Updated March 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best toy dinosaurs

Dinosaurs have long captivated the public imagination of adults and kids alike. Toy dinosaurs can stoke a child’s imagination, encourage play, and teach them about prehistoric life. While there are near-limitless toy dinosaurs to choose from, considering who the toy is for can help you make a more informed purchase.

For example, are you choosing a toy dinosaur for a toddler or an eight-year-old? Are you looking for a stuffed toy dinosaur or something a bit more interactive? Aside from age, consider whether or not you want a learning toy for the child in your life, which may come packaged as a kit with additional accessories. Regardless of your deciding factors, you’re likely to find a toy dinosaur you love. 

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Even the most “passive” toy dinosaur can serve as a good learning tool for children. Try having them describe what they notice on the dinosaur, such as its color, shapes of different body parts, and how the toy dinosaur feels. 

How to buy the best toy dinosaur 

Why are toy dinosaurs so popular?

Dinosaurs have captivated the public imagination for centuries, from depictions in early 20th century movies to modern-day natural museum exhibits. On one hand, it’s incredible to believe that such massive animals once lived on the same earth as us. Even though dinosaurs went extinct millions of years before the first humans appeared, some of us take joy in imagining a world where we all coexisted. 

Play is a critical part of child development; playtime with dinosaur toys can help develop children’s imaginations and therefore creativity, build their curiosity for the world around them, and can even build confidence and resilience down the line. Not to mention that toy dinosaurs can provide an excellent natural history lesson. While “gendered” toys are largely due to marketing, toy dinosaurs can truly be enjoyed by all children. For a child with great interest in the Mesozoic era, you can pair a series of play sessions with trips to a local history museum or even a movie-watching night. 

Age

Age plays a decisive factor in any toy purchase, and toy dinosaurs are no exception. To make sure the toy dinosaur is enjoyed to the fullest, consider the developmental stage of the child who will play with it.

Babies 12 months and under are still developing their motor skills. This is an age of tactile and sensory exploration. As babies learn about the world around them, they touch things and put them in their mouths. At this age, there won’t be too much independent play time — a caregiver is still the primary playmate. Toy dinosaurs in puppet form, as stuffed animals, or as a crib mobile are solid choices for this age.

As toddlers (12-36 months) become mobile, they engage more with their world. The majority of two- to three-year-olds can firmly grasp items in their hands, recognize colors, and count to 10. This is also an age where children develop an interest in role-playing. You can build upon their growth and interests with toy dinosaurs that include a simple counting component or puzzle component. 

Four- to five-year-olds lean even further into the role-playing aspects of playtime. At this age, children have learned enough about the world around them to understand the intended purpose for items. With this knowledge, children this age use that knowledge to create their own worlds and their own creations. Toy dinosaurs with a creative component, such as molding Play-Doh or drawing pictures, exercise the growing imaginations of children this age. 

At six years and up, elementary-age kids have more thirst for adventure. This is when peer friendships take on a new meaning, and new skills such as bike-riding are mastered. Toy dinosaurs can be an excellent tool to reinforce what kids are learning in their classrooms. More complex puzzles, fossil digging kits, or Lego sets are great choices for this age. 

Material

Toy dinosaurs come in all varieties of sizes and materials. The majority of toy dinosaurs tend to be plush or made from hard plastic. More often than not, the materials are synthetic. Plush stuffed animals are commonly made from a polyester blend, though some manufacturers opt for cotton on the exterior. Stuffed toy dinosaurs can be enjoyed by any age, but they make the most developmental sense for babies and toddlers. 

Hard plastic toys are taken from crude, raw organic matter and transformed into propane and ethane. ABS plastic is a high-quality plastic in many toys, such as Legos. These are most common in smaller dinosaur toys with more pieces, best suited for children over age three.

