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Iron Man

Spider-Man & Friends
by Rustin Parr

Awwwww, alcoholism has never been so adorable!

I've gotten a lot of flack for buying these, but you know what, some of these turn out pretty cool. Sort of an Asian/Super-D aesthetic and I dig it - at least when it comes to the villains and now, Iron Man. I'm a big fan of Stark's alter ego, or rather, of the suit he wears, there's just something about Iron Man mech + yellow + red that just tickles my own little spider-man ... and friends!

I've been waiting for this figure since they first made Hulk and Cap a couple years back and the anticipation mounted when the character was announced in a line-up. I was really hoping it would be my beloved Silver Age costume (like what the first ML Iron Man was based on) and absolutely knew its simple elegance would translate well into this "cutesy" style.

Well, the blow arrived when the figure debuted at Toy Fair 2005 - and was based on the very mecha-styled modern armor. "How," I thought, "could they pick a design so counter-intuitive to the style of the line?" Nevertheless they did, and I would spend the following seven or eight months debating the purchase of this figure in my mind. Until, of course, I saw it in person.

talk to the hand The simplified mecha design actually works quite well for the figure, surprisingly enough. It's just "detailed" enough to be visually busy and stimulating, but simple enough not to overshoot the confines of the line's aesthetic - ultimately it walks a very fine line, and does so quite well. Well, not literally. See, one of the confines of the line is limited articulation and a fairly static pose.

Iron Man has ball-jointed shoulders, pivot elbows, swivel wrists, T-crotch hips, and a swivel neck. That's nine points on a 6" figure, which is actually pretty decent considering the figure is essentially aimed at toddlers.

He does come with a decent-sized accessory as well, like all Spider-Man & Friends figures. Iron Man comes fully equipped with a removable jet pack that has pop-up wings and pop out "fire blasts" Poing! activated by the push of a button. Like most accessories in this line, the jetpack can be slipped over a large peg on the figure's back to be held in place. This is actually the best (i.e., "least ridiculous") accessory to come with any of these figures yet. It's in keeping with the visual aesthetic of the figure and is a fairly plausible add-on to any mode of Iron-armor. I only wish that 1) the wings could be a bit bigger or longer, 2) the flames to have more of an orange-to-yellow transition in their paint (as was pictured on the prototype), and 3) the jet pack had some pegs or something to fit into Iron Man's foot grooves so that he could stand on it as a glider as well as use it as a jet pack.

The figure is cast in a nice pearlescent red plastic accented by semi-sparkly yellow/gold paint (as well as a two-tone blue for the irises of his adorable li'l peepers), which achieves, again, a very nice aesthetic. It may sound like I'm talking about this figure in overly artistic or "adult" jargon, which is not to imply that this isn't a children's toy: it most definitely is, it's just my goal to help people understand that something's enjoyable-ness can exceed its target audience. I urge everyone not just to write these off as ridiculous baby toys, but to seem them as an interesting alternative design to a famous/popular/beloved character.

Again, I draw the analogy to the Asian market, which very much does the same thing - reinterpreting a popular character into a new and different, often time simplified or stylized, aesthetic. This figure isn't for everyone, but at around six or seven dollars at most retailers, I suggest anyone who is even slightly curious just go out and pick up this or any other Spider-Man & Friends character they have some interest in and just give it a try. I know this figure is one of those toys that'll often end-up in my hands if I leave him too close to my computer.

They'll cute-up a womanizing alcoholic but won't put out a fiery-skulled demon of vengeance on a Big Wheel? What characters would you like to see be done in the SM&F style or wish never were? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.


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