War Machine - Iron Man 2
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."

Let's take another look at one of the best figures of the year - tell us all about it, Jeff!

Mike was faster than a speeding bullet from a shoulder mounted mini-gun in getting his WM review done, but anything this awesome needs at least two reviews… and maybe a few more.

It may have been the Dark Knight figures that helped confirm Hot Toys status at the very top of the 1/6th collectibles arena, but it was the incredible attention to detail on the Iron Man series of that has contributed towards cementing that status. Hot Toys have been delivering one incredible figure after another in the ongoing series, and though I’ve loved the Mech Test Tony, Whiplash and indeed the Black Widow figures in the line, it is the armoured versions of the Iron Man suit that have set the standard by which all engineered, armoured and even robotic figures will now be judged.
The character of War Machine has been a long standing member of the cast in the Iron Man comics, he made his first appearance way back in 1979, and he’s always been the alter ego of Tony’s long suffering buddy James Rupert Rhodes (Rhodey). He was originally devised as a supporting character, but as the stories developed so did their friendship, even leading to Rhodey taking on the mantle of Iron Man himself on two occasions. Once when Tony fell off the wagon and plunged head long into a downward spiral of alcoholic fug, and the second time was when Tony was reported to have died. Needless to say the reports of his demise were much exaggerated, so when he came back and resumed his role, Rhodey became War Machine again, standing as a superhero in his own right.

He even got his own comic title making him very much his own man, and far less of a tin-clad sidekick.
But what we are looking at today is the representation of how he looked in the movie Iron Man 2. I liked the movie a lot, it’s no where near as good as the first, but as a popcorn superhero flick it certainly ticks all the boxes, and the extended Monaco race track scenes, coupled with ScarJo in her skin-tight outfit certainly pulled back a lot of kudos for me!

So, how did Rhodey end up with the suit, well, after Tony makes a drunken arse of himself at a party at Stark towers he is forced to don the MK II suit in order to ‘metaphorically’ put Tony to bed. However, after the ensuing debacle he takes the suit back to the US military where it is quickly deconstructed, reverse engineered, reformed, refitted and set to work. Justin Hammer, Tony’s old foil, adds many of its new additions… but unbeknownst to Rhodey, Ivan Vanko has fitted a few key features as well… and not all of them are for Rhodey’s benefit.

So, we know Hot Toys are up to job of creating the Iron man armour in 1/6th, they have proven that handsomely on MK’s I thru III, but what would they do with the bulked up War Machine… and could they bring anything new to this version?

Packaging - ***1/2
If I had never seen the boxes we got with the first three IM figures this would have gotten a full score, but I have, so it doesn’t!

It’s a great box; it has a lot going for it and TF Wong & Monster Jnr have delivered a perfectly respectable piece of packaging that has many cool features. The outer metallic sleeve continues to tease with a small glimpse of the next figure that is due in the series. The side panel of Whiplashes box had an image of Black Widow, then Black Widows box had Whiplash on the left (her predecessor) and War Machine on the right. And now War Machine has Black Widow on the left and the MK IV on the right, so now we know what is next in the line… please when the MK VI is released let it have the MK V on the side… pretty please!

This outer sleeve has a large image of the character lifted from the movie on the front and detail shots of the full figure on the back. The inner box has a large die-cut shaped window on the front and a full list of production credits on the back. It lets us know that once again we must give thanks to the combined vision of Howard Chan and JC Hong who were the creative producers, as they always are…. thanks guys, you have enriched the lives of 1/6th collectors all over the world… whilst simultaneously making a lot of them broke in the process… I salute you!
It also lets us know that the great Rhodey/Cheadle portrait was sculpted by KoJun and the sublime paintwork was devised by master painter extraordinaire Mr JC Hong. There are a lot of other names there, all important in putting this fantastic piece of merchandise in our feverish hands. But there are a few names that on this occasion need to be writ large… they need to celebrated, in fact should any of these people ever visit you; you should bow down whilst placing palm leaves at their feet to walk upon!


Well, they were responsible for the designing and engineering of this AMAZING figure, they are Ray Ling and Ho Wong, I also gave them a big shout out when I reviewed the first MK III figure here and lets face it, that still stands up as another AMAZING piece of work… but even in the comparatively short time since that came out, things have yet again moved on!

