If you were a dino-fan in the eighties, you might remember the TV spots for Playskool’s highly successful “Definitely Dinosaurs” line. While Tyco was raking in the cash with “Dino-Riders” and their eerily realistic figures, Playskool cleaned up nicely with the toddler and young child market. Although both lines featured articulated dinosaurs, the Playskool line favored sturdier constructions with “safer” points of articulation that were far less likely to pinch the skin of a wee tot. This sturdiness was actually highlighted in the commercials, where children would sing of how they can “play with them real rough”.
There aren’t any dull Dino-Rider browns and greys in Playskool’s line, only bright and vivid colors. Replacing the weaponized humanoids from “Dino-Riders” were a batch of squat, kid-friendly cave-people which came with each Playskool Dinosaur. Using primitive tools and saddles, these cave-people could attach and “ride” on the dinosaurs to help them with… well, laundry and berry gathering. Tyrannosaurus was one of the few that came with a cave woman, in fact. In the water-color illustrated story book (which also came with each dinosaur), the tale centers on a clever cave woman who is harassed by a narcissistic Tyrannosaurus. With a shrug of her shoulders, she gives him the brush off, mentioning that she’s seen far scarier tyrannosaurs in the past. Angered, the Rex insists that she show him these scarier predators. She guides him to a lake, at which point, he attacks his own reflection and falls face first into the water. The cave woman wanders off with her basket of flowers, presumably leaving the Tyrannosaurus to his watery grave.
Aside from teaching children how to properly drown their enemies, these supposedly kid-friendly playsets offered no real explanation as to why humans were living alongside dinosaurs. While Dino-Riders could at least muck about with space-age time travel, the Playskool line seemed to perpetuate the notion that humans and dinosaurs lived together, and in relative harmony too. Fortunately, I suspect most kids either threw away or lost their cavemen, and focused on the all-important dinosaurs. The mint-green Tyrannosaurus was the third-largest figure in the line (two sauropods outclassed him, and they were absolutely enormous). At about the same size as the JP and DinoRiders Rexes, he was likely a must-have for any fan of the line.
Quite a bit of articulation can be seen in the figure, from the base of the tail and jaws, to the arms and even the ankles. These pieces had a tendency to wear down and become loose with time unfortunately, and may affect standing abilities in pieces found today. To their credit, the Playskool Rex actually could stand without the support of its tail, even if his stance was rather rigid. The teeth are quite dull to keep small fingers safe, and the jaws barely open about an inch or so. The body is largely reptilian-looking, with a mildly menacing yellow eye in each socket. Each Definitely Dinosaurs figure can be identified by a brand marker, a circular stamp of a sauropod, not unlike the “JP” stamp that Hasbro used for their dinos in decades to come.
Despite their moderate scarcity, the Playskool Dinosaurs do not typically fetch high prices at online auctions. With a bit of patience, you should be able to find this Rex for a reasonable sum. Just don’t leave him unsupervised near any bodies of water.
Sometimes available on eBay here.