Dino Riders

Dino Riders

“Harness the Power of Dinosaurs.”

Between the electronic toys of the 70s and the quirky toys of the 90s came the clever toys of the 80s. Cartoon creators and toy makers combined their popular concepts into freakishly cool tie-in toys. Robots and vehicles collided to form Transformers. Machines and animals merged into Battle Beasts. And prehistoric creatures met the people of the future in the guise of Dino Riders.

The story of the television show and the toys followed a race of telepathic pacifists called the Valorians, who were (or will be) conquered by the reptilian Rulons. A group of survivors, lead by the heroic Questar, escape in a space ship containing a Space Time Energy Projector that sends them – and the pursuing Emperor Krulos – into Earth’s prehistoric past. There, each side harnessed the power of dinosaurs with the technology of the future in order to continue the battle for freedom or domination, depending on which side you fought for.

While the series lasted a mere fourteen episodes (despite the use of Transformers‘ Megatron and Starscream talent Frank Welker and Chris Latta as the voices of Krulos and his vicious underling Rasp, respectively), Tyco managed to produce three series of Dino Riders toys beginning in 1988. However brief the tie-in may have been, it did insure a certain degree of quality in the toys, and Dino Riders received praise for the attention to detail in every model.

Each artful Dino Riders box contained a dinosaur, one or more riders (depending on the size of the dinosaur), and a slew of techno-gadgetry designed to provide fodder for hours of imagination. Most dinosaurs came with a creative arsenal of lasers and missiles.

Despite the technology used to travel through time, Dino Riders weapons were sometimes as archaic as their mounts, including boulder-chucking catapults or net-throwing harpoons. Some of the toys came with dinosaur traps in various forms. Of course, while the Valorians relied on telepathy to domesticate and train their mounts, the Rulon dinosaurs came with “brain-boxes” - which dictated control right into their plastic cerebral cortex.

As the Ice Age brought down the curtain for dinosaurs millions of years ago, so did it signal the beginning of the end for the Dino Riders. With recognizable and unique species dwindling, Tyco turned to ancient mammals to carry the franchise in 1990.

Two years later, the Dino Riders collection gasped its last breath, despite Tyco being solicited by the Smithsonian Institute to create battery-operated versions of the more popular dinos in the series. Later Tyco toys such as Cadillacs & Dinosaurs would use Dino Rider leftovers to try and keep the line afloat to no avail.

But, just as fictitious theme park creator John Hammond resurrected dinosaurs in 1993’s Jurassic Park, so too have fans and collectors worked to bring back the underrated Dino Riders. Whether they will be successful or not, only time will tell.

Meanwhile, if you owned a few Dino Riders and/or watched the cartoon, we’d love to hear your thoughts and memories in our comments section below.

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