A Dino Land Discovery

My previous entry sunk deep into the history of Dino Land, a middleweight pinball-video game from Telenet Japan and Wolfteam. While it had little time in the spotlight, Telenet used the Dino Land characters as mascots for their Cosmic Fantasy arcades. I recounted tales of people getting prize figures of the game’s protagonists, Bunz and Meeshell, and I wondered if we’d ever see evidence of them. 

Well, longtime reader Chris Tang (@strikeharbinger on Twitter) came through with amazing, incontrovertible photo evidence that those Dino Land figures existed. He even had some original tickets, a flyer, and a carrying bag from the Cosmic Fantasy Restaurant and Game Resort in Hawaii!


You’ll note that Bunz and Meeshell are molded so that their hands link together, making for an adorable pair of plastic toys and possible wedding cake toppers. Perhaps Dino Land wouldn’t be the number-one choice for a Telenet-themed reception, but I don’t think anyone will make bridge-and-groom figures of Earnest Evans and Annet Myer any time soon. 

I’m very glad to see these little collectibles. Dino Land may not be remembered among the best Telenet and Wolfteam offerings, but I’m fascinated that a company’s arcade briefly appropriated them for mascots. It’s a reminder of just how much odd video-game merchandise popped up in the 1980s and 1990s—and how little of it is documented well. The Japanese game market was compact enough that a publisher could crank out short runs of toys, t-shirts, or other promotional trinkets that would soon be forgotten by anyone who didn’t stop by a particular arcade or subscribe to the right fan club. As the push to preserve old video games and their attendant media expands into new horizons, we shouldn’t forget their toys, the proof that someone believed in a game enough to capture it in plastic.

Now, with this mystery laid to rest, I think I’ll see if anyone has the art cards from the Battle Mania Daiginjou cassette soundtrack.