REVIEW: IRON MAN ARMORED AVENGER LEGENDS SERIES 6" TITANIUM MAN
Although it is clear that Hasbro bases most of their product lines around the 4" scale -- Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Marvel (and it's assorted individual character subsidiaries), there are exceptions to the rule. One of these is the 6" scale Marvel Legends line, which in and of itself now is developing offshoots, one of which is the "Legends Series" of figures based on the action figure line featuring "Iron Man: The Armored Avenger". And one of these figures in particular garnered my attention recently -- TITANIUM MAN!
The packaging itself has some interesting things to note, not so much in design, but in phraseology used. For starters, this is called the "Legends Series", clearly a nod to the popular Marvel Legends line, started years ago by Toy Biz, and carried on by Hasbro once they obtained the Marvel license. Although not the powerhouse line it used to be, it still turns up from time to time.
Next is the notation of "Iron Man: The Armored Avenger". This clearly denotes this line as the successor to the Iron Man 2 movie-based line, but also very carefully throws in the word "Avenger", just as the Thor line refers to him as "The Mighty Avenger", and as Captain America is expected to be referred to as "The First Avenger". We're definitely gearing up for the Avengers movie.
And if all of that wasn't proof enough, there's a circular emblem on the upper right side of the package, that clearly shows the cinematic versions of not only Iron Man, but also Thor and Captain America, with the SHIELD emblem in the center, and the words "Avengers Assemble" around the perimeter. Conspicuous by his absence -- The Hulk.
But hey, if you want green, there's the Titanium Man. I've always gotten a kick out of the armored characters of the Marvel Universe, I think due in some part to the fact that really prominent armored characters are sorely lacking in the DC Universe. And at the risk of playing politics, something I really don't like seeing comic do, Titanium Man, and another certain armored character, Crimson Dynamo, are interesting in that they are the Soviet counterparts of Iron Man himself. And, let's face it, I think the political spectrum of the world was a little simpler to deal with when what we mostly had to worry about was just the "Evil Empire".
A technological character such as Iron Man, whose secret identity was a high-profile industrialist like Tony Stark -- it stands to reason that there would be others who would want to emulate the armor, and really, you stand a better chance of duplicating something that is purely technological, than some incident that has given someone internalized super-powers. You can send as many rockets into the radiation belt as you like. That's no guarantee you're going to get a Fantastic Four back. Let some poor sap get bitten by all the radioactive bugs you can round up. There's no reason to assume he'll be able to climb walls. But a high-tech suit of armor? THAT you can build!
The back of the package card for Titanium Man identifies him as the first Titanium Man, one Boris Bullski (whataya want, he was created in 1965...) and states the following: As a local KGB agent, Boris Bullski was more than happy to undergo the experiments that increased his size and strength, and wear the massive armor that turned him into the Titanium Man. He was assigned to embarrass the United States by defeating Iron Man in open combat, but the armored heroes lightning skills and superior technology defeated the massive Russian armor.
I'm impressed that a toy package would mention the KGB. But I figure that adult collectors such as myself will appreciate the history, and kids probably don't even know what the KGB is any more.
It's interesting, because the Titanium Man figure that Hasbro has created here is not based on the original Titanium Man armor, but a more recent version. And, in fact, there have been three individuals who have been the Titanium Man, although arguably Bullski is the most prominent. With a little online research assistance, let's consider the history of the Titanium Man.
The original Titanium Man appeared in Takes of Suspense #69, in September of 1965, and was created by Stan Lee and artist Don Heck.
As Boris Bullski, he was born on Makeyevka, in the Ukraine. According to the Black Widow, he was a member of the KGB as a young man, and she was his combat instructor for a time, An ambitious official of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Bullski was demoted after displeasing his superiors.
While working as an administrator of a Siberian labor camp, he commissioned the imprisoned scientists at the camp to build a suit of armor using the lab of Anton Vanko, the creator of the original Crimson Dynamo armor. Seeking to win back the Party's favor, Bullski conceived the idea of winning a propaganda victory against the West by defeating the American super-hero, Iron Man. He assigned the scientists to create a powerful suit if titanium armor based on the Iron Man technology, although the inferior resources available to the scientists meant the armor was twice the size of Iron Man's. Bullski received permission to issue his challenge and Iron man accepted, defeating Titanium Man in a battle before a worldwide television audience.
