Mech Test Tony Stark - Iron Man
Hot Toys

Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by 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 Parker jumps in tonight with a look at a figure I am hotly anticipating - the Mech Suit Tony Stark from Hot Toys! Give us the scoop, Jeff:

Felicitations as ever are due to Mr Crawford, the guy who makes all this happen, and keeps ill as vital and relevant as he does.

Just a few weeks ago I reviewed the Battle damaged MK IV Iron Man, and he proved to be just about the strongest figure from the series so far. Well, I say that, I have a bit of a soft spot for the MK I (still my personal Hot Toys figure of last year, actually not just Hot Toys, my figure of 2009 period!).

So with the Iron Man series of figures shaping up to be the hottest to date from HT, could this figure actually live up to what came before?

We already have the MK 1, MK 2, MK 3, Ltd Ed- Silly Thing (grey ver), Battle Damaged MK 3, Tony Stark suit (not officially an IM product, but hey we all know better) and the Mech-Test Tony I’m covering here. And soon from IM2 we’ll have War Machine, Whiplash, MK 4 and Black Widow to boot.

Proto-pics of the ‘suitcase’ MK 5 armoured figures have been floating around and there is speculation there will be a Nick Fury and Mech suited Whiplash…. and I personally hope we’ll get a few Hammer drones as well. So with an official IM line up of 10 figures with a possible 4 or 5 to follow this is undoubtedly quite a little money spinner of a license for Hot Toys, and one that has us waiting with baited breath for the next announcement!
So, with all that Shell-Headed goodness to be had, is the Mech-Test version just for completeists, or is it a strong enough figure to stand on it’s own?

Well, we finally get that Ko Jun sculpt of Tony we were promised, plus he comes with a raft of impressive extras, what do you think?
Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys

Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys
Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys
Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys
Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys
Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys
Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys
Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys
Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys
Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys
Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys
Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys
Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys
Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys

Packaging - ****
In terms of scale this is the closest we have got to last years Godfather figure, and like that box this is a rather classy affair. Because of all those extra goodies it demanded a larger than average piece of packaging, but even though oversized, the use of space is still used pretty efficiently.

The outer box bears a technical vectored drawing of the mechanically engineered exoskeleton arm on the front and one of the boots on the back. They’re images that work surprisingly well. The illustrations coupled with the silver foil blocked typography make the whole thing look like hi-tech toy… which of course it is in its own way. The side of the box lifts to unwind and open up to the left. Inside is a full colour printed panel with a brief bio and a pic of the figure. This lifts off to show the figure lying in a vac formed tray next to his extra hands, feet and pouches. This tray can then also be lifted out to show a second tray holding the base and the robot. When unpacking you may panic a little here as the area that appears to have been designed to hold the perspex bar/rod is empty, but don’t fret it’s polly bagged and taped to the underside… at least it was on mine! Finally you take this last tray out and underneath is the dioramic backdrop, folded and protected in a large polly bag.

So, not a full colour all singing all dancing box like the others we have had in the IM series, but it stands well on it’s own, has a very classy aesthetic and protects the contents well, meaning we get another virtually perfect piece of collectibles toy packaging. And it sure beats the pants off of the plain corrugated boxes some other companies stick their ‘oversized’ items in.

Sculpting - ****
I know this site has very broad spectrum of readership, but at the end of day we’re all geeks who range from the mildly interested in hi-end collectibles (might not feel the need to own them but enjoys the pretty pictures), right through to the seriously addicted (on first name terms with the Fed-Ex driver and has various Hong Kong dealers on speed dial).
If you find yourself in the later group you will be aware of the whole Tony Stark/Robert Downy Jnr head sculpt that was ‘intended’ to go with the BD Iron Man cited earlier. It was never ‘officially’ shown, but it was revealed in a Hong Kong magazine, meaning it was instantly splashed across pretty much every 1/6th collectors forum on the planet. The problem was that –

A- It was a freakin amazing sculpt by Ko Jun.
B- The powers that be (i.e. the movie big wigs) wouldn’t allow it to be released!

Which of course adds up to a lot of frustrated people at Hot Toys and a whole bunch of unhappy punters. It was unfortunate that the situation blew up in the way it did, but when the owners of a license say nay, you simply must cease and desist!

