SEARCH      FEATURES    NEWSLETTER    EMAIL     HOME
Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Review of Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots Exclusive Two Pack
Iron Man 3 sixth scale action figure

Hot Toys
Date Published: 2016-01-27
Written By: Michael Crawford
Overall Average Rating: 3.5 out of 4

Please share with your friends!

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

Dividing Bar

Dividing Bar

Introduction

Some people enjoy collecting 500 variations on the same character. I get that, believe me. You should see the number of Batmen I've acquired over the years.  But I much prefer getting a broad release of characters, from A to Z, to fill out the display.

That means when Hot Toys announces another Iron Man 3 release, I might not bite.  In fact, I probably won't any more, unless it has something truly unique going for it.  But announce someone like Pepper Potts, a critical associate of Tony? Yep, I'm all over that.

Pepper was released in not one, not two, but THREE different configurations. You can pick her up on her own for around $225, depending on the retailer.  You can also pick her up in a two pack with the Mark IX. Or you can pick her up in same said two pack, but in an exclusive release that includes an additional accessory.  Both two packs were originally around $440. Tonight I'm checking out the exclusive version, and I'll point out the extra accessory when we get to that category.

Click on the image below for a Life Size version
Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

Dividing Bar

Packaging - ****
I'm loving this box, but not because the box itself is anything special.  It's an over sized shoe box, with the two figures side by side inside. There is also double plastic trays with the top tray holding both figures and the majority of the accessories, and the lower tray holding the various pieces of the display stands.

It's all collector friendly of course, although there's lots of plastic wrap to go around this time. There's also an interior cardboard slip cover, but the artwork there is pretty basic and plain.

None of that is what makes it special.  It's the exterior artwork, with a great collage of Pepper, the suit, and Tony's doomed abode in the background. These are various stills used in the marketing of the movie, but the combination works extremely well here. It's much more creative than most of the recent releases, and elevates the package from utilitarian container to something closer to art.

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

Dividing Bar

Sculpting - ***1/2
It always seems that capturing perfect male likenesses is easier than capturing the female subtleties. Perhaps I'm just pickier when it comes to beautiful women.  Thankfully, when considering accuracy and realism, Hot Toys nailed it with their Pepper Potts sculpt.

Of course you assumed it would be realistic, thanks to their perfection of skin textures and proportion. They've gone with rooted hair with this one, a smart choice thanks to the long hair style, and my prediction from a couple years is starting to come true - they are mastering it.  They still have a way to go before it's at the same level as their overall sculpting and paint work, but Hot Toys is pushing the boundaries with rooted hair, and the results are improving with every release.

It's also very accurate to Gwyneth Paltrow. Pop off the head, hand it to any uninterested bystander, and they'll say "hey, Gwyneth Paltrow!".  That's a sign of solid work, even when you can still find a nit to pick here and there. For me, it's the rather severe jawline that is set out from the neck just a bit too much.

But when you get past accuracy and realism, you find my main issue.  Regular readers know my third critical category for a human portrait in this scale is 'life-like', which means that while a sculpt can look just like the actor and just like a human, it can also still look like a very, very good mannequin or wax museum stand in. And that's my problem here, at least to some degree. It's not terrible, but it isn't quite at the level we see with their very best work.  Getting life into the eyes, the set of the facial muscles, and skin tone, is what takes a portrait from technically great to actual art. It isn't easy to do, nor should it be, but it's the one area where this attempt could be slightly better.

Of course, it should be no surprise that the sculpting on the Mark IX armor is terrific. There are plenty of small design details that can set this suit apart, although I think it is smart to avoid a release outside of the two pack. The importance of this figure is as a second version of Pepper Potts, wearing the extra helmeted head, not as it's own stand alone Iron Man suit variation.

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

Dividing Bar

Paint - ****
Hot Toys and proper paint - it's like honey in your tea.  At least that's what I hear, since I don't drink tea or like honey.

