#1644: Crimson Dynamo

CRIMSON DYNAMO

IRON MAN (TOY BIZ)

“As the United States had its armored champion in Iron Man, so did the former Soviet Union have their own crusader — the Crimson Dynamo! His first mission was to destroy the symbol of Western democracy — Iron Man — a mission which led to the first of many defeats for the Dynamo. As the Cold War came to a close, so did their animosity; now these uneasy allies focus their combined might against such foes as Fin Fang Foom and Titanium Man!”

The biggest problem faced by the ‘90s Iron Man toyline was Iron Man’s overall lack of a really strong rogue’s gallery.  I mean, he’s got Mandarin, and….alcohol?  That’s hard to do in a toyline, though.  Another good, solid Iron Man foe (and my personal favorite) is Crimson Dynamo.  Unfortunately, Dynamo wasn’t very prominent in the cartoon that the toyline was based on, so it took a few assortments.  Still, at least he got a figure.  Living Laser was on the show a couple of times, and he never did…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Crimson Dynamo was released in Series 4 of Toy Biz’s Iron Man line, as the assortment’s only villain.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  This figure uses Dynamo’s armor design from the Valentin Shatalov incarnation of the character, which was the most recent version  of the character at the time of this figure’s release.  It’s got a lot more silver than most Dynamo designs (the cartoon even recolored the whole thing red to keep him consistent with other versions), and is a but thinner, making it much more similar to an Iron Man design.  Personally, I’d have preferred one of the earlier models, but I think it’s fair to say this version worked a bit better with the overall style of the line.  As with all of the Iron Men and War Machines of this line, Crimson Dynamo’s fished look is completed using a base figure with a bunch of clip-on armor pieces.  Dynamo had 9 clip-on pieces, for his chest plate, back plate, gauntlets, belt, boots, and helmet horns.  What’s that you say?  You don’t see any horns on his helmet?  Yep, mine’s missing his.  I’d have borrowed them from my dad’s figure, but his is missing them too.  They have a tendency to go missing.  Why they didn’t just make them a permanent fixture of the head is anyone’s guess.  I can’t imagine why someone would want him without them.  The rest of the armor is cool enough, though I’m not a huge fan of how the boots work, since they make posing the figure a bit difficult.  Another major issue with the figure’s design is linked to his action feature, which launches a missile from the middle of the figure’s torso, resulting in a big hole in the middle of his chest.  Another item that harms the integrity of the figure’s appearance for essentially no good reason.  On the plus side, the paint’s decent enough.  Moderate slop on the edges of the silver, but nothing too terrible.  Beyond the clip-on armor, Dynamo also included a flame-styled projectile, meant to go in that big gaping hole int he torso.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I believe Dynamo was a gift, possibly for Christmas.  I definitely remember getting one of the other Series 4 figures for Christmas that year, so I think Dynamo was part of the same set of gifts.  Honestly, Dynamo is one of the line’s weaker entries.  Off costume choice, and a number of very strange design choices in the actual implementation of the figure.  He’s hardly a bad figure, but he’s still a rather frustrating one.

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#1634: Iron Man

IRON MAN

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (HASBRO)