However, for those of you that looked on in wonder at that earlier sculpt, only to have your hopes dashed of ever owning it, all is not lost!

Admittedly it’s not the same sculpt… but in my most humbliestest of opinions its an even better one.
It’s a classic Ko Jun ‘expression’, like his work on Al Pacino it shows the actor, in this case Robert Downy Jnr (RDJ) with a look of deep concentration. This is after all meant to show him trying to multi-task on using all four limbs and his centre of gravity while hovering on repulsor lift jets (for the first time at that!).

The detailing on the face shows some deft observations on things like facial hair and indeed the hair on his head, which has always been one of Ko Jun’s fortes. It’s shown with a right hand parting and his trademark floppy fringe has two locks falling over his forehead.  But as cool as the hairstyling is, it’s the masterful work on the facial features that stands this is such good stead, even amongst the impressive recent crop of amazing HT portraits.

He also comes with a selection of four hands, 2 are in repulsor firing/levitating poses and 2 are in a general ‘at rest’ position, I found they all swapped over fine, with the small cuff area fitting inside the collar of the arm brace at the wrist.

So to sum up, it’s not my favourite sculpt that has hit in the last few weeks, but with the outstanding work on the T-800, Aldo Raine and the amazing Kamui Gaiden he’s got a lot of stiff competition. However it’s still undoubtedly a full score, well in my eyes anyway, and I still personally get a big kick out owning a Ko Jun sculpted portrait. There was a time, not so very long ago it was something I didn’t think I would ever do!

Paint - ****
Awesome… simply awesome, but what did you expect?
I can’t remember the last time I got a ‘human’ figure with a paint application that was anything other than awesome from Hot Toys. Under the direction of the ‘god like genius’ that is JC Hong we have another faultless job.

The hair tone is a flat brown, but as I said above the sculpting on the hair is so well defined it carries the paint app off well. The skin tones are of their usual high standard, with ultra realistic and subtle variations in the tones as they work across the surface of his face. There are slightly darker areas around the eyes (I guess to show the recent strain and stress TS is meant to have been under in the movie) and also working around the jaw-line to indicate light beard growth, the lips are picked out gently, but with enough definition to make it all look very natural. Lastly there are the eyes, which are pretty much JC’s signature sign off for me. I have never seen anyone, and I mean ANYONE paint eyes as convincingly as this man. But, as I’ve pointed out before, a big debt is also owed to the amazing team they use in mass producing these to such a jaw droppingly high standard, time after time after time! But with all eyes focusing on the face you could be forgiven for expecting HT to perhaps try and scrimp a little on the perceived ‘less important’ areas, but that’s just not the way HT roll. Even the hands all have top class paint apps with the black fingerless gloves and steel repulsors painted in crisply and accurately as always, the repulsors also have little plastic lenses placed in the repulsors to magnify the tiny but oh so bright LED lights at the wrists.

Outfit - ****
Tony is wearing some clothes, of course he is! However, had Jon Favreau not been there in his laboratory making the documentary that we now all lovingly know as ‘Iron Man’, well he might well have tried his mech appendages on for the first time naked (wouldn’t you… OK, just me then).

It has to be pointed out, that this figure is not ‘ABOUT’ the clothes, but that doesn’t mean HT haven’t gone out of their way to make what he is wearing exceptionally good.

He comes in a pair of white under shorts, a pair of striped charcoal grey pants (working pockets throughout) and a black long sleeved T under a grey short sleeved T and that’s about it in terms of ‘actual’ garments. He also has a pair of knee-pads secured by Velcro, a belt around his waist to hold the power-pack and his chest sash/bandolier which is attached to his chest mounted ARC reactor. All the fabric clothing is carried out beautifully, keeping all the scale on the stitching, and quality of finish as high as we have always come to expect from HT, and both the T’s have holes cut carefully into them so the ARC reactor (which is constructed/set into the chest of the base body) can show through, to fit the lens mounted on the chest rig he wears.

But it’s the techy parts that make the jaw drop here. Not only are the observations on the minutiae of pistons, braided cables, circuits, colour coded wires, etched surfaces, electric tape and working hinges nothing short of astounding, but the lights on the chest, hands AND feet all light up!

