More than any other kind of toy, the Dino Riders probably cemented my interest in paleontology from an early age. You can learn all about them at www.dinoriders.com, and I urge you to go, because these are some awesome toys, man. If they didn't cost upwards of $32 (individually) on eBay, I'd buy them all right now. Dino Riders was a sad little cartoon where humans and wierd hammer-headed aliens are at war, and they use dinosaurs as their mounts. These dinosaurs are equipped with every variety of laser weapon and shielding. Beneath the admittedly awesome armor and poorly-articulated human/alien figures, the dinosaurs themselves were amazingly well crafted and accurate for the time. A few, like Edmontonia, Struthiomimus, and Deinonychus were probably the best replicas of their day. There was even a Plecerias! The larger, motorized dinosaurs, like Tyrannosaurus and Brontosaurus, had tails that dragged along the ground, but were otherwise cool.
There were four released sets, the first of which being the largest. The third set was quite small, but featured a very interesting relic of paleontology history: a Pachyrhinosaurus with an enormous nasal horn core (below) . The fourth set featured four ice age mammals, all of which were forgettable and, compared to the earlier dinosaurs, not that accurate. Most of the dinosaurs had interesting joints or motorized action to some degree. Pressing a button on the Pteranodon's back flapped its wings, and moving the Monoclonius' tail left to right would also move the head. I think the Deinonychus had a button that, when pressed, made the legs kick, which was awesome.
The Dino Rider toys were a mid-80's line that died along with the television series, which served more or less as an advertisement for the toys. The Smithsonian Institute actually re-released several of the toys under their name in 1990. Then, in 1993, the sculpts found a 3rd life for the Cadillacs & Dinosaurs toy series. Aside from a new paint job, the few dinosaurs that made it all the way from Dino Riders to Cadillacs & Dinosaurs were exactly the same as their older counterparts (and featured new accessories). I wish that the Dino Rider toys were still available for normal purchase (eBay doesn't count), as they have a cherished place in my memory and, like I say, probably cemented paleontology in my brain.