# # Strange Toys I Have Known - Cretaceous Times

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

Strange Toys I Have Known –
For Relaxing Times, Make It … Cretaceous Times

Cretaceous Times

It has been a long, long time since I’ve been all that interested in dinosaurs. Like zombies and bacon, dinosaurs are, by now, more than a little played out (although, show me a zombie dinosaur made of bacon and you might have something – just don’t let it dance “Gangnam Style”).

As a kid in the 70’s, though, I really liked me some dinosaurs. While everyone else was crying at the end of King Kong because the big goon fell to his death, I was tearing up much earlier when the Tyrannosaurus got his ass beat and his jaw broken. Oh, the humanity!

Dinosaurs triggered a kind pseudo-scientific fascination in me. I remember burying my dinosaur toys in the hard soil of our “sand” box, packing it down really well, and then digging them up one carefully excavated layer at a time. I had dreams of being an archeologist and exhuming, oh, I dunno, fully-fleshed dinosaurs to ride around or something. Hey, I was five or so, dammit. Gimmie a break.

Anyway, most of the dinosaur toys I had hewed pretty close to what was known/theorized at the time about them. The bulk were hollow, rubbery plastic with gawping mouths, allowing you to shove other toys down their throats and then barf them back up with the help of gravity. Great fun.

I had a few smaller, solid plastic dinosaur toys, too – of a piece with the traditional green, plastic soldiers or the multicolored (and multi-culturally offensive) cowboys and indians that were also in my toybox. The dinosaurs in this style had much less surface detail but still retained recognizable shapes: diplodocus, stegosaurus, iguanodon, tyrannosaurus, pterodactyl, etc. Not to say any of the toys were perfect representations, mind you. Many of them got things wrong or were poorly designed and produced: insane colors, carnivore teeth in herbivore mouths, badly molded, poorly painted … but none were as incredibly and irresponsibly off the mark as the hideous, twisted creatures packed into the Cretaceous Times bag of toys I was recently given.

Cretaceous Times Toy Set

I don’t know when the Cretaceous Times toys were produced (sellers invariably refer to the bag as “vintage” – a wonderfully vague term. *Everything* is vintage, folks) but, if I had to pinpoint their vintage, they do smell of the late 70’s or early 80’s.

The Cretaceous Times bag includes 7 creatures so muddled in form that, with little exception, one can’t name them from the zoological clues available. Presented with this quandary, I came up with my own descriptive monikers for each: “Monkey,” “Goji,” “Pickle,” “Squatty,” “Slobber,” “Turdle,” and the “Toothpaste Monster”.

The Cretaceous Times set hails from the offbeat and confusing world of patchisaurs (aka “Chinasaur” – but I don’t recommend using that term …). Patchisaur are fancifully designed, plastic monster toys sold both alongside and as plastic dinosaurs. They seem like forgettable jokes but it was patchisaur toys that inspired some classic Dungeons and Dragon monsters. Creatures such as the Rust Monster, Owl Bear, and the Bulette.

These toys are only vaguely dinosaurs, looking to me like the kinds of creatures very small children might design – that or those the deniers of evolution might come up with to ridicule the very notion of dinosaurs: misshapen, goony, lazy designs topped off with some of the most fantastically sloppy paint applications I’ve ever seen. They look as if the workers responsible were *never* allowed to go home, sleep, or even look directly at what they were painting; peripherally viewed jabs at lumpy surfaces with paint-gobbed, blunt brushes …

Meet the Creatures

Cretaceous Times - Monkey patchisaur“Monkey” has to be my favorite, as it is the least saurian and most outlandishly cheerful in appearance; looking as if it is literally waving “hello” and smiling at you. The paint applications don’t help, giving the toy a decidedly wonky-eyed, tongue-waggling demeanor.

Cretaceous Times - Goji patchisaur“Goji” I named for obvious reasons: whomever sculpted the toy was definitely familiar with Toho’s big star, Godzilla and, from the looks of things, the Marusan sculpt of the monster. The bleeding-eye paint deco is a disturbing twist on the design, however, along with the blorpy pupils and frothy mouth.

Cretaceous Times - Slobber patchisaur“Slobber,” so named for its tooth-color paint application, comes across as pensive to my eyes – as if being taunted with a lit torch or perhaps a disturbing bug that it wants to bat away even though said “threat” isn’t near enough to hit. “Slobber’s” design and paint app has it looking ineffectual, squeamish, and prissy: a real dinosaur, in other words. *cough*

Cretaceous Times - Pickle patchisaur“Pickle” and “Turdle” (one is green, one is brown – you work it out) are variations on triceratops. “Pickle,” even with the five horns and that frill along its back, is the least offender in the bag of the “you-call-this-a-dinosaur?” variety. The paint application, while still woefully sloppy, is the most restrained of the batch. This one’s almost a dinosaur!

Cretaceous Times - Turdle patchisaur“Turdle” is vaguely reminiscent of a tatankaceratops although with one extra horn and the array bass-ackwards. The paint application on the thing is a real joy: smeared lipstick and Bill the Cat eyes.

Cretaceous Times - Squatty patchisaurSpeaking of eyes, the absolute worst of the set belong to “Squatty,” a dimetrodon perversion with the face like a duck-billed, canine gargoyle and melting pink eyeballs from some prehistoric, acid-tinged nightmare. Abortively delightful!

Cretaceous Times - Toothpaste Monster patchisaur“Toothpaste Monster,” so named for the hydrophobic paint application on its teeth – at least I think there are teeth under there – is an attempt at …. what? Kentrosaurus? I have no idea. It’s right up there with the worst of all of them for potential identity, looking more like something from the King Kong spider pit scene than any sane artist’s rendition of a dinosaur.

And yet …

Now, even though I make fun, even though these toys are undeniably cheap and horrible, one of the things I love about older, cheesier toys is this lax, impressionistic approach. It takes me back to action figures like the hydrocephalic, 3 3/4″ Han Solo of the 70’s. You look at it now and wonder “what were they thinking? How did this pass?” and okay, yeah, I noticed it looked like shit then, too – but I didn’t *care* because so did everything else and, after a few moments of play, these toys *were* whatever you wanted them to be, sculpt and paint be damned.

I may be less forgiving now but, you know what? If these things were as refined and studied as some of today’s toys they’d be … boring. Not worth talking about. I’m not saying you have to love these things – they’re crap, no denying it – but, to me anyway, there is a certain undeniable charm to their utter failure.

Still, I’m not sure the manufacturer should have issued these under the name “Cretaceous Times,” as it could potentially be misleading to the impressionable youth who receive them and thereafter suffer from a rather silly and distorted view of the majestic fauna of the later cretaceous. No, I think they need a different name. Something similar yet more honest. Something like, say: “Atroceous Times.”

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2 Responses to “Strange Toys I Have Known –
For Relaxing Times, Make It … Cretaceous Times”

  1. Roger says:

    WOW, I love Goji. Definitely based on the Marusan toy. Great post.

    These guys evoke the same feelings for me:


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