Well Memorial Day has come and gone which means another season of action heavy, blockbuster movies is starting. And Marvel is continuing their cavalcade of silver screen hits this year with several offerings. The Incredible Hulk is due out in a few weeks. But Marvel started off the summer movie season with the big screen debut of Iron Man. Of course Hasbro ready to put plastic versions of the red and gold Avenger into the hands of kids and adult fans alike. The first wave of figures contains of four versions of Iron Man himself as well as the main villain from the movie, the Iron Monger. They have also been joined now by a second version of the Iron Monger and a Titanium Man figure based on the video game. There are also a couple of exclusive figures available. But for now, I'll be focusing on the mass market figures.
Packaging - Mark 02 6/10, others 7/10The design for the Iron Man figures takes a more low key approach than that of the Marvel Legends line. And it works well for them. The figures are packaged in bubbles that combine a rounded shape with geometric panels inserted at the bottom to roughly emulate the shape of Iron Man's face/helmet. They did have to cheat a bit with the positioning of both the Mark 02 and Mark 03 figures in order to make them seem like they fill up the packages better. I'm okay with that on the Mark 03. But the pose they used for the gray Mark 02 looks more like a bad dance move than an action pose. The graphics on the cards has Iron Man in front of a city sky line as well as the Iron Man logo. The backs of the cards use the heads up display design from the movie to provide a bio for each figure, show the action features and show off the other figures that are available or will be soon. While the overall designs for the packaging lack anything that I would consider truly impressive, they are reasonably attractive. The only significant concern I have about them is their durability. The cards themselves are not all that thick unlike those of Hasbro's Marvel Legends figures and there are several small parts that stick out from the rest of the card. They are easily bent, particularly when coupled with the considerable weight of some of the larger figures. MOC collectors are going to have to take some extra steps if they want to keep their cards from getting crushed.
Sculpting - Iron Monger (ver 1) 3/10, Titanium Man 9/10, others 7/10I'm no artist, much less a professional sculptor, so I have a great deal of appreciation for what they are able to accomplish in creating an action figure. I also think that the toughest type of design to sculpt well is probably a mechanical one. So a whole line of mechanical suits of armor was bound to be a challenge. What Hasbro actually produced is a bit of a mixed bag in terms of how well they pulled it off. The best sculpt of the initial four figures is the one that is shared by both the Mark 02 and Mark 03 figures. At first I was quite disappointed that they reused the sculpt for two of the five regular figures. But while I don't want to spoil anything from the movie in case you have taken even longer to go and see the movie than I did, having now seen the movie, I understand why the same mold was reused and it makes sense to have done so. But when they also used the same sculpt for both of the store exclusives, my expectation are raised. Don't get me wrong, it is a nice figure and from my admittedly poor memory, fairly accurate to the movie design. But there isn't much there for fine detail work. The Mark 01 figure is better in this regard. But it is hit or miss as well. Some areas such as the upper arms and the motor on the back have quite a bit of detail while others are just crude shapes and forms. The first Iron Monger figure is more consistent than the Mark 01, but the entire figure is fairly simplistic compared to the other figures and modern Marvel figures in general and not really in scale with the other figures. It's passable, but that's about it. Fortunately the two figures that were released later show significant improvement. The Iron Monger uses the same arms and legs, but all of the additional detail work that went into the interior makes a big difference. Of course, it also demonstrates the most serious problem that both Iron Mongers suffer from, they are way too small. I'd say they should be about 20% larger to truly be in scale. Titanium Man, the only figure that has no basis in the movie actually turns out to be my favorite figure though. It has far more detail and more consistent detail work than any of the other figures.
