#1573: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Thor, & Grim Reaper

IRON MAN, HAWKEYE, THOR, & GRIM REAPER

MARVEL MINIMATES

“Iron Man, Thor and Hawkeye are just three of the Heroes who make up the super-team known as the Avengers. Together, they can neutralize any threat, even the manipulations of the evil Grim Reaper!”

I just mentioned Minimates passingly in yesterday’s Palz review, so I suppose it’s fitting that today I give them a whole focus of their own.  Because, as we all know, Minimates neeeever show up in my review schedule, right?  …Anyway, getting back to the Minimates, Disney’s acquisition of Marvel in 2009 left a little bit of uncertainty about the future of Marvel Minimates and whether DST would be allowed to continue as a licensee.  Disney assuaged fears by turning around a couple of Disney Store exclusives, sort of out of nowhere one day.  I’m looking at one of those exclusives today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This set was released in May of 2012 as one of two Disney Store-exclusive boxed sets meant to tie-in with the release of the first Avengers movie (I already took a look at the other one here).  Iron Man and Thor are both the same figures as their Marvel Minimates Series 44 counterparts, while Hawkeye and Grim Reaper were exclusive to this set.

IRON MAN

The mid ‘90s marked a bit of a resurgence for Tony Stark as Iron Man (albeit nowhere near as big as the one he got in ’08), with fan favorite Kurt Busiek handling the character both in his solo book and in the pages of the re-launched Avengers title.  This figure represents the design he was wearing at that time, and it’s a favorite of mine. The figure is 2 1/2 inches tall and he has the usual 14 points of articulation.  He has add-ons for his helmet, breast plate/shoulder pads, gloves, belt, and boots.  All of these were new to this figure, and they all are pretty fantastic.  There’s a ton of sculpted detail on each piece, but he maintains the ‘mate aesthetic very well.  As far as paint goes, this Iron Man is generally pretty solid, but is definitely an example of DST’s learning curve with metallic paints.  While the reds are really great looking, the gold is still that very dark, very dull shade they were using for a while, and it’s also worth noting that it’s a paint that doesn’t hold up to time.  It’s not as bad as the Avengers #1 set’s version of Tony, but it’s pretty frustrating.  Even more frustrating is DST’s decision to package Tony’s helmet on him.  For most Iron Man ‘mates (at least leading up to this), the helmet would be packed off to the side.  The reason for this is simple: if the paint hasn’t fully dried when the figure is packaged and you stick the helmet on there, it’s likely not coming off.  That’s what happened with my figure.  Seriously, six years I’ve owned this guy, and I’ve yet to get that helmet off him.  It’s a little sad.  Guess it’s a good thing I like the fully armored look.  Iron Man was packed with a rocket trail flying stand, done in a nice pale blue.

HAWKEYE

Before this figure, there had been only one other standard Clint Barton Hawkeye (reviewed here), four years prior.  That figure had some notable issues, and really looked out of place with all of the other advancements going on.  So, he was due for an update, and the extra notoriety given to him by the first Avengers movie granted him that chance.  Plus, as a pivotal player in Busiek’s Avengers re-launch, his inclusion alongside the otherwise very clearly Heroes Return-branded ‘mates in this set and Series 44 made a lot of sense.  I’ve actually looked at a lot of this figure before, via the Best Of Marvel Minimates Series 3 release, which took it’s add-ons from this guy.  I liked the pieces there, and I liked them here first.  The only real difference between the two is paint.  And paint’s kind of what breaks this figure for me.  It’s not terrible.  It’s actually pretty decent, even.  That being said, if the Series 20 Hawkeye was too subdued, this one went too far the other way, making him way too bright.  It’s the blue in particular that throws him off.  It should definitely be a deeper tone (which the later release definitely fixed).  Another thing I’ve never much liked about this figure is his facial expression. I’m glad they got the face to line up correctly (since the first Hawkeye did not), but the angry, gritted teeth look just doesn’t feel right for Barton.  Hawkeye included his bow, three pointed arrows, two sonic arrows, and a hairpiece for his unmasked look.  The arrows were nice, and can even be placed in his quiver.  The bow, which was a new sculpt, was okay at the time, but was definitely on the small side, and a little hard for him to hold properly.

