Iron Man 2 Whiplash
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 checks in tonight with a look at Whiplash! I checked this guy out just last week, and have to say it's sweet -  tell us all about it, Jeff!

A quick thank you to Michael, not only for running this great site but also for the solid coverage he gave SDCC again this year, to those of us unable to attend it’s the next best thing to being there!

Well Iron Man 2 came and went, but it is very far from forgotten.

Though it didn’t quite match the rollercoaster ride that was part 1, which was turned up to a full Spinal Tap 11, part 2 still managed a very respectable 9.5 on the ‘Marvel movies’ Richter scale, which is to be admired!
So what did part 2 actually give us?

Well, it gave us Scarlett Johansson with red hair and a skintight combat suit, and quite frankly that would have been enough to justify the movies existence… period!
But it also managed to expand on the character of Tony Stark and to give us a little more of his complex history. In fact the motif, much loved of ‘hero quest’ stories was used, that of ‘the sins of the father’.

In this case it revolved around a long standing feud between Tony’s father Howard and his old engineering/scientific sparing partner Anton Vanko. Fast forward to the present and Anton dies in a squalid flat in downtown Moscow, leaving his son Ivan champing at the bit for revenge against the son of the man he sees responsible for his fathers disrespected and empty life, a tragic existence that lead to his ultimate sad demise. Of course there’s a lot more that comes into play, giving us a pretty dynamic second act to Favreau’s planned trilogy, but in a nutshell that kind of brings you up to speed.

Ivan Vanko was played by the man on the rise, Mr Mickey Rourke. He’s an actor I used to really like, with early offerings like Angel Heart, Barfly and Homeboy he was shaping up to be a real contender, maybe a new Brando for his generation… but sadly it didn’t pan out. Instead of honing his craft he decided that acting wasn’t quite macho enough for him and so (indirectly because of his experiences making Homeboy) went off to become a professional boxer.

The rest is history!

I have to admit, even though he looks like he’s been through the mill, and even though he has committed the most heinous of narcissistic crimes (well to me anyway) of becoming surgically altered in the name of his own vanity, I’m still glad to see him back. And after the childhood and life he has lived, there are few actors out there more deserving of a second chance.

But enough about Mr Rourke’s history, we’re here to look at Hot Toys latest Iron Man offering, their 1/6th version of Whiplash, the main big bad from the second movie. At times he was played off as a bit of a pawn to the dastardly plans of Justin Hammer, but he soon proved his worth and showed his mettle (pun intended).

So if your shelves are already groaning under the weight of Hot Toys Iron Man figures, do you need yet another… well I hope so, because Hot Toys are very far from finished with the license yet, in fact you could say it’s just beginning!

Packaging - ***1/2
The whole Iron Man range has had some of the most visually stunning packaging from the company to date, and whilst I like this pack, it ain’t quite up there with best of the line.

So, no thick card board, magnetic clasps or foil blocking, but it still has the classic old skool Hot Toys feel, meaning we have the faithful metallic slip over sleeve baring images of the figure and Rourke in character on the front, it even has a tantalising glimpse of Black Widow on the side panel. This slides off to reveal a predominantly black inner case with a die-cut window showing the fully constructed figure within. Once this is opened you get the figure lying in the usual black vac-formed tray, held in place by one twisty-tie against a foam insert (excusable bearing in mind the delicate nature of his armoured body rig).

So, to sum up, it’s a nicely designed box that will protect the contents well in their potentially long journey to you, but when you inevitably hold it up next to the others in the series, well, it’s just not quite the jewel in the crown.

Sculpting - ****
In the strange twilight world of hi-end 1/6th collecting KoJun has been a much respected sculptor for many years now, but unless you were a real hard core collector, willing to hunt down his elusive work (and probably sell a kidney along the way to afford it) it was something to be admired in pictures rather than owned.

But now Hot Toys are bringing his works to the masses, and he is turning in ever more impressive work for them of late. Recently he has been making the Iron Man 2 license very much his own, well, when it comes to the human likenesses anyway. His recent Mech Test Tony was just beautiful, but his work on Mickey Rourke here manages to best it yet again.

