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Show & Tell 03: TV's The Dinosaurs Kept Me Company on Vacation

This week's Show & Tell blog topic was "toys based on a television show or movie."  I instantly thought of the Dick Tracy line of toys made by Playmates, but I thought it'd be too easy to just post the article I wrote for The Retro Network years ago.  If you'd like, though, you can read that article here.

Instead, my mind wandered to another set of toys based on a tv show I loved as a kid: Dinosaurs!  

Dinosaurs was a sitcom that ran on ABC for four seasons between 1991 to 1994.  Even though the show ended in June of 1994 with a fairly controversial ending, the network interestingly continued to air previously preempted and never-before-seen episodes throughout 1995 as a "second half" to the fourth season.  Kinda weird when (30-year-old spoilers) they killed off all of the dinosaurs in the series finale.

Dinosaurs was a show my whole family would watch together.  My brother and I thought Baby Sinclair was hysterical, especially when he bashed his father, Earl, with a frying pan or screamed his catchphrase, "Not the Mama!"  One particular episode became a fast family favorite.  In it, the elderly dinosaurs were thrown off a cliff in a celebratory end-of-life event called "the hurling."  My parents quickly suggested that's what my brother and I would do to them when they aged, and ever since then, in our family, "hurling" means something other than vomit.  

I mean, it is the cheapest option, I'd suppose... I kid.

Long before I was born, my Dad's family had rented cabins around a lake in Maine every summer.  He went as a kid, and our family did so until a few years after I graduated college.  These cabins were nothing to write home about.  They weren't well-appointed or even comfortable, but they were right on the lake where we'd spend all day on the beach, swimming or fishing in our boat.  

I really loved going to Maine each summer, if for anything, a change of scenery and the chance to visit some stores or restaurants we didn't have in New York.  To this day, I'd rather be on a lake in the woods than on a beach in the Caribbean.  That said, everyone in my family had different things they enjoyed doing.  For the majority of the men in the family, it was to go fishing.  My brother would wake up, take out his little rowboat, and not return until late in the afternoon with a dark tan and a slew of fish.  Then he'd join my Dad and Uncle Bob as they went out for a few hours of fishing after dinner.  

Me?  I didn't like fishing.  It was tedious and slow, and I didn't enjoy most of it.  I would join during the evenings because that's just what you did, but I was never into fishing like the rest of my family.

I also didn't enjoy spending hours on the beach either.  Yes, I liked going down for a swim and maybe an hour or so of reading, but I'd rather have been back at the cabin, playing with my toys and trying to get one of the three channels that came in over an antenna wrapped in tin foil.  

I used to bring a lot of toys with me every year.  As a matter of fact, the whole family brought a whole lot of everything because we never knew if the cabin would even have plates or dishes stocked.  Upon arrival, it was always my first goal to carry in the small 12-inch TV we'd bring with us and get it set up to receive the three stations that came in from Portland.   Yes, we even brought a TV with us.  I'm sure nowadays the cabins have a big flat screen and WIFI, but back then, there weren't cell phones or cell reception, and there was only one phone for all the cabins.  Whoever was nearby when it rang would have to answer and take a message. 

All that is to say, I spent a lot of time alone indoors, just enjoying the change of venue from playing with my toys alone at home.  I'd occasionally wander off alone during the day, but when I was younger, it was mostly spent playing with whatever I brought with me.  There weren't other kids my age; most were younger, and a few were older.  I was kind of in between.  It didn't matter because, like today, I was often happier playing alone than with others, so I spent much time with my toys.   

When I wasn't busy playing with toys, I enjoyed going into town with Mom or Granny to see what Shaw's had.  Shaw's, a New England grocery chain, had some different stuff than we did back home.  Plus, I always tried to convince them to buy some donut holes at Shaw's or a new toy at KB Toys or Walmart (both stores we didn't have back home.)  