THOR

Though he was the most glaring omission from the line for its first 15 series, by the time of this Thor’s release, we were kind of suffering from a glut of Thors, with this one being the ninth Thor in the space of a year.  Like Iron Man, this Thor was definitely patterned on the Heroes Return look, which is really just the classic design plus a beard.  Thor was built using add-ons for his helmet/hair, cape, wrist bands, belt, and boots.  The wrist bands were from the very first Thor in Series 16, the cape and boots came from the TRU-exclusive First Appearance Thor from 2011, and the belt was just a generic piece.  The helmet was new, though you’d be forgiven for not realizing.  Overall, a solid set of parts, though the cape does make it a little hard to keep him standing.  The rest of the look is achieved via paint.  I think it’s pretty good overall, though there’s some slight slop here and there, especially noticeable on the helmet and the cape.  He used the same gold paint as Iron Man, which isn’t super, but there’s less of it on Thor.  Thor included his hammer Mjonir, in both standard AND spinning configurations.  I quite like the spinning version.  He also had an extra head sans-beard, which, despite using the exact same facial features as the bearded head, ends up looking a bit too mean for Thor.  There’s also a spare hairpiece for a look without the helmet, I suppose to offer people who only knew the movie Thor a more familiar look.  Lastly, he included a clear display stand to help him stay standing with the spinning Mjolnir.  It’s important to note that these still weren’t a standard inclusion yet.

GRIM REAPER

Last up, the set’s one new character, Grim Reaper!  Reaper has been a long-recurring Avengers villain, and he was revived during the Busiek/Perez run, so he’s a perfect fit…well, apart from the total lack of Vision or Wonder Man in the set, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.  They went with the classic Reaper design (classic, not original, because no body really wants the technicolor dreamcoat monstrosity that was his first costume), which is sensible enough.  I’m still partial to his re-animated look from the ‘80s, but this works too.  The figure makes use of add-ons for his mask, cape, and scythe attachment.  The mask and scythe were new to this figure (and remain unique to this figure six years later), and were fantastic renditions of his look from the comics.  The cape is the standard cape from the DC Minimates Series 1 Superman.  It’s not a perfect fit (since Reaper’s really supposed to have the collar), but it’s close enough that it works.  In terms of paint, Reaper is certainly subdued, but very well-rendered.  The colors are suitably dark, but there’s still plenty of room for detailing.  I love the dynamic shading on the bodysuit and mask.  I also really love that crazed expression they gave him.  Reaper included no accessories, but I don’t really know what you’d give him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed this set at the same time as its companion set, ordering them both from Disney’s online store (since none of my local Disney Stores ever carried Minimates).  Reaper’s always been a favorite of mine, so his inclusion definitely excited me, but I was also pretty happy to get another Hawkeye.  While Hawkeye didn’t end up being quit what I wanted, I was still pretty happy with the other three in this set.  In fact, this was my preferred of the two Disney sets.

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#1566: Colonel James Rhodes & Air Assault Drone

COLONEL JAMES RHODES & AIR ASSAULT DRONE

MARVEL MINIMATES

Since Minimates do make up a rather sizable portion of my collection, they sort of are a regular fixture around these parts.  Some sets are awesome.  Some are less so.  Today, I look at one of the latter category.  That seems a bit harsh now that I’ve typed it out, but, well, you’ll see.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Colonel Rhodes and the Air Assault Drone were from the second TRU-exclusive series of Iron Man 2-based Marvel Minimates.  Rhodey is unique to this set, while the Air Assault Drone was re-packed from the single-packed army builder assortment.

COLONEL JAMES RHODES

“A dedicated Lt. Colonel and patriotic member of the US military, James Rhodes’s testimony before Senator Stern’s committee forces Tony Stark to call his friend’s true loyalties into question.”

Iron Man 2 was pretty good for our pal Rhodey here.  Prior to the movie, he’d made two appearances as a Minimate, but IM2 gave us four new ones.  This one’s…probably the least exciting when you get right down to it.  Still, Rhodey spends a decent enough chunk of the movie in this uniform, so it’s not the worst inclusion, I suppose.  The figure stands 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He’s built on the usual body, with an add-on for his jacket, borrowed from Series 22’s General Ross.  It’s a reasonable piece.  It’s not a perfect match for Rhodey’s uniform from the movie, but it’s close enough to warrant the re-use.  The paint work on Rhodey is respectable.  It’s all pretty cleanly applied, and the blue is fairly bright. The head is a match for the one that was under the War Machine ‘mate’s helmet.  While it’s not particularly strong Cheadle likeness, at least they went for some consistency.  Rhodey included no accessories, which is a bit of a bummer.  Not even a file folder or a clipboard or something?

AIR ASSAULT DRONE

“Specifically designed for aerial maneuvering and atmospheric combat conditions, a handful of these advanced Black Drones are capable of destroying entire squadrons of traditional fighter jets.”

