Shieldon, Bastiodon

#410 – Shieldon

Much like Craniados gives us the idea of a T-Rex while actually using a slightly-less-popular dino as its base, likewise Shieldon gives us the vague impression of the ever-loved Triceratops by digging at the flatter-brimmed protoceratops. At least we’re getting some token resistance to keep these fossils interesting.

Shieldon feels the most familiar and obviously baby-ish of the fossils so far as a result – paint this thing green-and-brown instead of tan-and-grey, and you could see him as a Grass-type starter hiding behind a little shield made of wood or a nut shell. That’s kind of intrinsic behind moving toward reptilian fossils, but it’s not bad, per se. It’s just a little more on-forumula than we’re used to from this category.

But hey, the big ol’ eyes poking out through that face slot are pretty adorable, especially considering he’s otherwise pretty expressionless. Plus, I like the pair he makes with Craniados of “one uses their head for offense, the other for defense”. Shieldon may not be splashy design, but you can’t deny that he’s very functional.

#411 – Bastiodon

Bastiodon muddies the water a bit on what he is, with all manner of spikes and teeth that could put him anywhere up and down the whole ceratops family – though the absolute unit of a head points to the Chasmosaur, which is just a humdinger of a name.

Those horns also point to a whole bunch of other interesting ideas. He’s got a very visible underbite now, plus the equal protrusions out of the bottom of his face point to a scraggly ol’ beard. Add to that the bit of bone shooting straight out either side of his big nose, mimicking thick and low eyebrows, and we’ve kind of got a dinosaur-caveman vibe going on here, which is a total anachronism, but hey – that’s not the worst crime Pokémon is going to do against the fossil record, and it makes for a cool visual.

Personally I think the “windows” on his head-bones are a bit much; I might have liked them as acutal gaps in his frill like the “eyespots” we see in ceratops bone structure, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. I’m more bothered by how cleanly-shaped they are when the rest of Bastiodon is so delightfully scrungly, like how it looks like he’s been stomping and rolling around in clay long enough that it solidified around his spine and legs into an armor. It’s a great look, and presonally I really dig this stout ol’ neanderthal-saur for it.

It’s just a shame that slow, defensive Pokémon generally aren’t fun to play with in the main game, because Bastiodon has that market cornered by resisting half the types in the game – crazy good for a critter you can have before the second gym, even if his natural damaging moves are few and far between. A couple of crippling type weaknesses keep him out of competitve games, too; poor guy just can’t find a niche.

At least he has a little bit of an in-game niche where he’s the star of Gym Leader Byron’s team, whereas his son anchors his team with a Craniados (or Rampardos on a rematch). It’s a great bit of additional symmetry for this generation of fossils.

There’s a bit of a sticking point in the Pokédex entries for Shieldon – that its Armor Fossil was dug out of a layer of thick clay, and that only its face has been dug out that way. So, presumably, we’re back-forming the rest of an animal from one (admittedly large and central) piece of “bone” material?

Paleontologists regularly have to work off of partial remains – it’s famously rare that a complete, even mostly intact skeleton be found – but this level of speculative biology feels new for the species, and various entries in various Pokédexes can’t seem to agree whether to refer to it as a “facial hide” or that it’s actual steel that it polishes against trees.

Hey, while we’re at it, maybe it’s just a particularly dense pocket in the surrounding clay, or the face was always a layer of hardened clay, based on how haphazardly it seems splashed around the rest of Bastiodon’s body. This whole monster design seems to be one giant biological spitball, which honestly makes it a better dinosaur representation than many series might go for – just not for obvious reasons.

I love all the concepts here, and if not for Bastiodon being a mess from a gameplay perspective, I’d say he’s a fantastic step into the dinosaur realm for these fossils. That said, it’s little surprise that he’s not a massive staple with fans in the same way that other dinos are, and I can see why he might be Retired from the series if the designers can’t figure out some sneaky ways to give this fella more oomph.

Any and all appreciation for Bastiodon is welcome in the comments!

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