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Ultimate Iron Man

Marvel Legends
by Monkey Boy

I was pretty ho-hum about Marvel Legends Series 14 and 15, which allowed me to begin saving money for what would be sequentially the 16th...er, 17th series of Marvel Legends, better known as Hasbro Legends Series 1, which I was also pretty ho-hum about. But then, just like Series 10 and Series 13, they got me with the BAF. I loves me some Annihilus.

So I got all these figures lying around, why not review them? In addition to wanting Annihilus, I also picked these up to see what Hasbro had to offer in their anxiously anticipated first series of Marvel Legends. Well, as with the Spider-Man: Origins line, there really is no change in quality between ToyBiz and Hasbro. They're different in a few minor ways; a piece molded in color here where you might expect paint, a solid forearm there where you might expect a point of articulation. Certainly not as bad as so many fanboys have already concluded them to be before actually getting the figures in their hands. They fit right in with your ToyBiz ML figures.

There, with that out of the way, hopefully I never have to talk about it again. [yeah, best of luck with that. --ed.] This particular review focuses on some guy named "Iron Man," who, if I'm not mistaken, Ultimate Iron Man has never had a figure in the Marvel Legends line 'til now. If you thought that joke was funny, congratulations! You're a nerd. No, as anyone who could possibly be reading this is undoubtedly aware, there is no shortage of Iron Men (or variations on the theme) in the ML line. People love to pick on Wolverine for ML overkill, but ol' Tony Stark is right up there in numbers, and all without the benefit of a "Classics"-style sister line.

Born with a chemical mutation that enhanced his intellect to superhuman levels, but cursed him with chronic, neurological pain, Tony Stark is a tireless genius. Among the most brilliant of the amazing technologies he has developed is the powered armor the world knows as Iron Man. As the invincible crime-fighter, he fills the triple role of billionaire industrialist, head of security for Stark International, and founding member of the worldwide crime fighting enterprise the Ultimates. Despite it all, he remains plagued by personal demons, for within the armor that grants him his incredible strength he is a man like any other, and more haunted than most.

So it's fitting that Hasbro's first series in the Marvel Legends legacy features an Iron Man figure; this time, it's the Ultimate version of Tony Stark, who first saw action figure form in the Marvel Select line. The sculpt is good, and accomplishes the task of translating comic to toy quite nicely. It may not look totally accurate, but one look at the images on the packaging will tell you that different artists interpret the same costume differently. What we get is a nice amalgam. There are cool details, like the wrist guns and the booster rockets on his calves, but none of the techno-elements are overdone. His head sculpt (sans helmet) is a tad strange. The vaguely Asian-looking face and Caesar cut just don't do it for me. Thankfully, the helmet fits great and has a nice, simple sculpt. However...

It's vac-metallized! What does that mean? Well, it's been explained on this site before, so I'll spare the details, but suffice to say it usually doesn't produce the greatest results. While it's probably the easiest way to get plastic to look like chromed "shiny" metal, it chips easily and doesn't often stand the test of time. Thankfully, it's applied well on the figure and used sparingly; it only appears on the helmet, chest plate and shin-guards. While it's not as cheesy-looking as it could be, it does give UIM a somewhat Christmas-ornament-esque look. The other red-painted areas don't fare so well. They use a shiny red paint to mimic the vac-metallized look (mainly on the knees, feet and wrist guns) and it's gloppy and inconsistent. The dominant grey color on most of the figure is nicely done, with a suitable amount of wash that accents the body nicely.

The articulation on UIM is Marvel Legendstastic, despite what you may have heard from naysayers. Stark's got a balljoint in the neck, balljoints in the shoulders, peg biceps, double-hinged elbows, peg forearms, hinged wrists, hinged torso, peg waist, balljoints in the hips, peg thighs, double-hinged knees, and balljoints in the ankles. You may notice that his wrists are hinges, not balljoints, and that he doesn't have peg joints in the shins, but due to the design of the figure's articulation, such joints would have been redundant. As it is, he's as mobile as he can be. His ankles are a bit restricted by his shin-guards, but if that really bothers you, just pop the guards off (they're removable).

Accessories are a bit light. The comics have been dropped, which isn't a horrible thing, since they were rarely the best stories and keeping track of them was a hassle. However, they did offer you the chance to see the character in action. Sometimes. Meanwhile, Hasbro Legends figures only show the figure in action on the packaging, where various images pulled from different comics (and often by different artists) run up the right side of the package bubble. It doesn't help that the price has gone up a few dollars in the United States, and reportedly more in other international markets. As it stands, Iron Man gets a removable helmet and a piece of this series' Build-A-Figure.

Ultimate Iron Man gets the torso of Annihilus, which is basically where all the other pieces must converge. As such, it's quite an important piece. The arms connect to the shoulder balljoints, the legs plug into the hip balljoints, the head plugs into the neck hole, and the wings plug into the back. The balls used for the shoulders and hips look suspiciously similar, but not quite exactly the same. There's a torso hinge, but no waist... and oh yeah, the thing's pastel pink. In the comics (and my nightmares), Annihilus's body was a magenta/fuschia sort of color, but it was never as pale, powder pink as this figure makes it look. Still, the sculpt is solid, and the two greens used for the shoulders and hips (and big monster shoulder pads) look about right.

The packaging for these figures is really well-designed. First of all, the hated clamshells are gone, replaced by packaging that took more than two seconds' thought. It's a big card, very chunky in your hand, and does a good job of showcasing the figure. There's a big piece of art in the upper left corner showing the character, and a strip of four smaller images curving down the right-hand side. The blister is curved, which will make these tricky to stack, but that's a problem for MOC collectors, so big deal. A chart on the side shows which BAF part the figure comes with, and you can see the piece through the bottom. Excellent design work yet again from Hasbro's team.

Hasbro is totally swimming upriver by taking over the Marvel Legends license, as many of the "loyal" fans that alternately loved and hated ToyBiz are switching the dials way over to the "hate" side for the company they have so affectionately dubbed "Has-blow" (it's "clever," get it?). I can't help but sympathize with Hasbro for taking on the daunting (and some would say impossible) task of pleasing the fanboys. While I'm not that enthused about the character, Ultimate Iron Man is a spiffy figure in his own right, and I can't imagine that ToyBiz would have put out a significantly different or better figure than Hasbro.

-- 01/21/07

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