By Travis “T-Rav” Giles
I’m a huge toy nerd. I may enjoy comics and video games and other forms of nerdery, but my one favorite piece of the nerd world are the toys. Classic Kenner Star Wars, Ninja Turtles from Playmates, and Mattel’s Masters of the Universe are some stand out favorites for me. They all have a huge variety of colorful characters that were made into little plastic playthings.
However, there is on toy-line that stands above those and to me is the most fun of them all.
That line is Dino Riders from Tyco.
Dino Riders, launched in 1988, combining two things every 80’s action figure lover enjoyed: dinosaurs and weapons. Tyco started with excellent dinosaur toys that were eventually sold without their armor and weapons in the Smithsonian. Each dinosaur was fitted with an assortment of weapons and came with at least one action figure to man the many guns the Dinos wore.
Dino Riders were split into two factions. The heroic Valorians were represented by the huge Brontosaurus and the slightly smaller Diplodocus among other dinosaurs of varying sizes. The Brontosaurus is an absolutely beautiful and enormous toy. Tyco never made an evil counterpart with the size of the Valorians’ Brontosaurus, but the evil Rulons did have the most terrifying dinosaur on their side with the T-Rex.
The Dino Riders T-Rex was loaded with more weapons than any other dinosaur in the line. There were guns on each side of the head, robotic arms at the front, and buzz saws on each leg. Turn the T-Rex around and you have weapons covering the backside as well. This was and is a really awesome and fun toy.
Every dinosaur can’t be the mighty T-Rex though and Tyco found a way to make even the smaller toys fun.
Whether is was turning a small flying dino into a hang glider or putting a gun atop a tiny Ankylosaurus, each dinosaur was another great addition to the line.
You couldn’t just have a toy-line in the 80’s or early 90’s without having the obligatory tie-ins. Dino Riders had plenty from puzzles to coloring books, and even a four issue mini series from Marvel Comics featuring a completely different story from the Saturday morning cartoon.
Dino Riders isn’t the most remembered line of toys all these decades later, but it is well loved by those of us who do remember. The toys can get a bit pricey nowadays, but I can assure you they are definitely worth the money.