Giant, fire-breathing animatronic dragon storms the Bastille (well, Nantes)

La Machine's latest animatronic puppet is a giant, walking, fire-breathing dragon that took to the street of Nantes, France for a spectacular test debut.

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La Machine

The city of Nantes in France is home to some incredible animatronics creators: La Machine, a company whose purview includes creating giant, robotic beasts. You may be familiar with the Great Elephant at theme park Les Machines de l'île, or La Princesse, the 50-foot wooden spider that has climbed buildings in Liverpool, the UK and Yokohama, Japan.

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La Machine

The company's latest creation is every bit as spectacular: Long Ma Jing Shen, or "Spirit of the Dragon Horse", created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and China, and slated to appear in Beijing with La Princesse on October 17 to October 19. Last week, La Machine took it to the streets of Nantes for a test drive.

Technical stats about the giant dragon are thin on the ground; but, like The Grand Elephant and La Princesse, Long Ma Jing Shen has a wooden chassis over a steel body, with articulations to give it movement. It is not a true walking robot: it's attached to a vehicle which supports its frame and allows it to move at speed, with at least eight human operators riding aboard to control the puppet's movements.

The supporting frame also acts as a sort of crane, allowing the dragon to rear on its hind legs and spew fire into the air -- if it's anything like Zollner's Tradinno, by using an onboard canister of liquid gas. It also snorts jets of smoke through its nostrils, and its long tongue can coil out of its mouth to lick the air like a snake.

Check out some videos of this excellent beast in action below, and follow La Machine's activity via its official Facebook page.

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