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The Armorer

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This guy gets The Hero his wonderful toys.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
MadAnthony94 on Jul 10th 2018 at 8:23:31 PM
Last Edited By:
Snowy66 on 5 hours ago
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

If The Hero, the Caper Crew, or whomever needs a camera that can be cleverly disguised as a cufflink, a wristwatch that conceals a handy garrote wire, or one of those discrete amphibious sports cars, they turn to this guy. The Armorer tends to be strictly non-action; they are not The Smart Guy. Their usual role in the story is to introduce some fabulous new toys for the main character to use, sometimes after a strategic absence to allow the audience to forget about them. If they have any presence beyond that, it's probably to help keep any fuming, obstructive superiors off the main characters' backs.

This is one possible answer to the question Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?. Gadgeteer Genius, The Engineer, The Blacksmith and Mr. Fixit all describe skills an Armorer should or may have (though, to be clear, an Armorer is not required to be an inventor themselves). Personality-wise, they stand a good chance of being a Bungling Inventor, an Absent-Minded Professor, or an Insufferable Genius.


Examples

     Anime and Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball, Bulma serves as this for the Z-Fighters, providing them with all their gadgets and technology when ever they can't use their power levels to solve the problem. Notable examples include the Dragon Radar used to locate the Dragon Balls, several space ships to travel between planets, and capsules which allow shrinking large objects for easy storage.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • The setting has this on a wide scale with the Support companies, who provide heroes and heroes-in-training with their costumes, gear, and other technology that they might need.
    • For the focal students themselves, Mei Hatsume is consistently the Support Department's representative to the plot. She shows off many of her inventions at the Sports Festival and provides Midoriya with upgrades to his equipment.

     Comic Books 
  • As an agent of SHIELD, Nick Fury relied on Sidney "The Gaffe" Levine (a mechanic who took care of Fury's flying car) and Boothroyd, who mostly gave him personal effects like guns, armor, invisibility pills (comics, everyone)...
  • On the villainous side of the Marvel Universe, see the Tinkerer. Shocker, Vulture, Rocket Racer, Jester, Diamondback, and too many others to count go to him for their equipment.
  • Reed Richards and Tony Stark also work as this in the Marvel Universe, when they're not doing their usual superheroics. It's stated several times that their tech is crucial for SHIELD, and when Tony is in the hospital for life-threatening injuries, they even post guards outside his door.
  • The Punisher: Micro fulfills this role for Frank, both outfitting him with assorted gadgets and vehicles (Frank goes through a lot of battle vans) and helping with electronic warfare and surveillance. At one point he claims Frank's total bodycount would have been a third of what it is without his assistance.
  • In Batwoman, one of Jacob Kane's roles is making or acquiring hardware for his daughter's war on the Religion of Crime.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Gyro Gearloose is a Bungling Inventor variant. In the Paperinik stories, he creates the titular hero's various super-gadgets.
  • Agent of the Empire, unsurprisingly since it's James Bond in Star Wars. Jahan's tech guy is Alessia Quon. Not only does he keep Jahan's favorite droid in working order, we learn that they can confide in each other when they step out of bounds, Jahan being one of few Imperials who doesn't have any anti-alien bias.
  • The Mexican version of Fantômas had Professor Semo. It's not clear why he gave so many gadgets to a self-professed criminal. Presumably he's just happy as long as his stuff gets a field test.

     Film 
  • Lucius Fox fills this role in The Dark Knight Trilogy, providing Bruce with all the Wonderful Toys he needs, while helpfully pretending he has no idea what Bruce is using it for.
    And before you ask, yes, it comes in black.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Howard Stark from Captain America: The First Avenger is an eccentric industrialist who offers Captain America an array of experimental shields to chose from to tackle the Nazi threat. Cap quickly gravitates to a light-weight, invincible shields he takes with him until the end of the war.
    • Tony gives Peter Parker a high-tech Spidey-Suit in Captain America: Civil War, but working out all its bells and whistles (which Tony kept restricted for, frankly, Peter's safety) is up to Peter and his pal Ned, sort of a Back Alley Armorer, in later films.
    • Shuri from Black Panther is Wakanda's greatest mind, allowing her to give Black Panther the tech he needs to pull off his superheroics. His nano-Vibranium panther suit, sound-proofed sneakers, and car-jacking Kimoyo Beads all come from Shuri and serve him well to the end of the film.

