REVIEW: WALMART EXCLUSIVE IRON MAN 2 - 6" IRON MAN MK VI
There's no question that Hasbro has created an impressive and extensive line of 4" scale action figures for the hit summer movie, "Iron Man 2". It is certainly my sincere hope that the line is able to continue, and exceed its time on the shelves well beyond that of the average movie-based toy. I've seen there's some extremely cool armors in the works, and I would certainly like to bring them into my collection.
But I have to say that sometimes, I appreciate something a little larger than the 4" scale, which Hasbro uses for many of their action figure lines. It's hardly exclusive to Iron Man. Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Spider-Man, Marvel Universe, all tend to exist largely within this scale. And that's fine and well. I'm not complaining. At the same time, I collect more than one scale of action figure myself, and I also recall that the action figures from the first Iron Man movie were of a larger scale.
Fortunately, this was realized, and a number of exclusive figures have been created in the larger, 6" scale. Toys "R" Us had a very interesting three-pack of recolors. Walmart, however, got an entirely new line of 6" action figures for Iron Man 2. This review will take a look at the 6" scale Mark VI Iron Man.
One thing about Iron Man -- pretty much regardless of what media he appears in -- he's one of the very few super-heroes that can legitimately get away with multiple action figure versions. Unlike some others, whose action figure lines seem to come up with any number of variants whether they've ever appeared anywhere outside the toy line or whether they're even especially plausible, as long as it keeps multiple versions of the central character on the toy racks, Tony Stark really has built a lot of different Iron Man armors over the years, including no shortage of specialty armors. Now, I'm not saying that there's that much coordination between the toy line and the comics, but -- it's a lot more plausible.
Of course, most people know the basic story of Iron Man. The movie has certainly helped, and the movie maintained at least a lot of the basics. Billionaire industrialist Tony Stark was injured overseas, munitions shrapnel wounding his heart. Captured by enemies, he and another prisoner built a suit of armor, not only to keep Stark's heart working, but also to use as a means of attack and escape. Although Stark's fellow prisoner perished, Stark escaped, and once back in his advanced factories, refined and streamlined the armor into a high-tech wonder. In the comics, at least, Stark's heart has long since been repaired, but he continues as Iron Man, if nothing else, enjoying the rush of being a super-hero.
Certainly the movies have proven successful, bringing the Armored Avenger into the spotlight like never before, and being used as a springboard for uniting other Marvel-based movies into an eventual Avengers motion picture -- once Captain America and Thor have had their time on the silver screen.
I've always liked Iron Man, even if I haven't necessarily been fond of some of his recent stories in the comics in the past few years. The idea of an ordinary man with a high-tech suit of armor was unique and distinctive, and I believe it still is. There have been other armored characters, within and outside the Marvel Universe. None have really come close to Iron Man's popularity. Arguably one of the greatest challenges of the character is to not just keep up with, but stay a bit ahead of, real-world technology. Iron Man's first armor was "transistor powered" and among its capabilities was "reverse magnetism". And, how well would that go over today...?
In the movies, Stark has developed six suits of armor. And since this review is taking a look at the Mark VI, I thought it would be appropriate to offer a basic review of how Stark got to the Mark VI.
The Mark I armor was the first armor which Stark built while imprisoned. Little more than a cobbled-together rustbucket built from whatever happened to be available, it nevertheless had the ability to amplify Stark's strength considerably, as well as being armed with flamethrowers and a missile launcher. It also had a limited rocket jump capability which enabled Stark to escape the immediate area once he'd broken out of his imprisonment. The rockets failed shortly after the start, however, resulting in a less than dignified landing and the armor basically turning itself back into junk in the process. Stark had to abandon the armor in order to reach friendly territory. The wreckage of the Mark I was used by Stark's enemies as the base design for Obadiah Stane's Iron Monger suit. The second movie shows the Mark I prototype on display in Stark's headquarters along with other prototypes.
The Mark II armor was the first suit Stark worked on once he returned home. The Mark II was far sleeker, and had a polished silver appearance and improved flight capability, but it was prone to icing when attempting to fly to high altitudes. In the first movie, James Rhodes sees this armor at one point, seems to be thinking something over, and sort of shakes his head and says, "Maybe someday", or words to that effect. Rhodes is, of course, War Machine, whose armor does have some silver attributes.
