Last year, I interviewed the author of The Visual Guide to Scale Model Dinosaurs, a fine gentleman who is deadly serious about dinosaurs. Mr. Telleria endeavored to create a pictorial encyclopedia of every accurate dinosaur model in existence – not a small task, given the popularity of dinosaurs as playthings, as well as the fact that dinosaurs are prone to hyperbole. Dinosaurs hold this weird psychological place between science and mythology. We know that they existed, and that they were from a “savage” time, and that we’ll never see a living specimen. A lot is left to the imagination.
One of the statements made by Mr. Telleria which lodged itself uncomfortably in my brain was that most dinosaur toys were “ruining the true image of dinosaurs”, as if the dino-PR agent was asleep at the wheel and was allowing these noble beasts to suffer unchecked slander. It’s not like they could fight back. T-Rex’s arms are too short, Triceratops is a peaceful herbivore, and Brontosaurus just went through a tough breakup and totally isn’t in the mood to deal. While I agree that scientific accuracy is an important aspect of a model, it’s also important to draw a line between ‘scientific model’ and ‘toy’, and not disparage those things which embrace the fantasy aspect of dinosaurs. It’s the equivalent of saying that superheroes are “ruining the true image” of people, science fiction is “ruining the true image” of science and/or fiction, or Hello Kitty is “ruining the true image” of cats. Allow hyperbolic dinosaurs to be the gateway drug into a more serious exploration of dinosaurs… or, you know, just let kids have fun, dude.
Predasaurs are the epitome of glorious dinosaur exaggeration, and the most recent Aquasaurs expansion of their action figure game line is such a ridiculous mess of id and animal parts that they’re inescapably, undeniably fun. The premise, as far as I can tell, surrounds a battle between different factions of dinosaurs, with expansions addressing ongoing incursions from different groups of DNA-screwed dinos which have somehow combined with other creatures; thus far, we have the Insectasaurs and the Aquasaurs. I’ll let you guess which type of creature each set is mixed with. As of this writing, only the initial wave of Predasaurs, DNA Fusion, is available in the USA, and the Insectasaurs are available only in Italy (thus the packaging pictured at left), with the Aquasaurs arriving at an undisclosed date
Predasaurs are probably the least scientifically accurate dinosaurs conceivable, snarling with impossible glow-in-the-dark teeth and making angry fists with semi-human hands, occasionally translucent or with octopus arms sprouting from their chests, or crab claws instead of hands. It’s an unabashedly fun heap of disparate parts, sometimes repainted and shared between dinos, and made even more visually complicated with the addition of accessories: a helmet, a shield, and a weapon, all themed to work in synthesis with whatever sea creature they’ve been merged with. The beautiful, senseless, insane part of this is that many of these features are redundant. If you have a dinosaur with a horn and talons, it’ll probably also have a helmet with a horn and a weapon shaped like a hand with talons.
All I can think of is this:
It’s a level of weird toyetic ridiculousness that exists in a place I can’t even hope to access in my own brain. It goes against every practical neuron I have. And it’s amazing. “Grossly overarmed reptile-amphibians” is an improbable phrase which applies perfectly here, which I’m glad now exists, and which might even make a pretty serviceable Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles parody. I appreciate the bewilderment of trying to understand these, even on a visual level. They’re such an amalgamation of parts, textures and colors that they’re more like insane collages than beautiful toys. Why would a dinosaur be translucent only in the middle, where two tentacles are sprouting out of his pecs, which he also shouldn’t have?
Because toy. That’s why. And that’s really okay.
To add to the id-splosion, each dinosaur has a ridiculous name, each one sounding like a really rough STD or a Greek god that no one talks about in polite company: Rutalo, Loktar, Klava, Skylla, Tantalos, Torquar, Akkrax, and so on. It’s really like Dracco got a kid to create the perfect toy line, without any regard for what adults might think is marketable or safe, a la Axe Cop. Each blind pack also comes with a card describing their story and powers, which attempt to make sense of a miasma of empty nonsense about magic crystals and genetics. I’d be just as happy (or perhaps happier) if their story placed them all at mundane office jobs, and these armored dino-battles were just how they blew off steam in the break room before returning to their spreadsheets. Nobody take that idea. It’s mine.
The chase dinosaur is called Vullatrex, and it’s a combination of an octopus, a tyrannosaur, and a stegasaurus. Inexplicably. Because someone, somewhere, thought that these three things would be awesome in a blender, which is a better reason than I can imagine.
The rest are just as visually perplexing. Arms extend into weapons, shields cover up entire torsos, and these weird Predasaurs shamble on in Frankensteinian madness.
Predasaurs are representative of dinosaurs about as much as Chicken McNuggets represent actual poultry. The core concept is the same, but any intelligent person will know the difference, and there’s certainly a place for both. Battling dinosaurs aren’t really a new concept; Ubisoft’s Battle of Giants: Dinosaurs Strike was just one video game interpretation of the battlesaur, which unfortunately didn’t push the genre deep enough into the ridiculous to make the game actually playable or interesting. Predasaurs bring it all the way there.
US collectors are tragically behind other countries in terms of small, fun dinotoys, and Italy seems to exist at the epicenter of this dinosphere, rich in both delicious pasta foods and Predasaurs (and the bizarre but unrelated Dinofroz). Show ’em you love ’em on Facebook if you’re interested in seeing these in America. Let’s make things weird.
[Predasaurs graciously provided by Dracco.]
C. David is a writer and artist living in the Hudson Valley, NY. He loves pinball, Wazmo Nariz, Rem Lezar, MODOK, pogs, Ultra Monsters, 80s horror, and is secretly very enthusiastic about everything else not listed here.