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Imperial dinosaurs are the epitome of what was available, as far as dinosaur toys go, when I was a kid.
Open-mouthed and often looking a wee bit constipated, my Imperial dinos were among my favorites, even though most of them seemed to be made-up species. Unlike many other toy dinosaurs, the Imperial guys didn't have their name stamped onto their bodies. But, these were the days before the Jurassic Park movies, when not many people made "serious" toy dinos, you see (I either totally overloooked the Marx and MPC dinosaurs, or just never stumbled across them (?).
Imperial Toy has been around for awhile, and making vinyl dinos for some time. The oldest two I have (from my childhood) have 1978 stamped on their bellies.
When I visited Imperial's website, I noticed their "Jurassic Collection" and they seem to still be circulating the open-mouthed type dinosaur toys. It seems, though, that they have tried improving some of the figures a bit--however, what they call a Velociraptor really looks more like a duck-billed dino to me. The Smilodon really isn't too bad, though, I have to say.
Recently, at a Wal-Mart store, I found an Imperial Coelophysis. He isn't bad, but a little out of scale. I think they make all the vinyl dinos the same size regardless of their species. I have a Parasaurolophus by Imperial that is more recent too--not a bad replica, but he's the same size as ol' Coelo. Makes it a little weird for a diorama-type situation, know what I mean?
Well, at least they are finally trying to make the figures represent actual types of dinosaurs. I have to say, though, the Godzilla-like open-mouthed late seventies/early eighties ones are a kick, if not just for nostalgia's sake.
Imperial is definitely a far cry from Schleich, Bullyland, or Carnegie. But hey--where else can you find a Stegotyrannus?
(confused? Scroll down. You'll see what I mean).
At any rate, the old Imperial dinos hold a special place in my heart because they are, after all, the dinosaurs I grew up with. I spent many an hour playing with these guys. I think the four shown below were all that were produced in the late 70s/early 80s--but please drop me a line if I am wrong!

Below are the pictures of Imperial figures in my collection. Recently, I found my original two when my brother dug some old toys out of my parents' attic. I was overjoyed to find them--I thought they were long gone, having been shipped off to some thrift store. Much to my delight, they were patiently waiting to be reunited with me in a cardboard box at my mom and dad's house.
My brother and I got these two when I was about seven, I think. He and I got them as Valentine's Day gifts one year (a bit odd, but we were ecstatic, lemme tellya!). We had been wanting these guys for some time; I remember sitting on the floor at the supermarket in their tiny toy area, playing with these guys while my mom shopped (yep, in those days parents could actually leave their kids in the toy area and go shop elsewhere in the store).
There were four different dinosaurs at that store, but the two we got were our favorites. I guessed that the green one was a Parasaurolophus (kind of stretching it, I know) and the brown one a Trachodon (Anatosaurus). I even remember what we named them: "Clayton" and "Luther." Yes, we anthropomorphized them a wee bit. We had a whole storyline going that we'd started on the floor of Giant Foods. I remember getting very strange looks from the clerk who ran the audiovisual counter nearby.

I have no idea why my brother and I didn't ever collect all four dinosaurs. Later, as an adult, when I got 're-obsessed' with toy dino collecting, I sort of lamented having not obtained the other two. However recently, on Ebay, I stumbled across a dinosaur lot that included the both of them. So now I have them all, at last! Bwaa haha!
I absolutely heart Ebay.
Okay, kids! On to the reviews and pictures!
This one, I assume, is supposed to be a Tyrannosaurus. However, he's sporting some Stegosaurus-like plates on his back. Could it be a hybrid? Stegotyrannus? (I know, I know, they didn't even live at the same time). Well, I have to hand it to the guy that created the mold for this dude. He had an imagination. For some weird reason though, this look works for him. Who knows? Maybe there was a plated Tyrannosaurid that is yet undiscovered...


Here we have Carnivore Number Two of the late 70s/early 80s Imperial vinyl-dino line. Is it an Allosaurus? Maybe it's an Antrodemus? Wait--those two are the same thing, right?
All I know is he looks a little on the thin side.


And now, ladies-n-germs, here's "Clayton." Like I said before, I think he is a Parasaurolophus. Maybe, maybe not. That's left up to the imagination, I suppose.