     Literature 
  • The Trope Codifier (to the point many examples on this page are direct parodies of him) was Major Boothroyd in Ian Fleming's James Bond books, better known to modern audiences as "Q". Originally just the quartermaster who kept track of MI-6's handguns, the films cemented the popular image of him as a master boffin whose presents for 007 got increasingly elaborate and in some cases downright absurd, and who would always admonish Bond to return what he gave him on a mission in "pristine order" (which wasn't always possible).
  • Possibly von Herder, the blind German mechanic mentioned in some Sherlock Holmes stories. According to Holmes himself, von Herder made the air rifle used by Professor Moriarty's henchman, Moran. Some adaptations, like The Hound Of The D Urbervilles, expand on this scant information to make von Herder Moriarty's personal Q-Branch.
  • Foaly in Artemis Fowl invents and parcels out tech for LEP agents and is willing to help the main characters off-the-books, since he doesn't like most of his superiors.
  • Barry Trotter and the Unauthorized Parody features Zed, a purveyor of magical toys who's a clear parody of Q.
  • Discworld:
    • Leonard da Quirm operates as this in several stories. The poor guy has several dozen brilliant ideas for inventions every day, but is too naive to realize how dangerous some are, so the Patrician keeps him locked up and top secret. It doesn't bother Leonard; you can imprison his body, but his mind can't be held down.
    • Another parody of the Trope Namer is Qu, who fills this role for the History Monks, providing neat little toys like the Procrastinators that allow you to speed or slow time.
  • The Drood Family in Secret Histories has the Armorer, in charge of all the family's magical items.

     Live Action TV 
  • Barney Collier in Mission: Impossible built the electronics and mechanical contrivances the IMF used.
  • Invoked in Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Buffy compares Xander and Giles to "her Q" after they build a training course for her.
  • A villainous (or at least amoral) example in Daredevil; Wilson Fisk gets literal body armor (well-made enough to hide beneath a tailored suit) from a man called Melvin Potter. When Matt learns this, he decides to visit Potter himself to get his own classic costume.
  • In The Flash
    • Cisco is, in his own words, the one who "makes the toys". Almost all of Team Flash's many gadgets come from Cisco, most notably Barry's Flash suit. Occasionally Dr. Wells pitches in to help Cisco out.
    • Season Four Big Bad, Clifford DeVoe/The Thinker, has his wife serve as his engineer, constructing all of his impossible equipment from his Thinking Cap, to his Cool Chair, and even their pocket dimension lair.

     Mythology 

     Tabletop Games 
  • The Adeptus Mechanicus in Warhammer 40,000 are the main supplier and developer of advanced technology in the Imperium of Man. And by "advanced technology", I mean war machines. "Developer" is also a bit of a stretch, since their methods discourage inventiveness.

     Video Games 
  • The Assassin Brotherhood of Assassin's Creed has had several historical inventors help their cause by building them special equipment. To name a few: Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Graham Bell.
  • In Mega Man Zero, the Resistance's scientist robot Cerveau supplies Zero with new weapons that he builds from studying Zero's original weapon, Z-Saber.
  • Goldeneye Rogue Agent, in keeping with the prevailing Evil Counterpart theme, has Francisco Scaramanga serve as the Q stand-in to the "Evil Bond" main character. Mostly this means adding upgrades to his, ah, Golden Eye.

     Western Animation 

Feedback: 35 replies

Jul 10th 2018 at 8:26:15 PM

I refuse to believe this isn't a trope already, but I'm unable to find one that fits.

Jul 10th 2018 at 8:52:17 PM

  • In Mega Man Zero, the Resistance's scientist robot Cerveau supplies Zero with new weapons that he builds from studying Zero's original weapon, Z-Saber.

Jul 10th 2018 at 9:40:31 PM

Needs A Better Title according to Trope Namer Syndrome. "Q Division" is meaningless outside of what it references.

Jul 10th 2018 at 10:35:00 PM

Trope Namer Syndrome. Hero's Gadget Developer? Also, several of the examples are lacking context; please see Zero Context Examples for more details on what sufficient context entails.