After the slight mis-lead of the Series 35 Hammer Drone, we finally get one of the proper ones.  Woo!  This one’s dubbed the “Air Assault Drone” on all of the merchandising, because due to licensing things, it couldn’t be called the Air Force Drone.  This particular ‘mate makes use of a lot of the same pieces from the first Hammer Drone, but with a new head, hands, and a backpack glued onto the chest piece.  The ew pieces fit in well with the previously existing ones, and he makes for a pretty faithful recreation of the Drones from the movie.  The paint’s not super thrilling or anything, being mostly dark grey with just a small bit of white accenting.  But, I suppose it matches the movie.  Once again, no accessories for the Drone, but it’s slightly more forgivable given all of the sculpted add-ons.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked this set up new from Toys R Us.  I didn’t go out searching for them or anything, I just came across them one day and I guess I had a moment of weakness.  If I recall correctly, I even put of opening them for a good several months, just due to a general lack of excitement.  Neither ‘mate in this set is bad.  They both check all of the boxes, and there are no glaring issues (well, except perhaps for the lack of any extras), but neither is really anything to write home about.  This pair really feels like DST just needed two fill two slots as easily as possible.  I suppose it’s fitting that a set of mediocre Minimates were based on Iron Man 2.

#1563: Invincible Iron Man

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Technological upgrades and weapons help Iron Man bring order to any battle.”

Since Tim took the last Build-A-Figure contributing figure in the latest series of Marvel Legends, I suppose I’ll just round the main series out by looking at the only figure in the set *not* to come with a piece of Okoye.  It’s an Iron Man.  I know, that’s very different and unusual.  No, wait, it’s the other thing.  Predictable and highly expected.  Yeah, that’s it.  Iron Man’s been a fixture of Marvel Legends since its start, so there’s precedent, I suppose.  Plus, with his near limitless armor variations, there are plenty of good excuses for new figures.  Let’s go with that.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Invincible Iron Man is ostensibly part of the Okoye Series of Marvel Legends.  Like Namor and Black Bolt before him, he doesn’t really have a whole lot to do with Panther, but I guess Hasbro just really wanted a known quantity in this assortment, sort of like when they did the same exact thing for the first Guardians assortment back in 2014.  Maybe it’ll actually work out for this time and stores won’t still be trying to unload this Iron Man four years from now like what happened with the Space Armor.  Believe it or not, this is actually the first main-series-released Iron Man since the Civil War-based Mark 46 from 2016, and the first comic-based Tony since 2015.  That seems kind of crazy to me. The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  This Iron Man is based his armor from Marvel’s 2015 “All-New, All-Different” relaunch.  I’m actually quite a fan of this design, so I’m happy to see it chosen for this spot.  What makes me even happier is that it got a dedicated original sculpt.  It does a very nice job of translating the armor’s sleek design into plastic form, and also does a pretty solid job of keeping all of the posability up to what it should be.  From a structural standpoint, this figure feels rather similar to the Mk 46, just a bit skinnier.  I really liked the 46, so I’m definitely on board with this figure taking after it.  I only have one complaint about the sculpt, and it’s something totally confined to my figure.  He’s got a divot on the right side of his helmeted head, which makes it look like he’s taken some serious damage on that side.  It’s fortunately not visible from every angle, but once you see it, it’s hard to un-see it.  Still, that’s a one-off fluke, and it can’t be held against the figure as a whole.  I’m not even that bugged by it, since this figure also includes an unmasked Tony Stark head, which I absolutely love, and will probably end up displaying on the figure most of the time.  It’s just such a sharp and character-filled sculpt, and it looks really good on the body.  The paint on this figure is about on par with other Iron Men from the line.  Lots of red and gold.  The application is clean, and I like the warm-toned colors they’ve chosen.  The unmasked head gets the best work really, with a paint job that accentuates the character of the sculpt very nicely.  In addition to the extra head, Iron Man is packed with a pair of hands open for blasting, two blast effect pieces (re-used from the Mk 46), and a clip-on cannon piece.  The open hands look nice, but I was sad to discover they didn’t have wrist hinges like the main hands.  I’m delighted to see the repulser blasts crop up again, and they continue to add to the posing options for compatible Iron Men.  The cannon seems a bit extraneous to me, but it’s not without merit, I suppose.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Heavy hitters tend to be the thorn in any collectors side, but this was an Iron Man I was actually quite looking forward to.  As I noted above, I like the design, and he was the only character missing from the ANAD Avengers line-up.  Super Awesome Girlfirend ended up getting me this figure at the same time as Nakia.  I gotta say, I really like this one.  It’s clear that Hasbro put in the effort to just make a good figure all-around, and this guy’s possibly the best Legends Iron Man they’ve released.  Small QC issues aside, he’s pretty awesome.

