Prehistoric Playground Dinosaur Set (Melissa and Doug)

3.5 (8 votes)

So at is turns out, my daughter is a little bit dinosaur obsessed. Nothing crazy like the kids on the “Dino Dan” TV series that she’s watched at least three times through but obsessed enough that this dinosaur obsessed father beams with joy when she corrects grandma; “it’s not an Apatosaurus grandma, it’s a Brachiosaurus”. Even names like Archaeopteryx roll off the tongue.

Being a dinosaur toy collector myself she has easy access to a range of models and toys, and quite the collection of her own. She has an entire bin of dinosaurs that didn’t make the cut for my shelf display. She has a tiny play matt too, with a waterfall, caves, trees, volcano, etc. She calls it her “treasure map”. It’s only about 12” X 12” and with her 3rd birthday coming around the corner I knew we could do better. So off to Amazon we went, and sure enough we found exactly what we needed, a 39” X 36” activity rug specifically for dinosaurs. The rug is great, she loves it. No issues there.

Included with the rug were four dinosaur toys: Tyrannosaurus, Apatosaurus, Triceratops, and Stegosaurus. Just an added bonus, nothing we would seek out on our own. But it turns out you actually can buy just the dinosaurs, an entire set in fact. I’ve even seen them mentioned on the forum. The Melissa and Doug Dinosaur Party Playset comes with 9 toys and costs $15.95 on Amazon. Buyer beware, you don’t want to waste your money on these, especially for a child. Let me explain.

On the surface they look appealing; colorful toy dinosaurs covered in felt (flocking). They’re simple but charming. The Apatosaurus in particular might look familiar as it’s very much a simplified version of the Carnegie Camarasaurus.

So what’s the problem? Well we’re now a month past my daughter’s birthday and these toys are just not holding up. The body of the dinosaurs is made out of cheap, hollow plastic, like the sort disposable straws are made of. Although it has not happened yet it is only a matter of time before a tail or leg snaps off and I’m left with a crying 3 year old; “fix it dad” she’ll say, but I won’t be able to.

Within less than a week the felt covering the plastic already started to peel off. This is not due to rough play, or even frequent play. She’s played with them maybe 4 times within that week and is usually pretty gentle with them. These toys are not destined for a long life and certainly won’t last the year.

Normally this isn’t the sort of thing I write about but I know that parents read these reviews too. I’m not personally too upset about the loss, my daughter will get over it and the rug we wanted is of decent quality (aside from some of the woven loops coming loose). But for those maybe tempted by the larger dinosaur play set, don’t bother. Apparently Melissa and Doug also make collections of other animals like dogs and horses that are of the same poor quality. The negative reviews are there on Amazon but for whatever reason there are still enough good reviews to give this product a 4 star rating that it does not deserve.

If you have a dinosaur obsessed kid then you’re better off buying just about any other toy for them, even cheap $1.00 toys at a dollar store or Wal-Mart will hold up much better than these. I do recommend the activity rug though; just toss the toys that come with it before your kid gets attached and then heartbroken by them.


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Comments 2

  • You’ve discovered a new type of ‘fuzzy dino’. 😉

  • That fuzzy stuff is technically called “flocking” and it’s basically very small fibers embedded in a thin glue. It’s godawful stuff and tends to rub right off on any toys it’s used on – collectors of older toys are sadly familiar with this balding effect on things like My Little Pony from the 80’s and action figures like the old 12 inch GI Joes that used it for hair. It actually can be removed with solvent – a lot of Pony restorers remove the flocking as a matter of course. If the plastic is that bad, though, it’s probably not worth it. Shame, since Melissa & Doug usually make quality toys.

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