And the fine detail applied to the engineering for these parts is fantastically carried out at this scale. It goes without saying that some articulation is lost, especially at the elbow, but the hinges do all work meaning you can almost get a 90 degree bend and you can achieve some pretty spectacular poses with minimal effort. The boots are removable by unfastening tiny metal clips on the sides (spares of these are included) but for me it seems strange to remove them and replace them with the black dress shoes also supplied. Unless you plan to create a diorama with Tony working at his desk actually creating the suit, however as the MK IV comes with a laboratory display stand for the armour, it looks like a cool lab set up is going to be a possibility.

So to sum up, all the fabric elements are tailored to the high standard we now expect from this company, but the mechanical parts are beautifully executed proving once again, as Carly Simon once sang, NOBODY does it better!

Articulation - ***3/4
I’m gonna hazard a guess that if you were kitted up with metal boots and knee-pads on your legs, calipers on your arms and carried a large battery pack on your belt you’d be pretty immobile, so on this occasion I’m not actually too bothered that the figure reflects that. Underneath it all is the much respected and indeed something of a classic True Type base body which still manages to be without peers even after all these years. It’s a base bod that Hot Toys constantly continue to tinker with and improve. There is an old adage that if a thing ain’t broke don’t fix it, but I’m glad to say it’s an adage HT don’t live by, and the base bodies in the HT stable seem to improve and grow with virtually every new release. This one for example doesn’t diversify too far the original TT linked to above, so we get all the great engineered articulation, and the only way it is hampered is by the mechanical exoskeletal armour it is dressed in. But of course Tony Stark is a man with a hi-tech ARC reactor surgically implanted into his actual body. So to reflect that the base TT here has the LED lights built into it. I’m assured by online friends at the various forums I frequent that all the armour can be carefully stripped away should you want… sorry, NEED a base Tony figure with the glowing heart, and I have actually seen pics to prove it (but they are by braver men than me!).

So, as a base figure the classic TT is still virtually faultless, but because of the mech-areas on this particular character it does suffer a little. However, I feel that like when reviewing any armoured figures (like Stormtroopers for example) certain allowances can and should be made, so I’m more than happy to keep this guy just the merest of gnat’s bollocks short of a full mark!

Accessories - ****
Ultimately TS doesn’t really ‘need’ that many accessories, but to make this figure even more of an essential part of your collection HT decides to give him some cool and it has to be said ‘essential’ extras that make him very hard to pass up on!

So apart from the basic figure we get an environment base that mimics the gridded flooring in Tony’s lab, this has a clear perspex bar that slots in at the rear with a positionable waist gripper attached to it. This opens like a pair of pincers to hold the figure securely around his trunk and can slide up and down the bar to hold the figure at varying heights above the floor to give the illusion of him floating on his repulsor lift jets. There is also a large fold out back drop to position behind the base. This gives a cool environment surround to the figure, especially handy for those of us who like to do a bit of figure photography.
Next up is Tony’s ever faithful laboratory robot, the butter fingered automaton who’s always ready with the fire extinguisher… but who actually manages to save the day and indeed Tony’s life when he is stuck on the lab floor after Obadiah Stane relieves him of his second ARC reactor heart. I’m pretty sure he’s nameless, and shouldn’t be confused with Jarvis who is in effect the semi-sentient computer system that runs the armoured suits, but he deserves a name, donchathink?

The robot has a ton of cool articulation and looks like the kind of thing you expect to find on a modern car factory construction floor. Which makes sense as it seems to have been originally used to held Tony keep his fleet of sports cars in concourse condition.

The base part can turn, then the main body can rock forwards and backwards and also nod up and down on three working pistons. The top arm can spin where it joins the body and the end of the arm, or ‘head’ if you will can also nod up and down and turn from side to side on a universal joint. The three claws at the end hold the fire extinguisher nozzle, and it’s tied in place with a small black wire. I’m sure this could be removed if you want your robot to perform other tasks, and all three of the claws do appear that they would be positionable, but mine is staying box fresh. There are also four cables that can attach to the base of the robot, these lead round to plug into holes in the bottom of the actual stand.