But back to all that later, I’m just looking at the box here!

So, as I said, a nice box, an attractive box, but when compared to the first three, it’s just not quite up here!

Sculpting - ****
The only bit of actual flesh we get to see is the exposed face of Rhodey within the helmet with the lift up faceplate. The mechanics of the reveal work well, once again utilising magnets within the head and small strips of metal attached to the inside of the face plate.  You simply lift it and slide it back over the head whilst lowering the jaw guard. The face itself is a great representation of Cheadle in character and appears to have undergone a few fine revisions since we first saw the proto type. It’s a strong piece of work that is unmistakably the actor, the expression is determined yet thoughtful and the detailing on the skin texture and the subtle ridges on the lips is just amazing, right down the pock marks next to his left eye and on his left cheek.

All the rest of the sculpting is covered in the actual nuts and bolts of the actual outfit. I would imagine a good 90% of this was sculpted and modelled digitally, but I also have no doubt a good wodge of time would have been spent on problem solving… but solve those problems they have!

Just check out this image here and you can see just how well observed every little detail is. If you think of the red and gold Iron Man suits as the souped-up Corvettes of the series, then this is undoubtedly the bomb proof Humvee. Everything has a slightly more retro and cobbled together feel to it, and he is certainly bulkier than the sleek Stark suits. I would be writing for hours and this review would be another ten pages longer if I tried to describe every groove, screw, rivet and cog, so put simply I wont even try, I’ll let the photos do the talking. But it is one of those figures, much like the Terminator Endo-Skeletons that you can sit with for ages, just drinking in all the amazing little details. So just let me guide you towards some of my favourite areas, like the fine tooling on the Mini-gun and its articulated arm, then the flip out articulated machine guns on the forearms and lastly the knees… yes the knees. OK, I know knees aren’t usually things of architectural and engineering beauty, but these really are. There’s a double knee joint disguised by a concealed cut line in the top of the shin and a semi-circular rotating joint where it joins the lower thigh… nice.

However there is so much to recommend I feel like isolating a few areas is almost a folly, it’s actually the way the whole thing comes together that is so damned impressive, and the whole thing certainly deserves the highest score available.

Paint - ****
As is per normal the paint apps here are all credited to JC Hong, but as I said above there is only a small area that needs his deft touch as far as the human element is concerned. So we get the usual sublime work on the African-American flesh tones and subtle graduations help to define the lips and the areas around the eyes. The eyebrows are picked out with gentle feathering at the edges to help them blend in and the eyes are as always super glossy so as to catch the light and really bring the face to life.

The rest of the armour is a dark grey metallic colour with a textured finish, there are accent tones of steel to add interest and contrast to some of the panels and joints. The consistency of colour carries on over the whole body, regardless of the base material used in the construction, and the division lines are all super crisp with no slop evident at all. Knowing how complex some of Hot Toys recent paint jobs have been, this could be seen as a relatively straightforward job, but that would be a huge disservice to the people who have laboured to make this look so faultless. The continuity over the whole figure needs to be seen up close to be fully appreciated. There are also three areas where stencilled lettering is painted onto the armour, but if you look at that pic again here you can see that another two were left off, they appear to be classic US Air force symbols, so I’m guessing it is some element of legal ownership that has lead to their omission, and to be fair it’s a detail that only the most hardcore and eagle eyed will pick  up on, so I still have no qualms in awarding this figure another top mark.

Articulation - ****
This is yet another small engineering masterpiece, sure his mobility is inhibited in some areas, but you can bet your sweet ass that if you were dressed in this armour you’d struggle to get into most positions. If it weren’t for the fact that nearly 100% of the screen seen, suited up action was 3D generated, then the movie would have been a very different beast. So you have to approach this figure with a modicum of realistic expectation. And if you do, I think you will be knocked out and greatly rewarded. There are a couple of places where the newly bulked up anatomy of War Machine makes his movements slightly less impressive than the MK II and III, most notably the large collar/yokes on either side of the head, making it harder for the head to turn and also the shoulders to lift and turn. It can still perform these movements, but just not as freely as the previous IM suits. The best thing to do is just sit with it for a while and gently manipulate the joints into different positions and get a feel for its strengths and limitations. You wont get any truly deep stances, but there are a 1001 poses in there just waiting to be discovered with a little work and patience.