The Mark III armor was the main armor seen in the first movie. Initially entirely gold in color, the result of being built with a gold-titanium alloy, it gained its traditional red-and-gold color scheme when Stark felt that the armor needed a little jazzing up, and used the color of one of his fancy red sports cars as inspiration. The materials used in the Mark III resolved the icing problem, as well as being extremely durable while maintaining the weight ratio of the Mark II. It is able to withstand small arms fire, an explosion from a tank shell, and a high speed collision with an F-22 Raptor fighter jet.
The Mark IV armor is the first armor shown in the second film, which starts off six months after the end of the first movie. The suit has a brighter color scheme, a generally more angular design, is more form-fitting, and more aerodynamic than the Mark III. Although its full arsenal and fighting potential is not explored in the movie, it appeared to be a match in one-on-one combat with the Mark II armor, which was operated by James Rhodes at the time.
The Mark V armor is pretty much the only really "specialized" armor seen thus far in the Iron Man movies. It's regarded as a sort of "travel" armor, a portable suit developed for emergency use. Lightweight and flexible enough to take the form of a briefcase -- a nod of sorts to the fact that Tony Stark has been able to carry his armor around in a briefcase in the comic books -- the armor is deployed as Stark is forced into a confrontation with Ivan Vanko in Monaco. By kicking open the case, inserting his hands into the gloves and placing the main assembly onto his chest, the armor folds out and quickly forms into a full suit of red and silver armor. The armor is nearly as strong as Stark's main armor, but its power capabilities are somewhat more limited. This armor is red and silver, a nod to a time in the comics when Iron Man wore red and silver armor, rather than the traditional red and gold.
The Mark VI armor does not appear too different from the Mark III or Mark IV. The main visual difference is a triangular-shaped chestplate protective the arc reactor assembly that powers the armor as well as protects Stark's heart. This suit withstands prolonged and extreme combat situations with relatively minor damage, and is shown to be extremely fast and responsive in flight, and strong and durable in hand to hand combat. The new model apparently retains all of the weapons present in the Mark IV, with two additions - a multi-fire adhesive grenade launcher in the upper arm, and a one-time-use hand-mounted laser weapon, powerful enough to cut through multiple Hammer armored drones, cleanly in half. The Mark VI armor takes a number of design cues from the Extremis armor in the Iron man comic book.
A brief word about the arc reactor. In the first movie, the armor suits are powered by a miniaturized arc reactor, an energy source developed by Stark, which in this case is also used to power the electromagnet that protects Stark's heart from the shrapnel embedded in his chest. It is revealed in the second movie that the arc reactor was first developed some years earlier by Howard Stark and Russian physicist Anton Vanko. It is also discovered that the arc reactor that Stark has been using is slowly poisoning him. When stark successfully develops a new element, vibranium, for a power source for his personal arc reactor, he also must develop the Mark VI armor, so he has a suit of armor that is capable of channeling the immense power of the new reactor.
So, after all of that backstory -- how's the figure? Really extremely cool. I liked the figures from the first Iron Man movie, but in my opinion, they had two problems -- at least the main Iron Man figure did. Problem #1 -- the color scheme was a little too dark for my tastes. I realize that the bright colors customarily used for most comic book characters wouldn't necessarily translate that well onto the big screen, but I did have to wonder if they might have darkened the color palette a bit much. In point of fact, the research that I looked up on the various movie armors indicates that they did brighten it up for the armors in the second movie, so maybe I'm not the only one who thought that.
The other problem was that whatever type of paint or paint method was used to give the figures from the first movie a metallic sheen also left them -- well -- a bit tacky to the touch. This was a real problem, as you could end up with a sticky figure with fingerprint impressions on it that were very difficult to move. Don't get me started on trying to dust the thing if it was left on display in the open for a period of time. You didn't brush off that figure -- you needed to bathe it!
Fortunately, both issues have been dealt with most effectively this time around. The red isn't nearly as dark as it was before, and whatever paint types, plastic types, or methods are being used to provide a nice metallic sheen are working a whole lot better this time around -- and I say that not only about this fine 6" figure, but everybody in the 4" line as well.
The absolute only downside to this figure is that it took me a while to find one that didn't have some molding creases in the head. And these figures proved to be extremely popular. They blew out of the Walmart close to me in fairly short order, and I read similar reports from around the country. Fortunately, I eventually found one that was in good structural shape.