  • My Hero Academia:
    • The setting has this on a wide scale with the Support companies, who provide heroes and heroes-in-training with their costumes, gear, and other technology that they might need.
    • For the focal students themselves, Mei Hatsume is consistently the Support Department's representative to the plot. She shows off many of her inventions at the Sports Festival and provides Midoriya with upgrades to his equipment.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Gyro Gearloose is a Bungling Inventor variant. In the Paperinik stories, he creates the titular hero's various super-gadgets.
  • Kim Possible: Wade Load doubles as this and Mission Control; in addition to being her Voice With An Internet Connection while on missions, he also provides her with all the gadgets she uses on the field.

Jul 11th 2018 at 2:07:35 AM

  • Examples section
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
    • Added the word "Examples".

Zero Context Examples have been marked as such. They need more information to show how they fit the trope. Please don't remove the marking unless you add enough context. Warning: providing Zero Context Examples can result in being suspended from editing.

Jul 11th 2018 at 4:59:12 AM

Hopefully that's enough context. Let me know if it isn't. Hero's Gadget Developer is okay as a title. Any other ideas? Anyone have any feelings about "The Quartermaster" or "Hero R&D"?

Jul 11th 2018 at 5:53:33 AM

Regarding "is this a trope"... well, currently it's Chekhovs Armory, but this is a fairly distinct subtrope that I would be fine with splitting it off.

... and as much as I love the name and think it's perfect, it's objectively a Bad Trope Namer. Hero R&D might work, though.

Jul 11th 2018 at 8:24:03 AM

Chekhovs Armory is about "a lot of Chekhovs Gun", which is unrelated to thia.

Jul 11th 2018 at 9:20:56 AM

Film

  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Howard Stark from Captain America The Firest Avenger is an eccentric industrialist who offers Captain America an array of experimental shields to chose from to tackle the Nazi threat. Cap quickly gravitates to a light-weight, invincible shields he takes with him until the end of the war.
    • Shuri from Black Panther is Wakanda's greatest mind, allowing her to give Black Panther the tech he needs to pull off his superheroics. His nano-Vibranium panther suit, sound-proofed sneakers, and car-jacking Kimoyo Beads all come from Shuri and serve him well to the end of the film.

Podcasts

  • After each arc in The Adventure Zone Balance, the adventurers can go to the Moon to receive a new item from Leon the Artificer. All he asks is that they put a coin in a slot and spin the Fantasy Gachapon to receive a random item, only for the adventurers to deliberately misinterpret his instructions every time.

Jul 11th 2018 at 12:54:32 PM

I think this is covered by The Engineer, which has a similar discussion of the role within a battle team dynamic that this does.

Jul 11th 2018 at 4:03:43 PM

  • Marq FJA I guess so. My line of thought was that a Gadgeteer Genius describes a skill, while this trope is more about a function within the plot (i.e., giving the hero the inventions to use). It's possible for them not to overlap: a character with the unusual ability to invent things out of junk, who uses this ability to save the day, is a Gadgeteer Genius but not Hero Rn D. A businessman who supplies the hero with nifty tech but has no inventive ability himself (just hires others who do) is Hero Rn D but not Gadgeteer Genius. Hope that makes sense.
I don't think it's quite the same as The Engineer, but I admit I could be wrong. I sort of agree with Chekhovs Armory; I mention the overlap with Chekhovs Gun in the text.

Jul 12th 2018 at 6:17:58 AM

A redirect/rewrite of Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys, maybe? The overlap is heavy enough that some examples seem like they could just as easily go on the current page as-is, but maybe the current name isn't indicative enough. The character archetype of the (usually labcoat-clad) Non Action Guy Support Party Member inventor/Mr Fixit character does come up often enough that it does deserve to be troped, I think. See also: boffins.

Comic Books

  • Marvel Comics:
    • Depending on the story, when they're not playing a leading role themselves, characters like Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and Beast can serve as this, either for their respective teams or for other heroes.
    • The Tinkerer is a villainous example.

Jul 11th 2018 at 8:09:45 PM

"Hero R&D" is a somewhat better title, but I'd prefer to not squash "Research and Development" into an acronym.

Jul 12th 2018 at 1:37:48 AM

The Punisher: Micro fulfills this role for Frank, both outfitting him with assorted gadgets and vehicles (Frank goes through a lot of battle vans) and helping with electronic warfare and surveillance. At one point he claims Frank's total bodycount would have been a third of what it is without his assistance.

Jul 12th 2018 at 3:05:15 AM

@Mad Anthony 94/OP

Re: The new title Hero R&D.

