Vintage Vending #11: Dinosaur Park!

Vintage Vending continues with the Dinosaur Park Collection, an assortment of cheap dinosaur stuff that probably isn’t at old as it looks. The title has to be a nod to Jurassic Park, right? If so, this collection would’ve been from around 1993.

Jurassic Park spiked interest in dinosaurs across the globe, but even as a kid, I remember mentally scoffing at those Johnny-Come-Latelies. I didn’t need Spielberg to fall for dinosaurs. I was already there, man.

Even by vending machine standards, these prizes were on the rough side. Quarters didn’t grow on trees, and you had to really like dinosaurs to spend one on this collection. Personally, I wouldn’t have stopped until that strange wrinkly tyrannosaur was all mine.

Isn’t he great? It’s like a tyrannosaur and Godzilla boinked their way to parenthood. Their offspring then spent his entire youth pruning in cold water.

I love the smug look on his face. “Yeah, I’m weird and wrinkled, but I’m owning that shit.” This dinosaur may have odd skin, but he’s comfortable in it. We can learn from him. I’ve named him Tony.

Most of the prizes fall under the category of “jewelry.” Skipping past the rings and buttons, I’m very fond of this triceratops necklace. For two reasons.

One: His “turf” seems to be a snow-topped Tibetan mountain. Just imagine the headlines. “Triceratops Battles Yeti.” Like you wouldn’t buy five copies.

Two: I really, really like lanyard. Everything about it. Typing it, saying it, seeing it, feeling it.


And yes, I understand that “lanyard” is a “thing” and not a “material,” but those thin, bright, plasticky strings will forever be my only concept of lanyard. No matter how hard you try, I will not change. Just drop it.

I don’t know about this one. Is it a hair clip? A bookmark? Either way, I’m sold. I will immediately begin clipping hair or reading books.

Course, there’s an unspoken third use for devices like this, and it’s even better than hair clipping or bookmarking. Due to the flexible metal, you can very easily use this as a tiny harp, plucking its prongs and delighting in the springy sounds they make.

There’s only one “chaser” prize on the card, but it’s a doozy. Who wouldn’t want a phony gold necklace with a lenticular tyrannosaur pendant? Couldn’t you picture Ralphie asking for one after climbing back up to Santa? “I WANT AN OFFICIAL PHONY GOLD NECKLACE WITH A LENTICULAR TYRANNOSAUR PENDANT.” We’d have to change Santa’s next line, but I bet the scene would still end with him kicking Ralphie in the face.

Also, this is a really strange way to utilize lenticular technology. Usually, you do that when you want to hint at a fluid motion, or at least convey some sense of “before and after.” This time, the images just flip between two random tyrannosaurs. No, I’m not complaining.

Oh, and don’t start in with the “that’s not a tyrannosaur, that’s a INSERT OTHER DINOSAUR HERE” stuff. When cheap toymakers draw/sculpt a dinosaur that looks anything like this, they’re going for tyrannosaurs. Always. In the realm of cheap toys, “tyrannosaur” becomes a generic term to describe any dinosaur with a giant head that stands on two feet.

I like this set. Its contents will let me decorate my desk, and my fingers, and my neck, and maybe even my hair.

The prizes leave me with a lot to think about, too. How did that one dinosaur get so wrinkled? Did triceratopses really engage in Tibetan turf wars? Why do I love scratching my nails against lenticular surfaces so much?

I will spend the rest of day in deep thought. And since I want you to do the same, consider this:

The letters in “DINOSAURS” can be rearranged to spell “ROAD IS SUN.”

Is there a code to crack in there? Maybe.