I do like these paint operations though, and they add to the overall realism of both figures even in extreme close ups.  The slight freckling on Pepper's face looks just about perfect, and her eyes lack the bleed I've complained about with some other recent figures.  The lips have a darker red color, and look like lipstick, not a natural coloration. That's as it should be, since I doubt Pepper would be caught out in a battle without the perfect shade of lipstick in place and smudge free.

The rooted hair also has a decent blonde color, not too washed out, not too brown, not too fake.

The MKIX has plenty of battle damage, all of it realistic and appropriate. It's a hard worn suit, with plenty of rough miles logged on tough roads. The effect works particularly well on the arms, chest and helmet, all key areas visually.

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

Dividing Bar

Articulation - ***1/2
Pepper has the usual female TrueType underlying the clothes. She does have the rubber covered arms and midsection, which restricts the the covered joints a bit, but overall is extremely posable.  Thanks to the rotating hinge ankles, you can get very deep stances and she can maintain them over time. The upper torso joint is particularly useful as well, allowing you to add some attitude to most stances. It can look a little weird at certain angles when not wearing the shirt, but that isn't an issue when it is covered, and when she's shirtless you simply have to adjust for it. See the photo below for what I mean, as the angle of the upper torso looks slightly odd without the shirt, but would be perfect covered.

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

The Mark IX has another fine engineering job on his articulation, although there isn't quite as much here as some of the other recent Iron Man 3 variants. The shoulders don't appear to extend - and there's no mention of it in the documentation - but the hips do pop down slightly to allow for deeper stances.  The hip armor also flips up and out of the way to avoid rubbing in such poses.

His back has three levels of articulated 'wings', designed for flight mode poses. Both sets of shoulder armor work this same way, so you aren't sacrificing any articulation by using one set over the other.

Along with all the other usual high quality joints, he comes with the articulated hands.  These allow for a ton of gestures and poses, and work extremely well. The rocker ankles and half foot joints are also a highlight, allowing more natural stances and maintaining his center of balance.

My one nit resides with the elbows. They covered them with a rubbery, ribbed material this time, and both elbows seem a bit loose inside.  This rubbery material tends to push the arms back, making it tough to do some poses.

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

Dividing Bar

Accessories - ****
Both figures come with an extremely solid assortment of extras. Let's begin with the Mark IX.

There's the usual set of hands of course, including a pair of fists, a pair of blasting hands (with the palms sculpted to point forward), and a pair of the super articulated fingers. These all swap easily, and there are two sets of hand guards to go with them. One set is flat, perfect for the fists, while the other is sculpted with the guard pushed back, perfect for the blasting palms.

There are also four pieces of armor designed to swap in.  The two large shoulder pieces are particularly nice, and popping off the one set and popping on the other is fairly painless. In the accessory photo below you'll notice two black pieces of foam on the inside. There are several pieces of foam included with both the extra set and hidden inside the set on his back. These are there to protect the paint job, but you'll want to remove them before displaying him.

There's two more swappable pieces for the either forearm. These mimic rising sections with exposed rockets, ready for blasting an opponent into oblivion. I particularly like these because he looks great posed with them in place, and it's a slightly different look to differentiate him from the pack.

Additionally, he has two areas on his armor that can be removed, and I thought mentioning these in 'accessories' was as good a spot as any. The chest piece can come off to expose the inner workings of the chest, as well as the rib covers.  There are a ton of possible poses and looks for this figure, so many that I didn't even get to include one of the exposed torso.

Included in the Mark IX accessory photo is the light up helmet (which is actually from a Mark VII), special to this exclusive release.  There are additional batteries as well that you can insert relatively easily.  The switch and battery compartment are on the bottom, making them easy to get to.  I've also included a shot of the helmet with the light illuminated.

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

Pepper comes with her own share of extra hands. There's a relaxed grip set she comes wearing, along with gripping hands and fists. There's a couple extra wrist pegs too, just in case, but the softer rubber hands were quite easy to swap.

