Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus) (Tyco)

This review marks my 100th review for the Dinosaur Toy Blog and with having reached this milestone I think I need to reflect a bit. My first review was posted on July 16th, 2011. That’s just over 5 years of collecting and writing about dinosaur toys. Although others have reached this milestone in an impressively short amount of time that makes this no less significant for me. I’ve actually reached the point where I consider myself an “old timer” in these parts, one of the few that’s still an active reviewer. Home ownership, fatherhood, and many other major life events have transpired in that time and yet I’m still here writing these reviews. If I’m being honest I can say that this hobby makes for a nice escape from reality on the occasions that I need one.

Dinosaurs (and other prehistoric animals) have always made for a nice escape; the perfect blend of science, art, and imagination. While our scientific understanding of dinosaurs dramatically changes as time marches on these ancient animals still remain a constant in our imaginations and in our lives. Dinosaurs are certainly nostalgic for me. I’ve loved them ever since I first saw “The Land Before Time” on the big screen back in 1988. But just like everything else, dinosaurs have changed. The dinosaurs I grew up with are not the same animals that fascinate me today. And that’s alright, because the importance of understanding these animals as they were far outweighs my feeling of nostalgia or the public’s perception of dinosaurs as a whole.

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The toy I’m reviewing today is an iconic one, nearly as old as me. It represents an animal whose name and bones we all know but no longer exists. The Tyco Brontosaurus (for that is what it is, a Brontosaurus) won’t win any points for accuracy or realism, but it’s a one of a kind toy that captures the imagination and brings this old depiction of a classic animal to life like no other.

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I didn’t have the pleasure of owning this toy when I was growing up. Looking at it stand before me I honestly wonder how any child could even play with the thing. Yes, it is gigantic! If any toy ever did the size of a sauropod justice it’s this one. With its neck stretched out this toy measures 3’ in length and it stands about 1’ tall at the hips. This is widely celebrated as one of the largest toy sauropods ever made. Even Kenner, who was responsible for the epic “Jurassic Park” toys of the 90’s never made a sauropod toy approaching this thing in size. The size of the Tyco Brontosaurus is no doubt its single most redeeming feature, this is a must own model for those that love big sauropods. Looking at it though it’s easy to see just how dated this toy is and for a toy so large, and so inaccurate, is it really worth the shelf space? Personally, I think it is, but read on and decide for yourself.

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This monster of a toy looks like it has literally just dragged its bulk out of a primordial swamp. The serpentine tail drags behind its enormous body, the swan-like neck craning its head skyward. This is not the elegant sauropods we’re now accustomed to and for anyone born in a post “Jurassic Park” world this thing might even look ridiculous. But that’s alright, this one isn’t for them.

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Looking past the body and at the smaller details we see that, perhaps surprisingly, the feet are not horrid for a toy this age. Five digits are present on the hind-limbs but only the first three are particularly obvious, complete with toe nails. This is in keeping with depictions we see even today. The fore-limbs possess five digits as well, with three digits possessing claws where there should be only one but the fact that this much effort was applied shows that Tyco did some degree of research on their products, some have even stood the test of time more so than they should have.

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The body is made of hollow hard plastic but despite being hollow this thing still weighs between 3-4 lbs. The tail is also hollow but made of a more flexible rubbery material. True to the Tyco line this toy is an action figure, capable of some degree of movement. All of the limbs can move back and forth and the neck and head swivel up and down as well. That’s it for an “action feature” but what more would you need on a toy sauropod? You can make it move forward, and eat or look about. That seems good enough but the toy was originally supposed to be a battery powered toy that walked. That feature was nixed due to budget reasons, no surprise there. A walking feature certainly would help kids play with a toy nearly as big as them I suppose.

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Even at this gigantic scale this toy is not lacking in finer details. Wrinkles and skin folds are obvious in appropriate places and the skin has a pitted, cracked texture that at least resembles scales. On the shoulders and hips there is a good deal of raised bumps along the hide and the massive hind-limbs are as muscular as they would need to be. The mouth is partially open, revealing a nice battery of teeth and I would comment on the nostril placement but they have curiously been omitted. The eyes are the life-like beads we all love on these Tyco toys and make this otherwise obvious toy still feel somewhat alive.

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The Tyco dinosaurs never did have much for coloration or patterns. A gray and black hide is the order of the day here, another indication that this is an old depiction from the days when all dinosaurs were gray, green, or brown. On this toy the color does have a nice mottled pattern though. A yellow stripe runs down the body and tail, dividing the mottled dorsal pattern from the flat gray underside. It’s very easy to envision this animal in a dark, swampy forest, perhaps somewhere deep in the Congo even.

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Now as most of you know this toy did originally come with an impressive assortment of armor, weapons, and riders. I don’t have any of those accessories. While I do collect toy dinosaurs I don’t collect “Dino-Riders”. That may raise some eye-brows from those wishing for a full review of a complete toy but I’m here to look at the dinosaur itself. Suffice it to say that there are other sites more dedicated to “Dino-Riders” than this one. I did enjoy the show and toys as a kid but my budget doesn’t allow anything past the price of this toy just by itself.   Even if the military gear makes it that much more impressive.

