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Tabletop Game / Dinosaurs Attack!

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Hey, we're still in The '80s: Deinonychus here, not that pipsqueak Velociraptor!
"A hundred million years into the future they came, swept through time by an accident of science! Can the human race survive? Or will these towering monarchs from the dawn of creation once again inherit the earth... this time for all time?
The ultimate nightmare is now a reality.

Dinosaurs Attack! is a Collectible Card Game series by Topps, released in 1988, and containing 55 cards and 11 sticker cards. The card series was created as a follow-up to the successful trading card series, Mars Attacks!, and was similarly intended as an homage and a parody of 1950s B-movies.

The "story arc" of the card series is that a scientific time-travel experiment has gone horribly wrong, transporting dinosaurs of many varieties from their prehistoric world to modern times. The dinosaurs immediately wreak havoc upon mankind and chaos reigns as the scientists work to reverse the time-travel effect. In the end, the Supreme Monstrosity, patron deity of the dinosaurs (nicknamed "Dinosaur Satan" by some fans; just look at him!) intervenes, trying to stop the scientists. The lead scientist, Elias Thorne, sacrifices himself to the Supreme Monstrosity so his wife, Helen, can succeed and send the dinosaurs back to their own time, tearing the animals apart in the process.

The series is best known for its incredibly violent content and blood-spattered artwork. Scientific accuracy is, needless to say, not to be seen here. The old Dinosaurs Are Dragons and Prehistoric Monster tropes are brought out in full force and in a more extreme way than ever before. The whole series was very clearly going for Refuge in Audacity writ large.

Tim Burton was planning on making a movie, but dismissed it when a slightly less obscure dinosaur movie was released. Instead he made Mars Attacks!

Eclipse Comics intended to release a three-part miniseries based on the cards, but ended up only releasing the first issue; IDW eventually republished that issue and had four new issues made to finish the series.

Note: The images in the cards aren't necessarily Not Safe for Work, but they can get very, very gory, to the point where it's hard to believe they're from a kids' series. You will get odd looks if you view them at work.

This card series contains examples of:

