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Old Dinosaur Review by Kolbi Hunt

Birdcage Press
853 Alma Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301

The Basics: Old Dinosaur is a set of 47 dinosaur-themed playing cards that can be used to play three different children's' games: Go Fish, Old Maid, and Concentration. Packaged in a sturdy, beautifully designed metal tin, the cards are accompanied by a nice-sized information booklet that presents detailed information about the featured dinosaurs.

Want to Know More? The playing cards are thick, glossy, and extremely colorful. Divided into eight different dinosaur types, Bone Heads, Armored Reptiles, Crested Creatures, Little Hunters, Feathered Dinosaurs, Ferocious Killers, Little Plant Eaters and Gentle Giants, each card presents a wealth of information about each featured reptile, for example, Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Each card features the following: the Latin scientific name of the dinosaur - Tyrannosaurus Rex, the group of dinosaurs it belongs to - Ferocious Killers, the group's name in French -Les Tueurs Feroces, cousins of the featured dinosaur - other Ferocious Killers Allosaurus/Gigantosaurus, translation of the Latin scientific name - Tyrant Lizard King), and the French translation of the Latin scientific name - Lezard Roi Tyran. My favorite add-on is a picture that shows the dinosaur next to a small child, which does a fabulous job of representing each dinosaur's comparative size.

Should you further consult the included information booklet, you will find each dinosaur's name sounded out for you (tie-RAN-oh-SORE-us REX), along with a nifty little one-paragraph blurb that summarizes some interesting tidbits about the creature such as "It ate other dinosaurs, bones and all, ripping them to pieces with its massive, knife-sharp fangs." Underneath the blurb, you will find quick facts about the dinosaur, which includes when it lived, its size, and what it ate.

The information booklet sets forth instructions on playing games with the cards, such as Old Dinosaur played like Old Maid, Jurassic Memory played like Concentration and Go Dig played like Go Fish. A Recommended Reading portion of the booklet presents the titles of twelve other books relating to dinosaurs for your reading pleasure.

Strengths: Without a doubt, the game's strongest attribute is its beautiful artwork and skilled graphic design. The cards themselves are lovely and eye-catching; the tin is attractive and useful. Long after your toddler has chewed up some of the cards, your six-year-old will still be squirreling the tin away with treasured Lego pieces hidden inside. Furthermore, the language translations are quite interesting. Who knew that Velociraptor meant "swift robber" or that Triceratops meant "three-horned face"? I said before, seeing a picture of a small child next to the dinosaur in order to understand the dinosaur's size is fun indeed.

Possible Weaknesses: The game itself is unapologetic Old Earth with its dating. To be fair, the dates are only presented in the information booklet not on the playing cards themselves. Some may be offended at items in the booklet's Introduction, "For over 150 million years they ruled the land... then 65 million years ago they disappeared..." and the dates for each dinosaur's era (Tyrannosaurus Rex Lived: Late Cretaceous, about 65 million years ago). Furthermore, with all of the wonderful information on the playing cards themselves, one characteristic had to be sacrificed, which was size. As a result, the playing cards may be rather large for the hands of small children (at least, my children have difficulty holding normal-sized playing cards, and these cards are larger than normal playing cards).

So, Reviewer, What do you think? I think this game would be wonderful for younger children (possibly ages 4-8) who enjoy Old Maid, Concentration, Go Fish and love Dinosaurs. I cannot see the game being modified for older children successfully. They might be interested in hearing the Latin translations (Sinosauropteryx means "Chinese Lizard Wing"!), but I don't see them wanting to play games typically associated with young children, no matter how beautiful the playing cards. Thus, small children who love dinosaurs and card games would be delighted with Old Dinosaur.

-- Product Review by: Kolbi Hunt, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2005