Rourke has what can best be described as  a ‘lived in’ face, but all that living, (most of it ‘hard’) has created facial features that are a god send to any sculptor who wants a challenge. And the portrait created here by KoJun is just sublime. His expression is pretty intense, the lips are slightly parted, the brow is furrowed and the eyes are in a slight concentrated squint, but it all comes together to create a near perfect likeness. I’ve praised KoJun's work on moulding and sculpting hair before, and here he has done a sterling job of capturing the look of Vanko’s greasy lank locks, sections are glued onto the head using zigzag seams to disguise where any joins are, it works well in creating an illusion of depth and layers. He also comes with four hands, two designed to hold the whips and a pair of fists, all are up to the usual very high standard.

There is also a lot of AMAZING sculpt work on his armoured appendages, but I’ll cover that in outfit.
So, to sum up I think this is way up there with the very best sculpts Hot Toys have ever given us, just an amazing piece of work that deserves to take his place in as many Iron Man displays as possible.

Paint - ****
OK, prepare to just read another sycophantic tirade of me extolling the masterful skills of Mr JC Hong… but what can I say… he just is the god of 1/6th paint applications… period!

However, on this occasion not only has he created another masterpiece on the skin tones with its implied grime and subtle scars. The hair line and facial hair are all as gently applied as we have come to expect with no hard transition between it and the flesh, I have to admit the grey streaks in the hair are the only possible weak point, but even they are handled in a way that will make many other manufacturers weep. The eyes are half closed, but still show enough of the glossy iris and pupil to really bring him to life and if you look closely enough you will see individual eyelashes painted in.

But the paint doesn’t stop with the head; it carries on all over his torso, which is of a similar design to the bodies we got with Wolverine and The Comedian. So it has variations in the tone plus freckles and moles, but it’s the myriad of complex tattoos covering his body that really set this figure apart. I’ve looked closely at any pics I could find, and from what I can see these look pretty spot on, they are too numerous and complex to try and describe individually here, but I will say my favourite is the Posada like Mexican skeleton on his left flank and the row of medals on his right pec, if you get him you will spend a lot of time just taking it all in, it’s pretty amazing.

Trust me, a big part of the fun with this figure is sitting down and drinking in all the amazing details, and the tatts make up a great part of that!

Outfit - ****
OK, I just said the tatts are a very ‘visually’ appealing aspect to this figure, and indeed they are. However, the most amazing part of this guys look is the incredibly complex rig he wears over his arms, chest and back. For me it easily rivals the boots and arm braces of the Mech-Test Tony Stark.


Well it’s the mixed media of implied metal, leather, cables, light up tubes and indeed his ARC reactor strapped to his front that make him look like a total bad ass. In fact I just have to mention the guys credited on the box for bringing this to life, I often mention the sculptors by name and JC Hong comes in for praise in virtually every review. However on this occasion it’s Jason Woo, Dickson Yip and Eddy Lau that deserve to take a bow on centre stage, as without their amazing work in fully realising Whiplash’s armour this figure might never have worked. The development and engineering they have replicated here at 1/6th scale is nothing short of AMAZING!

Both the calipers covering his arms have double hinges, allowing for about a 90 degree bend, and the shoulders are linked to the back section by means of the light up flexible tubes that join them, these also have hinges where they link at the top to aid in keeping all the articulation as good as possible. The ‘shoulder blade’ sections are also hinged allowing them to swing out. The rest of the rig is held in place by leather straps and buckles. Now obviously a costume this intricate means it’s fragile and we lose some articulation. But I was still hugely impressed that I could get more poses than I originally thought I would be able to. And though delicate, it still stands up well to handling, I always say you should never really treat a Hot Toys figure like a mere play thing, it’s best to think of it as somewhere between a Faberge egg, a fine Swiss watch and a GI Joe, if that makes any sense.

From the waist down he wears the tattered remains of his boiler suit, and once again the attention to detail on the charred edges, ripped seams and exposed zips is breathtaking. In the movie he wore a brighter orange suit but for some licensing reason Marvel instructed Hot Toys they couldn’t use that colour. I don’t really think anyone knows why at this point, but the darker tan colour they have used does a good job and replicating the overall look of the character in the Monte Carlo racetrack showdown.

The trouser part has holes in the knees through which you can see the metallic hexagonal knee braces, you may need to fiddle a bit to get them fully showing, but it’s another well observed detail. Lastly there are the boots, these are so well carried out, and even though they are sculpted they look hugely convincing, much like the ones that came with Aldo Raine these are however much more ‘freestyle’ in their appearance with the large flexible tongue lolling over the front of the boot. They have twin buckles at the side and a loop at the back, but all the details on stitched seams, buckles and even the ridges in the heel are all perfectly captured.