  • Animals Not to Scale: Many of the dinosaurs are ridiculously big, some of them towering over skyscrapers. A few are even blatant references to pre-existing saurian kaiju. Oddly, a few animals have the opposite problem as well, such as a Tyrannosaurus that's small enough to fight on equal footing with a lion.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: Everywhere. This was probably deliberate, though, since the whole point of the cards was to be a throwback to B-movies of the 1950s, most of which were similarly inaccurate.
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: All of the herbivores, except for Trachodon.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: The backs of the stickers contained "The TRUTH about" a given species of dinosaur, with accurate facts (well, accurate for the time, anyway) to contrast with its portrayal on the cards. That said, they still contain some information that was erroneous even for the time (namely calling Dimetrodon a dinosaur, and Trachodon was already a dubious genus by the eighties).
  • Anyone Can Die: And how—about three-quarters of the cards are just the subjects being ripped in half.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 1. Hyper-carnivorous dinosaurs rampaging across the Earth are certainly no fun for the population, and a lot of people, including at the very least the President and his family, die. Nonetheless, the whole thing doesn't last too long, and the ending states that humanity will bounce back.
  • Big Bad: The Supreme Monstrosity, as he's the one who caused the attacks to begin with.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Manhattan has become a prehistoric swamp where giant prehistoric dragonflies shred women's scalps because they are attracted to hairspray. Also trilobites are deadly, fleshing eating monstrosities.
  • Black Comedy: Oh Hell yeah. Half the focus of the cards is taking gory scenarios and then framing them in as goofy a manner as possible.
  • Blatant Lies: The card showing the Soviet army battling a giant Dimetrodon is accompanied by a newspaper article that's clearly meant to be false Soviet propaganda rather than a "truthful" account of what happened.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: If you can believe it, the comics are actually even more violent than the cards!
  • Chronoscope: The dinosaurs were originally brought to the present day by a malfunctioning "time-scanner" experiment.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: As stated in the heading, a three-issue miniseries was originally planned by Eclipse Comics back in 1991, but was canceled after only the first issue was published. In 2013, IDW Publishing republished the single issue of the Eclipse Comics run and made four new issues to finally finish the story.
  • Deadline News: One of the cards displays the anchors who have been framing some of the action being attacked. The back of the card is "technical difficulties, please stand by."
  • Death of a Child: Not even children and babies are spared of the carnage wrought by the dinosaurs.
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Every species, regardless of diet and mannerisms in Real Life, has come to the present to Kill All Humans. And they are going to do this in the most horrifically violent ways imaginable. And of course, eventually the series involves what can only be described as Dinosaur Satan.
  • Dumb Dinos: A reptilian alien describes the dinosaurs as violent, evil, and stupid beasts who lack human souls and reason. Their behavior doesn't exactly prove him wrong.
  • Eats Babies: The Parasaurolophus are especially fond of this.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The "Supreme Monstrosity." A satanic entity who first appears merely as a glowing pair of eyes, and later as a massive demonic dinosaur, and is implied to be the one controlling all the dinosaurs attacking present-day Earth, he is quite possibly the most horrifying character ever created for a line of children's cards.
  • Excuse Plot: There's a basic setup and a conclusion, but it's mostly just an excuse to show dinosaurs ripping people apart and destroying cities in the most absurdly violent ways possible.
  • Eyeball-Plucking Birds: A monumental variant. One card shows pterodactyls swarming over Mount Rushmore, with one poking out George Washington's eyes.
  • Fate Worse than Death: We get to see what happens when a time-traveling dinosaur suddenly occupies the same space as a modern human. Also, the eventual fate of all the dinosaurs.
  • Gorn: The artwork is incredibly graphic, and shows horrifyingly bloody violence to a completely ridiculous and unrealistic degree as both humans, dinosaurs, and other animals are ripped apart and blown to pieces like water balloons filled with blood and viscera. Not even children or dogs are spared from the gruesome terror.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Both played straight and subverted. On the one hand, most of the herbivores in the series are depicted as violent and aggressive. On the other hand, they're also shown as having Ascended to Carnivorism. The only one that actually is depicted as an herbivore, the Trachodon, really is friendly (or at least non-violent).
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Elias orders Helen to complete the final sequence to send the dinosaurs back. She protests that this will kill him and destroy the space station, but he counters that the Supreme Monstrosity is going to kill him if she doesn't, so he is already dead.
  • Hollywood Atheist: In the comic book adaptation, Elias Thorne is said to have forsaken his belief in God after his brother Jordan died, though he gets better after his encounter with the "Supreme Monstrosity" and is even reunited with his brother when he dies.
  • Hope Spot: There were a couple cards where the humans won.
  • Just Before the End: Dinosaurs are attacking all over, and yet still the trains are running on time, people are going to work, and the newsroom is still reporting.
  • Kill All Humans: The goal of all the dinosaurs and other creatures. Trachodon is the exception, although it still causes damage.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: An elderly cat lady finds herself unable to evacuate with her many cats, and instead takes on a giant Dimetrodon all by herself to protect her pets... and wins!
  • Lizard Folk: A "humanoid dinosaur" calling itself a "saurian" appears in a dream to provide helpful exposition.
  • Monumental Damage: Between battling dinosaurs destroying the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Big Ben being pummeled by some giant lizard, pterodactyls pecking the eyes out of Mount Rushmore and a plesiosaur constricting the Statue of Liberty with its neck, it seems no monument is safe from the Prehistoric Monsters!
  • Never Mess with Granny: An old lady manages to protect her home and beloved cats from rampaging dinosaurs by shooting them with a shotgun.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: The Dinosaurs are remarkably good at ambushing people during their regular activities. Its possible, though, that most of the cards depict what they did as soon as the time-distortion put them on modern earth. The Supreme Monstrosity may even be deliberately dropping them off where they'll do the most damage.
  • Predators Are Mean: If the dinos killing people aren't herbivores who have been Ascended to Carnivorism, then they're carnivores who have been switched into Kill All Humans mode despite the fact that they wouldn't be interested in eating humans to begin with. This includes Elasmosaurus (a fish-eater), Pteranodon (also a fish-eater and possibly an occasional scavenger) and even Tyrannosaurus rex itself (humans would most likely be far too small and bony for it).
  • Prehistoric Monster: An Exaggerated Trope. All dinosaurs are inherently vicious rampaging monsters with no thoughts beyond killing every living thing it sees. They are depicted as being literal soulless agents of a monstrous God of Evil which resembles a reptilian Satan.
  • Raptor Attack: Averted. Since these cards came out before Jurassic Park, there are no dromaeosaurs to be seen. Though what seems to be a Deinonychus is seen on the package art (aka the page image).
  • Razor Wings: A Pteranodon slices off a man's head with its wing.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The authors of the comic adaptation compare it to RoboCop (1987), in that "the violence depicted is so preposterous that it can't help but be funny, which is part of the satiric message."
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: It's nice and subtle about it too. Once more, with feeling: Dinosaur Satan. Also, around the middle of the storyline, an alien appears in the dreams of the lead scientist and helpfully informs him that Humans Are Special and have souls while dinosaurs merely get by on being "savage," "wicked and terrifying." No, seriously.
  • Shout-Out: One can see references to the kaiju Gorgo, Reptilicus and the Rhedosaurus among the depicted creatures.
    • Dr. Yamane, Emiko and Ogata from Godzilla (1954) appear in card 42 "Lights! Camera! Carnage!"
  • The Soulless: The dinosaurs are stated to be soulless monsters only capable of violence. Their god is a demon-like monstrosity described as the "supreme evil".
  • Stable Time Loop: "Elias and I hoped to learn why the dinosaurs were wiped out of existence 65 million years ago. Well, we've finally discovered what annihilated them... We did."
  • Tele-Frag: One poor guy had the misfortune of being in the same spot as a manifesting tyrannosaur and as fused into its belly as it materialized.
  • Temper-Ceratops: All of the dinosaurs in this series are vicious killers, and Triceratops is no exception. In its most memorable appearance, it charges into a wedding and spears the bride and groom on its horns.
  • Terror-dactyl: Pteranodons apparently really love destroying anything patriotic for some reason. For reference, they eat the president and his first lady, and then go on to nest in Mount Rushmore and feed tourists to their babies.
  • Token Good Teammate: The Trachodon seems to be portrayed as this compared to the other dinosaurs. It is correctly shown as a plant eater and, additionally, is the only dinosaur that isn't killing a human on its sticker. The one time it does cause a human to die, it's completely by accident.
  • A Wizard Did It: It's strongly implied that The Supreme Monstrosity is the one responsible for the dinosaurs' unnaturally violent behavior and for giving all of them a taste for human flesh.