The Tyco Dino-Riders Stegosaurus with Tark and Vega is a dinosaur action figure manufactured by Tyco Toys, and released in the US, UK, and other countries worldwide in 1989.
Larger than life
Originally released together with the animated TV show in 1988, Dino-Riders is one of those larger-than-life icons that made such a huge impression on pop culture generally, disproportionate to the fact that it really only lasted for 1 season on TV – not bad considering that basically, at its core, it was an extra long toy commercial that just-so-happened to be written and designed by the best in the industry at the time.
And while the cartoon did only last for one season in 1988, the toy line continued into the 1989-1990 toy season, and it was this “Series 2” release that included the mighty Stegosaurus with Tark and Vega.
Like all Tyco products from the 1980s, it is a time capsule of 80s goodness. The vivid artwork of the armoured dinosaur fighting and lasers blasting by Tyco legend Ken Smith. The quaint photographs of the toy against a blue background, in square windowed boxes. “REAL WALKING ACTION!”. Even as an adult 30 years later, I’ve love to get my hands on one and throw in a C cell battery to get it walking.
The back of the box sports a complete Dino Riders scene, enough to make any kids eyes light up, and a little backstory for the older kids to read. “A war of survival in 65 million B.C – The Age of the Dinosaur!“. No more convincing was required, and Dino-Riders was a hit in its first year.
Printed with “Tyco Industries. Inc, 1988“, it’s copyright and manufacture was on this date, however it was made for the 1989 toy season, though no doubt a few made it on to shelves earlier. This is why you’ll see many eBay listings and others quoting it as a 1988 model, though officially it first appeared in Tyco’s 1989 catalog.
Authentic 1/24th scale Stegosaurus has real motorized walking action. This awesome Stegosaurus is a fierce defender of the Dino-Riders turf. Brave Dino-Riders Tark and Vega are at the helm behind the protective cover of positionable Dual Command Modules. Features state-of-the-art equipment, Dual Laser Cannon Clusters, three long-range missiles mounted on impenetrable armor shields, and a double-edged tail blade.– Tyco 1990 catalog
Opening the flap to reveal the box window, you’ll see the Stegosaurus with a complete set of accessories and our heroes Tark and Vega – the good guys who ride on each side in a pod. Equipped with personal weapons themselves, plus there’s steel-like armor for the dinosaur and various other attachments such as laser cannons, rope ladders, etc.
Features as advertised:
- Museum quality replica
- Fully articulated Tark and Vega Figures control the action from atop the pivoting command modules
- Dual laser cannon blasters
- Advanced battle armor and long range missiles
- Real motorized walking action
- Fully accessorized and ready for battle
- Double-edge tail blade
Sadly there are no firing parts on this model – the missile and cannons are for looks only. Frequently missing or broken pieces are the tail whip, leg armor, and missles, so keep an eye out for these when buying a used set.
Dino-Riders Lore: A key difference between the good-guy Dino-Riders and the bad-guy Rulons is that the Dino-Riders care for their mounts, and do what they can to protect them like any other soldier in their army, fighting for freedom and to protect their herd. They will also do their best to protect “enemy” Dinosaurs who are temporarily under the control of the Rulons via a brain-box, with a common trick to blast off the brain-box, unleashing the ferocious dino upon its most unwelcome rider.
The included parts list shows all accessories that you should find in a complete set:
- Tark figure and Vega figure
- Left and Right Leg Armor
- Armor shield
- Double Edge Tail Blades (often missing)
- Command Module Gun Tips x 4
- Right and Left Command Module Gun
- Laser Cannon Cluster x 2
- Swivels x 2
- Laser Cannon Cluster Tips x 2
- Right and Left Command Modules
- Long Range Missiles x 3 (often missing)
- Rifle, Handgun, AMP, Water skin, Bandolier
The Walking Dinosaur
When you look at the Stegosaurus, the quality of sculpting shines. Its plastic insert eyes are glossy and life-life, and the paint and texture better than the average toy store dino even today.
It’s no surprise that Smithsonian worked with Tyco to retool the toys for use in its own product line of museum quality dinosaur models. Only minor adjustments were made for those ‘scientific’ toys, mainly changes to paint to be more realistic, and removal of the walking mechanism.
Availability and Collectability
The Stegosaurus set from Dino Riders is yet another testament to the lasting quality and imagination that Tyco Industries brought to the toy world across the 80s and 90s.
Thankfully plenty are available online, mostly used/opened sets and the occasional new unopened box currently going for around a thousand USD. Individual dinosaurs you can pick up relatively cheap (less than $50 USD) however the more complete, the more parts a set has, the more you can expect to pay.