The detailing is all very accurate with nuts bolts and riveted panels, and the paint app is also pretty sweet here as well with the base plastic appearing to be a slightly iridescent gun metal colour with a couple of flashes of steel, black and yellow. So all in all this is a great little accessory, and in many ways is a separate character in it’s own right.

Lastly we get a pair of extra hands and a pair of black shoes. I already said, the shoes are a nice touch, and could come in handy for some… but mine will be staying in the box. The hands however are very important.  The ones he comes fitted with are in a relaxed position whilst the extras are in a more open palmed firing/levitating pose.

So, a cool selection that adds a whole load of display options to this figure, and the robot is my favourite of the bunch, beautifully built and well thought through, top score easy!

Action feature ****
As I said, all the repulsors and the ARC heart light up, and they light up very brightly, just try looking directly into the chest mounted ARC and you could give your self ’home’ eye laser surgery. You just have to remove the small plastic battery separators and you are good to rock ‘n’ roll on the boots and heart. The hands do however need you to connect up the battery. It comes packed separately and fits in a pouch you attach to the belt. Insert the tiny plug attached to the arm wires into the battery pack, flick the switch and you are all set. I have to admit I love a good light-up feature as long as it doesn’t interfere with the final look of the figure, and I’m glad to say this is a very good light up feature and it doesn’t interfere at all!

You’ll find detailed directions on where all the batteries and activation buttons are on the printed instruction sheet included.

Value - ***3/4
This is yet again a tough call. Why?

Well, of all the Iron Man figures released to date this is the ‘least’ essential… or many might consider it that way!
The thing I love about HT is their willingness, under the directorship oh Howard Chan, to take risks. And truth be known when you gamble and put everything on black it sometimes comes up red (I guess The Spirit would be a case in point.) But HT don’ t put ‘everything’ on black, they bet wisely, meaning Howard and the HT team gets to do the stuff THEY are interested in without too much of a risk.
Lets face it they never deliver a duff figure, but some are obviously more popular than others.

For every Dark Night Joker there is a Kamui Gaiden. But the sheer joy and loved poured into Hot Toys figures means that even the less popular licenses turn out jaw droppingly good. Which means that as a collector of their merchandise YOU SIMPLY CAN NOT LOSE!

I can honestly say I was surprised that this came out with an RRP of $159.99, I’d kind of fixed it my head it was going to be about $175. So considering you get all the cool engineering, light up features, diorama base and the robot as part of the deal, then $160 seems like quite a reasonable price.

Fun Factor - *** (or for a shell-head ****+)
It pains me to say, but if you are a collector with an ‘average’ interest in the IM movies then this isn’t the ‘funnest’ of the IM figures. After all, the others so far have been various incarnations of the armoured suit, from the ass kicking scrap heap that was the MK I through to the more stream lined versions of the final suit. So I guess in that respect this one is for the more hard-core fans. But if you are a ‘shell-head’ then the announcement of this figure probably blindsided you much more than any of the others, and I’m guessing it might have put a little smile on your face. It’s certainly become my third favourite in the line-up so far, as from a visual point of view, there is just so much cool stuff to look at… OK, OK and play with!

Overall - ****
I consider the price to be pretty fair, not an out and out bargain, but very fair. The Ko Jun sculpt is another tiny masterpiece in 1/6th portraiture and all the mechanical and engineered parts are pretty amazing too.

But at the end of the day, for all its cool intricate details it lacks the big WOW factor that we get from various armoured suits. However, if you are a big fan of the movies (and lets face it you’d have to be a reasonably big fan to be splashing the cash on these figures anyway), then this is a very cool figure to base your display around. And if Hot Toys do ever release a full laboratory environment, then this set will all of a sudden seem that bit more indispensable, and indeed essential. But of course, like I keep reiterating, for all the shell-heads out there this is a pretty indispensable set anyway, and there is very little to fault!

Where to Buy -
Sideshow sold out pretty quickly, where he was up for $159.99.

Or you can try Michael’s sponsors below-
Big Bad Toy Store - $153.99

Forbidden Planet 129.99 

or try eBay where I’ve seen him for prices between $150 to $190.Sideshow have now sold out, but Chris was available for $149 - and Wesker was the same. 
Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys
Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys

Iron Man Mech Test Tony Stark action figure by Hot Toys

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

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