Paint - Iron Monger (ver 1) 2/10, Mark 01 6/10, others 7/10The paint work for the three Iron Man figures is pretty good. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Hasbro didn't rely of colored plastic for the Mark 03. The metallic paints stand out much better, but they can be inconsistent in their finish and attract finger prints easily. The grays and silvers of the Mark 02 suit don't contrast with each other as well as the colors of the Mark 03. So Hasbro took the extra step of painting many of the panel lines. It adds much needed contrast, but it also can make the figure look dirty in some areas. The Mark 01 suit doesn't have the advantage of being fully painted like the Mark 03. That means that the natural color variation in the plastic is visible, particularly on the larger surface areas such as the legs. Combining that variation with a light paint wash does a nice job of making some parts of the figure look like unfinished metal. Unfortunately the entire figure did not receive equal attention. There is also a lot of untapped potential in the form of sculpted details that were not painted. Then there is the first Iron Monger figure who is nearly devoid of paint work. That might not be so bad if the figure was at least close to looking like it did in the movie. But the color of the plastic that was used is much too dark. They did not even get the color of the plastic insert in the chest correct initially. (This has been corrected in later releases.) The second version is much better. While there is still not a lot of paint work on the exterior, the plastic is the right color. And they did add a wash to the figure to bring out the detail. They also did a nice job of painting Stane's face inside. Finally there is Titanium Man who has a limited amount of paint work as well. But for the most part, what is there works well. The possible exception is the white paint applied to the eyes, and around the power reactor in the chest. It is suppose to look like it is glowing, but they probably would have been better off not painting them at all.
Articulation - Mark 1 & Iron Monger (ver 2) 6/10, Iron Monger (ver 1) 3/10, others 8/10While these are not officially part of the Marvel Legends line, it is hard these days to look at any Marvel action figure and not compare them to that standard. The Mark 02/03 figures come fairly close to that level of articulation with thirty two points of articulation:
Accessories - Titanium Man, Mark 02 & 03 5/10, Mark 01 2/10, Iron Mongers 0/10In case sharing the same sculpt is not enough, the Mark 02 and Mark 03 figures also share the same accessories, a cannon that clips onto the figures' arms and fires a projectile. They did add a tiny amount of variation by including two of the cannons with the Mark 02 figure while the Mark 03 only has one. But that is not much of a difference. Titanium Man also has a cannon to clip onto his arm which can fire two projectiles at once. The Mark one has just one accessory, a fireball/stream of flame that slides into the flame thrower on the figure's left arm. The flame thrower does have a spring in it which allows the flame to be launched. Or it is also long enough to be left in the launcher and used as a stream of flame. The Iron Monger figures are the only figures to have no accessories at all. Overall, the accessories are not very impressive for any of the figures. It's not exactly like these figures absolutely need any accessories. But as long as they were going to include some, they could have at least shown a little more effort. How about including some of the robots from Tony Stark's lab? They could have included some Stark Industry weapon crates for the Mark 01 to blow up. At the very least they should have included two flame throwers for the Mark 01.
Value - Iron Monger (ver 1) 3/10, Mark 02 5/10, others 6/10The Iron Man movie figures are will cost you $10 each in most stores much like most of Hasbro's figures these days. The Mark 01 and Mark 03 figures aren't a steal at that price, but they are worth it if you are a fan of Marvel characters or even just the Iron Man movie. So why score the the Mark 02 figure a point lower when it is essentially the same figure as the red and gold Mark 03? Well that is precisely the problem. It is just a repaint of the Mark 03 figure which really only appears in the movie for a few minutes. So it is hard to say that it worth buying the figure again as a repaint. The first Iron Monger figure isn't very impressive at all. If this was the only version of the character we were going to get, I might be more inclined to overlook the figure's shortcomings. But there is now another Iron Monger figure hitting shelves. Unless you really LOVE action features, you are better off getting that one.
Happy Hunting:The Iron Man movie figures have been out for quite some time now. You can find the figures at most stores that sell action figures. While I bought mine locally, they are also available on-line from quite a few web sites. The only draw back is right now supplies seem to be fairly low thanks to brisk sales following the movie's release and stores needing the space for merchandise from other movies.