This month, back in 1987, a TV show premiered called Dinosaucers. In what I can only guess is partially in celebration of this random anniversary, The plot is essentially Transformers, but with dinosaurs instead of robots. I was hard-core into this show as a kid and let me tell you, this is… not a good show.
Listen, I love my childhood memories and I will treasure the fact that I loved this show. But I also have to be honest with myself. I went back and revisited a few episodes. It’s not so much that it doesn’t hold as that it turns out there really wasn’t anything there to hold up. It’s really nothing but nostalgia and toy sales. Admittedly, I adored this show. It was everything my little id desired: dinosaurs, space ships, generic self-insertion characters, more dinosaurs, puns. Let me explain the plot to you…
Hidden on the other side of the sun is a planet called Reptilon. On this planet are two warring factions: the Dinosaucers and the Tyrannos.
They possess technology that allows them to revert from anthropomorphic dinosaurs to “historically accurate” versions of their species. So much like Transformers, they come from a planet where a random thing has an anthropomorphic society. These things then come to Earth. They also have the ability to switch between a large humanoid form and an even larger non-humanoid form. Also, when they come to Earth, much like Transformers, they randomly adopt a small group of humans to aid them (the Secret Scouts).
These Secret Scouts are characterless kids that run around with the Dinosaucers in order to encourage you, the viewer, to purchase Dinosaucer toys. What’s ironic is that I don’t recall owning any Dinosaucers toys; I only remember owning Dino-Riders, another toy-centric cartoon which I only watched on the VHS tape that came with the toys I had.
As you may have gathered by now, I was kind of into dinosaurs as a kid. I learned to say “paleontologist” when I was 2 so I could answer the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Yet I can’t really claim this show as something that made me. Rather, it is more of a reflection of who I was as a child.
Now, knowing all that, was I a bit excited to hear that Dinosaucers was coming back… as a comic book? Of course I was.
And it’s not very good either. Instead of going for pure cheese factor, it takes what it claims is a PG-13 tone. It doesn’t really track as darker, so much as messier. The human side of things is just as goofy and thin as you’d expect from the source material. The art similarly comes across as, well, lightly budgeted.
The dinosaur side of things gets a little more complicated. Or rather, it clearly intends to but after the first issue I have severe reservations. There’s more of a foundation for the Tyrannos to come to Earth to ravage our resources. We’re given a look at the society on Reptilon. But other than generically weird architecture we’re just treated to Nazi-esque symbolism and an insane plesiosaur pope. Bizarre, yes, but not bizarre enough. In a time when a lot of nostalgic media is getting reboots that take the source material seriously (sometimes too seriously), I thought that Dinosaucers could be a fascinating playground. The new Jurassic World films have shown us (mindless, inane) spectacle. Dinosaucers has no chance at competing, but could have been the sideshow to Jurassic World’s circus. Unfortunately I don’t know if this comic will give the characters, or the worlds, enough space to be weird and enough world-building to be compelling. At the moment it looks like it’s going to shape up to be a collection of half-formed oddities on display, instead of a freak show let run wild.