Iron Man
Mark 02 and Iron Monger

If Avi Arad has his way, every two bit Marvel hero and villain will end up on the big screen. And before we can get too far into the B listers, they have to get all the A listers out there first. One of said A listers is Iron Man, a character that's been around since 1963. Tony Stark is the ultimate nerd with power, a engineering genius who develops a suit that both keeps him alive and provides him with tremendous powers. Like all Marvel characters, he's been through some mighty bizarre ups and downs, but that single general concept has remained consistent.

The film appears to follow his original origin fairly well, although updated to modern times. In the film he goes through several versions of his armor, and three are represented in the toys. There's the Mark 01, which is large and cumbersome; the Mark 02 (reviewed tonight), which is much sleeker but still very steel-looking; and the Mark 03 which is his now traditional yellow/bronze and red armor. There's a couple other figures in the first wave of course, including a 'prototype' figure which is really a Mark 03 with some removable armor and a Stark head sculpt, and the Iron Monger (reviewed tonight), who is the big bad for the film. There's also a Target exclusive version of the Mark 03 which is silver and red.

Due to having a street date, these just started hitting Toys R Us and Target stores last weekend. Expect to pay around $10 a pop for the regular figures.

Packaging - ***
The packaging is a nice bold, bright red, and includes useful text on the front. Looking through the pegs, you'll be able to tell which figure it is from either side, which is always handy when the pegs are packed full. On the back is some personalized information about the specific character, with attractive graphics. It's not earth shattering packaging, but it's slightly better than the average stuff on the pegs.

Sculpting - Mark 2 ***1/2; Monger ***
All the Marvel Legends fans should be happy at least about one thing - these are in a six inch scale (rather than the recent annoying 5" scale that Spider-Man and several other recent super hero movies have used), and fit in terrific with other six inch scaled figures.

It appears that the Iron Monger is a short pack right now, which isn't particularly surprising. The villains and B characters usually are, with the leading character getting all the packing ratio love. I think that also means he'll be the toughest to get for a little while, since everyone will want one villain to face off against their many Stark's.

The Iron Monger isn't a terrible sculpt, but it's certainly softer and less detailed than several of the other figures in the assortment. He's biggest plus is his pure bulk, which takes up quite a bit of space and makes him a formidable foe for Iron Man. He stands 7 inches tall, but his sizeable girth adds even more to his impressive volume.

He has lots of pistons, tubes and other mechanical appearing accoutrements, but the texturing and plasticy appearance take away some of the robotic realism. Many of the cuts and corners aren't as sharp or deep as they would be on the real deal, and while I highly recommend picking him up, his sculpt is only decent, not amazing.

The Mark 02 takes it up a step though, at least in this category. He stands 6" tall, which might be a little small considering that he's wearing all that armor, but I think he looks good next to most Legends figures. The armor is cut well, and I really like this design, even if it isn't 'canon'.  The Mark 02 looked to be the same sculpt as the Mark 03, at least from what I could tell comparing them on the peg. There's still not a ton of detail, although there's more than on Iron Monger, and the texturing doesn't do a lot to get rid of the plasticy appearance, but the paint work helps him where it (or more importantly the lack of it) does nothing to improve his bigger foe.

The sculpt also works extremely well with the articulation, and he has some very interesting sculpted pose hands. While the more traditional outfit was appealing on the peg, it was this one that really caught my eye, due in large part to the cool sculpt.

Paint - Mark 02 ***; Monger **1/2
Unfortunately, Hasbro didn't do much with the paint on either figure. Iron Monger suffers the worst fate, being cast almost entirely in the brown/bronze looking color. All the usual problems with this technique are here, and the fact that he is a large figure tends to accentuate these issues. The unpainted plastic doesn't look much like metal, there is no oily, dirty, grimy look to any of the pistons or joints, and there's even a fair bet of swirling, where the colors swirl around on a piece of plastic and are very inconsistent. It's most noticeable on his legs, but it exists in a couple other places as well. Also, different pieces of plastic have absorbed the color differently, which means that his arms are slightly darker than the rest of him. It's not quite as noticeable in person as it is in photos, but it's there. On the plus side, his eyes are done quite well, and I really do like the translucent red circle over his heart.

Fortunately, the Mark 02 (as well as the Mark 03) have much more paint detail than the Iron Monger. On the Mark 02, there's still some cast plastic color, but a wash has been added to bring in some realism. There's also some yellow highlights, and the armor itself is a nifty two tone silver/gray. That doesn't mean the paint job rocks the house, since there's still a fair share of slop, poor cut lines, and stray marks. I'm not thrilled with the color choice of all the joint pins (they went with the darker gray cast color, although some of them are in the painted silver areas), but the color scheme was one of the features that opened my wallet.  From the few stills from the movie, this toy isn't an exact match to the more metallic look in the film, but I still like the combination.

Articulation - Mark 2 ***1/2; Monger ***
While neither of these figures sport the insane level of articulation we saw on some Marvel Legends, Hasbro has done a good job of giving them enough. Well, at least with Iron Man - the Iron Monger could use a little more.

Iron Monger has a cut neck joint, as well as a cut waist. He has ball jointed shoulders, and the armored pads above them are soft enough to push out of the way and give the arm quite a range of movement. While the ball is only jointed at the torso, there's a cut bicep joint to add to the arm posability, as well as pin elbows and pin/ball wrists.

