BEST. GIFTS. EVER. Advent Calendar Day 3: Dinosaurs and Mechs!

Best Gifts Ever - small

After journeying to the future of 1999, come back with us as our advent calendar gets hurled into the distant past to the time of the dinosaurs!

Dino-Riders (1988)

The story behind this toy line is pretty basic; the good Valorians and the evil Rulons fight each other on prehistoric Earth. Both the humanoid Valorians and the hybrid Rulons came from the future, and learned to domesticate/dominate various dinosaur species, tricking them out with awesome futuristic weapons and junk. I’m serious. Jerks from the future went back in time and strapped rockets to the sides of ancient lizards for kicks.

Seems reasonable.
Seems reasonable. [source]

Now, some of you are muttering through your neck-beards, “Pfff, idiot. Dinosaurs aren’t lizards. Bah! Where’s my diet coke!” And you would be both very rude and correct. You are also exactly the sort of person that wouldn’t have enjoyed watching dinosaurs from various epochs loaded down with guns and infrared headgear and sent out to wage a war that would have certainly been more efficiently managed with actual motorized vehicles. How can you master time travel, genetic engineering, rocket-powered everything – and still not be able to build a regular tank??

80s toys typically came with their very own half-hour commercials sometimes confused with cartoons, and Dino-Riders were no exception, but my memories of this line are strangely detached from the show itself. I remember the box art most of all, which featured dinosaurs looming out of swampy locales like some sort of Charles R. Knight painting, only with a bitch-ton more firepower fused to their hides. I’ve always been a sucker for mixtures of fantasy and scifi, and real-world-dragons-with-laser-cannons-you-can-ride were just perfect for me.

Beautiful, isn't it? Click to Dino-Size.
Beautiful, isn’t it?
Click to Dino-Size.

“The Tyrannosaurus Rex is arguably the pinnacle of the Dino-Riders toy line. For its time, this thing was a dinosaur fan’s dream come true. The set was huge and contained a lot of pieces that took quite some time to put together. The T-Rex retailed for $50 and although pretty steep for the average kid back in the day, it was definitely worth it. The T-Rex was the largest toy in the Dino-Rider line until the 2nd Series release of the Brontosaurus. The T-Rex also had motorized walking action that was powered by a D battery and assisted with small wheels on its feet. This feature would later be removed when it was re-released as part of the Smithsonian Institution line. The T-Rex included three figures, Krulos, Bitor and Cobrus, and the color of their outfits were actually somewhat coordinated. Despite it large size and awesome artillery, the T-Rex still left something to be desired. In perhaps the most disappointing use of the “colors may vary” disclaimer, Tyco released the T-Rex in a dark gray and greenish color instead of the advertised bright green and orange. It was really unfortunate because throughout the entire cartoon series, the T-Rex was always depicted as green and orange. The pre-production photos that advertised the T-Rex also depicted a green and orange color, which looked infinitely cooler than the final production model. But anyway, the T-Rex was still the coolest thing out there and still remains an awesome piece to this day.” –

Beside the T-Rex, one of my favorites was the Pachycephalosaurus, which suggested that the rider of this particular mount would charge head-first into the armored side of an enemy dinosaur, which would end in both creatures demanding what type of god would let this happen to their once proud race, their prayers eventually being answered in the form of a well-timed asteroid.

Dino-Riders - Pachycephalosaurus

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