Whenever I hear about a new show or film combining one thing with another (killer robot monkeys, alien zombie bunnies, Sharknado), I automatically think of the scene in the movie Big where Tom Hanks (possessed by his younger self) sits in on a pitch meeting at a toy company. After examining a proposed toy, created entirely from market research, younger self Tom offers this critique:
“It turns from a building into a robot, right?
Well, what’s fun about that?”
You can’t just rip off a good idea, tweak it slightly, and automatically expect it to work. It’s obvious when “grownups” are just trying to capitalize on a trend, and when a kid (or a kid at heart) creates something truly inventive — their passion and inspiration clearly shines through.
Such is the case with Dinotrux, a new series on Netflix that successfully re-imagines the “mash-up” genre into something fun and exciting for kids and families. Based on Chris Gall’s series of children’s books, Dinotrux smooshes together dinosaurs and construction vehicles, as well as several Reptools (reptiles + tools). It’s kind of hard to believe no one had done this before!
My 5-year-old and I took in the first few episodes, and were both immediate fans. My son is pretty typical in his love of both dinosaurs and trucks — so he was an easy sell on the concept. We had already read a couple of the books, so he was also excited to see these characters in their full, 3-dimensional awesomeness.
I, on the other hand, was never a huge dinosaur fan as a kid; trucks even less so. Granted, I don’t expect to like everything my kid does — but it’s always a pleasant surprise when we can watch something together that doesn’t have me checking my phone out of boredom every few minutes. What I found myself enjoying most about the show was the cleverness of the mashups and the attention to detail — both in the Dinotrux’s functions and the animation in general. I could tell it wasn’t just thrown together to sell toys, but that some thought went into creating the most entertaining characters possible.
And we both really loved the building scenes, as the Dinotrux sketched out a solution to a problem, then jumped (and stomped, rolled, bulldozed) into action making their idea a reality.
So where does Dinotrux fall in the pantheon of pop culture mashups? Check out the nifty chart below, ranking some of the amalgamated characters from TV and film.
All titles available for streaming on Netflix, unless indicated otherwise.
1. TRANSFORMERS = aliens + robots + vehicles
2. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES = teenagers + mutants + ninjas + turtles
3. THUNDERCATS* = cats + aliens
4. UNIKITTY* (The Lego Movie*) = cat + unicorn
5. CATBUS (My Neighbor Totoro*) = cat + bus
6. DINOTRUX = dinosaurs + construction vehicles; reptiles + tools
7. MY LITTLE PONY = ponies + unicorns + pegasuses? + friendship + magic
8. ROBOT CHICKEN* = robot + chicken
9. LEGENDS OF CHIMA = animals + people + LEGO
10. STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE = girls + pastries
11. LASER CATS (Saturday Night Live*) = cats + laser guns
12. COUNT DUCKULA* = duck + vampire
13. FOODIMALS (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2) = food + animals
14. BUBBLE GUPPIES* = kids + fish
15. MUTANT TOYS (Toy Story)* = various mismatched toy parts
16. CATDOG† = cat + dog
17. SHARKANDO = sharks + tornadoes
18. MANBEARPIG (South Park*) = man + bear + pig
19. BEAST FOLK (Island of Dr. Moreau*) = humans + animals
20. HANNAH MONTANA* = average schoolgirl + pop star
Where does your favorite mashup rank on my chart? Which ones did I leave out? Let me know in the comments!
*Title available on DVD †Title not currently available on Netflix
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