#2857: Vault Guardsman



“With armor equipped with repulsor rays, high-carbon steel alloy mesh and radiation shielding, Vault Guardsman turns his sights on the complete destruction of Iron Man.”

Okay, so in today’s entry in “Ethan critiques the bios,” let’s just get the obvious confusion on Hasbro’s part over who the heck this figure is actually supposed to be, and moreover, who the Guardsman is in general.  First appearing in 1970, the Guardsman was Kevin O’Brien, former engineer for Stark Industries, whose faulty armor caused his mind to go haywire, and drove his desire to kill Iron Man.  Kevin was killed in battle, leading his brother Michael to dawn the armor seeking vengeance.  That time, however, Tony was able to convince Michael that the suit was affecting his mind, and talk him down, so that he actually served as Iron Man’s ally.  Eventually, the armor was mass produced for use by the guards at the Vault super prison, which is when they switched over to the name “Vault Guardsman.”  However, the Vault Guardsman isn’t just one guy, nor have they ever been all that invested in destroying Iron Man.  So, you know, there it is.  It’s cool to get a figure, regardless.  Let’s just celebrate that, shall we?


Vault Guardsman is figure 1 in the Ursa Major Series of Marvel Legends.  He’s a pretty strong choice for an Iron Man-centric series, and this marks Guardsman’s first time in Legends form, which is pretty cool.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Guardsman is built on the Reaper body, at least at his core.  It’s a sensible enough choice, at least from a build standpoint.  It does mean he’s still got the visible pins on his arms and legs, but otherwise it still looks pretty decent.  He gets a new torso and head, which aid in making him look like the classic Guardsman we all know and love.  I was honestly a little surprised by the new torso piece, since it seems like the sort of thing that Hasbro previously would have done with just paint, but they instead went the extra mile here.  I’m glad they did, because it really does just look better this way.  The Guardsman’s paint work is generally okay, although, much like the Minimate version, I do feel like the two greens maybe aren’t quite divergent enough from each other.  I really feel like the darker sections should be a lot closer to black, at least going by the illustrations.  It turns out a bit better in the photos, but in person the contrast can be a bit easier to miss.  That said, I do like the metallic sheen that they’ve given him.  It gives him a pretty slick look.  Guardsman is packed with two sets of hands, gripping and in fists, a pistol (borrowed from Yon-Rogg), and the left arm to the Ursa Major Build-A-Figure.  Curiously, the gripping hands are the ones from Kraven, so there are still the sculpted wraps.  Seeing as non-wrapped versions of the hands exist for this mold, I feel like this may have been an unintentional thing.  Also, they’re not designed for actually holding the gun, but that’s not really new for this mold.


I really like the Guardsman, as a concept and as a design.  I’m such a fan, that I actually bought the Spider-Man Classics Venom back in the day, purely because of that really cool base with the fallen Guardsman in the rubble.  I’ve been waiting a very long time to finally get a proper 6 inch figure of him, so I was very happy to see him turn up here.  He’s a rather basic figure, but that’s not a bad thing.  Sure, I wouldn’t mind the colors being tweaked, and the alternate hands are a little weird, but overall, I’m just happy to have him.  He’s fun.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1629: Ultimate Spider-Woman & Vault Guard



Minimates are great, because they give you a wide swath of characters, but there’s also a little side bit of amusement, drawn from their multi-pack nature.  While there are plenty of totally natural pairings of characters, every so often, you just get a couple of left-overs, who deserved to be made, but had not hard-set compatriots.  Today’s pairing is notable in that, not only have the two characters never met, they aren’t even from the same universe!


Ultimate Spider-Woman and the Vault Guard were released in Series 30 of Marvel Minimates.  Spider-Woman was the one-per-case variant, swapping out for the more heavily-packed May Parker Spider-Girl.  The Vault Guard was packed in both versions of the set.


“The result of genetic experimentation by Dr. Otto Octavius, Ultimate Spider-Woman actually shares a majority of her DNA and memories with Peter Parker. Choosing to abandon her previous life, she takes the name Jessica Drew and continues fighting crime.”

At the time of this figure’s release, Ultimate Spider-Woman was a relatively recent and still quite relevant member of the Ultimate Spider-Man supporting cast, though she did come after the Ultimate line had mostly disappeared from Marvel Minimates (Series 27’s Ultimates line-up notwithstanding).  Her placement likely had a lot to do with the character having one of the better designs to come out of the Ulitmate line in later years.  The figure stands 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  She’s built on the usual body, with an add-on for her hair.  The piece was originally designed for “Natalie” Six from the BSG line, but since that figure never made it to release, I believe this was its first appearance.  It’s a decent piece, though slightly restricting to the articulation on the neck.  The rest of the costume is handled via paint, which turned out relatively well.  The metallic red gives her a more unique look, and the creative use of shading, especially on the face, capture’s Bagely’s depictions of the character quite nicely.  The black on her face ends a little bit earlier than I’d like, but it’s not terrible.  Spider-Woman didn’t include any accessories, which always struck me as a bit of a waste.  The lack of an extra unmasked head is somewhat forgivable, since they weren’t yet a common item, but not even giving her a webline or something seems a bit weak.


“Tasked with monitoring and protecting the maximum security super-villain prison known as the Vault, the Guardsmen utilized a variation of Tony Stark’s Iron Man armor to create their super-powered battle suits and weaponry.”

The fifth figure in the army building venture was one of the armored Guardsmen from super villain prison The Vault.  Thanks to some shared designs, he can also sort of double as a non-army builder as well, representing either Kevin or Michael O’Brien.  This is quite the versatile figure!  He’s built on the same standard body, with add-ons for his helmet, chest plate, gloves, and boots.  All these pieces are re-used, with the helmet being a standard mask piece, the chest plate coming from the Mark I War Machine, and the gloves and boots coming from the DC Series 1 Lex Luthor.  It all adds up to a Guardsman that’s a little bit of a departure from the sleeker design of the comics.  Why would they do this?  Simple, it’s emulating the Toy Biz Techno Wars Vault Guardsman figure from the 90s, which is actually a pretty nice little nod.  As designed, he was even supposed to have all of the detailing for a proper classic Guardsman painted under the extra armor bits.  For the final product, he ended up losing the proper detailing on the wrists and shins for boots and gloves, but still has the classic torso detailing (as well as a bonus face under the helmet).  If I have one complaint beyond those small missing details, it’s that his palette’s a bit more monochromatic than it should be.  He’s classically been all green, but the greens tended to be a little more divergent.  They aren’t awful as it is, though.  Guardsman included a spare set of standard green hands and feet, as well as a pair of mini-gun attachments for his shoulder armor.


I picked these guys up the day they were released from my usual haunt Cosmic Comix.  I’ve always been a big fan of the Guardsman, so I was thrilled about the inclusion here.  That said, I wasn’t super into either of his pack-mates.  I ended up going with the one whose design I most liked.  In the end, both figures have some minor nits, but they’re overall really cool additions to the collection.  Even if the pairing is still totally whack.