Compared to most LEGO Themes of the time, LEGO Dino Attack was considerably Darker and Edgier. LEGO, the company that once refused to produce green bricks in fear that kids would built military vehicles (yes, seriously), was now churning out sets featuring tanks and helicopters battling dinosaurs in a post-apocalyptic LEGO City. And not just any dinosaurs, but evil mutants that can shoot lasers out of their eyes, breathe fire, and shoot lightning.
The story is simple. In 2010, dinosaurs (which may be mutants or Ambiguous Robots) come the heck out of nowhere and wreck LEGO City, and four survivors (Specs the all-around scientist, Digger the thrilling paleontologist, Shadow the emotionally-driven hunter, and Viper the drafted racer) form the D.I.N.O. Attack team and use the latest military technology and weapons to combat the dinosaurs and drive them out of the city.
European countries got a similar-but-different line titled Dino 2010, which moved the apocalyptic setting to the jungle, dropped all references to the dinosaurs being mutants, and changed the premise from a band of survivors fighting to reclaim LEGO City to a team of hunters deployed to recapture escaped dinosaurs. The most notable difference between Dino Attack and Dino 2010 sets is that Dino 2010 removed all of Dino Attack's over-the-top weaponry and replaced it with chains, grappling hooks, and cages. For instance, Dino Attack's Iron Predator, which is clearly supposed to be a tank, lost its cannon and gained a large T-Rex cage attached on a trailer and was renamed the Dino Track Transport.
LEGO Dino Attack and Dino 2010 contain examples of:
- After the End: Dino Attack takes place in an apocalyptic LEGO City. However, as seen in one of the comics, LEGO City is already being rebuilt by Christmas time, so the end might not be as ending as it might appear.
- All There in the Manual: The Dino Attack website had biographies of the four main characters and descriptions of each mutant dinosaur's capabilities. Other bits and pieces of information can be found throughout the website; for example, one of the short stories on the website is the only source confirming that Specs is the leader of the D.I.N.O. Attack. This is also the only major source that refers to the larger dinosaurs as Ambiguous Robots, even though other marketing materials call them mutants. However, what is not explained is the origins of the dinosaurs; the final story entry still comments on the fact that the dinosaurs' origin is a mystery.
- American Kirby Is Hardcore: While Europe gets sets about hunters recapturing escaped dinosaurs in a jungle, America gets a post-apocalyptic battle between survivors and rampaging mutants in a ruined city. This is actually an Inversion, seeing as Dino 2010 was made specifically for the European market after Dino Attack was deemed too violent.
- Apocalypse How: Given how quickly LEGO City is rebuilt (it is Built with LEGO, after all), this seems to be Class 1 at worst. However, while only LEGO City is focused upon in Dino Attack (implying a Regional scope), an animation on the Dino Attack website suggested a Planetary scope, and a story summary on the back of the sets' boxes◊ states that multiple cities across the globe were affected by the outbreak.
- Bowdlerise: Dino 2010 dropped all of Dino Attack's weaponry and post-apocalyptic setting.
- Chromosome Casting: Dino 2010 had a cast consisting entirely of four men. Dino Attack just barely averts this with the appearance of Dr. Nicole Soscia in one of the online stories, but the sets still only contain the same four male characters.
- In one of the LEGO Brickmaster Magazine comics, Dino Attack participates in a Crossover with LEGO City, LEGO Creator, and LEGO Racers (with Knights' Kingdom making a cameo on one of the billboards in the background).
- Shadow, Digger, and Viper crossed over with LEGO Adventurers through My LEGO Network, in which they are networkers and join forces with fellow networker Dr. Charles Kilroy in search of the legendary Jeweled Triceratops. By extension, Dino Attack can be considered to have crossed over with LEGO Alpha Team, LEGO Agents, LEGO Universe, and LEGO Factory, which also have delegates working as networkers on My LEGO Network.