So, yesterday, I had to review a Thor because it was Thor’s Day.  Obviously, I have to review an Iron Man today, what with it being….Friron Man’s Day?  Not buying it?  Yeah, that’s okay, I don’t blame you.  I’m still reviewing the Iron Man figure, though.  You know, because, well, I reviewed all of the others.  So, without further ado, here’s another Iron Man!  Woo!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Iron Man is the last figure in Series 1 of the basic Avengers: Infinity War line.  Tony is seen here in his brand-new Mark XLVIII armor, which is being called the “Bleeding Edge” armor, after a similarly advanced armor from the comics (pretty much all of the movie armors since Mk 43 have been patterned on the Bleeding Edge’s design, but it sounds like they’re actually using the name this time).  The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  The sculpt is once again all-new.  It reflects the more organic nature of this armor’s design pretty well.  It’s very smooth and sleek; sort of divergent from the rest of the figures from this assortment so far, who have all been full of a lot rough textures.  It does make this figure seem a bit simpler at first, and I wasn’t sure I liked that so much, but ultimately, I’ve found it to actually be a very clean and polished looking figure.  I also quite like the repulsor hand on the right arm; it’s a subtle change-up in the posing, but it adds a lot of character to the figure, as well as offering up some more variety in posing.  The paint is, like the sculpt, rather on the basic side; mostly he’s just molded in the appropriate red, with paint for the gold, silver, and blue.  The application is mostly pretty clean, though there’s a little bit of missing paint right at the top of Tony’s faceplate here.  Other than that, it’s solid work.  Iron Man includes a…cannon?  Something like that.  It’s done up to match his armor, which is nice enough.  I don’t know if it’s actually going to be in the movie, though, especially since it’s hand-held, which doesn’t quite seem like Tony’s style.  It’s also rather awkward for him to hold.  Really can’t see this getting much use, from collectors or kids, honestly.  It does at least have a peg for attaching the included Infinity Stone, which, for those keeping track, is the Time Stone.  Well, as long as it’s with *one* of the Sherlock Holmeses, I guess it’s okay.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Iron Man was the last of these I picked up.  I actually just got him within the last week, grabbed from my local TRU during one of my many visits.  I’d seen him a few times before, when I picked up the others.  Since there were an odd number of figures, and I grabbed the others during “buy-one-get-one” sales, he was just the actual odd-man-out every time.  I’m glad I finally grabbed him.  I mean, an Iron Man’s an Iron Man, but I didn’t have one in this particular style, and this design is actually pretty strong.

The Blaster In Question #0049: Stark Strike Blaster

BlasterInQuestion1

STARK STRIKE BLASTER

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (NERF)

starkstrike1Another week, another late review. One of these days I’m going to get the hang of this. And what’s that? April 1st? Time for jokes and pranks and whatnot. Well, kinda, I don’t have quite the same elaborate gag-posts Ethan pulls off, but this week’s blaster is a joke in and of itself in a way. That’s me saying it’s bad. It’s a bad… you know what? Nevermind. On to the review.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

starkstrike2It’s the Marvel Captain America: Civil War Iron Man Stark Strike Gauntlet Blaster… from Hasbro. At least, that’s what the friendly marketing guy in the video ad for this product told me. It’s the longest name for a Nerf blaster I can think of since the Nerf N-Strike Accu-Zombie Elite Strike Fire Mega Fury Strike Rapid Modulus Strike Fire Strike Strike… from Hasbro. The MCA:CWIMSSGB… fH was released in 2016 as a tie-in product for the Captain America: Civil War film. The blaster uses spring power to launch the dart, but instead of using it to push a plunger into a cylinder to create air pressure, the spring just impacts the dart directly. I’ve mentioned this system a couple times I the past, largely in reference to how terrible it is, and that assessment holds true here as well. The body of the blaster is pretty good, actually, the main feature being that the actual blaster part pops up from the rest of the platform before allowing you to fire. The construction feels solid and the sculpt is all new with starkstrike3some painted gold accent work here and there. The only controls on the blaster are the two buttons on the back, one causes the blaster to pop up, the other fires. Interestingly, due to the nature of the firing mechanism, even if the blaster is primed, it can’t be fired without a dart in the barrel, I assume to prevent the spring from beating the crap out of the internals of the blaster. The strap is small but I can still get it around my adult-sized wrist without too much trouble. Unfortunately, the problem with arm-mounted blasters is that aiming is pretty much out of the question. They say you can’t lick your own elbow, and it seems just about as impossible getting a sight-picture with it too, not that aiming would improve your chances of hitting anything with this blaster. As said before, calling the ranges on this blaster “disappointing” would be the understatement of the month, that is, if it fires at all. More often than not, the shock of the top part snapping up into position is enough to shake the dart forward in the barrel to where it no longer presses on the firing lock, meaning you have to re-seat the dart before the blaster will fire. If it does work, then you can watch the dart go flying up to about 10 or 15 feet. Woo… So unless you have some really emotionally fragile siblings, this blaster won’t help much when you decide to bust into their room and light them up. It’s probably best to leave it back in your room. The Marvel Captain America: Civil War Iron Man Stark Strike Gauntlet Blaster… from Hasbro comes with 2 Eilte darts in red and black but I seem to have lost mine, oh well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I think It really says something about a blaster when the most enjoyment I’ve gotten from it is hearing the guy in the ad say the full product name and almost forget to mention it’s from Hasbro. Sure I like gimmicky blasters, but that’s predicated on them being blasters first, and this one is pretty awful. Heyyyy jokes! But seriously, though, I wouldn’t recommend this blaster.

 

#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.

#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!