Welcome back to the November installment of LRM’s Retro-Specs! Every kid likes dinosaurs and outer space at some point, right? I mean, who wouldn’t? I feel like almost every kid has some type of dinosaur toy from their childhood and some type of space-related toy. Before Jurassic Park, dinosaurs were still getting love. Give them the 80s good versus bad concept and throw them in future technology. Sounds like a recipe for 80s awesomeness to me! Let’s take a look back at 1987’s Dinosaucers and 1988’s Dino-Riders!
Well-Known Creator and Inspiration
The creator of Dinosaucers is Micahel Uslan. That’s right. THE Michael Uslan who is the producer for pretty much every Batman film on the large and small screen. That already gives some major credibility to the show even if it is in his earlier years. How did he come up with the idea? Well, his son of course. There is an interview with Uslan from Syfywife from 2019. The creator shares how the idea came to be:
“His favorite thing to do was to go to the Museum of Natural History and see the dinosaurs, the other thing was going to Hayden Planetarium. He knew the name of every dinosaur and loved outer space. I realized I was the same way when I was younger and so I’d make up stories when I was getting ready or putting him to bed. One night, I just kept saying, Dinosaurs, Outer Space, Dinosaurs, Outer Space, Dino…saucer? Dinosaucers. I had a title but that was about it.”
Uslan creates stories for his son about dinosaurs in space. His son loves the stories, and the rest is history! Dinosaucers arrive in 1987 through Coca-Cola Telecommunications. Yes, that Coca-Cola. Even though there is only one season, there are also 65 episodes! Uslan is new at the time and does not have the experience that he does now. He knows that he is on to something combining what most kids at the time are fascinated with: dinosaurs and space.
Dinosaucers consists of intelligent dinosaur species. The villains (Tyrannos) set their sights on conquering earth of course. There must be some heroes to stand in their way! The Dinosaucers team up with human kids (the Secret Scouts). The Scouts get their names from Uslan’s kids and relatives. There are David, Sarah, Paul, and Ryan. They are his son, daughter, brother, and cousin respectively.
What I always enjoy is the idea of Dinovolving. The Dinosaucers can press a button on their uniforms and devolve into their primitive state giving them more strength while keeping their intelligence. The Tyrannos cannot do this, and look to seek this power. They do have a gun that devolves, yet it also devolves their intelligence unlike the Dinosaucers. The Tyrannos do have the fossilizer technology which turns enemies into, you guessed it, fossilized stones.
I also love the cheesy 80s names for many of the characters. The leader of the Tyrannos is Genghis Rex, after the tyrant leader Ghengis Khan. Quakpot is a jokester Hadrosaurus which has a duck-like beak. The best name? Terrible Dactyl. Come on, it does not get more cringingly awesome than that!
The Rare Toy Line
The cartoon is awesome. However, it only sees the light of day for one season. Although, it does have lasting power, which I will cover later. Now in line with most 80s cartoons, there is a toy line…kind of. There is plans for an initial toy line as well as prototypes from the company Galoob. However, the lack of success of the show puts a halt on this. Later, in 1989, Glasslite contacts Galoob about the molds for the toys as Dinosaucers premiers in Brazil. Five of the eight prototypes find release, yet are extremely difficult to find.
Part of the reason for the fall of the toy line and the cartoon actually does not have to do with the show itself. Coca-Cola Telecommunications folds into Columbia Pictures. In 1987 the film Ishtar completely bombs which has people pulling out and reviewing what to keep and what to scrap. Unfortunately, Dinosaucers is one of those casualties.
Not Dinosaucers, But Dino-Riders Toys
I really wanted Dinosaucers toys. As I kid, the cartoon was great and of course I wanted to create my own adventures with my imagination and the toys. Due to the toys being extremely difficult to find, I did turn to another futuristic dinosaur series, which is awesome as well. Dino-Riders are actually made first and foremost to sell toys. The tie-ins come later. I remember using the Dino-Riders for not only what they are made for, but also as a substitute for Dinosaucers!
The difference with Dino-Riders is that the idea revolves around aliens coming to a prehistoric earth and using futuristic technology in order to held control dinosaurs to utilize their strengths. There is a cartoon, yet there are only 14 episodes in 1988. This again is due to the fact that the cartoon is for promoting the toys where Dinosaucers takes the opposite route. Of course good (Valorians) versus evil (Rulons) are involved. The Velorians communicate telepathically with the dinosaurs in a mutual, nurturing way while the Rulons brainwash the dinosaurs for their bidding.
The toys are pretty cool. My favorite is the T-Rex with Krulos and Diplodocus with Questar. The toys have wonderful detail with a good deal of small pieces as well. My 6-year-old imagination would use them not only as Dino-Riders, but the coveted Dinosaucers that are a rarity.
Bring them back, right? (Yes, I know I say that about every 80s toy/cartoon I cover). However, neither line are extinct. In 2018 Uslan releases a Dinosaucers graphic novel. In 2015 there are rumors that Mattel is working to try and get a Dino-Riders film in the works. With today’s film technology, either could be adapted! In the mean time, Dinosaucers can be seen on Amazon Prime.
Do you remember the Dinosaucers and Dino-Riders? Better yet, do you own any of the toys? Do you think they should bring them back? Leave your thoughts in the usual spot, and thanks for reading!