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For Your Safety
If a toy dinosaur contains pieces that are small enough to fit a child’s mouth, avoid giving it to children under three. A baby or young toddler could choke on the toy.
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Toy dinosaur features 

Learning toys

Technically, any toy dinosaur can be a learning toy. Here, “learning toy” refers to toy dinosaurs with an explicit function of gaining knowledge. For example, dinosaur toys that reinforce counting principles would be a learning toy. 

One very popular toy dinosaur set is for fossil or bone excavation. With these toys, toy dinosaur bones are embedded into a block of dried clay or sand. The set includes “archeology” tools like a mini pickaxe, a small hammer, and a chisel. Kids can gently chip away at the sediment until the dinosaur bones are revealed. Learning toys are an excellent way to solidify what kids learn in the classroom.

Battery-powered

Battery-operated toys can make playtime more dynamic. Often, these toy dinosaurs mimic movement of dinosaurs. The toy figure may be able to walk, move its arms, move its mouth, or even roar. 

Even still, there are battery-powered figures that aren’t necessarily dinosaur figures, such as a nighttime dinosaur projector.  

Costume toys

For children with a flair for drama, it might be more fun to be a dinosaur instead of playing with one. In this case, opt for dinosaur tails or dinosaur capes. No need to limit your search to toys, either. You can find dinosaur onesies, dinosaur headbands, and dinosaur pajamas in a number of places. 

Toy dinosaurs make great home decor. Whether it's for the dinosaur-obsessed kid or adult in your life, toy dinosaurs can be repurposed into small planters, tchotchkes, or figures in a diorama. 

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How much do toy dinosaurs cost?

Inexpensive

Toy dinosaurs can be refreshingly affordable. For $5 to $15, you can find toy dinosaurs that activate young imaginations without breaking the bank. Many of the toy dinosaurs in this range are simple. A set of small plastic toys or a small plush animal is easy to find. 

Mid-range

For $15 to $35, your toy options open enormously. Here you can find toys with more interactive components and toys that are explicitly meant for learning, puzzles, and Lego sets. 

Expensive 

If you have the means for a splurge, consider a toy dinosaur over $35. Oftentimes, these toys are interactive or battery-powered. For example, think of a T-rex toy with jaws that open and close, or the toy might be a child-sized stuffed animal or playset. 

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Staff Tip
Older kids can get in on the dinosaur fun, too — nothing is stopping a teenager from enjoying a fossil excavation kit, or you might opt for a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle for some fun the whole family can enjoy. 
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Tips

  • Keep the toys clean. With all their exploration and playtime, kids are notoriously germy. Hard plastic toys should be wiped down with a clean cloth soaked in mild, soapy warm water. Plush toys can be washed in a front-loading washing machine or by hand. For extra elbow grease, a toothbrush can help remove dirt in the grooves of a plastic toy.
  • Add some texture to playtime. If you have some small plastic toy dinosaurs on hand already, you can elevate them with some sand in a colorful storage bin. 
  • Get enough playtime. Ideally, children should engage in playtime on a daily basis. Since all children are different, there’s no one-size-fits-all model.  For children five and under, at least 30 minutes of focused playtime is recommended. With the right toys, 30 minutes can easily turn into an hour or two. 
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Multipiece dinosaur toys can get scattered fast. Have kids clean up their own toys, with a designated container for all the pieces. 

FAQ

Q. What can I do with toy dinosaurs?

A. Many things. Kids can use toy dinosaurs to act out stories, to make their own archeology games by burying the dinosaurs in sand (if small enough), or to have them identify different dinosaur species.

Q. Can adults play with toy dinosaurs, too?

A. Absolutely. Try looking for a more complex toy dinosaur, such as a building set or an excavation kit. There’s no age limit on play and imagination. 

Q. I was thinking of donating some toy dinosaurs to my child’s school. Would this be appropriate?

A. Although each school has its own donation policy, it can’t hurt to ask—and chances are there is a teacher at that school who could put dinosaur toys to good use in their classroom, whether it’s for a unit on dinosaurs, an art project, or a creative writing prompt.
 

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