The first two series of Dino Strike toys, which I have yet to write about, have been surprisingly compatible with Transformers due to the universal 5mm posts and ports which allow kids to customize their dino warriors. How will series three fare? Click the pic and we’ll test them out!
For those of you unfamiliar with Zuru’s line of 5 Surprise blind bag (blind box? blind ball?) toys, they are little plastic balls filled with toy pieces you have to assemble yourself.
The gimmick, if you can call it such, is that the balls the toys come in are divided into segments, like the flesh of an orange. Each segment contains parts of the final toy, plus instructions on how to assemble whatever it is you got.
Also included is this handy little Collector’s Guide, meant to serve as an identification catalogue as well as a checklist to make sure you have every last piece of plastic that Zuru will sell you.
Speaking of plastic, these segmented plastic balls are sturdy as hell and made of high quality plastic, which is weird because they’re meant to be thrown away. Why would Zuru do this? Beats the hell out of me. They can’t be cheap to make, but as far as I can tell there are no official instructions on how to reuse these things. They don’t look disposable. They sure don’t feel disposable. These things are thick and tough. But it would appear they are meant to be disposable. Even if the people at Zuru wanted nothing more than to straight up murder the environment, at up to ten dollars per ball you’d think Zuru would be interested in cutting costs just a little. This is easily the most wasteful packaging of any toy I know of currently on the market. There’s just no reason for this.
Of course, there’s no way I was going to pay ten dollars for what is, at best, a two dollar toy. I found these on clearance, but not all at once. These five were first, then later I found two more for three dollars each. Let’s see what my sixteen dollars got me.
Once you’ve freed your toys and constructed them, you’re left with some decent looking dinos with limited articulation. The first series of Dino Strike dinosaurs came with weapons systems and armor to make them even more formidable. The second series did the same, but expanded the weapons systems to include glow-in-the-dark components and introduced living fossil skeletons returned from the grave to fight alongside their dinosaur brethren. Each one of the third series, however, comes with an accessory which appears to be little more than a torture device to make sure you understand that, even when dealing with something as amazing as dinosaurs, human beings are straight up trash.
The dilophosaurus is straight out of Jurassic Park. Real world dilophosauruses had no frill, nor did they have venom glands, so it’s pretty clear where they got the idea. The frill is not only inaccurate, it is the least well designed part of any of these toys. It doesn’t need to be handled roughly to fall off. It doesn’t need to be handled at all. If you just leave these sitting for a few minutes, the frills will just fall off on their own. I suggest a tiny dab of superglue on the tabs to resolve that issue.
Once you’ve assembled your dilophosaurus, you can slap on the full face muzzle included with the toy. The first and second Dino Strike series featured dinos that were clearly fighting alongside human allies who were supplying them with long-range tactical upgrades. That alliance appears to have collapsed, as every dinosaur accessory I got in the Dino Strike Hunt series is an instrument of pacification and punishment.
The bright red T. rex looks like it would make a pretty handy partner in a fight.
Amargasaurus’s punishment is even worse. It’s a straight up dinosaur sized ball and chain. What the hell, Zuru? This is kind of fucked up.
I got a helicopter, but I have apparently lost every picture I took of it. But I’ve got all the pics we need of the Attack Jeep.
The jeep’s gun uses the same sized hollow stud that the helicopter does. Instead of being held in place by friction, this type of stud pops into place and is held there by a small, raised ridge. While not the same design as a typical 5mm post, it might still work as long as the main shaft is 5mm in diameter.
For this test I am using Legacy Dragstrip. Way back in the day I wrote a tribute to the original Drag Strip, detailing my love for the six-wheeled design. Finally, all these years later, they have released a proper six-wheeled tribute to the original Decepticon. But that’s a different article. For right now just know that I tried to put the gun from the Attack Jeep in Dragstrip’s fist, and it would not fit. Just in case it was a one off fluke with the mold, I tried it in several of his 5mm ports. No dice.
So then I tried to mount one of Dragstrip’s pistols on the jeep. As you can see, the port is larger than 5mm, and the gun just lays in there loosely, ready to fall out at the least movement.
Why, Zuru? Why? You made such cool things with the first and second series. What was the point of changing the formula? Now, not only can I not use your new series with Transformers, I can’t even swap guns with the earlier Dino Strike figures. The toy line is no longer fully compatible with itself. Why do this? Just why?
I know it seems weird that the post would be larger than the port, but that’s not entirely the case. The post fits perfectly in the port and is held in nicely by friction, just like standard 5mm posts on Transformers weapons. But there is a small ridge running the circumference of the post about ⅗ of the way from the base of the gun that is just slightly larger. The hollow part of the post allows the sides to squeezes together as the ridge goes into the port, locking the gun in place as the post expands on the other side. The mechanism works well, but since I’ve never encountered a problem with the Series One and Two posts falling out of their ports, I really don’t see the need for it. And even if they were determined to do this, there’s no reason they couldn’t have given the port and post a 5mm diameter so the Jeep would be backwards compatible with the earlier toys. This just seems like a real missed opportunity.
There is nothing 5mm compatible about the Dino Strike Hunt toy line. Which is a shame, because the first and second series – article coming soon, I promise – were compatible to such a degree that not only can I use the weapons for my Transformers, but I can use Transformers with my dinosaurs. And without that compatibility, I don’t really see much point in investing in the Dino Strike Hunt series. These are wastefully packaged, disappointingly altered, and ultimately just not as much fun. They took a toy line that was unique in the modern marketplace and turned it into a second rate Jurassic Park knockoff. What a shame.