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Snohomish workshop helps dinosaurs roam

A fan visits with one of the DinoCrew NW’s dinosaurs at this year’s Kla Ha Ya Days in Snohomish.

Aided by two feet and electronics, dinos can make a big entrance

SNOHOMISH — Milky white eyes stare unblinkingly through black bars of a 23-foot cage. As it rattles down the road, the two creatures within tug at their restraints, reptilian heads bobbing, incisors flashing.
Meet Raven and Mac. She’s a 12-year-old megaraptor, he’s a 3-year-old T-rex.
The two anachronistic escapees from the Jurassic era are 13-feet-long and stand 8-feet high, their leathery looking skin and eight inch claws look realistic despite the impossibility of their existence.
Indeed, it took significant effort and work in three separate states to bring the replicas seemingly out of extinction and into action.
Or as owner Tyler McGuinn says, “you can’t just get on the internet and buy this stuff.”
The dinos are born in California, where their foam forms and metal frames are constructed, meticulously airbrushed in Arizona and touched up in Snohomish where they are animated by local performers.
McGuinn exported the idea from originator Greg McGew of Phoenix, Arizona, and dubbed it DinoCrew NW. Since May, he’s been delighting and terrifying children and adults at local fairs, birthday parties and other special events such as Snohomish’s Kla Ha Ya Days.
And yes, they even do weddings. On a recent weekend they were off to Sequim. Whether it was to liven up the nuptials or frighten a wayward ring-bearer into behaving was unknown.
It takes cutting edge Bluetooth and computer technology to enliven the ancient-looking carnivores. A complex internal mechanism, complete with viewing monitors for the performers who wear the second skins, and animated facial mechanisms mean the dinosaurs exhibit personality and versatility. A camera mounted within the snouts gives performers the external view through the monitors and fans keep them from passing out while working the 60-pound frames.
They can play fetch with a femur sized bone at children’s parties, or pace around a ring of children and play with them.
The dinos bring company too, in the form of smaller puppets including a footlong, intricately painted embryo in egg, and a child-sized midnight blue baby dinosaur.
Partygoers visit with all the dinos in a multisensory experience that includes intense music tracks tailored to the age and temperament of the audience.
McGuinn says the most challenging aspect of the job is finding partners for Mac and Raven ­— the two need performers who fit their frames, down to their shoe size, and the pool for would-be dinosaurs isn’t too deep.
Oddly, it’s not the fear factor or the uniqueness of his job that is McGuinn’s favorite aspect. The Navy vet and cook has a different measure of satisfaction. He rates happiness on the scale of watching people sit down to a good meal he’s prepared and appreciating it. When he sees those satisfied looks on his DinoCrew customers’ faces, then he’s content.
Any unhappy customers, the rumor goes, are fed to Raven. In actuality, McGuinn has a satisfaction guarantee, but says the dinosaurs sell themselves.


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