REVIEW: IRON MAN 2 ARCTIC ARMOR IRON MAN
I've said this before, in reviewing assorted versions of Iron Man, but one of the things I really like about Iron Man is that, for the most part, he really can get away with all of these armor variants, at least certainly better than a certain Dark Knight or another certain Web-Slinger. Tony Stark is an inventor, an innovator, a technologist. He's got the brains and the bucks to do this, and he has certainly done it in his adventures over the years -- maybe not to the same degree or specialized variety of the toy lines, but there's certainly no reason he couldn't.
And certainly Hasbro has accommodated Stark's passion for designing high-tech personal armors. With their Iron Man 2 line, they've segmented the 4" scale figures into three groups -- Movie Series, which are armors based on those which have actually appeared in the movies; Comic Series, which are armors more closely based or seem to at least be a better fit in his comics, and Concept Series, which -- well, wouldn't be a bad fit in either of the other two, even if they haven't necessarily appeared there officially -- yet.
I've always liked Iron Man. I may have my issues about some of the storylines that have taken place in the pages of Marvel Comics in recent years, but I still respect the characters, and I've always liked Iron Man. He's reasonably unique. Marvel's -- "Distinguished Competition" has never really had a truly prominent armored hero. And Iron Man is, in his own way, a little more plausible than some. This has almost been something of a hindrance, or at least a challenge, for his creators, trying to stay a few steps ahead of real-world technology, so that Tony Stark's armor remains sufficiently advanced and futuristic.
With all of that, I'll gladly add new versions of Iron Man to my collection as they come along and suitably catch my eye. And one did recently, a new addition to the 4" scale Iron Man 2 collection, listed as part of the Comic Series. It's called ARCTIC ARMOR IRON MAN.
The back of the package card explains, "Designed specifically for the harsh environment of the deep arctic waste, this armor allows Tony Stark to operate in comfort, even in the coldest temperatures. Because of special survival features, Stark can live inside this suit for days at a time, so he never needs to worry about ending a mission early to resupply."
The package text doesn't explain why in the world Tony Stark would design an armor specialized for arctic missions, and then paint most of the suit metallic purple. I mean -- for the arctic!? Okay, it looks cool, and it's certainly what caught my eye. And if we were to stick closer to "reality", as far as that can be applied in the first place, this armor would probably be mostly white, which would look duller than heck. But applying a bit of the movie's logic here, if Stark was inspired to paint his general-use armor red because of one of his sports cars, then he must have been inspired by a case of Grape Crush on this one. The prototype on the back of the package, and even the illustrated artwork on the cards inside the package, make this set of armor look dark blue. And in fact another set of Arctic Armor in the 6" line was dark blue. however, this thing is seriously purple.
I don't know, maybe he painted it this color just in case he ran out of supplies in it. Rescue parties shouldn't have too much trouble spotting metallic purple against the frozen tundra.
And, okay -- one of the reasons I bought it was because of the offbeat color. I understand that Iron Man is traditionally known for a certain color scheme, and that a significant number of his figures in any given Iron Man action figure line are going to be that color. But frankly, I have enough red-and-gold around here. Purple-and-silver is going to get my attention.
So, how's the figure? Really very impressive, and distinctive in design even apart from the color scheme. Despite being listed as from the Comic Series, I couldn't tell you offhand if this is a set of armor that has actually seen use in the comics. I haven't specifically followed Iron Man's adventures for some time. The only really arctic-based armor that I can recall offhand was a color-changing variant of his stealth armor that was capable of turning entirely white, and that was -- a couple of decades ago. But, this armor is nevertheless a very impressive and distinctive design.
There's nothing about the design that really denotes it as specifically "arctic". Granted, when it comes to a personal set of combat armor, I'm not sure what that might consist of, anyway. A parka? That would be a little silly. An external heater unit? An inflatable igloo? A snow shovel attachment? This is Iron Man here, not an Imperial Snowtrooper. Any arctic-specific advantages are going to be incorporated INTO the suit, and for the most part, Tony Stark can make it look however he darn well pleases.
There are certain basic expectations of an Iron Man armor, I believe. A helmet with a faceplate that has slits for the eyes and mouth, a reasonably humanoid configuration, and with all probability, a color scheme that has the arms and legs a different color from the rest of the armor, except for the boots and gloves, which will be the same color as the rest of the armor. The faceplate of the helmet will likely be the same color as the arms and legs. Put all of this together, and you've got something that's going to look like some version of Iron Man, even in non-traditional colors, and in this respect, Arctic Armor Iron Man certainly succeeds.
The helmet is interesting. The faceplate is far more angular than usual. There are sweeping angles running down either side of the face, and the top of the faceplate is much more upswept than usual. The "cheekbones", for lack of a better term, are also more prominent, and the jaw a bit smaller and more angular, as well. The rest of the helmet is more rounded, although there's an interesting little ridged area on the front, between the upswept sides of the faceplate, purpose unknown, but it's an interesting little detail.
