Vault Tales 251 Run the Set BattleTop Dinosaurs (unknown maker)

So, today, a very strange one. One which I’ve had for about 15 years now. It’s a set of dinosaur figures that look an awful lot like Dinosaur King figures. Except that they came mounted on battle top (early 2000s…it was a big thing). And while they were carded, they were not branded as Dinosaur King or as Bandai, or anything else in particular. And they were at a local dollar store. But they were cheap, and unique–I had never seen Dinosaur King at that point, nor had any of the true merch shown up yet.

The figures showed up on racks at the local (newly opened) dollar store, and not knowing anything more about them than “that’s new. And weird,” I decided to pick up a few. The bodies, including limbs were made of a hard, though not brittle, plastic. It was divided down the centre, and held together with a screw that also mounted them on a rod. This rod connected to the battletop apparatus–pretty much your standard rip-cord top, with a dinosaur on top. The heads and tails are slightly softer, with some articulation, allowing them to raise or lower to varying degrees.

Maybe the moving parts were supposed to affect the battle outcomes? I have no idea. They kind of spun around, bumping into each other. I don’t recall the dinos actually making any contact with each other. As soon as I discovered that a single screw was the only thing holding them together–and on the battletop–these things were taken apart and put back without their hardware. My son played with the tops for a while, but those are long gone now! The left us with six dinosaur figures, two theropods and four various herbivores. Those herbivores showed a unique diversity for a weird set like this; none are taxa that you’d expect, although they represent groups that you would! The ceratopsian is Torosaurus, the sauropod is Amargasaurus, the ankylosaur is Saichania and the hadrosaur is Lambeosaurus (probably the most interesting of the four to me). The theropods included Tyrannosaurus (of course) and Ceratosaurus (less expected). The herbivores all stand well, of course, on four feet. The theropods do not–I am sure that I tried to find a way to make the rod system work somehow as a base or stand, but clearly gave up. Instead, it is possible to tilt the tails down to keep them standing.

All of the figures attention to detail is more relevant to their show inspiration than reality, of course. The paint applications are rough, befitting the dollar store source, but are clearly the Dinosaur King style. The matching between the body, tail, and head pieces is generally pretty good, although there head and neck of the Amargasaurus is clearly very ‘off’. As toys of some unusual dinosaur species, these can work, although I think most are made better now–in several Dinosaur King iterations, as well as by other companies. The Lambeosaurus is a bit more unusual though, as Playmates never did make one, so I still keep it on the shelf with those. It’s an impostor, but it fits right in.

Back in the day, when I found these, I had a friend that mostly collected smaller figures (it was a space thing–and also, there were a whole lot fewer small figure series out there!) So I know of one other person that has a whole set! But after I saw these in 200…6? 2007? I never saw them again. Even more strange, I can’t recall ever having seen official Dinosaur King ‘battletop’ figures either. Which means whoever made these put a whole lot of effort in making up something that probably could have just been dinos on bases. I appreciate the effort, and am glad to have them, but I don’t think it would cause any concern for most collectors to not have these ones. Probably for the best since I have no idea how anyone could get them now.

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