Armadillo (1988)

A while back, I covered Steam-Roller, the driver of the Mobile Command Center, and a gem of a figure that I hadn’t really appreciated before taking a look at him for the blog. I’d like to say the same applies to Armadillo, but for the most part, I still find him uninspiring. He has a few vestiges of personality as a figure, but it doesn’t quite come together for me.

Both plain and weird at the same time, Armadillo is the antithesis of his ride, the awesome Rolling Thunder. He holds a bit of interest, if you look closely at the sculpt. The shirt is nondescript, and he looks to have borrowed some arm wraps from Storm Shadow, but take a look at those pants and boots. I suppose I should have saved him for a nice pants feature, because I hadn’t noticed before how far-out they are. Some sort of odd half chaps/half riding leathers pants affair, they actually give the figure some much needed personality. Unfortunately, this is not too noticeable thanks to the single color. It’s another driver figure mold that could really benefit from an extra paint app or two. The motorcyclist look is continued with the high, buckled boots. Speaking of buckles, there’s a monster of one on his belt that would do Wild Bill proud. He’s so flashy from the waist down, it’s like he’s wearing half of someone else’s outfit.

Then there’s the head. Oh boy, the head. First off, could a human sized cranium fit into that helmet? He must have the smallest forehead known to man since neanderthals walked the earth. The helmet itself is what really kills the figure for me. It’s just kind of…there. I know that’s not very articulate, but it best sums up the headgear to me. At least he’s got some character in his face. He’s not a pretty boy, that’s for sure.

What an odd figure. So many different things are going on, it’s like trying to solve a puzzle. He frustrates and intrigues me at the same time. I’d love to get some insight into his design. Who are you really, Armadillo? Will I ever find out?

At first, I thought Armadillo was best forgotten, but now I’m not so sure. Not loved and not hated; he exists in a kind of GI Joe no-man’s-land. Not cool enough to be a Flint, and not goofy enough to be a Crystal Ball, he’s his own man in an action figure cast of hundreds. In that respect, I suppose he’s in a class all his own. Wait a minute, did I just talk myself into liking this figure?



  • Let’s not forget another part of his notoriety–he was called Rumbler in the comic!

  • One thing I always hated about this figure is the bizarre biceps..

    • YES! claims the figure is all original, but I feel skeptical based on the upper arms. It seems clear those arms match up with some kind of body armor or shoulder pad or something.

  • Judging by the buckle and the detail on his pants i get the impression that he was intended to look like a rough rider [or something similar] but this was dropped during the concept stages.

    It would not have hurt for him to have sleeves. It makes no sense to be working the Rolling Thunders guns whilst only wearing a muscle shirt [unless he has burn proof skin]

  • I think you did talk yourself into liking him, Rob. Excellent analysis you laid out there.

    Armadillo has always been “Rumbler” to me since that’s how he ended up being called in the comic. I’ve never figured that one out since he didn’t appear in either the Sunbow or DIC cartoons. Never mind his name change being annoying enough, but the awkward head sculpt and lack of paint app love works heavily against this guy. A real shame due to all the detail involved in most of the figure.

    On the other hand, I can safely say that he wins the award for coolest belt buckle in the entire vintage era. ’83 Wild Bill should have gotten this baby instead of that easily rubbed off paint smear. Armadillo/Rumbler also scores points for his ride and the few appearances it made in the comic, with issue #80 being the highlight. Somehow, I’ve always really loved that issue. As you say, the figure treads a middle ground between cool and lame which makes him hard to peg down, but I lean more towards the former.

  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    I like the head sculpt, but the rest of the body looks too plain.

  • I remember not really knowing what to think about this figure as a kid either. My older brother had the Rolling Thunder, but that figure just really didn’t seem to fit it. For a guy in charge of the Joes’ largest fighting vehicle and a vehicle with ballistic missile capabilities (seriously, I didn’t realize it as a kid, but those massive cluster bombs as I think they were called are a pretty dead ringing for nuclear weapons with multiple independently-targetable reentry vehicle technology), he just seemed like a thuggish brute and not a guy you’d want manning such a piece of technology. Honestly, growing up, Armadillo looked more like a Dreadnok brawler than he did a Joe driver. It’s an interesting figure, I’ll give it that, but it just seems like he was destined for something different before being attached to the Rolling Thunder.

  • Armadillo looks like he’s wearing a lime peel on his head. A very dull figure that seems mismatched with his vehicle. Everything about him except the belt buckle screams dull or plain. I think he’s one of the worse figures before the last few years of the classic line.

  • Review the vehicle he comes with!


    Without a doubt, one of the worst figures ever made in the history of GI joe.I have him, but he’ll never be displayed.He is in the same category as Skidmark and Windmill but far worse.Maybe the most uninspired figure in the entire line.

  • GI JOE had a trend of assigning high-tech vehicles to uncouth-looking blue-collar drivers, Cross Country, Steam Roller, Armadillo and Wild Card.

  • @Neopolitan Joe
    Thats an interesting choice of figures

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