its relatively dull human counterpart.
His little buddy Shadow is blue. Very blue. He has blue eyes, black hair, and has a few silver bits and pieces that practically cry out "I'm sorry I came from the late 1980s when everything was vaguely pacifistic yet I still attached a half-dozen guns to this poor innocent lizard thing." Like other figures in this line, he has jointed knees, shoulders, hips, and a neck so he can be posed to sit in the big armored bits for his ride of choice. What you see is basically what you get... even as a kid, I knew the humans were holding the line back. Why not dudes in space suits? The Rulons were cool enough with their freaky animal-inspired designs, but man, the humans. Such a snooze.
The idea of this figure set is that the dinosaur had the ability to hide his secret on the other side of his fin. Basically, all the gear could be (mostly) placed on one side, so it would just look like a prehistoric beast and then BLAMMO, here are some pop-out guns and a cherry-picker seat thing with more guns on it. Logically it doesn't really work, but as a toy? This is fantastic. The swing-out chair is really fun, and the pop-out guns are a satisfying play feature. The only way they could possibly be better would be to make them activated by a spring-loaded button, or to add firing rockets. The set feels like it was designed more for displaying and collectors than it was as a toy in this respect, because most of the play comes from posing the creature. Well, except for his spring-loaded button-activated jaws. I can just sit here pushing that switch all day, it's a ton of fun. (And no I am not abusing any substances at the moment. It's just a fantastic and simple mechanism.)
If you're really crazy about dimetrodons, Playmobil will be making a new one in Germany for 2012, and Hasbro and Takara have released two versions of theirs from Beast Wars Neo and an exclusive set of Transformers sold at Wal-Mart. You can get a few Jurassic Park versions (all of which are green), and for those willing to do a little legwork, there are multiple releases in Zoids and Robo-Strux in various sizes. The really big one has a fin that moves while the robot creature walks! I like 'em all, but I always had a ton of fun with this Dino-Riders release. There aren't many around these days, but when they do show up they don't tend to be too expensive. I think if you got a complete one for $30, you wouldn't be sorry.
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