So, at first glance, with all the flesh on show it might make you think this is a pretty minimalist outfit, but it is in fact one of the most complex you will ever see and fully deserves a top score.

Articulation - ***
As I said above, this base body appears to have essentially the same articulation as Wolverine and The Comedian, meaning it has a great range, but it’s not up there with the classic True Type. However, because of the nature of the armoured ARC rig, the poseability is relatively limited anyway. The elbows can bend to just under 90 degrees, but with care the shoulders can turn a full 180 to reach above the head, they can also lift up away from the body by about 80 degrees, but I wouldn’t want to do it too many times for fear of rubbing the tatts off. The lower half of the body is pretty much unencumbered, keeping the score at a more than reasonable level for what is a hugely complex figure.

Accessories - ****
This is Whiplash, he has his whips… but oh what whips!
They are formed to look like heavy duty electrical cables interspersed with ten metal vertebrae along their length; these sections also have a finer copper coloured wire running through them as well. At the end is the handle or grip. These look a little like minimalist lightsabres, but the detailing on things like the hexagonal patterned finger grip is just faultless, the bottom of the handle has a circular hole into which the cables running down his arms slot, therefore linking them all up to his power supply.

Now, depending on your preference these can be displayed in the powered down mode or with sculpted bolts of crackling electricity. The ‘mimicked’ power just slides over the length of the whips, you have to thread it in and out and wrap some of the yellow tendrils around the wires. It does a fair job of approximating the look, but it’s a shame there is no way of capturing the raw energy they had on screen. As when they coiled around Iron Man, the spitting angry arcs of energy poured off of them, practically smelting the power suit.

I guess HT did think of wiring him up to the mains, but health and safety wouldn’t allow it!

He also comes with an extra set of fists, that come complete with all the tattoos as well… but as nice as they are, why would you want to display him in anything other than full ‘whip’ mode.  Lastly there is the obligatory black stand, complete with name plate and movie logo. As I always say I don’t tend to use the stands, but it could come in handy for long-term display, especially if you use a more extreme pose.

So, not a big haul, but an essential one, and it’s carried out very, very well.

Value - ***1/2
This is not a cheap figure, and even by recent standards he has a price tag that makes most sane folks wince. His full RRP is $179.99 from Sideshow, where at the time of writing he was still listed as available on pre-order. But I have a strong suspicion it might not be around for too long. Especially once the word of mouth starts filtering through. I have to say, I don’t feel able to give him a full score, but you can still see where every single penny has been spent. The work on the paint and his tattooed body is fantastic, but the intricate nature of the mechanised ‘ARC’ powered rig that covers his body is just jaw dropingly AMAZING, meaning that from a visual angle this isn’t just one of the coolest Iron Man figures, it’s one of the coolest 1/6th figures ever, end of story.

Fun Factor - ****
I have had a ton of fun posing this guy, but you do have to take care, as the ARC rig is potentially fragile (in the wrong hands) and it does limit some of the more extreme poses. However when Hot Toys get round to giving us the MK 5 suit with battle damaged elements, then it’s gonna make for some very interesting displays. Plus the cool light up feature gives the figure even more visual impact… not something it was lacking anyway. The small battery compartment that slots on the back of his belt houses a small switch, just flick it on and the chest ARC glows brightly and the clear tubes that run up the back of the rig glow an eerie blue, full instructions for inserting the batteries are included.

Basically he’s just very cool figure to pose, and he’s very eye catching on the shelf!

Overall - ****
Even though this figure is a hefty $180, I still feel compelled to give him a full score. There is just SO much to look at, and SO much to be impressed by. Every aspect is top notch, the KoJun sculpt is in my opinion his best to date for Hot Toys, JC Hong has delivered the goods yet again and the outfit is a marvel of 1/6th tailoring and engineering. So, if you bite the bullet on this figure, that $180 price tag is made all the more acceptable by the levels of detail that are lavished on this release.

Where to Buy -
Sideshow still has it available for pre-order at the RRP of $179. Or you can try Michael’s sponsor below listed in order of price-

Alter Ego - $161.99
Fan Boy- $164.99 
Big Bad Toy Store- $169.99 
Urban Collector - $179.99
Hollywood Heroes - $180
Ozie Goods has him listed at 270 AUS
or hit eBay where I’ve seen BIN prices of $160 to $225.

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

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