Iron Man - Secret Project
Toy Fairs Limited Edition 2011 - 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's back with a look at another of Hot Toys 'exclusives' for 2011 - tell us all about him, Jeff!

A big thank you as always to the CEO of Crawford Industries, for his tireless work in keeping us all so well informed!

Only the hardcoriest of shell heads can have collected the entire line released by Hot Toys so far. After all, there will be ten versions of the power-suit when they have finished covering the first two movies alone, and that doesn’t even count the Mech-Test, Whiplash, Black Widow, suit-up gantry or Iron Monger, let alone the 4 mini busts and Cosbabies.

So if the third movie brings its own unique take on the suit, and lets face it Tony is bound to get a slight makeover for the Avengers as well, we can almost guarantee another two or three suits… maybe more!

But here we have an exclusive item, codenamed the ‘Secret Project’ it looks like a variation intended for another black-ops military sortie behind enemy lines. It’s not movie accurate in terms of colour scheme, but is just pure toy cool instead! A couple of years ago Hot Toys did a similar version as a Toy and Comic Convention Exclusive, it too was grey and was known as the ‘Silly Thing’ version because it was also used to promote the Honk Kong ‘lifestyle store’ and record label of the same name. It was a straight re-use of the MK III suit that I reviewed here and back then I was impressed by the build quality and the snazzy new paint app.

However this version is based on the even more impressive MK IV that I also covered here.

So, if this is just another re-use of an earlier figure, do you really need it in your collection? Well, I guess that decision can be yours and yours alone, but let me try and help make that decision a little easier.

Packaging - ***
Nice, cool and understated, yes it’s all these things, but it’s also just a little dull. It looks kind of like a box that should contain some hi-tech anti-virus software.
The construction is the same as all the other Marvel characters so far, so it’s a lift off lid, the top being a dark gun metal grey and the bottom section being a matte brushed steel effect. Inside there is a card overlay with a stylised vectored illustration of the helmet and a full list of the production credits. Under this is the figure and his accessories sandwiched between layers of vac formed plastic. Its all sturdy and holds everything secure whilst also being 100% collector friendly.

So, a well constructed and serviceable container, however when compared to the très chic ‘Silly Thing’ version with its sculptural outer box and full foam surround inside, it’s just not packing that ‘wow’ factor. But at the end of the day, this is just the cardboard can; lets get to the juicy stuff.

Sculpting - ****
See below…

Articulation ****
See below*

Light up feature ****
Again see below*

Outfit - N/A
*OK, this is one of those occasions where I’m going to be lazy… well, not so much lazy, as just not seeing the point of writing the same stuff twice. You see apart from the paint app, this is identical to the MK IV which I already reviewed fully here. So for all the categories listed above you can read the low down linked to there. However, the paint is an all-new job, so….

Paint - ****
Yep, all new, but still totally bad ass and just as impressive!

Gone are the classic gold’s and red’s replaced with differing tones of deep matte grey. It makes for a very striking look, as the quality of application and the depth of finish are all beautifully applied. The division lines are crisp and there is no slop whatsoever. The colour as I said is similar to both the first exclusive grey version (though that was pretty much the same dark grey all over) and also the War Machine version that I covered here, and like the War Machine this has contrasting lighter panels, notably the faceplate, biceps and thighs, but it’s also covered in a lots of nicely observed scratches and scrapes where the steel beneath is mimicked to be showing through.

They even repainted Tony’s tiny pair of Von Zipper- Fulton style chequered sunglasses from red to grey… a cute touch I think you’ll agree.

So, the colour change will either float your boat or leave you cold, but there is absolutely no denying the quality is as perfect as it’s possible to get in 1/6th these days.

Accessories - ****
OK, he doesn’t have the donut or box, but I can live without those, everything else seems to be the same and at least he does come with the light up stand plus the extra Tony Stark head!

Fun Factor - ***1/2
In real terms, this offers no more or less fun than the ‘straight’ classic red and gold MK IV, after all in terms of what could be considered ‘play value’ it has exactly the same spec. The thing that makes this different is that grey paint app, which you will either dig or not dig!
So I award the same score as I did the MK IV. This is a fun item to display and pose for adult collectors, just don’t let the kids get hold of it, as leys face it; it isn’t childproof by a long mark!

Value for money - ***1/4
At the conventions this had a ticket price of $210.00, so it’s not going to be carrying off the award for bargain of the year. However for that price you are getting an amazingly engineered figure, one that poses fantastically (well, as long as you approach with realistic expectations) and has a rather unique paint job. Of course, that very paint job will be the thing that divides many collectors. You may decide that the fact this is officially ‘non-canon’ means it has no place in your ‘movie’ collection. Or, you may be one of those (and I’ve spoken to a few) who have decided it will be the only Iron Man figure in your collection because it just looks so damned cool. Or alternatively you may be like me and fall into the camp that enjoyed both the movies (well, 1 more than 2, but even 2 was good solid popcorn fodder) and have decided it’s exclusive nature and rarity is just too cool to pass up on. And lets face it, a good quality repaint variant has always got us collector fan-boys excited… just look at all those 3A war-bot variants.
So, once you take the edition size and nice selection of accessories into account the price seems a lot more reasonable… as I said above, not a bargain, but it’s certainly not a rip off either.

And with eBay prices all being well north of $350, (and some over the $500 mark) that RRP might seem like more of a bargain as the days go by… but only time will tell!

Overall- ***1/4
In real terms this gets ½ a star less than I awarded the red and gold MK IV, and the reason for that is twofold.
Firstly, and most importantly this has a price tag that asks for a whole extra $30. Of course I know the reasons for that price hike (small edition size and hefty license) but it still doesn’t detract from the fact its $30 more. The other reason, (and it’s far less important to me) is that at the end of the day this is an ‘expanded universe’ kind of leftfield item. OK, it’s not up there with soccer playing Spiderman or Darth Vader on his motorbike, but it’s still a flight of fancy.

Where to buy
Unfortunately this sold out pretty fast at Sideshow, as most exclusives tend to do. You may strike it lucky with the wait-list or you can chance your arm on eBay if you have the cash to splurge, but be ready to pay between $350 to $600.

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

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