Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Villain Retrospect - Krulos

I have no idea how I missed Dino-Riders as a kid.  This show would have been so up my alley my head would have exploded.  It takes all the dinosaur action from Dinosaucers and amps it up to 11 with people riding fully-armed terrible lizards!  Up until this point, my life has been a lie, but now I finally see what's been missing this whole time.

In outer space, the Rulon Empire chases the Valorians mercilessly.  Trapped in a tractor beam, the groan-inducing Questor (seriously, what is with these leader names sucking lately?) instructs his good guys to activate the STEP - Space Time Energy Projector - which opens a doorway to prehistoric Earth.  The Rulons follow the ship and both crashland on the jungle planet and find themselves surrounded by dinosaurs.  The Valorians use telepathic necklaces to tame the dinosaurs, becoming the Dino-Riders, while the evil Rulons use a cool-sounding device called a Brain Box to enslave his own forces. 

The cartoon is incredibly well animated for its initial episode, including a lot of special effects and great 80s dinosaur anatomy (the Godzilla-like T-Rex stance). It looks amazing and is a fantastic way to start the show.  While the following episodes have a bit of a drop in quality, I would say it still is a little higher than its peers - I didn't spot any animation errors or recycled animation. 

The Valorians are your typical heroic clichés - the wise leader Questor (again played by Dan Gilvezan), the brash Youngstar (an even worse name), telepathic healer Serena, and a few other fighters that blend in together.  Where the originality shines is the Rulon Empire, made up of a spattering of different alien races.  There's Rasp and his army of Vipers, Hammerhead and his own Hammerhead troops, and Antor, leader of the Antmen.  There are a few other creatures in the ranks, but these three are the most prominent and always vie for Krulos's second-in-command. 
Krulos himself doesn't fall in any of their races, instead being a frog-faced, red-eyed behemoth wearing a glass dome over his head.  He manages to yell everything that comes out of his mouth, which luckily for him, sounds great because he's voiced by Frank Welker.  His voice is just a little different enough from his Dr. Claw and Megatron, falling somewhere in the middle.  As every main character in the show is assigned a partner dinosaur, whether through telepathy or brain boxing, Krulos decides only one dinosaur will do. "I must have the mightiest of all - Tyrranosaurus Rex!"  Unfortunately, the first episode has him spending most of his time trying to tame the giant lizard and losing it by the end before doing it over again the episode two. 
Once he's got it under his control though - whew, that's a lot of firepower.  He's practically unstoppable and while some of the dinosaurs have some well-designed weapon placements (I especially like the Torosaurus's gun-hiding shell), the Tyrannosaurus Rex has to be one of the coolest and easily the most imposing one among them.  Even if it has a basketball hoop on its belly.  That doesn't look like the most stable or comfortable of perches.  It's funny to think that since Frank Welker no doubt voiced all the dinosaurs in the cartoon that he would have done both Krulos and his steed. 

I really appreciated all the work that had been put into this cartoon with how carefully the animator were to use different dinosaurs correctly - the this show and Dinosaucers did a good job keeping the species distinct and dropping their names often.  The latter show made me want to be an paleontologist as a kid and if I had seen this show as well, I'm sure it would have cemented that decision.  I know the show's creators focused the show on dinosaurs because of the cool factor, but I wonder how many kids were inspired to grow up to study fossils because of shows like this.  Imagine if it had a dinosaur-centric PSA at the end, just a profile of a different species before the credits.

Anyway, let's rate this guy!
Coolness - 7.  Krulos is indeed one of the coolest villains I've seen and he owes that to two factors; Frank Welker and the T-Rex.  Mr. Welker gives him a great raspy (funnily enough, he does voice Krulos's lieutenant, Rasp as well) voice that is distinct enough form his other villains and is the perfect combination of the two.  He's physically imposing compared to his troops, standing taller and wider than any of the other characters on the show and he gets the dinosaur that matches that.  You'd think that maybe having a face that looks like a toad would be a detriment, but compared to his goofier looking subordinates, it works in his favor.
Effectiveness - 3. Krulos falters a bit here since his plans for two episodes just involved bringing his dinosaur under his control.  It's not until the third episode that he really makes a plan and goes with it.  By brain boxing a ton of triceratops-like dinosaurs, he creates a stampede to trample the Valorians' base and steal the STEP crystal.  Once he returns to base with his prize, he finds out it was switched with an ordinary quartz and it explodes in his face.  So instead of just trampling the entire Valorian base and just destroying everything, which he certainly had the manpower to do, he decides to run away after getting the crystal - somehow also leaving his T Rex there.  That's some short-sightedness right in the face of victory. 

And now for some big news: It's my 100th post!  Since starting the Old School Evil blog, it's taken me almost a year to get through all of the villains I watched as a kid and those I missed along the way.  And now that I've completed my list, it's time for the Bad Guy Beatdown!  I've got one more article planned to post next week, some number crunching from all the cartoons I've watched, and then the fight begins with a breakdown of the rules and workings.  Keep checking back to find out who our first competitors will be!

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