Any child of the eighties can recall the baritone jingle of “Dino-Riders!” in their incessant TV spots. Their adventures could be found in comics and television, but what really mattered were the dinosaurs. The story pitted two factions against one another in high-tech, futuristic battles with armored archosaurs donning heavy armor and weapons. Aside from being the center of the Dino-Riders logo, the Tyrannosaurus was the figurehead for the antagonists, whose devious use of “brain boxes” to enslave the animals would often end up biting them in the rear – often to hilarious effect, when the Rex inevitably turned against its captors time and again.
Apparently, the Smithsonian Institution was so impressed with Tyco’s Dino-Riders toy line, the figures were resurrected from retirement under the Smithsonian name (though with a few necessary changes, such as the removal of the weapon accessories). Conservative color schemes, articulated anatomy, detailed skin textures, and taxidermy-style eyes helped distinguish the Tyco dinos from their primitive brethren. Some larger pieces even featured electronic components, such as motorized walking and flashing weapon lights. Not surprisingly, the celebrated Tyrannosaurus fits into the deluxe category, and its massive girth suggests that it could barely contain the powerhouse of sophisticated biomechanoid technology that would scare the bejeezus out of any household pet.
Alright, so maybe it would just lumber along at a laughable pace. Keep in mind, this monstrosity had to bear the load of not only its own bulk, but a veritable fortress of destructive power, decked out with plating and armaments, manned by dubious humanoids of questionable moral intentions. Keen eyes will note the asymmetrical bulk around the trunk of the body, namely at the ribcage – likely a necessary adjustment to account for the complex engineering behind the figure. “Figure” is perhaps an inappropriate term for this giant, which could easily give any Jurassic Park Rex reason to shudder. Properly equipped with his original accessories, he was a fully loaded playset, a pantheon of puerile playability. And judging from the bulge of his stomach, he probably consumed a lot of batteries.
Today, this Rex looks quite outdated. The fat, duck-like stance removes much of the meat-eater’s menace, while the oddly-curled fleshy tongue makes him look like he’s suffering an allergic reaction. The creature has a light grey coloring on its underside, as well as lining the lips and strangely prominent ear. There’s still plenty that should make him identifiable as “T.rex” to most kids, including the minuscule forearms and generally aggressive demeanor. The slight depression in his brow is also reminiscent of the “angry” look in the JP Rex.
Paleontology enthusiasts might be interested to know that the Tyco Tyrannosaurus actually can stand on its own two massive legs without the aid of its tail. And, if you have not yet realized it, this famous figure is also the inspiration for “Rex”, the cowardly dinosaur character in Disney’s Toy Story films. If you’re the patient sort, you should be able to find this guy on eBay with some regularity, and for a reasonable price (unless it’s mint in box, of course). The integration of dinosaurs with futuristic warfare is undoubtedly an exciting concept though, which raises the question: when is Hollywood going to bring this beloved eighties franchise back into action?