Since I don't know when I'll ever be able to throw this into an article, I'll add this here.  We used to buy these two liters of orange soda at Shaw's.  My Uncle Bob liked Sunkist, and I did too, but I'd always ask to buy this special one only at Shaw's.  I can still picture the black label on the 2-liter bottle with a cartoon orange.  It was something called Ollie's or at least rhymed with Ollie's.  I know this because Bob would shout OLLIE OLLIE at the top of his lungs whenever he saw the bottle.  For years, it became a running joke between him, my brother, and myself.  

One year, I delicately removed and saved the label for my collection.  I had that label for years but lost it sometime after I moved out of my parent's house.  I've spent countless hours looking for it, in addition to my hours of research online or looking through old photo albums hoping it would be in the background of one of the photos.  I cannot find this drink anywhere.  Even my Uncle and brother don't remember it, and we joked about it often.  It's to the point that my wife believes I made the entire thing up.  

Honestly, I always had an active imagination, and because I've found literally nothing about this old soda from the Shaw's in Windham, Maine, from the early to mid-90s... I'm starting to think I might have made it up, too.  

I've contacted Shaws, spent hours on Google, and nothing comes close.  There was a powdered sports drink named Jolly Olly from way back when, and I even got a hold of the owner of that company to ask, but they never made 2-liter bottles.  

If you have any information about this orange soda named Ollie or something similar, PLEASE email me at or leave a message below so I can prove I didn't just make something up and believe it was real for 30 years.

This blog post is supposed to be about toys, so back to that.  The Dinosaurs line of toys were posed figures, so you had to use your imagination.  They had no articulation like today's figures, except maybe their head or waist twisted.  Each figure came with several fun accessories, from a lunch pail or hard hat to Baby's frying pan.  

Man, I just loved that show and the figures.  The texture of the dolls felt good in your hand, too.  They were soft rubber, and when they were new, they smelled fantastic.  I spent countless hours playing with those toys at home, but one particular year in Maine (1992,) I spent a lot of time with them as well.  

One old family photo from that summer in Maine has always stuck out in my mind.  No family member is in the photo, but my Dinosaurs are.  I had taken some of the firewood stacked in the living room to build a structure for my dinos to live and play on.  I must have taken all of my figures and accessories next door to Granny and Gramp's cabin because that's what the background looks like.  The photo even has the legs of Granny's favorite lawn chair (without the bar) she always sat in to watch her soaps.  

I couldn't tell you what game I was playing or why they needed that structure, but that photo has stuck out for years.  It must have made an impression on my Dad because when I asked if he could look for it so that I could use it in this article, he immediately knew which photo I meant.  

Ultimately, this article wasn't so much about toys as it was about me reminiscing about my family and our summers in the 90s.  That's what I enjoy about blogging anyway; going back and reliving the past.  The Dinosaurs was and still is a great show, and I'll occasionally pop an episode on through Disney Plus when my daughter gets bored of Finding Dory.  She doesn't pay attention, but it's nice to have on in the background.  I still have those figures on display in my little nostalgia closet... the same exact ones in the photo above. 


  1. Pikapal -

    Jason -

    Brandon -

  2. In 3rd grade we were learning about dinosaurs, and the teacher wanted us to bring in dinosaur things. Kids brought in posters and figures and stuff. Somebody brought the Earl figure. She thought the figure was so funny. She didn't know it was from a tv show. She didn't watch any tv and didn't want the class to either.

  3. Nesbitt's Orange soda has a black label.

    I've lived in Maine my whole life, during that time frame the name brand soda's at Shaw's or Hannaford were Crush, Sunkist, Minute Maid, Slice, Polar brand, and then the store brands. You could find others like Fanta, Nehi and what not but not on the regular.

    I got nothing else for ya on this. - Mike

    1. Thanks for the reply! I'll take a look at Nesbit but I'm beginning to think it was a generic store brand with a silly name. Or maybe I did make it up after all!