Well, everything old is new again. In the history of our study of dinosaurs, we went from thinking they were the bones of known creatures that had died, and were buried where they were, through catastrophes (like Noah's flood). As we studied more, we realized that they were indeed far older than anyone could imagine. Sir Richard Owen studied the finds available to him and noted that the animals combined anatomical (skeletal) features of birds and reptiles, and he's the one who coined the name, too. He thought they were relatively active animals, unlike reptiles, and the next generation of paleontologists did, too. This included a general idea that dinosaurs were warm-blooded in some fashion, just like birds. But by the 1890s and into the early 20th century, the images of dinosaurs as active animals was replaced by the idea that they were a zoological dead-end, and that they had to have been generally sluggish, cold-blooded animals, who just lay around while mammals ate their eggs. That idea prevailed until the early Sixties, I think, when the studies from the 19th century were revisited by men like John Ostrom, and his student, Robert Bakker, and by the latest discoveries of men like Jack Horner. They rethought the interpretation of the fossil record, and came back to the idea that dinosaurs were generally warm-blooded, whether through internal mechanisms, in smaller animals, or by ectothermy in the case of large animals (ie, keeping warm just by being large, and having a smaller ratio of surface area to mass). That's pretty much where we are today, but making refinements to our theories to explain the record, as new discoveries are made, like finding more evidence for feathers in many species, or finding rare examples of evidence for soft tissues, previously unknown and only guessed at; and new looks at evidence of what the environment was like.
You guys are right, too, when you talke about how model kits (and toys) have followed these developments. I built the Pyro dinosaur kits when I was a kid. They were awful, both in terms of accuracy, and in terms of model kits, even for their time. But I had a lot of fun building them as a six-year-old, and they helped fuel my love of dinosaurs. Skip ahead to Tamiya's first-generation of dinosaur kits. They're a vast improvement over the Pyro kits, but they're obsolete by today's standards of research. The T-rex is a tripod, sitting on its tail. The new T-rex is much better. And in between, there were Airfix' dinosaurs, and Aurora's.
I wouldn't say the skin effect is scaly, like a lizard or snake, or even like a crocodile (a cousin of the dinosaurs) or a turtle (a next-door neighbor) but it's more intended to depict a leathery sort of hide, with scales or bumps. But even that needs updating, depending on the subject, to depict the various kinds of feathers, depending on the subject.
Anyway, it's fun to think about.