Undaunted, Bullski prepared for a rematch by having the suit redesigned and undergoing medical treatments that increased both his size and strength. Traveling to the United States, Bullski fought Iron Man in the skies above Washington CD, but was defeated once again. Withdrawing for retrieval by a Soviet submarine, he discovered that he had been abandoned on orders from Moscow.
Later, returning to the service of the Soviet Union, he was dispatched to the United States to retrieve the third Crimson Dynamo. This resulted in a three-way battle between Titanium Man, Iron Man, and the Dynamo, that ultimately ended with a defeated Titanium Man being left in the murky depths of the Hudson River.
Sometime later, Titanium Man and the Crimson Dynamo, disgraced, fled to Communist-controlled Vietnam, and briefly took up with the Chinese super-being known as the Radioactive Man.
After several more adventures which saw Titanium Man occasionally back in the good graces of the Soviet government -- only to blow it once again on a failed mission -- Bullski was once again brought into the service of the Soviet Union as a member of the Soviet Super-Soldiers, the Soviet equivalent of the Avengers, for all practical purposes. Nevertheless, Bullski was increasingly despondent as he saw his beloved Soviet Union coming apart at the seams. After an attack on a Stark Enterprises factory in Russia, he was believed killed while battling Tony Stark.
Let's emphasize that "believed killed", and understand about how often that works out in comic books. It'll be important in a couple of paragraphs.
The second Titanium Man was Kondrati Topolov, formerly known as the Gremlin. He also served with the Soviet Super-Soldiers, but was killed in combat with Iron Man during the first "Armor Wars" when the titanium in his suit exceeded its combustible temperature. The entire suit burst into flame, and could not be extinguished.
The identity of the third Titanium Man has been the subject of some controversy and speculation. The first time he appeared, he attacked Stark Enterprises and Iron Man directly, possibly as a hired mercenary. While he was shown to cherish Soviet memorabilia and newspaper clippings featuring Boris Bullski, his identity was not firmly established.
Some time later, during a space mission to destroy an asteroid that threatened to impact Earth, a Titanium Man, claiming to be this same person, stated his name to be Andy Stockwell, and had never had a connection with the USSR. However, moments later it was revealed that he was actually a member of an international network of communist "sleeper" cells who wanted to destroy the United States. He was lost in space, but close enough to Earth that he mat have returned under his own power.
Sometime later, a Titanium Man was contracted and hired to do a mercenary job for, of all people, Tony Stark, in his effort to stop the superhuman registration bill.
It has been strongly hinted, outside of the comic books themselves, that the third Titanium Man may indeed be Boris Bullski, but playing against this is this Titanium Man's willingness to do a job for Tony Stark, even as a hired mercenary, something one would expect Bullski to be disinclined to do under any circumstances. His face has been revealed to look nothing like Bullski. His identity remains officially unknown.
As to the powers and abilities of the Titanium Man armor, the Titanium Man armor is a green armor similar to that used by Iron Man and the Crimson Dynamo. Neither Soviet armor is as sophisticated as that of Stark's, but some of its weapons are deceptively powerful, and the first Titanium Man's physical strength seems to have been greater than that of Iron Man.
The suit of armor increases the wearer's physical strength to superhuman levels, and has in fact been demonstrated to be stronger than that of Iron Man, but this may be relative given upgrades to Iron Man's armor over the years. It is able to fly at supersonic speeds and even reach escape velocity, shoot concussive force blasts from the hands, project constrictive force "rings", fire en electromagnetic paralytic beam from the helmet, and was resistant to conventional artillery.
So, how's the figure? Extremely impressive. I have nothing against the 4" scale, and Hasbro does a great job with their Marvel Universe line, and its cinematic relations in Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, but I'll admit I do tend to like my super-heroes somewhat larger, and figures like these are certainly proof that Hasbro is abundantly capable of turning out some really great super-figures in the 6"-or-so scale as well. I'd like to see more of them.
Titanium Man stands just shy of 6-1/2" in height, and although his armor admittedly doesn't look as sophisticated as some of Iron Man's fancier jobs, nor is it the original Titanium Man armor, which was actually sort of clunky-looking in a reasonably high-tech way -- something this armor categorically isn't -- there's still no question that this suit of armor is very high-tech, very imposing, and very dangerous if you're on the bad side of whoever happens to be wearing it.
