|Now most of us
that visit Mikes site are already fully immersed in the
fantasy world of comics, books, movies and collectibles, and although
being a ‘Toy Collector’ is still far from being a mainstream adult
activity, it has still grown at a huge rate over the last few years.
This is largely down to companies like Sideshow, Gentle Giant, Hot
Toys, ENTERBAY, 3A etc, etc taking the quality of the products
available to another level. But of course with the rise in quality you
also have a steep rise in prices, and it’s precisely that price hike
that makes this an adult activity. I mean, how many kids do you know
who can afford to participate in this hobby other the spoilt brats of
the uber rich? I rest my case.
Which leads me on nicely to this
item, which isn’t even a figure. I’ll use the word ‘diorama
environment’ to make us all feel better about what actually constitutes
a huge ‘play set’. But once again it is Hot Toys incredible attention
to detail and highly researched mechanical engineering that elevates
this so very much higher than that ‘Land of the Jawa’s’ or even ‘Castle
Greyskull’ set you had as a kid. The other obvious thing is that
because this is an environment you will need to invest further on an
Iron Man figure to place within it. I should point out that a set with
a figure was also available, but seeing as how I already had all the
various incarnations of the power suit that may have been an
extravagance too far.
So, now I’m done with my rambling intro,
why don’t you slip Iron Man 2 into your chosen medium of
play and watch the opening Stark Expo scene to refresh your memory, and
then we can start to dissect this cool piece of kit!
This is a big box; in fact it’s about the size of a briefcase, but
considering how much stuff it needs to contain, that’s no surprise! It
might have been cool to make it look like the MKV ‘suit’ case, but I
wonder if they are saving that idea for something else, hmmmm!
The outside is a matte black/dark grey with an exploded engineering
drawing of the various mechanical arms. It does bring to mind the
packaging for the other Iron Man diorama, the MECH Test laboratory set,
which I reviewed a few years back here.
Remove this outer case and you see the die-cut matte golden brown card
overlay with the word SUIT-UP GANTRY reversed out of it. This can then
be lifted out and you are met by the large tray with the various
components arranged within. All the deconstructed elements are held
between the usual vac-formed trays and no twisties are employed at all.
There are however a good many plastic bags wrapped around the
appendages, so keep a small pair of scissors handy to snip the tape off
Once again we have a very nice looking box that is designed to protect
all the delicate contents well, whilst also being fun to open and
explore. It’s one of those rare kits that make you feel like a kid on
Christmas morning, much like the Power Loader did when I first got
that. However, as exciting as it is to open and set up, the actual
graphic design, when compared to some of their finer moments aren’t
quite as eye-popping!
Sculpting - ****
This is an amazing thing to behold, and a fan-boys wet dream made 1/6th
reality. The only problem being it is so darn big! In terms of
sculpting, every single part is mechanical and resembles the kind of
construction robot you might find at a car building plant. When you
view it in the tray it is made up of nine separate very complex looking
pieces, which can appear pretty intimidating to construct. But fear
not, it’s actually all very straight forward if you read over the
supplied instructions first. You merely take out the main articulated
base, apply the magnetic fascias, arrange the plates into the raised
position and then simply peg the various arms and appendages around it
into the designated slots and holes, et voila!
There are also two separate display modes for the base (well, I say
that, there are actually hundreds depending on how you articulate the
multiple moving panels and arms), in as much as there are numerous
different sized magnetic sheets with either a white or a black grid
finish that can be attached to the foot-plate in their appropriate
positions, I did find some of these needed to be gently twisted and
manipulated to lay flat against their corresponding panel, but they are
pliable enough to do this and retain the shape one done. The magnetic
grip is quite soft as well, so you might find yourself rearranging a
few panels once you have the gantry and figure set up in a position you
are happy with. Because even though this looks like a play set, it is
ultimately a set up and display piece.
The detailing on all the different hydraulic arms is incredibly movie
accurate, and yes I have watched that section of the movie a few dozen
times in slo-mo whilst hovering over the pause button. I do wonder if
Hot Toys were given any access to the virtual 3D models made for the
film, because if not the R&D team deserve some kind of medal!
There are working pistons on some of the bigger arms and a myriad of
other moving parts, which I shall cover in the articulation section.
But as far as being actually movie accurate this looks amazing to me,
considering the few brief seconds of screen time it featured in. I’m
sure there will be some solitary anal shell head out there who has
studied the Winston studios schematics for this, and is outraged at the
lack of a rivet somewhere, but to your average, or even relatively
obsessive fan of the movies this is a small work of art!
This is basically a big hunk of machinery that is meant to look
relatively factory fresh, as lets face it, at the Stark Expo you aren’t
going to find some old rusted, oil dripping hulk of a thing. In my view
this actually makes this a tougher job for Hot Toys, as they have at
numerous times in the past shown just how good they are at weathering
and ageing, and showing how well it can work at making a 1/6th model
look so very realistic. So I feared without all that extra detail it
may suffer and look toy like. Well I was wrong, and even though my
photography skills aren’t up there with the best, you can get a good
feel for just how impressive it is by checking out OMG’s photo review here
and Lukazou’s amazing pics here,
where can see it all looks pretty darned good.
The base itself is constructed of black plastic whilst the arms are
primarily yellow plastic with steel and gunmetal coloured pistons and
hinges. A few areas of subtle airbrushing are applied around some of
the detailed areas to help enhance the sculptural detailing, but it is
all kept relatively minimal. There is actually very little to say other
than it is a solid job that works well in conveying what we saw in the
movie, and as that is what it’s meant to do… I have nothing but praise.