#1394: Iron Man

IRON MAN

MARVEL SUPER HEROES (TOY BIZ)

“Iron Man is the world’s greatest high-tech hero. Iron Man’s armor is made of space-age alloys and is virtually indestructible. Not only that, but the armor is filled with an awesome arsenal including energy blasting repulsor rays, a navigational computer and rocket-powered boots that can fly him at a top speed of 960 miles an hour! Iron Man is really the millionaire inventor and industrialist, Tony Stark. When he’s not wearing his armor and helping his friends Thor and Captain America save mankind from super-powered enemies, Tony’s in his lab creating a new invention to save lives or clean the environment.”

You can’t go anywhere these days without tripping over like 50 Iron Man figures, but that wasn’t always the case.  When Toy Biz took over the Marvel license back in the early ‘90s, there were only two prior Iron Man figures.  They eventually released a whole line of Iron Men, but their first figure of the character was released as part of their early Marvel Super Heroes line.  He’s kinda goofy and I’m looking at him today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Iron Man was released in the second series of Marvel Super Heroes.  Along with that series’ Thor figure, he completes the “Avengers” set started in Series 1 with Cap and Hulk.  He’s based on the Neo-Classic armor, which is more rare amongst action figures.  This was actually its first time in plastic form, and would remain its only appearance until the Marvel Legends Showdown line more than a decade later.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  These earlier figures kind of mimicked the Super Powers aesthetic, albeit in a slightly lower quality way.  This figure’s sculpt is…interesting.  It’s not the worst thing ever, but it’s not as nice as, say, the Captain America figure.  A lot of the figure’s issues come from the rather primitive snap-on armor.  While later Iron Men would place the focus on getting a decent starting figure and then enhancing them with extra armored bits, this figure goes for a combo Iron Man/Tony Stark.  The problem is that the end result is an Iron Man and a Tony Stark that are both off.  The armor is really bulky and has obvious clips (which are rather difficult to work with), and the underlying Tony Stark is just…odd.  Really, really odd.  I mean, just look at him.  That ain’t right.  The paint work on this guy is okay overall, but his armor is lacking a few of the yellow details.  Maybe they were working from a classic Iron Man image?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure slightly pre-dates me getting into collecting…and me existing…so I didn’t get it new.  I did eye it up a few times over the years, but it’s not the most common figure, and it was never high enough priority for me to actually go and track him down.  I ended up finding this guy at the most recent Dave Hart Toy Show back in July, for a pretty decent price.  He’s…strange?  I guess that’s the word.  I find him intriguing as sort of a pre-formed version of the later Toy Biz Iron Men, but as his own figure, he’s not Toy Biz’s strongest offering.

#1373: War Machine

WAR MACHINE

IRON MAN (TOY BIZ)

“A long-time friend and confidant of Tony Stark, chopper pilot Jim Rhodes was rewarded for his loyalty with his own suit of technological combat armor, turning him into a one man War Machine!  Now armed with an impressive array of cutting-edge weaponry almost the equal of Iron Man’s, War Machine battles shoulder-to-shoulder with the armored avenger in his secret war against the forces of the Mandarin!”

And, just like that, we’re back to Marvel.  That’s gonna be happening a lot.  So, today, I’ll be going back to a ‘90s Marvel line that I feel I haven’t looked at enough: Iron Man!  With just four series (plus a fifth one that was cancelled), it’s hardly one of Toy Biz’s longer-running entries, but four series of an Iron Man line more than a decade before the general public cared about Iron Man is far from the worst thing.  Attempting to capitalize on the success of the then-current cartoon, the line provided us with most of ol’ Shellhead’s supporting players from the show, including Tony’s wingman, Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes, aka War Machine!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