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If you want one of these legendary titans you’ll be forced to put forth a good amount of cash. The toy alone will cost you and then factor in the shipping. I was astonished by the size of this thing simply by the box it was in. It’s a rare toy which is one reason I chose to review it on this special occasion but not the rarest in the line and quite accessible with some patience on eBay. Clearly it will take up some space on your shelf but this is THE must have toy for anyone with a love for retro dinosaurs, big sauropods, or of course the Tyco line. Although Tyco made a Tyrannosaurus, this Brontosaurus is the true king, not only of the Tyco series, but of dinosaur toys in general, even after nearly 30 years sitting on the throne.

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A giant among giants.

16 Responses to Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus) (Tyco)

  1. CarnegieCollector

    Congrats on your 100th review!

  2. I was into Dino-Riders, though I only had a Deinonychus and a VHS tape constantly borrowed from the library. The Tyrannosaurus and Diplodocus were already lofty, unattainable things to this little squirt’s eyes – the Brontosaur was nigh-on mythical, only caught in glimpses and rumours! A real treat to be reminded and see it here.

    “A gray and black hide is the order of the day here, another indication that this is an old depiction from the days when all dinosaurs were gray, green, or brown. On this toy the color does have a nice mottled pattern though. A yellow stripe runs down the body and tail, dividing the mottled dorsal pattern from the flat gray underside.”

    I’d agree with the likes of Mark Witton here, in that I think pattern and contrast is a bit more important and realistic than (though not to the exclusion of) colour. At least, the psychadelic mixtures of acid yellows, baby pinks, sky blues etc. etc. that were promoted in some quarters a few years ago. (Naming no names; I’m sure you’d know one or two anyway) So, the coloration of the Brontosaur doesn’t bother me much. The desaturation of the yellows and browns on such a huge animal actually puts me in mind of the different levels of colour seen in monitor lizards at different sizes, through age or species. I wouldn’t throw my toys out of the pram if the model featured more colour, but if I had to winkle out some little flaw, I’d say it perhaps looked a little dark for my tastes, rather than dull.

    “It represents an animal whose name and bones we all know but no longer exists.”

    Not a fan of the conclusions of Tschopp et al?

    Oh, and happy 100th review!

    • I can’t say that I really mind the color personally and the patterning is certainly appealing. I certainly prefer it over bright yellow, or hot pink. It’s believable, even if it’s stereotypical. As you say, large reptiles around today aren’t usually very flamboyant either. As for “Brontosaurus” I’m awaiting a stronger scientific consensus before I get too excited, I admit that I haven’t read the paper though, only articles. Thanks for the comment BTW.

  3. Wow. Impressive. What a great nostalgic figure. I would have no room in my house for this figure. Unfortunately the way the toy market is now, companies would not even attempt to make a toy like this.

    Congratulations on your 100th!!!!!!!

    • Thanks. Truth be told I don’t really have room for it either. A toy of this size is only justifiable for this special occasion. It’s a pity that companies won’t make them this anymore. Could you imagine a Kenner Brachiosaurus for “Jurassic Park” in a similar scale?

  4. Congratulations on your 100th review, indeed a nice choice and very good review. While that behemoth certainly appeals to me, the last picture made me decide, that I will pass on that thing :D…

    …. well I may give it a chance if I ran in in cheap on a flea market

  5. Huh, I always assumed the Brontosaurus was motorized since the smaller Diplodocus was (I only had the latter, until it fell off my bed and got decapitated).

    I think the Definitely Dinosaurs line had some sauropods that rivaled that thing in size (the Brontosaurus was close to that in size, and probably bulkier. Much more colorful too. The Ultrasaurus was probably bigger, though I never owned that one. I remember the box being MASSIVE when I was a kid though.)

    Come to think of it, I don’t think Definitely Dinosaurs toys have ever been reviewed here, which is a shame. They were great toys, and the Parasaurolophus from that line was the first dinosaur toy I ever owned.

    • Yes, Definitely Dinosaurs had some big sauropods as well. I had the Brontosaurus when I was growing up, and several others. Never the Ultrasaurus though which I do believe is larger than the Tyco Brontosaurus. There are a few “DD” reviews on here. There’s at least one for the Tyrannosaurus. I had that purple Parasaurolophus too and adored that thing. I plan on getting it again and when I do you can expect a review for it.

      • I haven’t been able to find a comparison photo of the two yet, but I do believe that, while the Ultrasaurus is taller, the Brontosaurus is bulkier.

        • I think you’re probably right. I can’t find a picture either though. I know I’ve seen one, probably on the DTF. Can’t dig it up though.

  6. I love the Tyco line – there’s a certain specific stylized charm to them, and I actually like the subdued camo pattern on big sauropods.

  7. This toy reminds me of the vintage dinosaur paintings by ZDENEK BURIAN, famous palaeoartist in the palaeoimagery. CONGRATULATIONS JUST LIKE SUSPSY ON YOUR 100th review GWANGI.

  8. Masters of the Universe had the Eternia play set, GI Joe had the USS Flagg, Transformers had Fortress Maximus, and Dino-Riders had this magnificent giant! I remember coming across it just once in a store, during a family trip to Florida. Unfortunately, my mother adamantly refused to even consider buying it for me. Curse missed opportunities.

    Anyway, congratulations on your 100th review!

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