The Tyco Armadillo is a radio control toy released into the American market in 1998 by Tyco.
The worst ever?
Until now, we’d thought hat the 2004 Jaws Land Shark Car was as bad as it possibly could get for Taiyo / Tyco radio control models. We were wrong. Yes, Taiyo of Japan was involved in this abomination, a ridiculous prop from the Michael Bay movie “Armageddon” Starring Bruce Willis, Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck, etc.
If we look at the ‘real’ Armadillo from the movie (photos below), it does actually look pretty good, however it’s “coolness” comes from how busy, unique, and prototype-mechanical it looks.
The wheels are all hanging out on armatures outside of the vehicle body, there’s bits and pieces attached everywhere, and the biggest problem – it has no discernible shape.
Think of Star Wars vehicles. They all have a very simple and obvious silhouette. You can easily tell an A-Wing from an X-Wing, an AT-AT (big, 4 legs) from AT-ST (small, 2 legs).
That’s not possible for the Armadillo as it’s shape is basically a blob.
Can you imagine trying to design a toy based on that blob that not only looks the same, but works? It has to move!
Problem #2 – They cheaped out
So the designer at Taiyo had a serious challenge on this hands. He needed to make this ridiculous Hollywood monstrosity into a real-life toy that kids could play with, that didn’t cost the earth, wouldn’t hurt them, and wouldn’t break before it left the store.
Original Concept Model
And if you look at the back of the box, the photo seems to show the original concept model, as if Taiyo was saying “Look, we made a good one, we’re not responsible for this mess!”. It’s quite a decent looking model! Simplified yes, with design choices that make it different from the original, but it still LOOKS like what you remember from the movie.
But that’s just the concept, the best possible model that Taiyo could make.
Then the accountants from Tyco come along, and started cutting costs to make it more profitable. Let’s take a look at the key differences between the concept, and end product.
The single biggest expense on the concept model would have been the paintwork, as a manual task. It’s the paintwork that gives this blob shape and definition, realism, just like with the Hollywood model, it’s these tricks with light and color which sell it. Without those effects, it looks like a cheap kids toy – which of course, it is.
- Wheel Armatures
On the concept these are black, contrasting with the rest of the grey model, and making it look more interesting and ‘real’. Without that contrast, it’s all just a big blob of grey plastic. The wheels themselves are also different.
- Ram Drill
This is completely different to the model photo on the box, entirely redesigned to make it easier and cheaper to construct and fit together with a few screws.
Problem #3 – The final insult!
Not only is it butt-ugly, with only 2xAA batteries providing a maximum of 3V, this thing was always going to be a cop-out. Worse, movement is limited to moving forward, and rotating clockwise. Argh!
The only positive I can draw from this one is my memory as a teenager, seeing Liv Tyler in the Armageddon movie and thinking… daaaayyyymnnnn!