The feet have a pin joint at the mid-point and movable shields and flaps. The calf area has lifting hinged flaps with protruding exhaust ports, then the knees are double jointed as I described above. The hips have a disguised cut joint at the top of the thigh and a ball joint where they attach to the pelvis. The waist is separated into three armadillo like overlapping panels, of which the lower two have a tiny amount of movement and the top one has a far greater range, it can also slip up under the chest armour to give more space when leaning forward and can also turn freely from side to side.
The shoulder yokes or collars conceal rocket launchers, there is a tool supplied to aide in their use, but I found they worked just fine as long as you have tiny bit of fingernail. You simply slide down the silver covers which release the clips that hold them down, then just use your nail or the tool to help lift up and out the launcher. The left hand side one then swivels to the side to expose the six non-functioning warheads. The other side holds, and I quote- “It's completely elegant, it's bafflingly beautiful, and it's capable of reducing the population of any standing structure to zero. I call it- The Ex-Wife” this is funnily enough completely elegant and bafflingly beautiful in its tiny construction, it lifts out on miniscule articulated hinged arms with a tiny positionable fire plate at the front. You have to manually insert the missile, which is packed separately and resembles a 1/6th ballpoint pen. Once I had put it in I did find myself wondering how to get it out again, but you will find that the rear of the tube it sits in has a hinged door, this can be lifted to simply push it forward from behind.

The mini gun sits on a sliding plate that can be positioned over the right or left shoulder and the arm that protrudes from it can turn where it joins the plate and the other end has a universal joint that can spin in both directions. The six tethered barrels and the rear of the gun itself can turn to help keep the ammo feed chute untangled, in short this a very well thought through part of the engineering, as I said in my review for the bust version here it was the perfecting of this area and the ‘ex-wife’ launcher that delayed the release of this figure… and it was worth every second.

You’ll also find that there are concealed vents on either side of the back section, these simply lift out on a hinge to expose the exhaust ports. The shoulders use the same basic design as the previous MK’s II + III but the high yoke/collar means they cant be raised quite as high, but combined with the ability to turn at the top of the bicep it means a good range is still achievable. The elbow is hinged allowing for a good 90 degree bend and the hands push onto the light up ball joint at the wrist, and as I’ve said, since I put the articulated hands on they have stayed in place. Each finger and the thumb have moving joints at every position that a hand should have… at 1/6th… we are living in very cool times I tells yers, and even the armour covering the back of the hands is hinged so it can move out to get more dynamic positions.

The forearms have the specially modified FN F2000 Tactical machine guns bolted to them (you can read about the full line up that Justin Hammer bolts onto the suit here), these are held in place by two pegs that protrude from hinged flaps. I did find the left arm was held a little loosely on mine, but my patented cure-all of the small blob of Blu-tack saved the day once again!

Lastly we have the head and neck, it can look from side to side and nod up and down, but as I have mentioned those high yoke/collars impede its movement a bit. The reveal helmet also has the removable faceplate as I went over at the beginning of the sculpting section.
So, there you have it!

Is it limited? Yes, a little! Should that bother me? No! Why? Because it is an amazingly, beautifully, breathtakingly put together piece of 1/6th engineering, and to give it anything but a full score would be morally wrong, its nothing short of a triumph and an instant classic in this particular field… if you were or are on the fence, I urge you to own one!

Accessories - ****
Well he comes with a nice selection of hands, but to be honest I love the new articulated hands so much I literally haven’t changed mine since I put them on. We get the usual selection of two fists, two relaxed and two with fingers splayed in a repulsor-firing pose and now we also get the two with fully jointed fingers that I now favour. The coolest accessory is however the alternate head with the face reveal. I already described it above, and it is a very nicely put together little piece of kit that swaps over pretty easily.

There are other bits that are included separately, like the ‘ex-wife’ missile, the mini-gun and the two FN F2000 tactical machine guns that bolt to his forearms, and I guess you could consider them to be parts of his accessory haul. But they are also essential pieces of the War Machine aesthetic, without them he simply wouldn’t be War Machine!

