IRON MAN (TOY BIZ)
Who’s up for a history lesson? Well, too bad, cuz I’m giving one anyway.
Let’s talk about US Agent. As a member of the West Coast Avengers, he was carried over into the reformation of the team, Force Works. Force Works had the luck of being relevant at the time of the 90s Iron Man cartoon, resulting in the team serving as Tony’s primary supporting cast for the first season of the show. US Agent, while a member in the comics, was never on the show. But, since the cartoon’s toyline was taking just as many cues from the comics as it was the cartoon itself, US Agent was slated to be released in the third series of the line. Unfortunately, he was cut from the line-up at the last minute, due to a change in the case pack-outs. His tooling was shelved, and later re-purposed for the proposed Living Laser figure in Series 5 of the same line. When that figure was also canceled, the body was re-re-purposed into the “Muntant” Armor version of Professor X. Then, in 1997, with no rhyme or reason, a slow trickle of US Agent figures began appearing from overseas. They were dubbed a “Limited Release” courtesy of Elegant Way, and were very quickly discovered to be unsanctioned by Marvel or Toy Biz. Some 10,000 units were produced before Toy Biz could halt production, but they did their best to make sure as few as possible made it to the US, ironically making US Agent exclusive to areas outside of the US, and quite a pricey commodity amongst US-based collectors. What does all this have to do with me? Well, in case you hadn’t figured it out, I got one.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
US Agent was, as noted above, supposed to be released as part of Series 3 of the 90s Iron Man line. Ultimately, he ended up being released on his own, as an unsanctioned product, so this is effectively a bootleg. However, unlike most bootlegs, the quality of the figure seems to be about on par with the official figures. The figure stands 5 ¼ inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation. He only has elbow movement on his left arm, due to a spring-loaded feature being implemented on his right. I’ve actually reviewed most of this figure before, when I looked at Astral Projection Professor X. The right arm, upper left arm, and upper legs are identical between the two figures. The torso and lower legs are mostly the same, though the Professor X pieces had ports for armor add-ons, and the US Agent’s torso has an additional sculpted insignia on his torso. The left hand has a tighter grip on this figure, which is odd, since he doesn’t actually have anything to hold, but it looks fine. The end result is a body that is nearly indistinguishable from Professor X’s to the average viewer. The body’s not the greatest sculpt ever; that torso still looks wonky. That said, it does work a lot better for US Agent than it did Xavier, which makes sense, since US Agent was the character for whom it was intended. US Agent does have his own, totally unique head sculpt, which is cool. It’s not exceptional work or anything, but it is pretty nice, and it gives Walker an appropriately sneer-y expression, plus it sits well on the body. US Agent’s paint work is generally pretty good. Unsurprisingly for a guy named “US Agent,” he consists mostly of red, white, and blue. The blue is molded and the rest is painted on; the application is decent enough, though there’s some slop around the edges. The official prototype shots for US Agent showed him with black in place of the blue, but it’s not unlikely that Toy Biz themselves might have made this change before dropping the figure. US Agent included an energy shield (which has trouble staying in place, due to the spring feature), and one of the standard Iron Man line badges, though it does not have the usual character bio, presumably due to Toy Biz never writing one.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Back in the 90s, when I was first getting into toy collecting, the Iron Man and Fantastic Four lines from Toy Biz were my jam. I got every figure I could, and I even saved the backs of the packaging so that I could cut out the small thumbnail images of all the other available figures. US Agent was one of the ones I remember having that little thumbnail for, but never being able to find. In those days, you didn’t have many ways of finding out about cancelled figures, so I just assumed he wasn’t out yet. It wasn’t until a little later, after discovering the awesome Iron Man Achive on Raving Toy Maniac, that I found out he never came to be. Then it was another several years or so before I found out he actually had come to be, but not in an easily attainable for a 10 year old sort of way. So, I was excited beyond belief when I came across a dealer at this year’s Baltimore Comic Con selling this guy loose, and not even for a small fortune. I’m really happy to finally have this guy, and to have finally completed my Series 3 collection!