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Stygimoloch

Dino Strike
by yo go re

That's funny, I thought it was supposed to be "dragon" balls, not "dino" balls?

Founded in New Zealand, toymaker Zuru makes lots of things you may be aware of, even if you don't realize it. X-Shot, the Nerf gun knockoffs you may have seen at Walmart? That thing that lets you fill a bunch of water balloons in less than a minute? Fidget Cubes? The sort of toys collectors' eyes glide right past, but actual kids love. One of their products is called 5 Surprise, a line designed for unboxing. They come in "boys" and "girls" varieties (as much as that means anything), and now also a dedicated subline, Dino Strike.

5 Surprise toys are sold in a solid plastic ball. Rip the plastic wrapper off, pull the rubber plug on top, and the ball falls into five segments (like one of those chocolate oranges), each with its own seal to remove; peel that back, and you get finally get at the dinosaur inside. Its pieces are spread out among the various compartments, so you need to assemble it, but once you do? Dinosaur!

My first Dino Strike get was the stygimoloch, which at first I thought was a pachycephalosaurus. Which, upon research, it is: it's now believed that Stiggy is just a juvenile Packy, like the way a "torosaurus" is just a triceratops that kept growing. Maybe. Paleontology is hard. I only know this species from Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom, but it tells you something about the sculpt that the toy is recognizable at that.

The stygimoloch moves at the hips and shoulders, and also has a feature where if you move the tail up and down, the head will bob as well. Although the head and tail get assembled as well, they don't really turn - rather than being a plain balljoint, there's an extra bit of plastic on there (presumably to make sure kids get them on in the right direction). The feet seem huge in proportion to the body, and while the left hand looks like it's held at the correct angle, the right hand seems to be twisted to the outside. That's weird.

Assembled, the dinosaur is about 4½" long and 2½" tall - given the size of a stygimoloch (as a "teenage" version of a pachycephalosaurus), this seems to make it about 1:18 scale, meaning it'll be perfect to go with your Jurassic Park figures. Its skin is a dark red, with bright blue stripes on the back and a belly that's a pale yellow (matching the paint used for its beak).

But there's more to this line than just building a dinosaur - you also get battle armor! Seriously, a helmet with a spike on it, and a backpack/harness thing that the two included rocket launchers can plug into! The armor is dark grey, and the missiles are a vibrant red. You can put them into the launcher two ways, and which way they're in will affect how far they launch: if the notch that's nearer the end of the missile is facing up, it will safely launch a short distance; if the notch that's nearer the front is up, this thing with rocket out with enough force to dent a soda can. It has to do with how compressed the internal spring gets.

As a test, I fired the launcher straight up: the "soft" notch made the missile go about four or five inches high, while the "hard" notch made it go about a foot and a half. Don't point this at your eyes!

If the Dino Strike sets had just been dinosaurs, I wouldn't have picked one up when I saw it - the inclusion of the snap-on armor reminds us of the old Dino Riders toyline, and that's good fun. I got this at Walmart, in a random hanging display, but you can also find them at discount retailers like Five Below or Big Lots. You're getting a decent deal for the price. The only down side is that there's no identifying code anywhere on the ball to let you know what you're getting, so if you do want to collect all 13 dinos from Series 1, you may end up with a lot of duplicates.

Like I said, Dino Strike stygimoloch was an impulse buy, something I got just to review it for you. But it's a fun little "desk toy," and I wouldn't be surprised if more found their way home from the store.

-- 05/09/20


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