What? An Arthur Denison action figure? And isn’t that Nallab the librarian all beefed up and ready for adventure?
Back in 1995 when Dinotopia was in development for a theatrical motion picture, the Hasbro toy company embarked on an ambitious proposal for a Dinotopia toy line. What you are looking at are one-of-a-kind presentation prototypes, not production toys.
Focus group tests at Hasbro showed that boys and girls liked Dinotopia equally and that kids spontaneously played with dinosaur toys by having people feeding the dinosaurs and riding them, not just the “attack mode” that has become so commonplace. Hasbro took the unprecedented step of teaming up their boy and girl toy designers to generate ideas in what is normally a very gender-segregated and conceptually stereotyped category of merchandise.
For my own part, starting as early as 1991, I did a number of sketches to explore how my characters might look if they were translated visually in other forms.
Above are some character key drawings in gouache with an acetate overlay to see how they would look in line and flat color.
The theatrical motion picture never came to pass, and neither did the toys, which is a common fate of concept proposals. In 1999, we decided to permit a TV miniseries to move forward instead, and we strictly limited the merchandising—but that’s another story.
On future posts, if you’re interested, I’ll share a few of the exploratory prototypes as well as some of my own unpublished development sketches.
I’d like to express my thanks and appreciation to the talented team at Hasbro, as well as Michael Stone of The Beanstalk Group, plus Jim Black, Ken Ralston and Lynda Guber, together with Robert Gould of Imaginosis, who helped develop the film project.