Sunday, April 21, 2013

Nostalgia Theater: The Brief Rise and Immediate Extinction of Dinosaucers

As we know, the 1980s was a time when G.I. Joe and Transformers ruled the roost when it came to boys' kidvid, but that didn't stop a whole lot of challengers to the throne from popping up and attempting to dethrone the co-kings. For example, there was M.A.S.K. and C.O.P.S., not to mention Bionic Six and Centurions, all of which found some degree of success with their piece of the pie. Another, less successful example, which came and went briefly between fall of '87 and spring of '88 was Dinosaucers.

Combining kids' well-established love of dinosaurs with the toyetic "good guy team vs. bad guy team" dynamic that pretty much typified most boys' fare of the era, Dinosaucers was a marketer's dream come true. But what probably sounded like a great idea at the pitch stage (conceived by Michael Uslan & Ben Melniker, the duo whose biggest claim to fame is a producing credit on every single Batman feature from the '80s on) faltered a bit when it came to actual execution (by animation house DiC -- yep, them again):

Yeah, so that's pretty goofy. Dinosaucers premiered in syndication in mid-September 1987, and the Transformers influence is just all over the thing. Teen(s) befriend giant, technologically advanced aliens who happen to resemble Earthly conveyances/creatures, all the while doing battle with an evenly-matched cadre of similarly advantaged baddies. But somehow, "Allo" and "Genghis Rex" didn't quite make the same lasting impression with kiddies that "Optimus Prime" and "Megatron" did just a few years prior.

Just one look at that intro makes clear that Dinosaucers was created with merchandise in mind first, last, and intermediate, making it all the more surprising that nothing ever materialized. Though a toyline from Galoob got as far as the prototype stage, it didn't go into production for whatever reason, and when the ratings didn't justify the show continuing past 65 episodes, that was the end of that. I have no idea if the show would have fared better had the toys actually come out, but I'm gonna err on the side of "no."

While there's no DVD release as of yet, and no indication that one is forthcoming, the only way to watch Dinosaucers now is either via *ahem* extra-legal YouTube uploads, or a stream of the first 21 episodes available for purchase at Amazon. I opted to pursue the latter, more aboveboard avenue to re-sample the show, and let's just say I deeply, deeply miss the $26 bucks I blew through. Kids may love dinosaurs, but in the case of Dinosaucers, extinction was inevitable.

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