The waist actually works with the action feature, but it does stop in various positions so it can also be used for posing.

Below the waist he has ball jointed hips, or they LOOK like ball joints. There is a post that enters the torso, and the leg can turn on this post, but I can't get the leg to turn on the ball itself. They may just be frozen up tight, but it doesn't appear that way. This makes the hips far less useful than they appear.

His leg articulation finishes out with pin knees and pin ankles, allowing him more poses than your average robot styled figure.

Iron Man goes further than this however, and is a very, very posable toy. He has a ball jointed neck that works great, allowing all kinds of tilt action that adds personality to every pose. He has ball jointed shoulders that work great, and the shoulder armor is also jointed so that it can move out of the way for those over the head poses. He has double pin elbows and knees, pin wrists and ankles, and a half foot pin as well. The chest joint turns and rocks too, tilting backward pretty well. In fact, if you have a stand that will work, his head, torso and feet tilt enough to get a pretty good flying pose.

The hips are once again a little weird though. They appear to be ball joints, jointed on both sides of the ball. But I can't get the joint to turn, as the ball appears frozen in place. This time I do think it's a paint issue, but the ball is so small that I have to dig up some needle nose pliers to see if I can get it to budge.

All the joints were tight, and they all held poses well. I was also able to get some very natural stances out of Iron Man, which is often tough with even the most articulated 6" figure. Hasbro has done a nice job with articulation on both the ML line up and now this series, working to give us enough but not too much, and improving the basic quality of the joints.

Accessories - Mark 2 **1/2; Monger Bupkis
This is not a category that favored either figure very much.

Poor Iron Monger gets the big goose egg. Yep, he doesn't get anything - not even a blunt force object - to take on Tony. Tony does better, getting not one but two 'cannons' that fit on his arms. There are two projectiles, one for each cannon. The projectile fires pretty well, although certainly not strong enough to take out a figure has heavy and solid as the Monger.

Action Feature - Mark 02 Bupkis; Monger **1/2
Technically, Mark 02 has an action feature, since his weapon fires.  But I discussed that as part of his accessories, not here, so he's getting a Bupkis.  Of course, if you're like me, that's not a bad thing.  Too often action features do nothing but get in the way.

The Iron Monger has an action feature though.  Theoretically, you squeeze his legs together and he's supposed to do a slamming move with his arms.  In reality, squeezing the legs makes the waist twist which in turn makes the arms move downward.  In other words, just turning the waist yourself does the same thing.

It's not a terrible action feature, but it's fairly useless, even for kids.  Fortunately, it doesn't get in the way too much.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
While the paint jobs make these imperfect collectibles, the articulation and style make them a ton of fun for kids of all ages. Since the Mark 03 costume is his main outfit, I suspect most kids will go for that one first. But don't overlook the Mark 02 - it's a great color scheme and a nice design. And you can't leave the kids without a Monger to battle against!

Value - **1/2
This new ten buck price point for any figure they make is a killer. With so few accessories, these guys really aren't worth that kind of green. Since it's the only game in town, people will pay it, but I suspect there will be some grumbling parents. Since the $10 price point seems to be the new 'average', and since these do have solid sculpts and articulation, I'm giving them the average score.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not a thing. These should be able to handle plenty of rough play, just like Tony.

Overall - Mark 02 ***1/2; Monger ***
I really like this version of Iron Man, due to the cool design, two tone paint job, and solid articulation. I'll end up buying one of the more traditional color schemes and designs as well, but this one really caught my eye on the pegs, and out of the package he didn't disappoint.

The Monger needed a better paint job, but that's really his only major issue. Sure, I'd like an accessory or two, but when you're dealing with a large villain like this, it's not unusual for them to skimp on the extras.

This is a comic book movie that has my interest peaked, since the character has plenty of potential. And let's hope that they actually use the Black Sabbath song in the film too, and not just the trailer.

Score Recap:
Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt - ***1/2; Monger ***
Paint - Mark 02 ***; Monger **1/2
Articulation - Mark 2 ***1/2; Monger ***
Accessories -  Mark 2 **1/2; Monger Bupkis
Value - **1/2
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Overall - Mark 02 ***1/2; Monger ***

Where to Buy -
These are hitting mass market stores now, but finding these particular two might be tougher.  They appear to be the short packs, but over time you should be able to still score them.  Check these online sponsors as well:

- Urban Collector has them by the case, based on assortment number.  If you're looking for full sets and short packs, this is the best way to go.  Just search for 'iron man'.

- Entertainment Earth has tons of Iron Man goodies, including some of the Hasbro items.

- YouBuyNow has the individual figures listed for sale at $16 each.

- CornerStoreComics has them by the case, including a case that only has three duplicates!

- for the UK readers, Forbidden Planet is selling the singles for 9 - 10 GBP each.

- or you can search ebay with MyAuctionLinks.

- and if you're a real Iron Man fan, you can pick up the life sized bust for $630 from Sideshow or Alter Ego Comics, or the more reasonably priced mini-helmet.

- Related Links -
Past Iron Man reviews include:

- Marvel Legends has had it's share of Iron Man version, including the Silver Centurion in series 7, vs. Mandarin in the Face Offs, the classic version in series 1 (Toybiz), and the series 1 (Hasbro) Ultimate Iron Man.

- in the Marvel Select line, there's the Ultimate Iron Man.

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Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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