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Iron Man Mark III full size helmet
By Museum Replicas (Windlass Studios)

Iron Man Mark III helmet (3) 1:1 full size prop replica by Museum Replicas

This is a bit of an odd review, because when I received this huge monster of a prop replica a few weeks ago, I had some issues. But Museum Replicas (and the actual makers, Windlass Studios) are newer to the game, so I thought I'd see if I could resolve the issues, and report back on the whole process as part of the review.

And if you haven't figured it out, I'm talking about the 1:1 scale Iron Man Mark III helmet. I was never a huge Iron Man fan pre-Downey, but now I've got IM collectibles out the ying yang. I also don't normally do 1:1 scale helmets, although several of the Star Wars versions have been mighty tempting. I finally broke down on this one though, for reasons that are still not wholly clear to my conscious mind.

When this helmet was originally solicited, it was to have light up eyes...I swear that's true. Somewhere along the long time frame of pre-order to production, that feature was dropped, however.

A note about the photos - shooting something like this without relying on photoshop is always an issue. The highly reflective brass surface is always going to have hot spots, and you'll see weird colors and objects reflected back from the room. Hey, I did what I could to try to show the real piece, rather than PS it up.
Iron Man Mark III helmet (3) 1:1 full size prop replica by Museum Replicas
Iron Man Mark III helmet (3) 1:1 full size prop replica by Museum Replicas
Iron Man Mark III helmet (3) 1:1 full size prop replica by Museum Replicas
Iron Man Mark III helmet (3) 1:1 full size prop replica by Museum Replicas
Iron Man Mark III helmet (3) 1:1 full size prop replica by Museum Replicas
Iron Man Mark III helmet (3) 1:1 full size prop replica by Museum Replicas
Iron Man Mark III helmet (3) 1:1 full size prop replica by Museum Replicas
Iron Man Mark III helmet (3) 1:1 full size prop replica by Museum Replicas

Packaging - ***
It comes in a large box, but not oversized. It's packed well, with very sturdy high quality poly foam - not the cheaper soft Styrofoam. There's also a thin plastic cover over the brass plated metal (it certainly appears to be brass plated, rather than solid brass), to keep it relatively clean and tarnish free til you get it.

Sculpting - ***
I referred to several stills to do my comparisons, including this one from the front, and this one from the side.

This helmet is designed to be worn, and some of the minor changes in appearance may have been to accommodate that more easily. For example, I'm deducting a bit because the shape of the head is reversed - the stills show how the jaw is slightly wider across than higher at the temples, but on this mask, the reverse is true. Check out this fan made mask for what I think is a more appropriate head shape.

Other issues included more deeply set eyes (the ridges cut back more sharply into the face), and a very different jawline with a much sharper angle at the back and slightly less detail.

It is true 1:1 size, at least in the sense that you can certainly wear it, and it will fit a guy with a big head, too. You'll need to add additional padding inside if you plan on doing that though, as the thin pad they've provided allows it to flop around your face.

Paint/Plating - **1/2
My major issue that I first encountered was discoloration around the edges of the brass plate face that wouldn't buff out. The plastic kept the metal from tarnishing, but it didn't quite go all the way to the edge. There were also some spots where the plastic had been nicked or peeled slightly in handling at the factory. These various edges to the plastic cover allowed the exposed metal to tarnish, creating some very dark lines. Using a soft cloth alone was not enough to buff them out.

The photo to the left shows one of those areas at one temple. I didn't want to go nuts on cleaning it up til I talked to the folks at Windlass, for fear of damaging it. I called three times before I was finally able to get someone I could talk to about it (the person wasn't available and didn't return my voice mail the first two times), but I finally talked to someone in the know who said I could try a very soft brass cleaner, before returning it.

So that's what I did. Now, it took a week to talk to them, and another week to get the cleaner and get the time to work on it. In that time, the helmet was left exposed to air, and the next photo to the left shows the amount of tarnish that I acquired in that relatively short period. I was assuming at this point that it was going back.

However, a non-abrasive (as much as possible) brass cleaner did the trick. In the fourth photo down, you'll see that same temple area as in the second photo, only tilted slightly to avoid too much glare. The brass cleaned up quite nice, with a very, very high gloss shine, and all the tarnish, including the dark lines, buffed out. You do end up with some buff marks of course - I don't know any way to ever avoid that entirely - but they aren't visible under normal lighting and eyesight. You can only see them if you hold the helmet under a bright light at certain angles.

