Review and photographs by Funk, edited by Suspsy
The 1994 Atari fighting game Primal Rage featured a roster of stop-motion animated dinosaurs and giant apes that battled it out on a post-apocalyptic Earth (or “Urth”), which seems like an irresistible concept for a toyline, with Playmates jumping to the task in 1996, possibly to coincide with the sequel of the game which never materialised (toys based on characters from the sequel were also produced).
Most of the playable characters were based on dinosaurs, and while some were recognisable genera such as Tyrannosaurus or Deinonychus, others were extremely fictionalised such as Armadon, the subject of this review. According to the game’s strategy guide, Armadon is supposed to be a “Tristegosaurotops,” which seems to be a portmanteau of Triceratops and Stegosaurus, but oddly enough, his component features do not resemble either of those genera.
So while Armadon is obviously a bipedal ceratopsid/thyreophoran hybrid (bipedal because, well, he had to fight other bipedal characters, although early ceratopsians were also bipedal), his head more closely resembles the skulls of square-frilled Chasmosaurus or spiky Centrosaurus, both of which lacked the enormous brow horns of Triceratops. His armour is more like that of an ankylosaur than a stegosaur, with spiky osteoderms across the back and a club-like tail. Interestingly, the Stegoceratops hybrid of the Jurassic World expanded universe (supposedly cut from the film) is supposed to consist of the same components and has a much more obvious likeness.
Since Armadon is obviously a fictional creature, it doesn’t make sense to review his anatomical accuracy, but compared to the in-game appearance of the character, it hits pretty close (more so than the Talon figure), with the only major difference being that the game version has much longer spikes and horns, though it makes sense these would be shorter in a toy, to not hurt playing kids. Unlike ceratopsids and ankylosaurs, Armadon has four large fangs, probably just artistic licence to make him more menacing, but some basal ceratopsians (like Yinlong and even Protoceratops) did actually have fang-like teeth at the front of the upper jaw, so we could pass it off as a throwback. That doesn’t explain Armadon’s prominent chin, though. The colour pattern on him is sandy yellow with black stripes like in the game, albeit much more saturated, whereas it appeared more brown in the game, and the stripes also appeared brown rather than black. There was also a green variant similar to the one in the game. The figure is about 14 cm from head to foot when standing upright (which it does surprisingly well).
Mobility-wise, the toy is quite dynamic, with rotatable limbs and neck, and no less than two action features. Rotating Armadon’s arms down lengthens the spikes on his back, which mimics his Bed-o’-Nails defensive special move in the game. And pushing his tail by the base launches his club like a missile, which seems painful, but mirrors his Flying Spikes special move in which he shoots spikes from his tail. Strangely, the toy also comes with an alternate, more mace-like tail club, more similar to that of the glyptodont Doedicurus than to any dinosaur. The latter club is heavier, so it flies a much shorter distance. There also appears to have been an armour sheath for the nasal horn with the original toy, but that was probably long gone when I got my figure second hand.
So, while Armadon is not an accurate dinosaur by any stretch of the imagination, he’s a pretty cool-looking character who obviously incorporates some iconic dinosaur features in a new way, and is just as much a dinosaur as any of the Jurassic Park: Chaos Effect or Jurassic World hybrids, I’d say (the cancelled Chaos Effect Ultimasaurus had some similarities). There is something appealing about adding armour to the otherwise rather nondescript bodies of ceratopsians, and this character’s design does it in a way that almost looks natural. And who knows, maybe a ceratopsian with body armour will one day be discovered. Armadon can be recommended for any fan of Primal Rage, people who like fantasy dinosaurs, or kids who like neat action features.