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TMNT Adventures
by yo go re

33 years later...

One of the strongest Mutanimals, Dreadmon gained his power of super speed from a mysterious talisman... which eventually also robbed him of his human form.

Dreadmon (who never had a human name revealed) was born in South Africa to a father who staunchly fought against Apartheid. After the police burned down the family home for the third time, Dad-mon sent his wife and son out of the country for their own protection. They ended up dirt poor in Jamaica (a destionation which honestly seems to exist only to justify the character's name), with the boy stealing from tourists to survive. The totem that gave him his powers is one of the things he stole. At first, it just gave him dreams of running with the wolves, then it made him super fast in real life. Then, one night when the moon was full, he turned into this hybrid creature, and was never able to turn back. Jamaica is a small island to support a large wolfman, so Dreadmon sneaked onto a boat headed for the Amazon, which is where he eventually met the Turtles.

Coming to us from NECA's Archie Comics line, Dreadmon is one of the first mutants introduced by the comics. There was a three-issue miniseries, then four issues of the ongoing comic, that all adapted episodes of the cartoon series; with issue #5, Ryan Brown and Stephen Murphy were given free rein to tell whatever stories they wanted, and in issue #15, that story brought readers Dreadmon. The figure was sculpted by Tony Cipriano, showing quite a change of style from highly detailed monsters.

Despite being based on simple comic artwork, this toy's sculpt is more detailed than you might think. I know know I certainly wasn't expecting his exposed arms and legs to be covered with a sculpted fur texture, even if that's the way they would have been in "reality." There are thicker patches of fur on his forearms, and a bushy tail sticks out from under his skirt. He's got a giant mane of hair, with several small skulls woven into it to give a "voodoo" vibe. You might have thought he'd have dreadlocks, but no. That would make too much sense.

There's some confusion over what animal Dreadmon actually is. The Archie sourcebook refers to him as a red wolf, the IDW take on him was a jackal, Stephen Murphy confused him for a Tasmanian devil... but his origin directly states that the totem he stole was a Tasmanian wolf - you know, a thylacine. The confusion is understandable, since the character design doesn't resemble the actual animal in anything except the broadest of strokes: he has spots painted on his arms and legs, while a thylacine has stripes on its back; his ears are tall and pointed, rather than rounded off; and rather than a thick, furry tail like this, Tasmanian wolves had thin, straight tails, almost like a cat's, though far less flexible (maybe more like a kangaroo's, then). I know it's far easier to do research on things today than it was in 1990, but this really just feels like Ryan Brown read about Tasmanian wolves somewhere, suggested it as a source for a character, and then artist Ken Mitchroney just heard "wolf" and went with it.

Articulation is as good as NECA's TMNT always get, with hinged toes, swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, balljoint waist, swivel/hinge wrists, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a balljointed head. His tail also gets both a swivel and a hinge where it joins the body, and his mouth is articulated - since real tasmanian wolves were known for being able to open their mouths alarmingly wide, we're glad Dreadmon's isn't just sculpted in place. Unfortunately, between Dreadmon's intended digitigrade stance and the weight of his hair and tail in the back, balancing him can be difficult. He pretty much has to look down at the ground in order to not fall over backwards.

The figure includes three pairs of hands - fists, holding, and clawing - but the truly impressive alternate bodypart has to be his swappable eyes. Yep, you can change Dreadmon's expression without having to trade out his entire head. The alternate pair of eyes are narrowed, with the brows coming down over them, so he looks less comical and more serious. This is a clever way of doing it!

His other accessories include a couple bananas, like he snacked on during the boat ride between Jamaica and the Amazon, the bowl of stuff the Coipacu people fed him when he got there (a mix of plants, fruits, and animal entrails), a blue canister of some sort, and one of the Malignoid larvae that were responsible for bringing the Mighty Mutanimals together as a team in the first place. Finally there's a tombstone, either to represent the portion of his origin story where zombies were coming after him, or the end of the Mutanimals' story, when their enemies ganged up to kill them. Seriously.

So, Dreadmon: a guy who was born in South Africa, turns into an Australian animal, and speaks with a Jamaican accent. This character is literally all over the place! Playmates turned down the opportunity to make a toy of the character in the original run of the toys, and then cancelled him when they eventually did try. Thank Jah NECA has finally made this long-overdue character.

-- 04/20/23

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