SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION

In 1990, shortly after the end of the Dino-Riders line, Tyco re-released its dinosaur toys with the launch of its Smithsonian Institution line.  Tyco actually received an endorsement from the Smithsonian Institution, which was apparently impressed enough with the technical accuracy of the sculpts that it was willing to license its name for use on Tyco's products.  The situation was great for Tyco because it found itself with all these excess Dino-Riders that didnít sell and all they had to do was basically repackage them.  The dinosaurs were basically the same as the Dino-Riders except that no figures or weapons of any sort were included with them. They were sold individually and in two packs.  With some exceptions (see below), the Smithsonian toys were identical to their Dino-Rider counterparts.  It would have been really cool if Tyco had spent the extra time to fully re-paint the dinosaurs, but maybe that was asking too much.  All in all, some 20 dinosaurs were released.  The Tyco catalog (see below) shows the Saurolophus and the now rare Chasmosaurus but it doesn't appear as though these pieces were ever released as part of the Smithsonian Institution line.  In order to make the toy line more accurate, a few name changes were necessary.  The Quetzalcoatlus became Pterodactylus, the Pterodactyl became Quetzalcoatlus, the Diplodocus became Apatosaurus, and the Ankylosaurus became Euoplocephalus.  The Smithsonian line also added its own Ice Age mammals, offering the Wooly Mammoth, Giant Ground Sloth and the Sabertoothed Cat (no Killer Wart Hog).
 

Deinonychus   Dimetrodon   Monoclonius
       
   
Styracosaurus   Quetzalcoatlus
& Euoplocephalus
  Struthiomimus
& Protoceratops

 
 Dimetrodon &
Styracosaurus
   Monoclonius &
Pteranodon
   Pterodactylus &
Deinonychus
   Giant Ground Sloth &
Sabretoothed Cat

 

 Apatosaurus   Kentrosaurus    Stegosaurus 
       
   
Triceratops   Tyrannosaurus Rex    Woolly Mammoth 

 

Tyco Catalog Pictures

 


Differences Between Smithsonian and Dino-Riders Versions

Colors: For the most part, the Smithsonian toys are identical in color to their Dino-Rider counterparts.  However, with that said, there does appear to be some noticeable differences in the Stegosaurus.  There are actually 3 different Smithsonian Stegosaurus variations out there.  The first version is identical to the regular Dino-Rider Stegosaurus.  The second version is darker than the Dino-Rider version and its feet are green.  Finally, the third version looks very similar to the Dino-Rider version, except its plates are completely painted dark red (the Dino-Rider version has a two-tone color scheme on its plates).

Version 1
(same as Dino-Rider version)
  Version 2
(darker; green feet)
  Version 3
(solid color plates)

 

Appearance: With the exception of the Quetzalcoatlus, there are no differences in appearance between the Smithsonian versions and the Dino-Rider versions.  Unlike the Dino-Riders Quetzalcoatlus, the Smithsonian version (which was renamed Pterodactlyus) no longer had a crest on its head.  This makes the piece highly sought after and because the Smithsonian line is generally not as available today as the Dino-Riders line, it is somewhat difficult to find.  

Dino-Rider Version (head crest)   Smithsonian Version (no head crest)

 

Equipment Slots: Most of the Dino-Rider toys used "belly-bands" to secure the equipment in place.  However, the Styracosaurus, Monoclonius, and the Chasmosaurus had notches on their sides that the harnesses would snap into.  Because the Smithsonian toys did not come with weapons or accessories, these notches had to be filled in (after all, they were being marketed as scientifically accurate).

 

Motors: The toys that had motorized walking action in the Dino-Riders line no longer had it in the Smithsonian line.  The Smithsonian versions had their motors removed and were therefore lighter than their Dino-Riders counterparts (the T-Rex was significantly lighter because it had its motor and wheels removed).  Also, the battery cases were removed and smoothed over with plastic.

 

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