Category Archives: Tyco

Styracosaurus (Tyco)

Review and photos by Lanthanotus, edited by Suspsy

Months ago, there was a call for completing the Tyco page of the DTB and I replied that I’d add a review. I intended to have a look for the Pteranodon, a figure I just then had acquired, but couldn’t manage to write down a review in time and eventually this was done by Gwangi. Then there was a second call more recently, and this time, I managed to review the last Tyco figure I can, because it’s the only one left in my puny collection that hasn’t already been reviewed . . .

. . . although technically, perhaps it is. Six years ago, Griffin reviewed Tyco’s Monoclonius and stated that “a Styracosaurus was also made by Tyco that is exactly the same as this toy except for its spiky frill and different colour scheme.” That pretty much sums it up, and not much more would need to be said, but since you worked yourself through that lengthy introduction, you’ll get a proper review.

Styracosaurus is a Late Cretaceous centrosaurine that inhabited a seasonal flood plain environment. The first specimen was found in the famous Dinosaur Park Formation in Alberta, Canada, by Charles Sternberg and was scientifically named and described by Lawrence Lambe in 1913. There may be several species within the genus, but in the past, some that were counted towards Styracosaurus were already given their own genus. For this review, that does not matter anyway, as no species name is assigned to the toy.

Tyco’s Styracosaurus was released for the first wave of Dino-Riders back in 1988 and served as a beast of war for the heroic Valorians. The figure was also later released for the Smithsonian line with the only mould difference being the lack of lateral square gaps for attaching a harness. The toy is made of a light olive-green plastic that’s very rigid and breaks rather than bends, as can be seen in the left horn of that little fellow. Unlike most of its Tyco brethren, the Styracosaurus makes relatively minor use of its base colour. The figure is almost completely coloured in maroon-red and yellowish white, with just two stripes along its spine. The outsides of the legs reveal the odd green colour the figure is made from, but one can hardly recognize that pattern.

As noted earlier, the Styracosaurus shares its whole postcranial body with the Monoclonius. It stands on four short, sturdy, and straight legs with four toes on the hind legs and five on the front ones. The tail is short and slightly elevated off the ground. It provides the action feature of this figure where moving the tail from side to side results into the head bashing from one side to the other, opposite to the tail. The head of the Styracosaurus is nicely sculpted and fairly detailed in the front. The frill’s horns are too straight and placed in weird angles, and there’s one less pair of horns than the real deal. With the exception of this inaccuracy, the whole body morphology is not exactly false but far outdated. Back in the late 80s’, however, this ceratopsian was quite a fair reconstruction and the beady eyes so typical for Tyco’s dinosaurs add a lot of charm and liveliness.

This Styracosaurus should appeal to many people besides Dino-Riders collectors. It is indeed a very nice toy with a neat and robust play feature. Having been discontinued for decades, the obvious way to obtain this model is through eBay. Without any armour or weapons, it can frequently be found for just a few bucks.

Megachoerus AKA Archaeotherium (Tyco)

Review and photos by Archinto, edited by Suspsy

Here we will be taking a look at a classic rendition of the prehistoric mammal Archaeotherium, as perceived by the Tyco company in 1990 for their awesome Dino-Riders toy line. This particular figure was released for the Ice Age sub-theme (under the subgenus Megachoerus), which also featured a motorized woolly mammoth as well as an articulated Smilodon and Megatherium. Unlike those three, this particular figure was not reproduced for the later Smithsonian line, sadly. These critters all had special Arctic battle armour and each came with a unique articulated Cro-Magnon or Neanderthal figure. Tyco called their Archaeotherium a “Killer Wart Hog,” most likely for marketing purposes to make it sound more tough. And believe me, this beast looks as tough as its nickname! Let’s take a closer look.

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This is a truly lovely figure. It is articulated at all four legs and the lower jaw and tail move as well. By rolling your thumb on the base of the jaw joint, you can make it snap ferociously! The figure sports a pair of the classic acrylic eyes that Tyco is well known for. They truly give a more lifelike effect to the Archaeotherium, and add to the already excellent detail that the figure possesses. The sculptors took their time on this figure, and it shows beyond a shadow of a doubt.

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Here you can see the detail that they put into the creature’s face, exhibiting not only skin wrinkles on the lips and snout, but also how the skin blends into the hair seamlessly. The mouth is very detailed, sporting a battery of gnarly teeth and a tongue as well. The bony ridges on the bottom of the jaw, as well as the cheek bones, are very prominent on the figure. They’ve even detailed out the skin wrinkles inside the mouth.

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The teeth are painted a soft white that’s not bright and glaring like some tooth jobs done on many older dinosaur figures. The face features a reddish colour that blends into the ears and cheeks, then subtly blends into the brown on the rest of the head, flowing into the mane. From here, the darker colours lighten up and blend into tan and a darker speckled pattern in the animal’s fur. The speckling appears on the shoulders and rump of the animal. The dark brown shades in the mane are also painted on his feet and tail tip. A very even balanced colour scheme that looks fairly believable.

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The sculpting of the body hair is very well done. While it leans more to the chunkier side of hair sculpting, it all flows together wonderfully, especially on the legs and back. The leg musculature is slightly visible, and the joints are all correct and presented as they should be. The hair blends wonderfully to the hooves. The mane on the creature has a very interesting shape to it, and looks to flow as if a breeze is moving through it. Another nice feature is the shape of the tail, which when posed upward, looks a lot like how a modern wild pig’s tail goes up when it runs.

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As far as accuracy goes, this figure is fairly close, although it does possess some slightly exaggerated features. I would still highly recommend it to any collector who is looking for an exciting Archaeotherium figure for their collection. Even though it has been around since 1990, it still stands as one of the coolest-looking entelodont toys out there. They can be difficult to find, and when they do show up, they aren’t always cheap. Still, there are deals to be had! I find this figure to be incredibly nostalgic, and a joy to handle and play with.

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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.