Similarly, the bulk of the armor also has a rather angular appearance to it. The neck of the armor is highly ridged, and the torso has a fairly high collar. The chestplate has angular ridges cut into it, almost mimicking a rib cage. The abdomen also has rather angular ridged plating on it. The shoulder pieces are separate attachments, and are very pronounced. These look like Stark got them off of a Halo Spartan Trooper of some sort and enlarged them. The upper arms are silver, and ridged, but this isn't unusual, and the lower arms are very heavily detailed with a great deal of sculpted mechanics. My sincere compliments to the sculptors of this figure, and I hope for your sake you initially designed this toy as a "2-up", because I'm getting eyestrain here just looking at it.
The hands are extremely impressive. The right hand is fully open with individual fingers. The left hand is partially open, with grouped fingers, but the detail on both is very well done.
The figure's back, although not as ornate as the front, is nevertheless very nicely done, with ridged plating all the way done. Of course, the front of the armor has a triangular detail in the center of the chest. Wouldn't really be Iron Man if something like that wasn't there.
Arctic Armor Iron Man has a belt sculpted into his armor, and there are two circular pods to the sides. This is a nice little nod to earlier versions of Iron Man, certainly, and on this figure, they're pretty much the only mostly curved objects in the entire design. They almost look out of place.
The tops of Arctic Armor Iron Man's legs are silver, and ridged, but well before knee level, the boots commence, with sweeping angles all the way to the ankles. Although not as intricately detailed as the rest of the armor, the overall design is impressive, if not downright ornate, from a mechanical perspective. The knee pads have upward pointing protrusions on them. Even some hidden areas have impressive details. Bend the knees and see the nicely ridged area of the knee joint.
The feet are interesting. More heavily segmented and detailed than the rest of the legs, they end in what looks as much as anything like a treaded boot. This might be the one acknowledgment of environment. The boot jets are in place on the undersides of the feet, of course, but it's the treads to the sides that are interesting. I don't offhand recall seeing this before, but one might think it would be a useful feature to have for trudging through a harsh arctic wilderness.
The paintwork on the figure is generally very good, although it could have been a little neater on the head. A bit of the silver for the faceplate ran "past the lines" on one side, and there's a couple of splatters of silver on the back of the helmet. Additionally, it might have looked just a little better of the pegs in the upper legs had been molded from or painted silver, instead of left purple against an otherwise silver part of the figure. But this is comparative nitpicking.
Arctic Armor Iron Man is nicely articulated at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees, and ankles. The legs are a slightly odd design, seen throughout most of Hasbro's Marvel-based offerings, a sort-of-but-not-quite ball-and-socket design where the "ball" that is the hip joint actually rotates and has a linear back and forth segment in it, but it can be something of a trick to get these to line up and work together, especially in conjunction with the upper leg swivel. Mess with it too much and it can be really difficult to find an equal measure for both legs. The knees are double jointed, but this doesn't look too bad, nor does the mid-torso point. Armored figures, it seems, can get away with this sort of thing better than most.
I was disappointed that the rotational swivel in the elbow had been removed. This strikes me as something much more crucial than double-jointed knees, and honestly, looking at the design of the figure, I can't fathom a reason for why it WAS removed. Other Iron Man (and other character) figures in this Iron Man 2 line certainly have this elbow rotation, and it's pretty much standard equipment on other Hasbro lines of similar size and design, such as Star Wars and G.I. Joe. Why pull it out here? Why pull it out at all? There's enough of an angle to the fixed articulation point so that the arm movement still looks normal enough, but it's still a bit of a disappointment.
Two words of advisory. First of all, the shoulder pieces are clipped in place along indentations in the figure's shoulders. They are also prone to popping off if you move the arms too far or too quickly. I don't recommend gluing them in place, because they need to be able to move to allow the arms to move properly at the shoulder. But keep an eye on them. Secondly, you may find that your Arctic Armor Iron Man has a few stuck points of articulation. This is likely due to the metallic purple paint. They should loosen fairly readily, and stay that way afterwards. Arms and knees seem especially susceptible, if mine is any example. Minor points, but worth noting.
For accessories, Arctic Armor comes with a "Snap On Repulsor Blast". I've never really thought it was that good of an idea to provide energy-based accessories with action figures -- lightsabers notwithstanding. Being sculpted from plastic just seems to take something away from the effect. But it is here for use if you so desire, and it's molded in pale blue with white detailing. Actually, given what it looks like, you could have a little fun with it, attach it to the bottom of the kitchen faucet, and the next person to come along will think that something has gone quite wrong with the water supply. You did not get that idea from me, by the way...
All Iron Man 2 action figures, regardless of which branch of the line they come from, include a display base which also features a section to place three small cards that also come with the figure. Two of these cards are transparent, the back one is solid, and the effect is a sort-of three-dimensional rendering of the armor in question, with assorted high-tech detailing accompanying it. There's also an alpha-numeric code that can be used at the Web Site: IronManCard.com!. Honestly, I've never tried it myself. But the code for Arctic Armor Iron Man is: M26 H3A SR2.
So, what's my final word here? I'm very impressed. Arctic Armor Iron Man is a nice change of pace from all the red-and-gold. The design is dynamic and distinctive, the colors are metallic and impressive, and the end result is a very cool version of one of my favorite Marvel characters. If you're an Iron Man fan of any sort, you'll enjoy this interesting new addition to the line, which I sincerely hope continues for a good long while, if this is the sort of innovative armor they'll be presenting!
ARCTIC ARMOR IRON MAN from the IRON MAN 2 COMIC SERIES definitely has my highest recommendation!