War Machine was released in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s Iron Man line.  This was the very first War Machine figure ever produced (though not the first James Rhodes; Rhodey was still Iron Man at the time of Secret Wars, meaning that figure is technically him).  The figure stands a little over 5 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  War Machine is based on the second version of the armor, which was the first one worn by Rhodey.  It’s the version seen in the cartoon, and is one of the best known versions of the character.  As I noted in my review of Space Armor Iron Man, the Iron Man line’s armored figures were handled in a slightly unique way; each of them was a basic figure, with extra clip-on armor parts to really complete their look.  War Machine was actually one of the more faithful basic figures, and can essentially function without the extra pieces if need be, which is a definite plus in his favor.  The sculpt is generally pretty sharp, and the details of the armor match up pretty well with both the show and the comics, though some parts are more condensed and streamlined.  There are the armor ports, of course, which still look a little goofy, but they’re far from the worst thing.  There were 10 clip-on armor pieces included with War Machine: Chest plate, back plate, belt (front and back), shoulder pads, gauntlets, and shin covers.  These pieces serve to enhance the look of the figure, and really make for quite a faithful War Machine figure.  War Machine had one of the better paint schemes of the armored figures; all of the basic paint is nice and clean, and the armor, by virtue of it’s silver coloring, is less prone to issues with chipping and such, which plagued the more colorful Iron Men.  In addition to the clip-on armor, War Machine also included two cannons to be mounted on his shoulders, one of which has missile launching feature.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with a number of the ‘90s Marvel lines, I had to play a little bit of catch-up on the first series of Iron Man figures.  By the time I was really collecting the line for myself, they were onto Series 2.  While I was able to track down a few of the Series 1 figures, I had to settle for Series 4’s War Machine II as my main version of the character.  I’ve been looking for this guy for a little while, but the armored figures from this line aren’t always the easiest to find, especially when you primarily go for loose offerings, like I do.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a loose but complete War Machine at Pop Culture Exchange, for under $5, no less.  He’s definitely a strong offering for the line, and I’m very happy to have finally tracked him down!

#1329: Iron Man

IRON MAN

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)

“To the public, Tony Stark is a handsome, jet-setting industrialist and inventor. What they don’t know is that he leads a second life as Iron Man. The armored Avenger gets his fantastic powers from his suit of micro-mesh armor. It gives him superhuman strength, the ability to fly via his jet boots, and a variety of built-in weapons, foremost among these being his devastating repulsor rays! Iron Man is dedicated to defeating those forces that would threaten the security of the nation and the entire world.”

Iron Man is easily one of Marvel’s best known characters these days, but that wasn’t always the case.  Aside from a brief cartoon runs in the ‘60s and ‘90s, he was largely out of the public eye until his 2008 film.  So, in 2002, when Toy Biz launched Marvel Legends as a follow-up to their successful Spider-Man: Classics line, and had Iron Man as one of the headliners of Series 1’s four figure assortment, it was a pretty big deal.  It’s hard to believe now, but when Marvel Legends debuted, the most demanded figure by far was the Iron Man.  Can you even imagine a time when the fanbase didn’t let out a collective groan at the inclusion of an Iron Man figure?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As noted in the intro, Iron Man was released in the first series of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends line.  There were actually two Iron Men in the assortment; the regular release reviewed here, and the one-per-case horned-mask variant.  Even later, there was also a Walmart-exclusive release, which decked this guy out in his stealth colors.  This guy is based on Tony’s classic armor from the 60s and 70s, which at this point hadn’t been released in plastic form for almost two decades.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and has 38 points of articulation.  Some of the articulation (particularly the neck movement and the mid-torso joint) is a bit antiquated, but it’s mostly pretty workable.  Amusingly, some of the articulation the was more quickly deemed out of date within the line itself has actually become the more standard way of doing things, so in some ways he fits in better with the more recent Hasbro offerings than he does the later TB offerings.  Iron Man sported what was, at the time, an all-new sculpt, which would later be used for the Silver Centurion armor, as well as War Machine and Magneto.  The build is a little bulkier than the usual depictions of the classic Iron Man armor, but it actually makes sense, since it’s supposed to be wrapped around a normal-sized guy; it’d have to be a little heftier in real life.  The proportions are actually pretty solid for a figure of this era.  Compare this guy to his Series-mate Captain America, and you’ll note that he’s got a much more balanced anatomy.  He even avoids the dreaded duck feet!  The articulation is also pretty well worked-in for a Toy Biz offering; sure, there are still some spots where compromise has been made (the waist really sticks out), but it’s generally a good middle-ground.  In terms of detail work, this guy goes a bit more simplistic than later TB fare (another reason he fits in a bit better with the Hasbro stuff), but that’s definitely a plus.  All of the important details are there, they’re all very sharply defined.  The figure has a removable faceplate, which reveals Tony Stark beneath the mask.  I’ve always felt he bore a resemblance to Timothy Dalton, which is a neat little “what-if” casting idea.  The face has some of the best work on the whole figure, which shows real commitment on the sculptor’s part, since it’s largely going un-seen.  The faceplate is molded to fit into the contours of the face, and it actually stays in place really well.  In terms of paint, Iron Man’s handled really well. He’s got the base red and yellow, which are nice and vibrant, and then on top of that, there’s a hint of silver lightly applied to all the armored portions of the figure, which makes him look suitably metallic, while avoiding the issues of blending that plague the Iron Men that use gold in place of the yellow. Iron Man was packed with a display stand designed to look like a Stark Industries satellite and a reprint of Iron Man #149 (which contains “Doomquest,” one of my favorite Iron Man stories).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This guy came from my Nana.  Every year, she’d take me and my cousin to Toys R Us at the end of school and let us each pick out one or two things.   Of course, I went through the usual back and forth, having to reassure her that yes I really did want this Iron Man fellow instead of a handful of Attack of the Clones figures like my cousin was getting.  At the time, this guy was still pretty hard to get, so finding him so quickly was pretty sweet.  He was my very first Marvel Legend, and I gotta say, dragging him out for the purpose of this review has reminded me that he’s still very definitely one of my favorites.  As far as classic Iron Men go, this guy really hasn’t been topped.

