The first time I cam face-to-face with a dinosaur I was so scared I ran around the corner and hid, peeking out to see my parents try to reassure me that I would not be gobbled up, impaled, trampled, or otherwise harmed by the roaring robots. I had bugged the hell out of them to go see the animatronic dinosaurs traveling exhibit at the Morris Museum but when I finally got to see them it was too much for me to handle. I don’t remember how old I was exactly, probably about five or six, but even though the synthetic creatures were downsized they still towered over me. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has done one better, featuring a chubby, fuzzy Tyrannosaurus that waddles the halls. I think it’s pretty cool, but at the same time I can’t blame some of the children for being upset when confronted with a tyrannosaur smile.
Free-roaming dinosaurs that shuffle through the shadowy hallways of museums break one of the “rules” about dinosaurs; they’re supposed to be dead. As scary as their skeletons might be when we’re young they are just the remains, they don’t move and they can’t come and get us. Someone in a theropod suit can, though, allowing dinosaurs to step over the gulf of millions of years to smile their toothy smiles. Most of us who are afraid when young grow out of our fear, thinking that the robotic dinosaurs are more silly than scary, but I didn’t know that when I thought the anamatronic Tyrannosaurus was fixing to have me for lunch twenty years ago.
Not all robotic or puppet dinosaurs are so scary, though; although somewhat cartoonish “Lucky” was a rather impressive robotic dinosaur puppet that roamed the Disney parks.;