Get 'em before they're extinct

DINOSAUR TOYS:

June 06, 1993|By Beth Hannan

Dinosaur toys. A trip to a toy or nature shop today reveals children want realism, Barney notwithstanding.

"Kids know their dinosaurs and they're very serious about it," said Jenny Bumma from the Imaginarium store. "They'll come in and the mother will say, 'Do you have a brontosaurus?' and the kids are just embarrassed. They're going, 'Mother, there's no such thing as a brontosaurus. It's an apatosaurus or a diplodocus.' "

That sophistication from young dinosaur lovers is one of the reasons for the popularity of the Carnegie Museum model series ($2.95 to $18). The models are based on the latest scientific research and are built to scale in relation to each other.

Another popular set of scientifically based dinosaur toys is the Smithsonian Institution hanging model collection.

TC Sold at Natural Wonders, the balsa wood models range in price from $15 to $100. They include a 3-foot-tall tyrannosaurus rex.

But don't equate realistic toys with stuffy or boring toys. There are plenty of fun dinosaur products that appeal to a child's silly side. Concealed in the center of Dinosaur Egg Soap ($5.50) is a little dinosaur that emerges as the child uses the soap. Bubblesaurus ($4.95) is a dinosaur with a bubble wand concealed inside. When his stomach is squeezed the wand pops out so the child can blow bubbles.

A Grow Beast ($2.95) is an inch-high dinosaur that's very popular. "Put it in a jar of water and it grows to 600 times its original size. I can't keep it in stock," said Ms. Bumma.

For your junior paleontologist, the Dinosaur Kit ($14.95) is a series of skeletons packed in mud. Children have to dig into it like a paleontologist, find the pieces of the dinosaur skeleton and put it together.

There are, of course, slightly more conventional dinosaur toys available also. According to Brad Morneau of Toys R Us, the "Land of the Lost" toys ($4.99 to $26.99) are very popular. The toys are based on a Saturday morning TV series that features the Porter family's adventures in a prehistoric land.

A giant tyrannosaurus rex puppet ($79) is one of the most popular items at the Nature Company, according to Kristie West. At the other end of the price scale, a series of wooden skeleton models by Safari Limited are also a favorite. They average about $5 each.

Don't think the dinosaur craze will have an ice age any time soon, parents. Kenner will be producing most of the "Jurassic Park" film tie-in toys, which are expected to include miniature dinosaurs and the park command compound.

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