#1322: Pepper Potts, Happy Hogan, & Hammer Drones

PEPPER POTTS, HAPPY HOGAN, & HAMMER DRONES

MARVEL MINIMATES

I haven’t reviewed Minimates in over a month.  That seems slightly odd.  To be fair, I haven’t actually picked up any new sets since the Doctor Strange assortment, so that probably contributed somewhat.  Since I’m leaning pretty heavily on the back catalog at the moment, it’s only fair that I look back at a small sampling of my rather large Minimate collection.  Today, I’ll be going way back to 2010’s Iron Man 2, with Pepper, Happy, and a pair of Hammer Drones!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Pepper, Happy, and the Hammer Drones were released in Series 35 of the main Marvel Minimates line, which tied-in with the previously mentioned Iron Man 2.  They were the two specialty exclusive sets; Pepper and Happy were each packed with a Hammer Drone, with Pepper being the more heavily packed and Happy as the one-per-case “chase” figure.

PEPPER POTTS

“Tasked with running all of Stark Industries as their new CEO, Pepper Potts must balance her personal friendship with Tony Stark against mounting evidence that the armor-clad hero may be unable to control his own demons.”

Definitely the heaviest-hitteriest-character featured here.  This was Pepper’s second time as a Minimate (her first ‘mate came from the first film).  The figure is a little under 2 1/2 inches tall and has the usual 14 points of articulation.  She’s built on the basic ‘mate body, with add-ons for her hair, skirt, and bracelets.  The skirt was a re-use from the Series 18 Gwen Stacy, and the rest of the add-ons were new to this figure.  I’m not sure exactly which part of the movie she’s from, but her general look is captured.  The end result is decent enough.  Not the most thrilling ‘mate of all time, but she gets the job done, I suppose.  As far as paint goes, she’s fairly bland again, but the colors seem appropriate to the movie, the application is pretty clean, and the Gwenyth Paltrow likeness is decent (certainly better then the first Pepper).  Since this series predates the standard inclusion of display stands, Pepper includes no accessories.  I suppose they could have given here, like, a phone or something, but it’s not a huge deal.

HAPPY HOGAN

“Not only Tony Stark’s bodyguard and chauffeur, Happy Hogan is also one of his closest advisors. As events unfold, however, Happy finds himself torn between his friendship with Tony and his feelings for another…”

Holy abandoned plot-lines Batman!  So, in the initial cut of Iron Man 2, Tony’s driver Harold “Happy” Hogan was supposed to at one point confess his romantic feelings towards Pepper, hinting at their pairing up in the comics.  It was ultimately cut for time, which is, honestly, for the best.  Happy got a greatly increased role in the second film (he doesn’t even get named in the first movie), and so he naturally got a Minimate.  This is, to date, the only action figure of Happy Hogan out there, which is pretty nifty.  Like Pepper, he’s built on the standard base body, plus he’s got add-ons for his hair and jacket.  The hair was new (and a decent enough match for Jon Favreau’s), and the jacket was re-used from Back to the Future’s George McFly.  The end result makes for a decent match-up to Happy’s on-sceen appearance.  The paint is pretty solid, but once again, not anything amazing.  He’s mostly molded in black, with some minor detailing for his shirt/tie, and his face.  The face doesn’t look a ton like Favreau to me, but he *does* look like Happy from the comics, so I don’t mind so much.  On his own, Happy’s another figure that’s not super thrilling.  Fortunately for him, he includes some pretty sweet extras.  He has a pair of boxing gloves (calling back to the boxing scene he has with Tony in the movie), as well as the Mark V in its un-deployed briefcase form, and a pair of handcuffs to hook the briefcase to his wrist.  You’ll need to do some very slight modding if you want one of the cuffs to actually go on the handle of the case, but that’s really the only issue.  Otherwise, it’s a really fun little set-up.

