Back in 2012 a representative from the toy vendor VictoryBuy joined the Dinosaur Toy forum looking for member feedback with regards to reissuing the Tim Mee set of toy dinosaurs, originally produced in the 1970’s. Flashforward to 2014 and VictoryBuy once again stopped by the forum, this time to announce the actual release of the set. Flashforward, yet again, to 2020 when I purchased the reissued Tim Mee toys as cake toppers for my daughter’s birthday. Now it’s 2021 and I’ve decided to review them.
Although they probably don’t have much appeal to most collectors the Tim Mee dinosaurs are probably familiar to most of us as a relic from our childhoods. Tim Mee got its start in the late 40’s, making cheap plastic figures that would become staples at dime shops and drug stores across the United States. Tim Mee produced a range of toys, including the persistently popular green Army men, as well as cavemen, fantasy and sci-fi characters, Marvel superheroes, military vehicles, mountains, and other playsets. Tim Mee produced its first dinosaurs in the 1960’s but it’s their 1970’s “smooth series” that most of us are no doubt familiar with. I had a bunch of these as a kid. Similar to Marx toys, but cruder, these toys were presented in a variety of monochrome colors and so, in my case at least, worked well as babies for the larger Marx or other toys I had. Originally owned by Anchor Bush, Tim Mee then changed hands to Processed Plastics. Tim Mee would end up closing shop in 2005, but then reemerged in 2011 under the ownership of J. Lloyd International Inc.
The reissued dinosaurs (and other animals) come in a set consisting of 48 individual toys molded in green and yellow plastic and representing 9 different prehistoric species. Although I didn’t buy them to collect or display them this is exactly the kind of thing I like to support. These toys, crude as they may be, are directly molded from the same molds used in the 1970’s and have the same vintage appeal. They’re tough, durable, cheap, and safe for kids. In addition, they’re also made in the U.S.A which is certainly something to be encouraged by fellow Americans. Now, with that bit of history out of the way, lets take a look at the toys themselves.
Dimetrodon: The required Permian synapsid that comes alongside just about every vintage dinosaur playset. This Dimetrodon looks very much like a generic lizard, lacking everything that makes Dimetrodon unique, except for the sail of course. There are still attributes to be admired here, such as the visible musculature, skin folds, sculpted lips, and pitting across the hide. It’s one of my favorites in the set. As you can see from the pictures the green figures show off much more of the detail than the yellow, and for that reason I prefer the green molds for all these toys.
Apatosaurus/Brontosaurus: It should go without saying that these toys are grossly inaccurate, despite being “new” they’re also produced from 50-year-old molds. The only sauropod in the set is presented with the classic tail-dragging posture, and Camarasaurus-type head from days gone by. The head is lifted up and looking behind itself. I’ve never been a fan of sauropod toys sculpted in this way, even as a kid, as it limits the playability, I think.
Stegosaurus: Perhaps my favorite of the bunch because it just has a certain amount of charm and uniqueness to it. The Stegosaurus is also one of the better sculpted toys, complete with raised osteoderms on the skin, and striations etched into the plates. The oversized head is held high and alert, and the tail is dragging across the ground.
Ankylosaurus: This one is a cute and interesting little fellow as it appears to be lacking a body. The oversized head and legs just attach to the armored back. It also has a decidedly grumpy expression that adds a bit of character. It’s a strange one, so I can’t help but like it.
Hadrosaurid: Although the company lists it as a hadrosaurid this toy is clearly based on Charles R. Knight’s painting of Trachodon, the classic “duck-billed” dinosaur that never was. I suppose it could be considered an Edmontosaurus these days. There’s not a lot going on here, and toys like this one make it easy to see why these Tim Mee dinosaurs were called the “smooth series”. The toy is sculpted as a biped with the tail dragging behind it.
Tyrannosaurus: This T. rex is presented with a grimacing mouth, complete with sculpted teeth, and a tail dragging posture. It’s weirdly sculpted with a sunken in belly and a tail thicker than its torso. There is a degree of pitting on the skin to add a bit of texture but it’s still one of the weaker toys in the set.
Nedoceratops/Diceratops: Here’s a bit of an oddity. I’m sure when this toy was first made in the 1970’s that it was meant to represent Triceratops, but today the company advertises it as Nedoceratops (formally Diceratops). I’m guessing that they decided to call it this because of the toy’s apparent lack of a nose horn, the skull attributed to Nedoceratops had a low, rounded nasal horn. Of course, Nedoceratops is also a controversial genus, and may have been a Triceratops anyway. The toy is presented with the head looking towards the right, with the result being an asymmetrical frill. Lots of extra plastic bits are also apparent on this figure, due to the horns and frill. One of the weaker toys in the bunch.
Smilodon: Two mammals are present in this set as well, and you can probably guess what they both are. Tim Mee also made a set of toy cavemen (also reissued) so with those the mammals pair well, despite scaling issues of course. This Smilodon is almost identical to the Marx Smilodon and most Smilodon depictions from the 20th century. In profile this toy looks good, but the canine teeth fuse in the front, giving the cat a single giant buck tooth (like the Marx toy). Both the mammals are aesthetically the best in the lot, holding up well to accuracy too.
Woolly Mammoth: This one is also nearly identical to its larger Marx counterpart. But it’s also the best figure in the set with no apparent mold defects or aesthetic issues. The sculpted hairs also make it the most detailed toy in the set. All that said, both mammals are kind of boring, especially because the Marx toys exist too.
These are the kind of toys that you have to accept as they are and take their age into context. They’re simple, outdated, and riddled with imperfections. It wouldn’t be fair to directly compare them to modern toys, such as the Safari or CollectA toob figures. But that said, they also have a lot going for them. For young kids they’re especially appealing. They’re virtually indestructible, and since there are 2 or 3 of each figure included you don’t have to worry too much about inevitably losing one. They are simplistic but kids don’t seem to mind, I certainly didn’t, nor does my daughter. And of course, it’s just nice to see these vintage toys in production again. The Tim Mee dinosaurs are available online for $13.99.