HULKBUSTER IRON MAN
One of the cool things about Iron Man (and one of the most toyline-friendly things about Iron Man, as well) is the ability for creators to come up with story or mission-specific armors to suit whatever needs they had. In the ‘90s, this came to a head with the Modular Armor (probably my personal favorite Iron Man armor), which was by design meant to allow for customization via armor add-ons. While many of the derivations of the Modular Armor were rather short-lived, the Hulkbuster armor (first debuting in Iron Man #304) was a favorite of just about everyone. Since it’s introduction in the ‘90s, there have been no less than three updates to the design, and it’s made its way into just about every Iron Man toyline, and most forms of media. So far, it’s made four appearances as a Minimate, and today I’ll be taking a look at the first of those.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Hulkbuster Iron Man was released in the seventh TRU-exclusive series of Marvel Minimates, as part of a two-pack with Gamma Hulk. The set was timed to coincide with the release of Series 36 of the specialty line, which was a comic-based assortment, itself designed to tie-in with the release of Iron Man 2 that summer. The figure is built on the standard ‘mate body, but with the add-ons, he comes close to 3 inches tall and he has 12 points of articulation. The armor is based on the second iteration of the Hulkbuster, from around the time of the “Extremis” arc, which is a popular choice for Hulbuster figures (and it was the one DST chose for their Marvel Select Hulkbuster as well). It’s not my favorite Hulkbuster design, but it’s far from a bad one, and it was still more or less current at the time of the ‘mate’s release. The figure uses add-ons for the helmet/torso, pelvis, hands, thighs, and boots. All of these pieces were new to this particular figure, but they’ve been privy to reuse in subsequent years. The best work is definitely in the hands and feet, which are pitch-perfect recreations of the comic design, and exhibit some really great mechanical detailing. The rest of the pieces are pretty decent too, and I quite like the flip-up helmet piece on the torso. Of course, it’s at the cost of some of the detail on the faceplate, but it’s not an awful amount of loss. The paintwork on the figure is passable; it’s from just after the move to make most Iron Man ‘mates all metallic, which means there were still some lessons to be learned. Namely, the gold is the sort of paint that doesn’t hold up very well to the test of time, which is why my figure looks really worn down. Still, the red’s pretty nice, and the finish is really clean (also, while the boots look like a different color in the photos, they don’t look that way in person). Under the torso armor, ther’s a fully detailed torso and head, made up to look like the Extremis armor, which is a pretty cool touch.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
The Hulkbuster (and his pack ‘mate) was the last set of Minimates I ever bought from what was my local Toys R Us growing up. I happened to stop in on my way home from work, and found the set. It was only upon the cashier ringing the set up and applying a discount and sharpie-ing an “x” across the UPC that I realized the store was in the midst of closing down. It was kind of a sobering concept. Of course, a month after they closed, another TRU opened right across the street, so it was something of an exercise in futility, so whatever. I ended up giving the Gamma Hulk to my brother (since he’s a big Hulk fan), and keeping this guy for myself. He hasn’t perhaps aged the best, but he was a pretty cool ‘mate for the time, and is still a solid ‘mate overall.