WARNING! What you are about to see may or may not be suitable for children! It's kind of iffy because what I'm going to show you might offend some modern sensibilities but was, after all, marketed to children back in 1988. By Topps, no less. Who am I to say what you're about to see might not be for children, if Topps endorses it? They're just drawings. Just keep saying that to yourself.
(additional Warning: There are a lot of pictures here that I couldn't get to a smaller file size, so please excuse the load time. Trust me, it's worth it.)
Kids' toys and fads are always changing. Yesteryear's He-man, G.I. Joe, and Transformer toys were replaced with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were replaced with Pokemon were replaced with God knows what else. Point is, the further back you go, the weirder kids' toys seem in relation to what's around now (or what you grew up with). Maybe weird isn't the right word. Maybe the words I'm looking for are "politically correct." It's not cool anymore to play Cowboys and Indians, since any game that revolves around shooting minorities and passing out diseased blankets willy-nilly is pretty racist in the first place. Encouraging little girls to play with dolls and have tea parties has been called sexist, toy guns are all but disappearing from the market, and Lawn Darts is still referred to as "The Most Dangerous Game." The point is that some products from yesteryear are freaky as hell to see these days. Like those old "tapeworm diet" programs from the 18th century, you really have to ask: "What the hell were they thinking?"
The year is 1988. Topps, the baseball/collectible card company, decides that kids love dinosaurs. They also decide that kids love depraved, graphic violence. The result?
Topps Presents: DINOSAURS ATTACK! To slowly desensitize you to what you're about to see, let's take a moment to look at the title card and the wrapper I've just shown you. Apparently, both the Earth and Bob from Accounting are bursting with flavor. There's about 20 gallons of blood, and we haven't even begun. What I'm reviewing/sharing with you today is a collectible card series that was published in 1988. The set has 55 cards and 11 stickers (and each pack came with a stick of gum, apparently.) The main premise of this card series was that a time travel experiment goes haywire, and all the dinosaurs are brought into the modern day. About 3 cards into the series, you can pretty much ignore the plot, for reasons which will be obvious very soon, until the very end where the Dinosaur Satan shows up to eat your soul. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me show you a typical card from the series:
Note the detail in which Mr. Harrison is getting devoured/disemboweled. Notice the crying woman with the baby. Notice the nice rack on the woman in the background who's being bitten in the CROTCH. What's on the back of this card, you ask?
Sweet Mother of GOD. Maybe I'm sheltered. Maybe I'm old-fashioned. Or, just maybe, this card series isn't really for kids. You haven't seen the worst (or best, depending) this series has to offer, but there's a glimpse. Each card has a fake news report, in article or photographic form, that describes the action on the card. Sometimes, like in the card above, it's something much simpler: both morbid, and kind of spooky. All I know is that my mom would have grounded me forever and shipped me off to Bible Camp if she'd found these things in my room when I was a kid. Speaking of children, let's take a good look at a few cards featuring minors:
Huh. Little girl with a bazooka. That's not so bad, right?
A little girl crying as a dinosaur crushes the family pet. Nice.
Homeroom in Ms. Peterson's class didn't go so well today. Notice the card set's only black person, as he's scissored in half. This is getting sort of violent.
OH MY LORD. This is why I never took the bus. Can it get any better/worse than this?
YES. YES, IT SURELY CAN.
It takes some balls to market a product to kids with detailed baby-eating in it, but hell, there it is. Go Topps! Seriously though, this was the card that made me decide I HAD to share this card series with someone. I mean, if you just had the empty baby carriage there, it would be one thing. Implied baby-eating is much more prevalent than you'd think. But to go that extra step and have baby parts falling out of the Parasaurolophus' (say that three times fast, hell, I have trouble saying that out loud in the first place) mouth is just crazy. There's also the fact that the sticker tells us (on the back) that this dinosaur was vegetarian. Apparently that's just a soy-baby it's eating.
So why should you care, besides for the sake of morbid novelty? Is this article simply here to defame the good name of Topps and show you guys some violent pictures featuring dinosaurs? The answer is of course yes, but I'm also here to bring you pointless trivia. Speaking of such, it's...