So, I’ll keep the score high, but they are essentials rather than extras.

Lastly we get the classic black figure stand, helpful for those that like it, but as usual mine has stayed in the box. There is also a small plastic tool, like a tiny screwdriver/spatula, this is intended to aid the more sausage fingered amongst you to operate the rocket launchers on his shoulders, but as I say below in articulation I found they operated fine as long as you have fingernails.

Could he have come with any other extras… well on this occasion I guess not. At least not when you look at War Machine as a standalone character, but a rather cool extra might have been an extra Rhodey head in the MK II helmet, as by simply adding this to the original MKII figure you’d have a whole new display option. But I guess there might still be a chance that we’ll get a new version of the MK II released with the new sculpt. If you’ve tried picking up a MK II on eBay (or any where else for that matter) you’ll see just how scarce they are, so a re-release might go down rather well.

Light Up Feature - ****
Like all the IM suits this also has the light up function, the chest ARC light shines incredibly brightly by flicking the switch in the middle of the upper back, then the eyes can also be illuminated by flicking the switch on the back of his neck, this should be a soft white to red diffused glow like this but is more of a solid red, but hey, at this scale I’m willing to cut some slack. To be honest I’ve just been thrilled that the lights have functioned on all the suits so far, to let myself be too overtly bothered by the particular intensity of colour… of course the pedant in you may differ!

Lastly the palm repulsors in all but the fisted hands can illuminate by flicking on the switches on the forearms, these are accessed by opening up the machine guns away from the arm on their hinges.

All four areas have their own control switch and all the batteries were included, to get them to function you will have to remove the small clear plastic battery dividers that protrude from the relevant areas.

Value - ****
Quality ain’t a thing that ever comes cheap, and this guy was a hefty $180 if you paid the full RRP from Sideshow. But in the skewed world of 1/6th hi-end collectors that I dwell in, even that seems like a very fair price. However if you jumped quick and pre-ordered when it was first unveiled then you could have secured one for as little as $160, and at a price like that then I’m willing to give a full score!

You can see all the love and attention to detail that has been lavished on this in every implied nut and bolt, in every articulated hinge and light up ARC reactor. The R&D time alone must have gone into hundreds if not thousands of hours, and it has all paid off big-time!
So ask yourself, is a 12” plastic figure ever truly worth $160… well I guess it is when you know you’ll have to pay twice that in six months to get one!

Fun Factor - ****
I defy you, as a geek and a fan not to make the sounds of machine guns and functioning hydraulics every time you re pose this figure… I know because my wife caught me doing it… I guess there are more embarrassing things to be caught doing, but not many!

So when it comes to fun, this is up there with the rest of the Iron Man mech suited figures, he poses well, is solid in his construction and will look amazing when backed up with the MK VI, which must be due out soon.

Overall- ****
Yeah he ain’t cheap, but considering the hi degree of quality and finish neither is it extortionate. When you take all the factors into consideration this ends up coming out smelling pretty rosy, there is not one serious problem I have encountered that would keep this from a full score. 

Would I have liked even better articulation? 

Why yes I would, but not at the expense of inaccuracies!
And as such they have struck a perfect balance!
Would I have liked it to be cheaper?

Hell yeah, but this comes with a hefty license from Marvel Studios, and if a cheaper price had lead to less cool engineering, fewer points of articulation and lower quality product, then I’m fine as is!

So could this be figure of the year?

Well, it’s been something of a vintage year again has 2010, we’ve had the amazing T800 and T1000 from T2, the über cool Space Adam from Winson Ma, the fantastic battle damaged Iron Man MK III and Mech-Test Tony, the very impressive (and somewhat surprising) Blade II and not forgetting the underdogs like Aldo Raine and the sublime Kamui Gaiden… But ultimately this is a MAJOR contender. 

And the fact it has to be considered for figure of the year it simply has to finish with a top score!

Where to buy
Sideshow have long sold out, as have most of Michaels sponsors. I did however find it was still available as a pre-order with BBTS for $174.99, and in stock at Fanboy Collectibles for just $170.

Your only other alternative at the moment is to hit eBay where I’ve seen buy it now prices as low as $170 and as high as $260, but what ever you pay I have a strong feeling that this one will be gone soon, and talked about for years to come!

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

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