War Machine - 10th Anniversary Milk Magazine Special Edition
Hot Toys

   "The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Jeff swings by tonight with a look at another of the exclusive Iron Man figures from Hot Toys - tell us all about him, Jeff!

The last few reviews I have written turned out to be ten page+ epics. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining and no one holds a gun against my head shouting ‘write more, toy man or you die!’ Let’s face it I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t love it. But every now and then it’s nice to have a review that I can sit down and write in one evening (as it happened time is so scarce even this turned into the work of a few evenings what with editing and taking pics etc, etc). But with this new release what we have is the original version but with a spiffy new paint job making it essentially a paint app/colour variant. This will either appeal to you because of your love all things Shell Head or it will leave you cold because you are fed up to the back teeth with all things Hot Toys Iron Man or as a third alternative you may be caught between those two camps but have no interest in anything that was not screen seen or part of Marvel canon. If you are part of the latter two groups you can stop right now, there is quite literally nothing for you here. If however you are part of the more liberal minded camp, with an eye for an interesting aesthetic and cool bit of toy design, then you may have just hit pay dirt… as long as your disposable income is multitudinous enough to stretch to another version of War Machine for your collection.

Packaging - ***1/2
All the previous exclusive Iron Man figures have come in simple but classy monochrome boxes. This one falls somewhere between the last (Toy Fair Exclusive) grey MK IV and the Mech Test: Tony Stark boxes in so much as it has a plain flat background colour with a technical CAD style drawing representing the chest area of the armoured suit.

The top lifts off to expose a shallow vac-formed tray attached to the underside of the lid housing the figure stands, whilst the main tray opposite holds the figure, hands and gun accessories between another set of deeper trays.

So, as I said, this is subdued and classy rather than brash and showy. It’ll have you stroking your chin and nodding knowingly at the understated aesthetic rather than punching the air and shouting AWESOME! And sometimes that can be a good thing.

The build and quality of the materials used in its construction are all solid, and it comes with a definite thumbs-up from me. But one has to keep in mind just how amazing Hot Toys boxes can be sometimes, so although I like this a lot, I have to keep the top scores for the boxes that knock me sideways. Absolutely nothing to complain about though!

Sculpting - ****
Everything you need to know is already written here, it’s all good.

Paint - ****
OK, so now we are into another area with some totally new territory! I guess it almost goes without saying that his figure makes a great companion piece to the Secret Project grey MK IV figure I linked to above. As even though these aren’t screen seen at any point, the memorable double up ‘buddy’ scene when Tony and Rhodey take on the amassed ranks of the Hammer Drones and the power-suited Whiplash do give these two an alternate parallel universe ‘Butch and Sundance’ kind feel to them. And even though Hot Toys have made their name creating impossibly detailed representations of licensed movie and military collectibles. I can’t be alone in secretly wishing they would invest just a little time and effort into creating an original line of their own figures. They have done something similar in helping bring the Brothersfree line of figures ‘Brothersworker’ and Winson Ma’s ‘Winson Creations’ to the masses, but looking at these I’d love to see them bring this eye for detail, sculpting, engineering and paint apps to some original characters of their own invention.

But enough pontificating, let’s look at the actual paint app here. The dominant colour is a dense matte black. But it isn’t just a dull lifeless colour, in fact it looks like a deep graphite with a very subtle texture similar to the Teflon finish I described on the Secret Project version (look at your frying pan and you’ll see what I mean). Some of the edges have been given an exposed steel effect to add to the real world dents and dings it would receive from normal wear and tear, and they actually manage to look pretty convincing. The secondary tone is a matte zinc white with crisp black division lines down the seams and tooled details, it is again painted meticulously well and the stark white against the dense black makes for a striking finish. The last colour used is a metallic steel, this is utilised mainly to highlight engineered areas on the knees, thighs, shoulders and a band running around the chest from the ARC reactor to the back but it is also used on various smaller mechanical details on the weapons and jets.

All in all it looks fantastic, so if you are someone into the imagined alternate universe that these recoloured movie outfits inhabit, you have a winner, and after all it’s not as if the monochrome colour-way is a totally new idea, it’s been used in the comics like this and this and even by Cosplayers before, so it’s all good! And the attention to detail, combined with the faultless execution, make this a fantastic display piece to stand alongside the rest of the series.

Outfit - N/A
Everything is sculpted!

Articulation - ****
May I be so bold as to direct you to the above link for the first version of this figure, but suffice to say the engineering is a ‘Marvel’ to behold… do you see what I did there.

Accessories - ***1/2
This guy doesn’t do quite as well as the first because of the lack of the extra head with the ‘Rhodey’ reveal. But as this is an ‘imagined’ War Machine I guess that’s not too big a deal, after all who knows who is actually meant to be inside that thing? However it still means you get less bang for more buck, so the score reflects that!

Value - ***1/2
This is a low issue special edition, but that said I have no idea what the actual edition size is!

It was originally released as a promotional item to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Hong Kong based youth fashion and lifestyle magazine Milk, a publication that was also founded by Takara Mak, the man behind SiLLY THING (who were linked to the earlier grey version of the MK III). You see in many Asian countries you can be a fashionista and a toy geek at the same time, they seem far more enlightened and see it all as cool! Sadly in the West they are two worlds that don’t often collide, except perhaps in the more avant-garde circles of urban vinyl and uber high ‘fashion student’ design. I mean, can you imagine GQ having a special ‘anniversary’ edition of Sideshows IG-88 painted in matte black with a blue light inside his head… well actually I can, but it won’t happen!

I digress, what I am trying to say is that rarity generally means a higher price tag, and that is certainly evident here. Even though (like with the last few Hot Toys “exclusives”) Sideshow have managed to get hold of a batch for sale direct through their site. But with a price tag of $239, making it a whole $60 more than the regular grey version, it makes you realise this is one aimed squarely at your serious completists only. Now I believe that there are plenty of those out there, but the fact there are still some available on the site also makes you realise that the economy is still slower than a Bantha in the one hundred meters hurdles.

Fun Factor - ****
This could be said to have the same play value as the original version, but let’s face it neither of them will ever end up in the hands of a kid, unless daddy happens to be a Russian oligarch. I certainly think it deserves the highest of accolades in this category, as did the first version. But I’m sure this will be open to debate amongst Marvel and movie and indeed Marvel movie purists. And even if this isn’t officially part of Marvel canon, it still looks bloody great and does everything the other one does, what’s not to actually like!

Overall- ***1/2
Essentially this is a solid release, the only thing that could realistically count against it is that it is a purely ’imagined’ figure. But is that such a bad thing? I have to admit that I did see it as a slight distraction on the grey ‘Secret Project’ version, but as it is often said, ‘a little knowledge’ much like ‘hindsight’ can be a very dangerous thing!

Hence I am giving this a star more than his grey brethren, and this is mostly because I find this more fun to pose and play with, could that be because of his big ol’guns… could be!

Where to buy
Sideshow still has this in stock for $239.99, available here.

Or you can save yourself $20 at Mikes sponsor Fan Boy Collectibles, who have it in stock for $219.99  and BBTS also has it for the RRP of $239.99 here. Or hit eBay where prices are fluctuating between a low $230 right up to a high of $390.

This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Jeff Parker.

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