Toph’s season 2 rock armor didn’t originally have eye holes, seeing as Toph is blind, but an animation error found its way into the aired episode.
Avatar: The Last Airbender‘s creators admitted that they made a mistake while animating Toph Beifong’s rock armor in season 2. In season 2, episode 9, “Bitter Work,” Toph trains Aang in Earthbending by encasing herself in rocks and charging at him. If Aang could master an Earthbender’s mentality of meeting an obstacle head on, he would be able to push her back. Fans were quick to notice that Toph’s rock armor had eye holes, even though she is blind and wouldn’t need them.
Toph’s blindness never held her back from becoming the greatest Earthbender in the Avatar universe. She learned to Earthbend from the original masters of the art, badgermoles, and defeated several formidable opponents throughout the series. Her seismic sense allowed her to ‘see’ everything around her and anticipate others’ movements, and she even created an entirely new form of bending: Metalbending. Her tough demeanor and ability to wait and listen while Earthbending made her the perfect teacher for Aang.
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Toph uses her rock armor in one of her first training exercises with Aang. In the scene, her armor features a hole over her eyes, despite her blindness making such a gap pointless (and potentially dangerous). In the book Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Art of the Animated Series, creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko explained that the eye hole was simply an error that occurred during the animation process: the hole was intended to be over her mouth, not her eyes.
One of the first designs for Toph’s armor took Toph’s blindness into consideration and omitted the eye hole, instead including a hole over her mouth so she would still be able to breathe. According to DiMartino and Konietzko, the mistake came when “the animation was drawn so that the hole appeared over her eyes.” The crew missed the error when they were revising the episode, so it ended up in the final version of the animation. Some fans speculated that it was Toph joking about her blindness, as she often did around other members of the Gaang. However, this small passage from Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Art of the Animated Series proves that it truly was a mistake.
Fortunately, this mistake did not occur the next time Toph uses armor in Avatar: The Last Airbender. When she, Suki, and Sokka take down the Fire Nation’s airships in the series finale, Toph covers herself in metal armor to protect herself from the Firebenders steering the ship. This particular suit of armor doesn’t have any eye holes in it, showing that the animators learned from their initial mistake and adapted their design accordingly.
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