Today’s marketing ploy actually connects back to a previous article, in the sense that it was the reason for this marketing ploy’s very existence.
Sounds vague, doesn’t it?
‘Twas the Day After Christmas of 1987…
…the kids needed their cartoons, sugar cereal, and their new toys!
On December 26, 1987 (which was not only the day after Christmas, but also a Saturday), Tyco and Marvel Productions (whoomp, there’s the connect-back!) felt kids didn’t have enough excitement the day before, and decided THIS was the time to launch previews for their latest toyline-packaged-with-cartoon-tie-in that would be all over your television screens and in your local toy store in 1988.
The cartoon featured dinosaurs, weapons, and people telepathically communicating with dinosaurs. The toys featured moving parts, weapons, and figures of people who communicate with dinosaurs.
How could this not be awesome?!
Behold, the marketing ploy!
Dino-Riders Promotion Video
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Ooooh! Good versus bad, armor, weapons, kids meal giveaways, VHS tapes at affordable prices unheard of in 1987, and other merchandise!!!!!
Yes, this was the marketing ploy to get retailers and buyers to PAY ATTENTION!
After an awesome introduction of why the 1980s was the most magical time to be a kid (and why cartoons NEEDED to have toylines to back them up), Tyco goes right into it: Dino-Riders is the Next Big Thing! You will need Dino-Riders, because kids will want Dino-Riders, and parents will want to buy Dino-Riders for their kids!
And by “kids,” they clearly mean BOYS. Seriously, every time they flash these marketing plans on the screen, the voiceover says “kids,” but Tyco clearly wants to only market this to boys. Not all girls play with just girl toys. I have a brother, and I watched his cartoons, and I played with his toys. I know I had long hair, played with my She-Ra doll, and sang the Jem theme, but I still liked my brother’s cartoons and toys too!
So, as the promo video states, a marketing campaign for the cartoon (which would lead the way to the toyline) would begin in December 1987, air for a set amount of weeks, and a pilot concept episode would be available on videocassette in 1987.
The series premiered on October 1, 1988 in first-run syndication as part of the Marvel Action Universe programming block. This pilot episode aired, followed by an additional twelve episodes, for a total of thirteen episodes. Its run ended in December 24, 1988, which feels super ironic, considering the media blitz for Dino-Riders took off that very weekend one year earlier.
The toy series, however continued through 1989, and a limited series of toys for a third wave, as well as an Ice Age-themed wave and a VHS-only “special,” concluded the Dino-Riders series in 1990.
The marketing blitz for Dino-Riders was incredible, and certainly aggressive, but the television series was only mildly successful. The series was meant to promote the toys, but clearly, the toys were a little more successful (I’m wondering if they could have been on their own). They’re actually pretty cool to look at, and they certainly look the way dinosaurs (or at least, their concept art) were meant to look.
The toys had moving parts, and some pretty cool weaponry!
The Dino-Riders design was so highly praised, the Smithsonian wanted the molds to make their line of dinosaurs (sans cool weaponry, of course) for their gift shop souvenirs.
Alas, their history is buried deep in the mire of more successful, longer-lasting 1980s cartoon-and-merchandising packages, even though they were dinosaurs. And according to this…
Do I Remember Dino-Riders?
I do actually remember Dino-Riders (the cartoon), but I have gotten the toys mixed up with Playskool’s Definitely Dinosaurs line, which I know my brother had. Not sure how I made that mistake, being that these had weaponry and armor, and anything Playskool makes…doesn’t. Those were pretty cool for their time, but so were these, especially that commercial jingle…
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That said, I certainly remember the toys, if only for the commercials, more than the cartoon that was meant to launch said toyline. We didn’t have them, but it was hard not to miss such a jingle on Saturday morning television. They would have been fun to have, especially the ones that walked!
Toy Galaxy’s Dan Larson covered the series (both cartoon and toys) nicely!
And Now, You!
Did you have any of the Dino-Riders toys, or watch the television show? Is this just a dusty relic of your 1980s childhood, or a fond memory? Sound off in the comments, or be social on social media and share your stories!
Next time, another marketing ploy!
Until then, have a great day!
You’ll never unhear that!