Since Pepper is wearing some serious shoes, they've included a set of bare feet. Again, the swap is pretty painless, although I think most people will stick with the heels.

Running Stark Enterprises is no easy feat, what with all the meetings and presentations. She's carrying a file folder with a couple detailed documents inside.

She also has the extra parts to start her transformation into full Mark mode.  There is an extra right arm, sheathed in armor and complete with light up palm. Again, batteries are included, and pretty easy to pop in. You get all three hands to go along with this arm - splayed (blasting), articulated and fist. Of course, you also get both the flat and bent hand guard to work with either the fist or splayed blasting hand.

If you buy the single Pepper, that's all you'll get. But both the regular and exclusive two pack includes the additional head and face plate to go on the MK body. I stuck it on the IX for the photos. The sculpt and paint work is excellent, certainly as good as the normal rooted hair version. However, the base of the head is much lower on the helmet than on the normal Mark IX. This translates into the Pepper helmeted head sitting much higher on the neck, with a pretty big gap from the side.  Front views aren't a big issue, but you will notice it immediately in profile shots. It might sit better on the 42, however. (EDIT: It does...) They've included a face plate that stays nicely in place with normal handling, but is fairly easy to remove for the big reveal.

Both figures have stands as well - a pretty basic black version for Pepper, and a more complex flight stand for the Iron Man variant.  This latter stand is the same one we've gotten with most recent Iron Man releases, and does not include the original light up feature.

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

Dividing Bar

Dividing Bar

Light Feature - ***1/2
I've mentioned a number of the light up features as part of the Accessories category, but I'll cover them in a bit more depth here.

As with all Hot Toys Iron Man releases, the MK IX has light up eyes, chest and hands. The battery compartments and switches are easy to get to on the back and arms, and inserting the included batteries quite simple. The head was more problematic, due to a very deep battery well. You pop off the top armor on the head, which is easy enough, and can then access the switch and compartment. It took quite a bit longer to finagle the batteries into place in this location, however, and you'll want to check your frustration.

Once in place, all the lights were bright and clean, and the batteries appear to last longer than some recent releases. It's still probably a good idea to pick up your own set fairly soon, but these seem to hold a charge.

The extra arm that comes with Pepper has the same light up feature, with the compartment and switch in the same place of course. Oddly enough, this hand only requires two batteries, not three.

The special two pack includes the extra light up helmet, and this looks particularly sweet when illuminated. It's not just the eyes but the edges around the mask and 'ears' that shine with blue color, and it looks terrific.

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

Dividing Bar

Outfit - ***1/2
The Mark IX doesn't really have an 'outfit', and I've discussed the armor in detail in the Sculpting, Paint, Articulation, and Accessories sections. Instead, the focus of this category is entirely on Pepper.

She has a fairly basic but well tailored outfit consisting of her white shirt, black bra, black jeans, and funkilicious shoes.

The shirt is a good fit, with a reasonably sized collar. There are two snaps in front, and these are (unfortunately) the plastic variety. While I didn't have any trouble this time with the small posts, past experience always makes me leery of this design.

Underneath is a black sports bra that fits nicely and looks great.  This is the go to look for her when she's wearing the additional armored arm. And as you can see here, going with a wilder hair style in just the bra wouldn't be a wrong move.

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

The skinny jean pants have a slightly over sized zipper, but otherwise look great.  The legs could be just a smidge longer to better cover up the ankle joint, but if you tug them down slightly you should be fine.

Lastly, there's those high heels.  These are made from a very thin material, so thin that you might think it's painted on at first glance.  They are not intended to be removed, hence the addition of bare feet. They look fantastic, but do make the foot look a bit large from certain angles. She can actually remain upright on them pretty easily. I was pretty surprised by that, considering the height of the heel. The toes should be painted, since any woman wearing shoes like this would most certainly have her toes painted, but that's just me being picky.