The entire structure is a
mess of highly engineered articulation, and it seriously makes the mind
boggle to comprehend every point of articulation. I have to admit I am
not even going to try and manually configure what every move or bend
that constitutes an articulated joint is, but rest assured there are
onehelluvalot! In its essence, and being as concise as I can be, the
base plates can all tilt and turn upwards and all of the mechanical
arms have working hinged joints, which in the case of some of the
larger arms are aided and abetted by functioning pistons.
Once the floor panels are arranged in a tilted up position, you can
stand your figure in the centre and arrange the rest of the appendages
around him. The rear main arm has claws to grip the helmet whilst the
two main side arms have telescopic tubes/barrels that the hands ands
arms can disappear into. There are also four smaller arms arranged
around the base to mimic removing the leg armour. Next up, front and
back are two mid sized arms to help remove the upper back armour and
the chest panel as well. Apparently the set that comes equipped with
the MK IV figure has a new magnetic chest panel that can be held by a
magnet in the front arm. This is a groovy addition, but I found that by
positioning the arm gripper like a pincer, it held the panel just fine
anyway. If I had the patience, skill and ability I would just love to
attempt a stop motion piece with this… but I don’t so I haven’t… surely
it can only be a matter of time though. Another feature it has (not
really articulation I know) is a light up function. Open up the battery
cover in the base and insert three AAA batteries (not supplied) then
flick the switch at the rear of the base and four tiny LED lights
illuminate brightly. It’s a cool little extra that adds another
dimension when displayed, but is not in my opinion quite as essential
as the light up feature on the figures, and is only visible when the
base is in the open position.
I fail to see how the articulation here could be much improved on, and
the attention to detail along with the accurate construction is just
fantastic. I do however keep this just shy of a full score. The
reasoning being that I did have a slightly loose panel at the rear of
the base plinth, it’s one of the smallest ones on the base but still a
minor annoyance. The other reason being that when putting the plinth
back into its fully closed mode it is essential that you align all the
small grooves and tiny metal pegs perfectly, and then push together
firmly. Of course this is all doable, but it took me a few attempts and
I have a feeling it could all have been done with a slightly ‘easier to
This is in effect one big accessory so it doesn’t really come with any
bonus extras. I reviewed the companion figure of the MK IV here, but there is also
a set that includes the gantry, the MK IV figure and robot arm that
helps Tony back at his lab (previously included in the Mech Test set).
But for this version you just get the basic gantry… if basic is a word
that could be used to describe this behemoth!
And here’s the rub… the RRP on this baby is $360… lets not quibble
about the 1c change you get. Now, that equates to about the price of
two full Hot Toys figures (depending on which ones you go for), so to
me this feels like quite a lot of money. I can easily see the amount of
work that has gone into the reverse engineering from CG screen seen
effect, to 1/6th fully realised model, and by Darwin it is very
freaking impressive. But when I compare it to say owning Cap A and Red
Skull, or Nick Fury and Thor then in some ways I can see why your
average punter would be tempted to go for the figures.
However, if like myself you are something of a fan of the red and gold,
metal-clad playboy superhero superstar that is Mr Tony Stark, then
those choices may be moot anyway. You’ll probably find a way to make
the price seem less important, perhaps you live in a twilight existence
where within your 1/6th toy addled brain you think you are a wealthy
industrialist to whom $360 is little more than the price of a meal at
your favourite restaurant in Monte Carlo… yeah, we’ve all been there,
and I don’t mean the restaurant!
Factor - ***1/2
This is big, potentially fragile and very expensive. It is there for
not intended for kids under… lets say 15 years of age. If you are a kid
of any age over that, then get ready to play!
The other thing worth saying is that his category is obviously
dependent on having the MK VI figure (or at least one of the Iron Man
figures) to go with it. I guess you could stand the Joker in the centre
if you so wished… but it would look pretty stupid. However if you do
have a healthy selection of the power suits from the KM II upwards this
is going to put a grin on your face a mile wide. There must be
literally thousands of positions you could put this in, but it’s my
guess that most will choose the quasi-religious ‘techno’ crucifixion.
As lets face it, it’s a pretty iconic looking image. Arms held out to
his sides, legs straight with the helmet held above him like hi-tech
crown of thorns. Kneel and give praise at the altar of Hot Toys, amen
to that brother!
This is a big piece of kit that has been supremely well researched and
constructed. I doubt there is a Shell-head out there that would not
dearly love this to be the centrepiece of their Iron Man collection.
But the sticking point may be that word ‘dearly’. Because firstly you
need to have the funds available to invest and then you also need the
space to display it in. So if you are an investment banker living in a
converted loft space in downtown Manhattan they are not going to be
issues for you. But to your average punter they probably will be.
I have to admit that having set this thing up in my dinning room ready
to photograph it did make me realise just how cool it would be to leave
it out… my daughters agreed with me, sadly my wife didn’t. So I’m going
to have to dismantle it (at some point in the future, I’m sure it can
stay out for a few ‘weeks’ more) and replace all the pieces to their
relevant bags and positions within the box. They will be safely stored
until the day comes that the world truly recognises my amazing talents
and I am rewarded with a mansion that has my very own display room
(c’mon, we all secretly think this is gonna happen to us… right?). That
day might not be any time soon, but when it comes… and it will, I shall
be glad that I own this and display it with pride!
Where to Buy -
This was as I said above available from Sideshow both with the MK VII
figure and on it’s own. The double pack was $499.99 but has sold out,
while the gantry on its own is still available at the full RRP of
It is also available from BBTS for $323.99 here.
And Alter Ego also has it for $323.99 here.
Or you can search
ebay for a deal.