HAMMER DRONES

“Created using a fusion of technologies from Stark Industries, Hammer’s own company and Whiplash’s improvisations – the Hammer Drones are immensely powerful and potentially lethal in the wrong hands.”

That’s a great description…of the other Hammer Drones.  You know, the ones that were actually drones and that played a part in the film’s climax.  These guys?  Not those Hammer Drones.  No, these would be the prototype suits that Vanko scraps early into the film, that get no actual fight time, and aren’t even really drones.  I would guess these guys being in the main assortment instead of the ones that actually featured prominently is yet another example of plans changing in a movie after the reference materials have gone out to the licensees.  Worse things have happened.  At least it’s a decent design, right?  The figure uses the base ‘mate body as a starting point, but gets a non-standard head and thighs, as well as add-ons for the chest piece, gloves, belt, and boots.  The pieces actually make for a pretty cool little toy, though it’s rather far removed from the usual ‘mate aesthetic.  In terms of paint, it’s a lot of grey, but there’s nice work, especially on the little caution sections.  There’s a bit of slop and bleed over here, but nothing too terrible.  Like Pepper, the Hammer Drones include no accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Cosmic Comix got gipped on his Series 35 orders, which meant that I missed out on my usual way of getting the specialty exclusives.  I was able to get Pepper from Midtown Comics during a trip to New York that year, but they had already sold Happy by that point.  It took a year or so, but my parents eventually got me one as a Christmas present.  Pepper’s kind of bland and generic, and the Hammer Droids are ultimately rather inconsequential, but Happy is actually a pretty sweet figure!

#1230: Hulkbuster Iron Man

HULKBUSTER IRON MAN

MARVEL MINIMATES

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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

hulkbusterimmate2Hulkbuster 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.

#1198: Mark V Iron Man & War Machine

MARK V IRON MAN & WAR MACHINE

MARVEL MINIMATES

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Ah, Iron Man 2, the one entry in the MCU we all sort of pretend didn’t happen.  The first chink in the armor, if you will.  Admittedly, it’s not a bad movie, just an okay one, hurt by being the sequel to one of the biggest surprise hits of 2008.  Some of the ideas presented there really weren’t bad, and if nothing else, the toys from the movie were cool.  Two of my favorite parts of the movie (and thus some of my favorite entries from the toy lines) were the suitcase armor and Rhodey taking up the War Machine mantle.  The Mark V and War Machine just so happened to be packed together for their Minimates.  How convenient!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Mark V and War Machine were part of the Iron Man 2-tie-in assortment of Marvel Minimates.  They were one of the pair of two-packs shared between the TRU-exclusive assortment and specialty Series 35 (the other being Mark IV and Whiplash).

MARK V IRON MAN

mkvwm2Though somewhat short-lived, the Mark V suitcase armor was one of the real highlights of IM2, being a fun concept, a fun design, and getting easily the coolest fight scene in the movie.  The figure is about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  The Mark V has add-ons for his helmet, shoulderpads, gloves, boots, and belt.  The helmet is the same piece used for Marks IV, VI, and VII, but aside from that these pieces were new to this guy.  They match up well enough with his on-screen design, and he doesn’t suffer from being overly bulked up like a lot of the Iron Man armors from this time period.  In addition to the add-on pieces, the IM2 ‘mates also ramped up the use of specialized pieces, especially for arms and legs.  The Mark V gets new upper arms and legs, which, like the add-on pieces follow the movie design quite well, and also help to prevent him for getting too big.  The paint on this guy is particularly nice, with the metallic red in particular really standing out as really sleek and polished.  Under his helmet, there’s a nice, angry/determined Tony Stark, who even shows some damage from his battle with Whiplash, making him a nice departure from the slew of other Tonys with the same basic face.  The Mark V was packed with an extra hairpiece (a recolored version of Kyle Reese’s), as well as a pair of flesh-toned hands.

