Review and photos by Takama, edited by Suspsy
And now for something completely different from all the scientifically sound and modern reconstructions of dinosaurs. I’ve tackled many different figures for this blog, but today marks the start of a series of reviews that will be very different. Back when I was a child in the 1990s, my parents spoiled me with various dinosaur toys, and among them was a brand of colourful, cartoonish models that reminded me of the Land Before Time, although it was clear that the line shared no connection with that franchise. These were in fact the vinyl models available at Wendy’s restaurants and made by Playskool for their Definitely Dinosaurs line. The toys were not made to be scientifically accurate. In fact, they seem to go out of their way to make these figures look like cartoon animals. To my knowledge, there were ten models made for the series and I acquired all but two in my lifetime, although I lost one at some point in my youth. Fortunately, most of the others remain with me to this day, and I have since traded some contemporary items for a couple more Playskool figures. This leaves only three that I plan on acquiring somehow in the future.
Today’s review focuses on my personal favourite of the entire group, mainly because his presence makes him look a lot different from all the others. He is the Ceratosaurus. He is unique among the rest of the batch because he looks nothing like the animal he is supposed to represent. This is due in part to the fact that he is supposed to be a cartoon animal, but there are enough things wrong with him that it suggests the sculptor(s) did nothing but glance at a picture of Ceratosaurus.
If you’re thinking I’m going to spend the rest of this review ripping this poor guy a new cloaca, don’t worry, I won’t be that mean to him. But he does look like the sculptor(s) barely knew what a Ceratosaurus was, so I will touch on a few things that are fairly obvious.
The head is round and almost frog-like, with one horn in between the nostrils. On top of that, the arms look like human arms, and there’s only three fingers sculpted on either hand. I can go on to say how it is in a tripod pose, but I think I’m being mean enough. This toy was not meant to be taken seriously, and I knew that back when I was a kid. The one thing that stands out to me with this particular toy is that the eyes were painted red, giving him an evil look with that mouth full of teeth (keep in mind, other figures in the line also had red eyes, but they also did not have the teeth). When I played with these toys, I always pretended that the herbivores were on an adventure and they were always pestered by the mean old Ceratosaurus (I did not have the Tyrannosaurus at the time, as I was not aware of its existence until 20 years later).
The colors on all of these Playskool models were very bright and cheerful. This Ceratosaurus is the darkest of the bunch, but it still manages to be anything but dull. The bottom part of the toy is blue while the top is purple. These days, most preschool toys look a little more realistic, with brands like Fisher Price making their figures a little more modern and somewhat realistic while still retaining the cartoonish look. Today, Playskool (now run by Hasbro) includes a Heroes line that makes characters from popular franchises into cute toys for little kids. The successors of the Definitely Dinosaurs series would be the Jurassic World figures from this line (which in my opinion were a lot better then the garbage released for older fans).
The Definitely Dinosaurs Ceratosaurus is not something that I can recommend to those who want a serious take on the animal, and I am unsure if anyone other than a collector like me is willing to acquire these classic figures. I decided to collect them because I already had most of the assortment saved from my youth, with only three awaiting to be acquired. If you want one, your best bet is Ebay, as it is the best place to find long retired toys such as this. [See Definitely Dinosaurs on Ebay]