Last (but certainly not least) Trachodon. He looks more like a legit dino than any of the others.


And finally, The Boys pose for a group shot--the meat-eaters promised not to try and eat the herbivores long enough to take this photo. I think they look like a barbershop quartet, myself...

"Wait till the sun shines, Nellie..."

Update: 8/24/05
I found an Imperial Brontosaurus (Apatosaurus) at Wal-Mart recently. Woot! Here he is, stomping through the underbrush looking for tasty plants to chomp on:


Update: 9/21/05
Here's another Ebay find: A 1989 duck-billed dinosaur (presumed to be a Trachodon, even though there is no longer such a creature). By the late eighties, Imperial has steered away form the Godzilla look, it seems.


Smaller Scale Dinos
Imperial also makes little guys that come in a bagged set. They are very similar looking to Ja-Ru's small scale dinos, and about the same size.
I came across this bag-o-dinos at a supermarket. It's a 24-piece set they have called "JURASSIC II" (cue sweeping Jurassic Park theme music here).
To me, these are pretty low quality as far as their paint jobs go. But boy, are those some bright (and purty) colors. You get a wonderful range of hues here--purples, lavendars, bright oranges (ow my retinas) and there are even a couple of pink dinos in here. If nothing else catches the eye about "Jurassic II" dinos the colors will. I am sure the bright colors are there to attract kids.
The species are pretty unambiguous here, for the most part. Like the large guys up above, the figures are not stamped with the name of the dinosaur. I have to say I think I was able to guess what each one was supposed to be here, save two of them (see explanation below). The bright blue T-Rex clearly has two digits on his hands. The Dilophosaurus is no doubt a Dilopho with his two distinct crests (but the little bugger won't stand up. He is the only one in this set, I might add however, that does not. The only reason he is standing in the picture is some fancy balancing done purely by accident).
Detail-wise, they aren't real detail-rich, but they are only about an inch and a half tall (long). So for their size, the detail's all right, methinks.
I think I paid two or three clams for this gang. All in all, not bad for the price.
Here's a group shot of all 24:


Zooming in now...
Here we have Allosaurus, Anatosaurus, and Plateosaurus:


Corythosaurus, Ceratosaurus, and Struthiomimus (who could pass for any of the ostrich-mimics, actually):


Tyrannosaurus, Pteranodon (with a tail?!), and Spinosaurus:


Scelidosaurus and Euoplocephalus:


Iguanodon(?), Dilophosaurus, and Parasaurolophus:


Brachiosaurus and Brontosaurus:


Megalosaurus and a Plesiosaur:


Stegosaurus and Styracosaurus:


Triceratops and Velociraptor (he could also pass as a Deinonychus, I suppose):


A red generic Theropod-looking guy (with four fingers!) and a Pachycephalosaurus:


Dinosaurs included in the "Jurassic II" set:
Plesiosaur (he could respresent any number of Plesiosaur species)
Struthiomimus (or whatever 'mimus' you want to make him)
There are two I can't quite put my finger on here.
I am unsure about the pink bipedal one. I labeled him as an Iguanodon, but I'm not real sure on that one. The reddish theropod-looking guy has four fingers, so I am not sure about him either. He looks like a Tyrannosaurid till you count his hand-digits. Plus, there is already the blue dude, who most certainly represents a T-rex, with the correct number of hand-digits. So it's anyone's guess.
Creatures of the World Animal Toppers
At the same supermarket where I found the 'Jurassic II' dinos, I found this as well. There were several types of 'Animal Toppers' (not just dinosaurs) and I picked up a snake one too.
This is a set of seven small dinosaurs that come in an elongated, rectangular plastic package. The top is a rubbery dino-head, which pops off so that you can get to the goodies inside. The dinosaurs are very similar to the 'Jurassic II' dinos in color, size and overall appearance.
Included are the seven dinos, two very flimsy, rubbery-feeling flat trees and two plastic grey rocks. The price is around $2.99.


Group shot:


Closeup of the one-dimensional trees that are crammed into the package with the dinosaurs (they aren't easy to get out of there!):


"Topper" dinos include:
Pteranodon (this time sans-tail)
Some kind of little brown Theropodish-looking guy
Velociraptor (or a Deinonych)

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