The armor is a mixture of green and gray. The green areas of the armor are mostly smooth finish -- mostly. The color is a metallic light green, almost but not quite heading into the olive range. It's an excellent color, even if in and of itself it doesn't look especially Soviet. The gray is a steel gray, and most of these areas of the armor have a ridged look to them, and -- unfortunately -- have been given a light wash of black paint in an attempt to heighten the ridge detail, and I suppose to make the armor look a little more worn, neither of which I think was especially necessary.
The helmet of the armor is green, and lacks the moderate facial details of Iron Man. The eyeslits and mouth slits are distinctly absent. Instead, there is a wide visor where the eyes would be, colored in metallic orange, really the only other color on the figure besides the green and the gray. As such, it's a welcome little bit of added detail. The helmet does have some sculpted features, including circular earpieces, and some angular detail around the lower face, but it's otherwise a pretty anonymous, almost robotic look.
Titanium Man's chestplate and abdomen are green and are squared off and very angular in appearance. There's a series of ridges around the abdomen. The back of the figure is also green, and shows several large ridges of plating, and a narrower section that more closely resembles a spinal column.
Titanium Man has huge shoulder armor, rather angular looking in the front and back, but curved over the shoulders. On the figure, these are assembled on a hinge at the base of his neck, so that he can raise his arms and the shoulder armor will, to a reasonable degree, move with him.
The neck and sides of the torso are gray and ridged, and conform to human anatomical proportions, as do the upper arms of the Titanium Man armor. The lower arms have thick green bands around them, not unlike some models of Iron Man's armor, except in his case they'd be red. Then there is a short length of ridged gray armor until we come to the hands, which are gloved in green. The right hand is clenched in a fist, the left hand is open, with a very impressive design of separate fingers. There is some armor detailing on the back of the hands.
There is something like a wide green belt present on the figure, and the trunks are metallic green, and ridged, about the only segment of the green armor which is ridged, except for part of the boots. The upper legs are gray and ridged, and like the arms, conform to human anatomy design. There are thick green bands around the upper legs, and the knees are also green, and fairly high-tech looking, somewhat angular in design, taking after the chestplate in some respects.
Following this there is a short segment of ridged gray, and then the broad bands of the upper boots, which are green. The remainder of the boots, until we come to the feet, are narrower and green in color, but also ridged. The feet themselves are not ridged, but have a strange series of distinctly sculpted ridges around the perimeter at the base. I don't want to call them "treads" since they're not on the bottom of the boots, which sow small circles representing, I assume, boot jets. I'm honestly not sure what practical purpose these may have, but they certainly represent a surprisingly intricate sculpting job.
Paint detailing on the figure is relatively straightforward. I'm reasonably convinced that the figure was entirely molded in gray, and the necessary parts were painted in green, and very neatly, I must say. So was the orange visor. I could have done without the wash on the gray ridged areas, but there's nothing really to be done for that. That aside, the overall paint job is extremely impressive.
Articulation is superb. Titanium Man is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, knees, and ankles. The elbows and knees are double-jointed, which I could do without, but Titanium Man gets away with it a bit better than some figures by virtue of the armor design. He also gets away with the mid-torso articulation point a lot better than some action figures I've seen with this feature.
The only odd articulation is the legs, which have a sort of ball-and-socket with a back and forth movement built into it. There's also a rotation. It all works, although ti does tend to stick just a bit, especially the rotation. It can be loosened if you can get a decent grip on it, which is a bigger trick than you might think -- but it is possible, and once loosened, Titanium Man has an excellent overall range of motion.
As to accessories, Titanium Man comes with a double missile launcher that clips to the back of one of his arms. It's a nice design, and painted in a nice metallic green like the rest of the figure, even if it's probably not canon to the character in the comics. But, action figures will have their special features.
So what's my final word? I have a number of 6" Iron Man figures around here, and one War Machine, and I'm very pleased to add Titanium Man to the collection. Even moreso, since I have heard that Crimson Dynamo is in the works. Look for a review of him sometime after he turns up. As of this writing, I'm not really sure when he's expected.
But Titanium Man is cool. He's an armored character that's someone a little different than Iron Man, and looks extremely impressive. He's a well-made, well-painted, and well-articulated figure, that any Iron Man or general Marvel fan -- or anyone that appreciates good action figures -- would welcome into their collection. I'm glad he's in mine.
The IRON MAN LEGENDS SERIES 6" figure of TITANIUM MAN definitely has my highest recommendation!