- Darker and Edgier: Dino Attack is the only post-apocalyptic LEGO Theme and has a heavy focus on the military and weapons. It may very well be the Darkest and Edgiest LEGO Theme, aside from BIONICLE.
- Death from Above: The T-1 Typhoon is a military helicopter outfitted with impressive weaponry.
- Family-Friendly Firearms: See those giant machine guns? They're actually sonic beam emitters. They definitely don't fire bullets or anything like that.
- Fun with Acronyms: D.I.N.O. Attack. What "D.I.N.O." stands for, on the other hand, is never revealed.
- Gatling Good: The Twin Quintronic Beam Emitters on the T-1 Typhoon.
- Ghost City: Considering how bustling it normally appears, LEGO City is devoid of any life in Dino Attack. Presumably, the city was evacuated so the squad could go after the dinosaurs.
- Intrepid Reporter: J. Theano travels with D.I.N.O. Attack to broadcast news stories for the WDNO station, which he calls Dino Radio.
- Lighter and Softer: Dino 2010, in comparison to Dino Attack.
- Lost World: While unconfirmed, this may be the setting of Dino 2010, which depicts the hunters capturing dinosaurs in a jungle.
- Market-Based Title: Dino Attack in North America, Dino 2010 in Europe.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: J. Theano of station WDNO.
- No Endor Holocaust: According to Shadow's backstory, his home was flattened by the mutant dinosaurs. Don't worry, because according to Word of God, his family escaped without a single casualty.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Viper, Shadow, Specs and Digger are all likely codenames.
- Shown Their Work: Despite all the inaccuracies regarding the dinosaurs in the sets, a LEGO Brickmaster Magazine article on dinosaurs (featuring, naturally, the local paleontologist Digger in a Q&A section) showed that LEGO actually does know a fact or two about the real things.
- Sonic Stunner: The assumed purpose of D.I.N.O. Attack's Sonic Screamer weapon and Quintronic Sonic Beam Emitters.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The name of the Dino Attack ATV is a confusing issue. In the LEGO Shop@Home Catalogues, the Summer 2005 issue labels it the "Steel Sprinter", but the November 2005 issue refers to it as a "Street Sprinter". The July/August 2005 LEGO Brickmaster issue calls it the "Steel Sprinter", but the September/October issue calls it the "Street Sprinter". The set's box is labeled "Street Sprinter", so that appears to be its definite name, but most people familiar with the early press material still call it the Steel Sprinter.
- Spiritual Successor: LEGO Dino (often dubbed "Dino 2012" by fans), which features a similar premise to Dino 2010 in that it centers around hunting and capturing dinosaurs in the jungle. Additionally, this jungle is located outside a major city, meaning that the Dino Strike Team is preventing another Dino Attack from occurring by stopping the dinosaurs before they can reach the city.
- The Squad: D.I.N.O. Attack is a small crack team of fighters specifically geared to hunt dinosaurs.
- Tank Goodness: The Iron Predator resembles a military tank.
- Tanks, but No Tanks: But what kind of tank is the Iron Predator supposed to be, exactly?
- Title by Year: The Market-Based Title Dino 2010 of Europe, as it was released in 2005 and is set in 2010,
- 20 Minutes into the Future: When Dino Attack and Dino 2010 first came out in 2005, their 2010 setting was five years into the future.
- Urban Warfare: The setting of Dino Attack is LEGO City. . . . after it's been overrun by dinosaurs.
- Voodoo Shark: Dino Attack begged the unanswered question: where did the dinosaurs come from? According to LEGO designer Mark Stafford, they were essentially animatronics and robots at a theme park (described as Westworld Meets Jurassic Park) that got out of control and went on rampage. This only raises further questions, such as "Who would program robots with Eye Beams, Deflector Shields, and Shock and Awe powers for a theme park?", "Why do robots have nests and eggs?", and "Where do the Mutant Lizards fit into this?"
- Weaponized Car: The Fire Hammer is a jeep with a massive Xenon Multi-Mode Launcher turret mounted on the back.