The 80’s were a prime era for card collecting, especially in the circuit of non-sports trading cards. At a measly 25 cents, almost any and every franchise was putting it’s brands and mascots onto collectible cards for mass consumption and us kids ate it up. Naturally there were the more successful series that included Garbage Pail Kids, Wacky Packages and countless comic book character cards, but you also had more obscure series like Dinosaurs Attack! which, as it turns out, just so happens to be this column’s topic.
You see, in 1988 Topps trading card company was looking for something new to add to their already impressive arsenal of card series. Borrowing from the past, they decided to capitalize on the shock factor of a previous card series known as Mars Attacks!, which had been a breakout hit 26 years prior. Instead of just relaunching the Mars Attacks! series however, Topps used the same formula of gruesome gore and an outside force invading our planet… only this time the threat came not from space, but from time.
Dinosaurs Attack! consisted of 11 stickers and 55 cards, each pack containing 5 cards, 1 sticker and a stick of that horrid gum some of us remember all to well (but I still chewed it!). Reading the back of the cards in their numerical order reveals a small narrative, much like the Mars Attacks! series did. As it turns out, a science experiment in space goes haywire and causes dinosaurs from the past to materialize on Earth in the “present day.” The prehistoric invaders brought doom, chaos, and destruction to everything in their path. The story features two main heroic characters, a husband and wife scientist team, who work to find a way to send the dinosaurs back to the past. They succeed, but at the ultimate sacrifice… the husband, Elias Thorne, throws himself in harm’s way so his wife, Helen, can pull the switch to save the world.
It’s a super silly story and the art is completely over the top, but it all works so well. We witness herbivores forgetting that they’re vegetarians and devour the flesh off human bodies and at the very end of the series there was even revealed to be a Dinosaur diety called the Supreme Monstrosity, also known as “Dinosaur Satan” due to the fact that… well, he looks a lot like that guy Ozzy used to sing about.
There were some rumors that the series would make the leap into film a few years back, helmed by Tim Burton, but Jurassic Park came to fruition and kind of squashed that. Burton ended up making a film based on Mars Attacks! instead. The property hasn’t seen much action since then with exception to a 5-issue mini series released by the super awesome comic company IDW Publishing in celebration of the series’ 25th anniversary last year. Despite the lack of love, tons of these cards are still in circulation and it isn’t an expensive set to collect at all. I snagged 2 boxes for 8 dollars once before on eBay, so happy hunting if you’re out for this wax-packaged insanity and remember to watch out for that Mt. Rushmore tourist trap!