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

Dividing Bar

Fun Factor - ***1/2
Both figures are highly articulated and easily posable, and they have a TON of extras that can create different looks on the shelf. You should have a great time posing and re-posing, and won't run out of options for quite awhile. My negative that pulls it down slightly is a combination of two factors: the light up feature on the normal MKIX head is annoying to work with, but if you switch to the Pepper helmeted head, it rests too high on the neck. I don't think it will work particularly well with other MK's because it is so very shallow, but I haven't tried.

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

Dividing Bar

Value - **1/2
This two pack was $440 through Sideshow, making each figure about $220. I'm not going to tell you that's not a lot of money - it is, and my poor credit card is smoking from being hit by this two pack, the new Trooper two pack and Thanos all in the same week. But the reality is that $220 is slightly less than average cost for a Hot Toys figure these days, and both are outfitted with a sizable number of extras.  This makes someone like Pepper a much better value that someone like Maria Hill, for example, and puts them in the average value ball park for me.

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

Dividing Bar

Things to Watch Out For -
Be very careful with the hand guard armor. Where the armor attaches to the tube, there's a minor articulation point that allows for just a tiny bit of movement. This point is weak though, and if you put too much pressure on the guard forcing it over the wrist post, you could easily break it.  Press the tube itself to attach the armor, not the guard.

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

Dividing Bar

Overall - ***1/2
Some collectors aren't into the B characters, with little interest in the likes of Commissioner Gordon, Maria Hill, or Pepper Potts. Me, I'm all about the B, C and D characters. I love adding real variety to the collection, particularly with a large, on-going license like Iron Man or Marvel.

I'm very happy with the final outcome on both Pepper and the MKIX suit.  You really are getting two complete versions of Pepper here - one in her street clothes, and by using the extra helmeted head, one in an Iron Man suit. You'll have to forfeit the light up feature on one of your MK42's (admit it, you have more than one), but that's a minor price to pay.

While the price isn't cheap, it's not ridiculous considering the number of accessories you get.  The best value is the exclusive version of course, and as you step back to just the two pack and then to just the single Pepper, the value goes slightly more below average.

I have several minor complaints overall, but there was really only one that bugged me after posing and working with the figures for awhile - how high the helmeted Pepper head rides on the neck.  Still, this might not be an issue at all with the 42 (where the neck posts really that different? I have to get mine out of storage...) and didn't have an effect on my Overall.

EDIT: A reader provided a photo showing the Pepper head (helmeted of course) on the die cast 42, and sure enough, it does sit properly thanks to the neck design. Excellent!

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ****
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ****
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ****
Light Feature - ***1/2
Outfit - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***1/2

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

Dividing Bar

Where to Buy 
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Sideshow is the place to pick up this special exclusive two pack with the additional light up helmet for $440. They also have the normal 2 pack for $440, and just Pepper for $225.

- has the pair for $418, and Pepper by herself for $210.

- has the two pack for $440, or just Pepper for $225.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
I've covered a lot of Hot Toys Iron Man figures over the years.  Most recent was Tank, and before that we had the MKIII Construction Diorama, Bones, the diecast Whiplash, Heartbreaker, and the diecast AoU War Machine.

Other die cast Iron Men variations include the Iron Man 3 War Machine, the Iron Patriot, and the newer MK42.  And don't forget that Hot Toys also did an all plastic War Machine from his first appearance.

Other Iron Man related releases include the Mandarin, the Power Pose MKXLII, the Iron Monger, the Mark V, the Secret Project version, the MKVI, the very cool War Machine, the hot chick Black WidowWhiplash, the Mark III figure, Mark II figure, Mark I figure, and additional Tony Stark men's suit. There are also guest reviews of the Battle Damaged Iron Man and Mech Suit Tony Stark.

You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

Enjoyed this review? Be sure to head back to the main page to find thousands more just like it!

Dividing Bar

Dividing Bar

Please share with your friends!

Iron Man MK IX, Pepper Pots action figure by Hot Toys

Back to Main Page
This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2000 - 2016, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved.