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Spider-Man: No Way Home
by yo go re

At some point you stop scraping the bottom of the barrel and begin digging in the dirt.

When his wife, Maria, was sticken with a chronic disease, Antonio Rodriguez looked everywhere he could for help. The only doctor who said he could help the couple was Dr. Karl Malus, who agreed to cure Maria if Antonio agreed to become a test subject for his experiments. Anotion's DNA was combined with that of an armadillo, and was sent to break into the West Coast Avengers' compound, where he fought Captain America. Surprisingly, Dr. Malus kept up his end of the bargain, and once Maria was cured, The Armadillo joined a superpowered wrestling federation.

For whatever reason, Armadillo is the Build-A-Figure for the Spider-Man: No Way Home line. Why? Because they felt like it, probably. As we've talked about before, they couldn't very well spoil all the characters who were going to appear in the movie, so even if some of the Sinister Five would have been suitable as a BAF, they wouldn't have been suitable to include yet. So instead, Hasbro just turned to the pile of large, obscure characters who don't have a toy yet, and drew this name out of the hat. Buy six of the seven figures in this series (skipping Intergrated Suit Spider-Man), and you can build this random villain.

Armadillo was created in 1985, when every other possible animal inspiration for a character had already been exhausted. [Oh yeah? Tell that to the perfect potential Spider-Man foe, the Tit-Tyrant! --ed.] He's been drawn lots of ways over the years, on a big sliding scale from "mostly human-shaped" to "weird round boi." This one is closer to the human end of the scale (no, really), with recognizable facial features like a nose and cheeks. Yes, that's what constitutes "human-looking" for the Armadillo. He gets real weird a lot of the time.

The sculpt is 100% new. Rather than just trying to add new, armored limbs onto an existing torso, they started from scratch. He's nearly as wide as he is tall, with thick proportions no other molds could duplicate. The orange armor up top has a pebbly texture, while the tan skin beneath is smoother, yet still wrinkled and visibly thick. The long, rock-rending claws on his fingers and toes (four fingers, five toes) are dark grey, and look sharp without being actually dangerous on the toy.

Armadillo has a barbell-jointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, a balljointed chest, balljoint hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. It's all normal, but for him it's not enough: remember, he's not dressed like an Armadillo, he really is one, TMNT-style; one of his major abilities in the comics is to roll up into an armored ball for both attack and defense, and a single chest joint is never going to give you enough range of motion to do that.

The reason we got this BAF is probably Brian Michael Bendis: back in 2018, Bendis was writing six books for Marvel, and used Armadillo as a throwaway villain fight in all of them, then had a payoff to all this set-up in his final issue of Jessica Jones. Armadillo was created as a joke character, but anyone can be used well if the writer wants to. At no point in time would "Armadillo is going to be getting an action figure" have been a logical, believable sentence, but here we are, with one that's way better than it has any right to be.

Spider-Man | Doctor Strange | J. Jonah Jameson | Miles Morales | Morlun | Shriek

-- 04/18/22

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