WAR MACHINE

mkvwm4From the moment Rhodey quipped “Next time, baby” to the Mark II in Iron Man, I was anxiously awaiting War Machine’s introduction in the sequel.  Of course, we lost the first Rhodey in the mean time, so there was no “Next time” for that particular iteration of the character.  That being said, I think Cheadle ultimately brought more to the role, and was especially good for the transition of Rhodey to true super hero.  This was Cheadle’s first of several ‘mates.  This one’s particularly heavy on the extra sculpted pieces, with add-ons for the helmet, chest piece, and gloves/forearm guns, as well as unique legs and upper arms.  Pretty much the whole basic ‘mate body is covered when this guy’s armored up.  The parts are generally pretty well sculpted, but I do feel this guy suffers a bit from that overly bulked up look that I mentioned the Mark V avoided.  It’s not awful, nor is it super out of character for War Machine, but he still looks a little on the pudgy side from some angles.  Rhodey’s paint work is decent enough, if not as exciting or polished as the Mark V.  Under the armor, there’s some nice extra torso detailing, as well as a fully detailed Rodey head.  In lieu of the hair piece from the first movie’s Rhodey, this guy’s hair is painted on, which I think more accurately portrays the close-cropped look from the film.  As far as the likeness, I can’t say I see all that much of Cheadle in the face on this one, but it’s still a pretty nice head.  Rhodey included a large gattling gun and missile launcher to plug into his torso piece, as well as a separate helmet with the faceplate flipped up, and a pair of flesh-toned hands.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This was around the time I was faithfully buying my Minimates from Cosmic Comix, but for whatever reason, his shipment of these guys never materialized.  I was hardly going to miss out on this pair, so I ended up grabbing them from TRU along with the two TRU-exclusive sets.  I find that a lot of these ‘mates haven’t aged the best, but these two still hold up pretty well, and I’m happy to still have them!

#1153: Black Widow & Dark Avengers Iron Man

BLACK WIDOW & DARK AVENGERS IRON MAN

MARVEL MINIMATES

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Hey ho, it’s another Minimate review. They kind of come in clusters, I guess. Of course, where yesterday’s focus figure came from way back at the beginning, today’s is a more recent addition to the line. So, without further ado, here’s Black Widow and Dark Avengers Iron Man!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This pair is part of Series 2 of the Walgreens-exclusive Marvel Minimates. As with all the Walgreens ‘mates, these two are animated series-based, specifically Avengers Assemble.

BLACK WIDOW

widowdaim2Black Widow is one of the main members of the team in Avengers Assemble, so her appearance here isn’t a huge shock, especially since they’ve been steadily working through the animated incarnation of the team. The figure is a little under 2 1/2 inches tall and she has 14 points of articulation. Widow is based on her second costume from the show, which is a bit more distinct when compared to the same basic Widow we’ve gotten a few times, so definitely a good choice. Her only add-on piece is her hair, which she shares with the previously reviewed Gamora ‘mate. It’s a nice enough piece, and I guess it matches well enough with her animated design. The rest of her design is rendered via paint work, which is pretty solid. As I’ve noted a few times before, the animated designs really do translate pretty well to the ‘mate form, and Widow definitely fits that trend. The colors are nice, bright, and bold, and all of the line work is nice and crisp. The figure is packed with a pair of batons and a clear display stand.

DARK AVENGERS IRON MAN

widowdaim3The second season of Avengers Assemble introduced frequent Marvel fixture the Squadron Supreme, who are the Marvel equivalent of the Justice League. They took advantage of the Squadron’s alternate universe to also introduce the Dark Avengers, evil counterparts to the main heroes. DST decided to take advantage of these new designs to offer some slightly more unique designs for the characters we’ve all seen so many times before. The first one was Iron Man, whose design swaps out the red portions of his armor for black, because everyone knows black = evil, I guess. Construction-wise, he’s got add-ons for his helmet, gloves, and belt, as well as special upper arm pieces. Everything is reused, which is generally okay. The Mark 42 arms still aren’t among my favorites, mostly due to serious limitations they place on the shoulder movement. Aside from that, though, he does a decent enough job of capturing the look of the armor on the show. The paintwork on this guy is passable, but nowhere near as nice as some of the others in this subset. He’s rather drab, being a dark blue and a rather cold yellow. Ultimately, he ends up looking like a slightly blander version of the Marvel Now Iron Man from a few years ago. Under the helmet, there’s a Tony Stark face, which is a bit angrier than the usual Tony. The flesh tone on the face is kind of thin, so he ends up looking rather bluish. Also, the figure’s paint just seems rather sloppy in general. The figure is packed with a flight stand and a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

These two were given to me by my Super Awesome Girlfriend, who bought them from a Walgreens during a trip back home over the summer. Apparently, she likes to buy things for me when she’s stressed. Widow’s a pretty solid ‘mate. Dark Avengers Iron Man is…well he doesn’t feel like the most inspired choice. Of all the Dark Avengers designs, his is really one of the less interesting, and to top it off, his paint work is noticeably lower in quality than others in the series. Overall, I think Widow’s enough to save the pack, but it would have been nice if her pack mate had been more exciting.