Naming A Trope - Be clear in the name says "Avoid acronyms, as they are hard to understand and difficult to remember."

Jul 12th 2018 at 3:26:30 AM

^You could always have both the full name and the acronym to direct to the same page. I do feel like the more this trope becomes a group or department, though, the less reason there is to have it be separate from Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys

As an alternate title: The Armorer, maybe? That was the (only name given) for the proto-Q from Dr No, it can work for heroes or villains, and it's specifically about a character who arms other characters with the gear they build, rather than using it themselves.

Jul 12th 2018 at 9:05:10 AM

^ Ooh, I like "The Armorer"!

Jul 12th 2018 at 5:18:20 PM

For the record I do agree with most of these suggestions for entries, but it feels like there's still a little uncertainty over how worthy this is of tropehood, so I'm just waiting to scope things out a bit. As it's seconded, Armorer passes.

Jul 12th 2018 at 5:47:29 PM

The Engineer could at least be mentioned in the description.

Jul 12th 2018 at 9:28:05 PM

Comic Books

  • In Batwoman, one of Jacob Kane's roles is making or acquiring hardware for his daughter's war on the Religion of Crime.

Jul 13th 2018 at 5:44:20 AM

  • In Dragon Ball, Bulma serves as this for the Z-Fighters, providing them with all their gadgets and technology when ever they can't use their power levels to solve the problem. Notable examples include the Dragon Radar used to locate the Dragon Balls, several space ships to travel between planets, and capsules which allow shrinking large objects for easy storage.

  • MCU:
    • Peter has two of these. Firstly it is Tony Stark himself who provides Peter with upgraded Spider-Man suits that are full of technology. To a lesser extent Peter's best friend Ned, and while he doesn't make technology himself, he is tech savvy enough to tinker and hack the technology Peter has on hand.
    • On the villain's side, the Tinkerer makes all of the Vulture's high-tech gadgets from the various alien and super-powered technology that they steal. There's include: an anti-gravity gun, a matter phase shifter, and of course Vulture's signature wings.

Jul 15th 2018 at 6:12:08 AM

Ah, good old Q. He was the guy who would always admonish Bond to bring whatever he gave him back in "pristine order" (and this was sometimes impossible given certain crazy action scenes).

Jul 19th 2018 at 9:34:17 PM

  • In The Flash, Cisco is, in his own words, the one who "makes the toys". Almost all of Team Flash's many gadgets come from Cisco, especially Barry's Flash suit. Occasionally Dr. Wells pitches in to help Cisco out.

yesterday

  • In Avengers Infinity War, Eitri the Dwarf King serves as The Blacksmith for both Thor and Thanos, creating the Infinity Gauntlet and Thor's new axe-hammer, Stormbreaker. It's also implied he may have been the one to create Thor's original Weapon Of Choice Mjolnir.

20 hours ago

Now that my only reason for bombing this has been fixed, I've hatted this.

19 hours ago

Something like this should be included in the last paragraph: "The Armorer will almost always explain the exact function of each of their gadgets to the extent the story needs them too, making them a specific variation of Mr Exposition." This should be indexed under Characters As Device, since its about a character fulfilling a function in the plot.

Related to that, I think the title fails to convey that this trope is about a character who provides the hero's gadgets they will later use to resolve conflicts in the story. The previously suggested Hero R&D would get that across better, especially since R&D fits the sci-fi vibe of these characters better than the medieval term Armorer.

17 hours ago

^ someone high above apparently hates acronyms.

17 hours ago

Armorer's not some archaic medieval term that's fallen out of use. It's still in common use as exactly this trope in police and militaries all over the English-speaking world.

And while I didn't mind the acronym myself, we've already got Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys for the broader field of supplying gadgets and gear. This trope's for when there's one specific character, like Q or Lucius Fox, who gives that department/division/etc a face.

16 hours ago

^ My bad on not knowing the term. Still, would it be more accurate to call it something like "Hero's Armorer" to signify that this is about a character who is the protagonist's gadget supplier?

10 hours ago

Eh. I think that'd be less pithy. And similar to my issue with Hero R&D, this is character archetype which could just as easily work for the villains as the heroes.

6 hours ago

^ The Tinkerer is one for the villain, and listed up there.

5 hours ago

I know, I mentioned the comics version. I'm just restating why I'd prefer a name that didn't suggest the archetype is only for heroes.

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