Certainly, it looks like Iron Man as he appears in the movie. One advantage to all of those armor types that Iron Man has had in the comics over the years is that it's possible to come up with an armor design that looks good in a movie, that may not be specifically based on any one comic-designed armor -- and it's still going to look like Iron Man, and it's still going to look like something that Tony Stark could well design in just about any media form. As long as you get some basic particulars right, you're in good shape.
The overall design of the armor is somewhat more angular than what has been presented in the comic books over the years, but it's still a superb design, and certainly works well for modern expectations of armored characters. Let's keep in mind that in the years since Iron Man was first developed, we've had Stormtroopers, HALO Spartans, and if you want to extend the visual comparison to robots, everything from droids to Transformers.
Iron Man's helmet is reasonably traditional, mostly red with a gold faceplate with narrow slits for eyes and mouth. The eyeslits have a pale blue color to them, that makes them look a bit like they're glowing. One might tend to wonder how Tony Stark can see out of this, but let's keep in mind that inside the armor, he has access to a HUD (Heads-Up Display) that provides him with all the information he needs.
The torso of the armor is red, with silver lines around the abdomen, and the triangular shaped arc reactor, which has been given a sort of "glowing" effect by being white in the center, tapering to a light blue around the edges. The abdomen isn't quite as recessed as I might have expected it to be, but it still looks good.
The figure has red shields over the shoulders, that are really the only somewhat awkward bit of articulation on the entire figure. They're designed to flip up when Iron Man raises his arms. I have to admit it looks a little silly. Then again, if memory serves, the Iron Man figure from the first movie had shoulder shields that, while designed to rotate to allow the arm to raise, had an unfortunate habit of just plain falling off. At least these look like they'll stay put, as they're hinged at the top of the shoulder, rather than clipped to either side.
Iron Man's upper arms are gold, with some dark silver trim. Unusual, since Iron Man armor tends to have either gold or silver, but not often both. Still, it doesn't look bad. The lower arms represent the gloves, and are metallic red. The right hand is a closed fist, the left hand is open. Both show the repulsor blasters, in light blue.
The upper legs of the figure, like the upper arms, are gold with a bit of silver trim. The most prominent of this are the knees, which are silver. The lower legs comprise the boots, and the bottoms of the feet do show some sign of the boot jets, although there is no distinctively painted detail like there was with the repulsors on the hands.
The overall figure has a very high-tech look to it, with panels, ridges, and an angular look that is very sophisticated, while maintaining an entirely humanoid appearance. It truly looks like a man wearing very sophisticated armor that is as form-fitting as technology allows.
One unusual matter here, in my opinion. The overall paint job is quite different than the prototype figure shown in the card art on the back of the package. That prototype, although structurally identical to this figure, has a good bit more red, and no silver, in its paint job. I'm assuming that there were some design changes along the way, and doubtless this figure had to be prepared well in advance to match the movie's release. This isn't a complaint. Actually, the figure's paint job is better than the picture's. It's just an observation.
Iron Man comes with several accessories. These include four additional hands, two left, two right, in various positions, as well as a spring-loaded missile launcher which looks designed to be clipped to the lower arm. I can't imagine where else you'd place it, anyway. It also includes a missile, of course. The missile is semi-transparent, and has a sort of "flaming" tip, making me think it's designed to represent an energy burst.
Iron Man's articulation is excellent. The figure is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles. The elbows and knees are double-jointed. This is an articulation design that I am becoming increasingly wary of, as I think it has an adverse effect on the look of many figures on which it is used. In the case of Iron Man, though, he can get away with it fairly well, since it can be designed to look like part of the armor design. Someone in spandex wouldn't be able to accomplish this as well.
So, what's my final word here? This is a cool figure. I have nothing against 4" action figures, of course, but I do like larger ones, as well, and I'm pleased that the 6" scale isn't being ignored for the Iron Man 2 line, even if it's limited to store exclusives. This figure represents the most modern Iron Man currently in the movie series, and it's an excellent representation of him. The design is very impressive, and the figure is superbly well-made. Any Iron Man fan -- movies, comics, or whatever, would be pleased with this figure.
The Walmart exclusive IRON MAN 2 6" figure of IRON MAN MARK VI definitely has my highest recommendation!