People riding armored dinosaurs into battle. What kid wouldn’t want that toy? No little boy I know or met. You may have seen two different takes on that in the Imaginext toyline (one with high-tech, another with more ancient tech) but the idea began with the 1980s toyline and cartoon Dino-Riders, aired as part of the Marvel Action Universe syndicated programming block. Two different alien groups, humans and non-humans (guess which one is the heroes?), crashland on prehistoric Earth, and their war continues. I’m darn surprised this wasn’t more popular than it was.
Tonight we’ll look at the first episode of the series, so “cleverly” titled “The Adventure Begins”. The pilot was released on home video by Tyco, the company who made the line, with a framing device that seems unnecessary. A group of kids visiting a museum, one kid is bored by the boring teacher and goes into the room with dinosuars, and that somehow transitions to the story. It has nothing to do with the story and will never show up in the series so you can basically ignore it until the actual show starts. Nice bit of rotoscoping though. The ads were on the video, using the commercial breaks for the TV show.
What is it with Marvel Productions and alien spaceships crashing on planets? The Transformers, Robotix, this show…there’s definitely a pattern here, two of them on ancient Earth. (At least the Valorians get to spend the time awake.) I also wonder how the Valorians and Rulons know what Earth is or what dinosaurs are, and I don’t think that’s ever explained. I guess it’s just to keep up with the audience. Certainly kids know what dinosaurs are.
Note how the two groups work. The Valorians work with the dinos while the Rulons use the mind control devices. This was also reflected in the first series of Imaginext dino figures for preschoolers. For whatever reason they switched to ancient tribes commanding or working with dinosaurs. Either works I guess. I also found out that there were three minicomics produced, one in Japan and two in the US, so I’m sure we’ll see them in Free Comic Inside soon.
There’s also been talk of bring the concept back as a movie, live-action of course thanks to Hollywood’s bias against animation, and also probably dark and violent and not for kids. Because only man-children get to have fun anymore and they hate anything made for kids. So here’s another childhood favorite mistreated rather than brought to the next generation.
There were 14 episodes total, the last a direct-to-video special that brought the Dino-Riders to the Ice Age, an attempt to add to the toyline. The toys lasted from 1988 to 1990 with the Ice Age subline. The cartoon had one season as part of the Marvel Action Universe, which included re-runs of NBC’s Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends and an adaptation of RoboCop oddly enough, which was interrupted one week by the unsold X-Men pilot Pryde Of The X-Men. Maybe if this movie is made people will look into where it came from. The 80s had the best action cartoons.