Trivia Time! Some of the geeky among you might notice a similarity in subject matter (and name) between this series and the card series "Mars Attacks". Mars Attacks came out in 1962 published under the company "Bubbles, Inc.", which was an alternative name for Topps at the time. Mars Attacks, now famous to mainstream culture due to the Tim Burton film of the same name, was a super violent/gory card series featuring, well, Martians instead of dinosaurs. Parent groups freaked the hell out (I mean, come on, graphic violence for children in the 60's? Please.) and got the cards pulled off the shelves pretty quickly. Why the hell am I telling you about this? I'm telling you this because Tim Burton apparently didn't originally plan on making Mars Attacks. When he bought the film rights from Topps, he also bought the rights to Dinosaurs Attack. According to the rumor mill, Tim "I have really scary big hair" Burton thought that there were too many dinosaur films out at the time (Jurassic Parks 1-3) and decided to make his back-up flick, Mars Attacks. And, if rumors/gossip/fan worship is to be correct, he's still planning on making the card series Dinosaurs Attack! into a film. While I can see the morbid humor behind some of these cards, you really have to wonder what THAT movie would turn out like. For example, do you think Tim Burton would includes something like this:
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. See, he's flattened, and he's flattened. :groan: You have to appreciate the artistic flourish we have here with the internal organs, and laugh at the fact that rats have already begun to devour this man. Or not. All I'm saying is that the violence implicative to this whole set would HAVE to be removed if you wanted something for wholesale consumption. Bah. Let's talk some more smack about Dinosaurs Attack. (Rhyme unintentional, I swear.)
I like the Nuptial Nightmare card, personally. The back is a nice touch, what with the implication that someone kept their bloodstained invitation as a memento. Lord knows I'd keep it, if not get the messy thing framed. I can just imagine how the ceremony went: "Does anyone here hold a reason for these two to not be wed?" Then everyone would look surprised, not sure how to react to the dinosaur that's stood up from the back row of the church. Then the impaling begins. :) Anyway, there's a lot of cards with all types of fun stuff in them. Since this article isn't about detailing every card and it's probably too long already, here're a few highlights from the series:
Not to badmouth the Furry fetish folks out there, but I'm sure what's happening on the above card is happening in an erotic chatroom somewhere out there.
You have no idea the amount of joy I get from watching Pterodactyls fly off with a farmer's cows. No idea.
Not only is it a reference to a bazillion movies and in-jokes about the scary lady that lives down the street, but it's also incredibly violent! Yay! On a side note, my favorite cat lady has to be the one from "Teenage Catgirls in Heat." It's not a porno, I swear.
I could go on and on showcasing this bizarre set, but it's time for the finishing move. Some friends of mine remember this card series and even had a few of them. There's one thing that everyone who sees this series remembers if they get the luck enough to get the card. Before I show it to you, let me give you the final bit of back story. Apparently, some scientists in space are responsible for this whole "Dinosaurs eating the Earth" thing, and are poised to solve the problem, when one of them gets sucked through a dimensional portal by the "Supreme Monstrosity" a.k.a. "Dinosaur Satan". The scientist gets pulled through and is roasted alive by the "evil force" controlling the dinosaurs. In the end, the scientist's wife has to save the Earth by sacrificing her husband (who's being burned alive in Dinosaur Hell). She saves the day, and all the dinosaurs are ripped violently from this reality and sent back in time. The twilight zone-like touch is that the answer to the question "What killed the dinosaurs?" is "We did" (by sending them back violently through time). Gah. Anyway, the card "The Ultimate Sacrifice" is the one card that if you got in a pack, you would never ever forget for the rest of your life. It would haunt you every time someone said the word dinosaur. So what's so bad about this card? The front's not that scary, right? But I wonder what's on the back....
A dying scientist, being burnt alive, declares his love for his wife. Jesus frickin' Christ. I did a little internet research while putting this article together and besides finding out very few people knew about these cards, I learned that if someone remembered any of the cards THIS was the one they remembered. I know I've pointed that out twice already, but hell, it needs to be stressed. Pure. Nightmare. Fuel. Man, that image is just making me ill. I'm through.
I hope you've enjoyed this little trip into the ultra-violent world of Topps entertainment, God knows I did. Also remember that I've only shown you 14 of the 55 cards in the series. All the scans you've been looking at were available to me thanks to Bob Heffner's Dinosaurs Attack Homepage, which has every single card and sticker scanned, back and front. Just so you know here's a quick list of the cards I DIDN't share: Dinosaur versus Gorilla, 3 Godzilla jokes, a NY jogger having her brain eaten by a giant mosquito, dinosaurs eating a 1980's Hair band, and for the love of God, so much more. Check out his site by clicking the mouth below.
Also, just if you're curious, complete sets of the Dinosaurs Attack! cards aren't that hard to get. Right now there're a few selling for 99 cents on Ebay. If you're really into morbid geeky stuff, or just want to own the cards since Tim "I didn't direct Nightmare Before Christmas" Burton plans to (maybe) make the movie, now's your chance. God knows these bad boys are going right onto my Christmas list. You can never get enough baby-eating dinosaurs. On that note, good night and God bless.
Copyright 2005...all images (except for my watercolor at the top of the page) are copyright, trademark, etc The Topps Company, Inc. Ebay is the property of Ebay, and Bob Heffner is property of the "only person on the planet to scan all the Dinosaurs Attack! cards" super-fan club. Bob, you rock.