The main issue was corrected, but I still have some minor issues with the finish. First, I'm not sold that the bright shiny metal coating is the right way to go. As you noticed in the stills or remember from the film, the brass color is much more like a painted surface over some sort of Stark Industries special alloy, not a clean brass surface. I think that this brass finish looks far less like the actual film prop than say, the Mark III figure from Hot Toys.

The red painted back half of the helmet looks great, and is a very accurate, clean and consistent color. I did note a few minor chips where the metal surface was screwed to the back half and the edge was damaged, but they are pretty minor.

I have a longer term concern, since the brass finish will continue to tarnish, particularly when you handle it. You'll end up needing to keep this surface clean, and I'm not sure that the metal will continue to maintain it's appearance over too many buffings. Only time will tell of course, but it's worth noting. The Mark II helmet makes sense to be in a bright shiny material - here I'm not convinced.

For all these reasons, I have to wonder why they decided to go with the metal surface, clearly a more expensive option, when it makes a mask that was less screen accurate, more prone to damage, and more difficult to maintain. For all these reasons, I'm dropping the score here.

Quality - ***
They did use fairly decent materials, and having something with this much heft can be considered a plus, even if it doesn't quite look right. When you pick up this helmet, you know you're picking up something that could protect you.

They also used all metal screws in the construction, which is an important touch. Something cheaper or smaller would have effected the overall appearance. Of course, with real screws you get some slight misalignment, but I bet you could correct that on your own if you were willing to risk it.

Accessories - ***
It comes with a pretty nifty display base, designed to hold the helmet from the inside of course.

The top of the post is a wooden disc, but the post itself is metal, making for a very sturdy support. The base has a applied Stark Industries logo, as well as a separate metal name plate. I can do without the name plate - I'd be fairly stupid not to recognize what this is - but at least it's out of the way and flat on the base, rather than sticking up at an angle in a much too obvious way.

Value - **
At $350, this is definitely a high end prop replica. Had the use of metal for the face plate been necessary to make a truly screen accurate product, I would have scored this helmet higher. Clearly the materials used here are a substantial driver in the cost...but I'm not sure I agree they were necessary. Had they gone with something more accurate to the look in the film with a painted surface, and thrown the light up eyes back in here, I would have been much happier with this price point. In fact, drop the light up eyes and give me a more accurate helmet at half the cost - that's something I would have really gotten behind.

Things To Watch Out For
You'll no doubtedly have to clean this guy up, and when you do so I recommend looking for as least abrasive of a brass polish as you can find. Be forewarned! But take it from my lesson and don't be too discouraged by the initial tarnish lines or any additional tarnish, because it does shine up just fine.

Overall - **1/2
If you're buying an action figure for $12, and it really shouldn't be more than $8, the effect of a low Value score is fairly small. On the other hand, when you're spending hundreds of dollars, it becomes a crucial aspect.

I do like the helmet, but I'm not sure that going with these materials and charging a high premium for them makes a ton of sense. You end up with a less accurate looking helmet, that takes more effort to maintain, and costs you more to buy in the first place. It sure is pretty on the shelf, and all that shiny brass color is going to wow folks at first glance. But I'm not sure that is worth the green...or really the effect they should have gone for. I'm a fan of screen accurate when it comes to prop replicas, even if screen accurate isn't always the prettiest. Sadly, this helmet has me wishing I'd spent the green on the MKII version instead.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***
Paint - **1/2
Quality - ***
Accessories - ***
Value - **
Overall - **1/2

Where to Buy -
These are hitting online retailers like my sponsors:

- Urban Collector has it at $325.

- Alter Ego Comics has it listed at $361.25.

- Entertainment Earth has it listed at $355.

- Showpiece Collectibles has it listed at $360.

- or you can search ebay for a possible deal.

Related Links -
Other Iron Man reviews include:

- a guest review of the Hot Toys MKIII figure.

- the very cool little 3 3/4" Marvel Universe version.

- the not quite as cool 12" Repulsor Iron Man.

- a couple 6" movie figures.

- the ML Silver Centurion version, as well as the Ultimate version.

Discussion:
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Iron Man Mark III helmet (3) 1:1 full size prop replica by Museum Replicas



This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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