Thursday, May 6, 2010

Toy Review: Iron Man Exclusives

Everybody with any kind of movie taste whatsoever is stoked about Iron Man 2. I’m going to see it at the IMAX tonight at midnight, so I thought I’d post a little something about the toys that have come out to cash in on the awesomeness.

Walmart’s exclusives were originally going to be three Marvel Legends scale figures: Marks V and VI of ol’ Shell-Head and a War Machine. I picked up the Mark VI and War Machine for $12.96 apiece but have yet to see Mark V – the suitcase armor. I’m guessing Hasbro pulled this one to go to another retailer (possibly the Disney Store?). Wouldn’t it be nice to see it in a two-pack with Whiplash? The only problem there is that I have a feeling Hasbro didn’t bother with likeness rights for the line. They probably figured (rightly) that they could get away with eleventy-billion variations on armor and not worry about making Tony Starks, Black Widows or Justin Hammers.

Toys R Us got arguably a better deal with a three-pack of awesome but possibly stretching the bounds of movie-credible armor suits for the same general price as the two Walmart offerings ($24.95). I went back and forth on whether I was going to buy this one, but once stock levels got low in the local TRU I panicked and got it. Was that the right decision? We’ll find out… NEXT!

First Glance: The Walmart figures honestly look much more impressive initially. These are the versions you actually see in the movie, so they have immediate credibility. On the other hand, the Toys R Us set is comparatively super-cheap and really sells the whole “Hall of Armor” concept Hasbro (wisely) seems to be pushing. I picked this thing up with the intent to buy a couple of times before I actually pulled the trigger (pull the trigger, yeah – shoot to thrill).

Target has some exclusives as well – actual “Hall of Armor” sets, but they’re the 3 ¾” scale and I’m not collecting comic book stuff that size (except for a few Marvel characters that kind of fit in with my GI Joe collection). Plus, the paint jobs on those look like shit. None of the ones I picked up when I first saw them were acceptable.

Sculpt: The Walmart figures are truly fantastic. Not only is the sculpting spot-on to what we’ve seen of the movie, but the figures are molded out of a stiffer plastic than we’re used to of late. The articulation is some of the best I’ve seen in quite some time. Hasbro has really learned a lot about how to design this scale of figure since they started a few years ago. Of course, the downside of the stiffer plastic is that it breaks more easily. My Mark VI fell off the shelf and one of the shoulder plates popped right off, breaking one of the mounting pegs in the process. I was able to stick it back in, but that shoulder is essentially no longer poseable.

The Toys R Us figures are sculpted in more of a comic book style. For all I know these could be repaints from the last movie, but I don’t remember them if they are. The three suits of armor you get in this set are Deep Dive, Star Flare and Desert Strike. All three have unique sculpts that will stand out quite well amongst any other Iron Man figures you might have. Each looks accurate to its intended environment. These are sculpted out of a more malleable plastic than their Walmart counterparts, and suffer somewhat for it.

I’ve been on an absolute rampage lately about toy manufacturers putting their products in stupid packaging that warps the figures. Deep Dive and Desert seem okay, but Star Flare has that fucking bent leg syndrome that is so common to figures these days. I’m am so sick of getting figures that look either gimpy or gay when you stand them up. And yes – I know you can run hot water over them and bend the offending part back into place. You know what? I shouldn’t have to fix a toy that I just opened. That’s preposterous. Boo on Hasbro, but boo on everybody else, too. Mattel, NECA and all the rest are just as guilty of this ridiculous practice.

Design: The Toys R Us set has two solid-looking pieces and one really fucking wacky one. They each appeal to me for different reasons and all the paint apps are skillfully applied with no noticeable issues.

The Deep Dive armor is probably the most basic in the set. The paint app is nice and makes sense for the suit’s purpose, it’s just kind of plain.

With Desert Strike – the one that initially impressed me – Hasbro stuck with subdued versions of the signature Iron Man colors, but reversed and with a nice wash of paint on top to simulate desert wear. I think this one looks the most movie-like.

Star Flare is where shit gets a little weird. Not only does the suit have a skirt (?) but the whole thing is translucent with little stars all over it. Being a sucker for translucent toys, I dig this; but does it make any sense? Sure! Any good nerd will use his nerd brain to decide that this is obviously some sort of stealth armor and that’s why you can see through it. Right? 
Regardless, this one looks really neat-o and I’m glad Hasbro went a little nuts with it instead of just making it metallic black or something.

The Walmart figures are a little more straightforward, but possibly a bit nicer.

The Mark VI armor is decoed just like the movie. Unfortunately, they got a little sloppy with a couple of parts and colors are where they shouldn’t be. The most noticeable on mine is a bit of overlapping on the left thigh. Other than that, it looks great.

War Machine is by far my favorite of all of these figures. He’s not just a repaint, like so many War Machines in the past have been (Ultimate – I’m looking at you). This is a big, bulky ass-kicking machine. The paint application is subtle but wonderful, with slight shading differences to accentuate detail and different designations on the shoulders for a nice extra-real touch. Those would have been easy to overlook.

Accessories: Our boys from Walmart each include three extra sets of hands in various positions - a very Japanese thing for Hasbro to be doing, and a nice bonus. While the Mark VI’s pack-ins stop there, War Machine also offers the (extremely poseable) back-mounted Gatling gun we’ve seen in the trailers, an ammo belt, a shoulder-mountable rocket launcher, and a small plate to cover up the mount for the rocket launcher when you’re not using it. Great stuff that is very well done.

The TRU set does not have extra hands, but each suit of armor has some sort of extra. The Deep Dive includes some kind of drill thing that doesn’t really fit on the arm very well and doesn’t do anything. It is essentially drawer-filler. The Desert Strike armor comes with a jetpack with pop-out wings. This doesn’t make any sense, but looks pretty cool and at least matches the rest of the armor. Finally, our weird friend Star Flare Iron Man comes with an atmosphere helmet, a backpack, a missile launcher and a hose to connect the latter two. He looks pretty swanky all geared up.

Packaging: The Toys R Us set comes in a nice window box with a little separate compartment for each of the suits. Each compartment features background art that represents the environment the suit is meant for. Again, Hasbro is utilizing the “Hall of Armor” idea nicely.

Our Walmart figures are individually packaged in the blister card that you would expect, but with unusually flimsy cardbacks. Since I open everything this doesn’t really affect me, but it is something you might want to take note of if you are a MISB Nazi. Get yours ASAP to avoid what is sure to be cataclysmic shelf-wear.

Overall: Both retailers’ exclusives are well worth it. The Walmart offerings are simply great figures that any Iron Man fan should own; the TRU set is just too good a value to pass up at $24.95 – essentially three figures for the price of two (and since they come together, I am giving them a single collective rating).

Walmart Mark VI - 4 out of 5
Walmart War Machine – 5 out of 5
Toys R Us Set - 4 out of 5

One Toys R Us I went to the other day still had plenty of their sets while the one I normally shop at only has about three left, so keep an eye out if you want them. I think the Walmart ones are going to be tough to find sooner than later, so go grab them while you can. You won’t regret it!

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