DinoMania By Kaiyodo

In Japan, itsy bitsy miniature figures are mighty popular.  They have all kinds for all kinds of licenses and themes.

A company called Promotopia has teamed up with Kaiyodo (the famous Japanese model company) to bring the very popular DinoMania miniatures to America, Canada and Mexico.

These little dinosaurs have sold over 20 million units in Japan, and have proved to be very popular in their market.  They are tiny, but hand painted and sculpted to exacting detail.  Each one comes in a triangular package, with a sticker, picture listing of the current line up, and a piece of hard candy.

There are 24 different dinosaurs in the first assortment.  They're already on series 4 in Japan, so I suspect we'll be seeing quite a few more.

I'll be reviewing Acrocanthosaurus (the one on two legs), Tapejara Imperator (the bird-like dino), and Styracosaurus (the one with the horny head).  As you can see, these aren't your basic Jurassic Park dinosaurs!

I believe there may also be a 'secret' dinosaur in addition to the 24 - you know how they love that sort of thing in Japan!

Packaging - ***
The Boxes look great, and work fine - they are much larger than the actual contents.  The boxes would store easy enough if you wanted to, but since you don't know what dinosaur you have until you open him up, I don't see what good keeping them boxed would do you.

That's probably the only negative here that may annoy some American collectors.  They aren't nearly as found of the concept of buying an unknown figure as their Asian counterparts.  Still, since these are small and similar to the gumball style of toy, there probably won't be much complaining.

Sculpting/Design - ***1/2
The level of detail and quality of the design is very impressive in this size.  Of course, if you've bought Kaiyodo models before, you know what to expect.

The dinosaurs actually come as little, painted models.  Each is in four or five pieces, and connect pretty easily.  You might want to glue them, especially if kids will be playing with them, but it isn't necessary if you just plan on handling them a little.  They hold together fine if they will be spending most of their time sitting on the shelf.

The poses and expressions are all very dynamic, and very 'Smithsonian'.  The small bases work well and fit in with the particular dinosaur.  I had no trouble putting them together or keeping them standing once they were.  The model basics are simple enough that kids over four or so should be able to put them together.

I mentioned these are tiny, but just how tiny?  I've included some photos below with the Marvel mini-mates or the Armies of Middle Earth stuff, and these are smaller.  Perhaps an inch and a half tall, maybe two inches long.  They make perfect pets for your mini-mates!

Paint - ***1/2
The paint ops are also very high quality for figures of this scale. There's a surprising amount of detail, and the transition from one color to the next is done with subtlety, just like in real life.  It gives the skin a very realistic appearance, and the small detail work is very clean and neat.

Of course, I'm not sure how you actually know what color these guys were - we've only got bones left.  But the artistic representation here seems to fit pretty well, in context with animals of a similar type that are still roaming the earth today.

Articulation - Bupkis
These are pretty darn small, and aren't designed to be poseable.  Instead, they are very tiny statues, heavy on the sculpt and paint accuracy.

Accessories - **1/2
Surprisingly, there are accessories.  That is if you count the sticker and candy as accessories!

The sticker is cool, and if you have kids, you know they always like stickers.  They are fairly well done, especially for something thrown in.

The candy might take some getting used to.  It's very hard - VERY HARD - and chocolate.  It's definitely not something most American kids will be used to, but my three year old son loved them.  My daughter did not.  Interestingly enough, he tends to be the pickier one.

Fun Factor - ****
I'm throwing in some extra points in this category because these just aren't fun, they can be educational.  At least more educational than Spongebob PVC's!

It's also fairly cool that they went with dinosaurs that were out of the ordinary, stuff that kids don't see over and over again.  That gives them a much broader exposure to the variety that once existed.

When I was a kid in elementary school, my teacher had a display of painted plastic U.S. Presidents, produced by Marx.  It was educational of course, but it was cool too - at least to me.  I thought it was one of the neatest 'toys' I'd ever seen in a classroom, even though the base was simply Styrofoam.  The set went all the way from Washington to Nixon, who was President at the time and still in his first term.

Many years later, that teacher retired, and hunted me down to give me that set.  It's proudly displayed in my toy room to this day, and these remind me of that very much.  A set of these in the classroom would be fun and educational, and are the kind of thing a child would continue to enjoy years from now.

Value - **
This depends on the retailer of course, but I'm going based on the approximate five bucks these will be selling for most places.

A couple bucks, and these would fly, but at around $5, they'll be a slightly harder sell.  For the big dinosaur fan though, I suspect the value score will be a tad better, since something like this, with such a terrific variety and quality, is rather rare.

Overall - ***
The sculpt and paint work on these is very impressive, particularly due to the small scale.  The big question will be whether kids, parents and teachers will find them worth the five dollar price tag.

Where to Buy - 
These should be available through comic and collector shops, specialty retail and toy stores, educational stores and several internet sites with a suggested retail price of $4.95, however some stores sell it for less and some sell it for substantially more.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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