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Iron Man (Model 01)

Avengers 60th Anniversary
by yo go re

Fighting crime from inside a potbelly stove.

When billionaire industrialist Tony Stark dons a sophisticated armor of his own design, he becomes a living high-tech weapon and the world's greatest human fighting machine - the Invincible Iron Man.

It's been a good 17 years since we had a toy of this armor. An entire generation of collectors who had no choice but to get it secondhand! Sure, it may cost three dollars more than the already-artificially-inflated Marvel Legends price ($27.99 versus a sickeningly standard $24.99), but a decade and a half of innovation is hard to resist. It had better be better!

Hasbro is notorious for not giving any of their Iron Men removable faceplates, but for once that worked out in their favor: it's not that there was anything bad about the Tony Stark face Phil Ramirez sculpted for ToyBiz, it's that this armor didn't have a removable faceplate; it had a full, solid helmet, something this figure inadvertantly provides. Still, they couldn't have given us an alternate unmasked head?

The rest of the body below the neck is big and smooth and chunky, just the way Jack Kirby designed him. There's a maxim among comics historians: any time you see a Kirby cover with a big, clear shot of a new character or costume, that's just the design sketch Jack handed in, repurposed as a cover as a way to get him paid for the time spent creating. So Tales of Suspense #39, with that straightforward pose we stole for the image at the top of this review? That says Kirby created Iron Man on his own time and submitted it, even though Don Heck still gets creator credit simply for being the artist on the issue. (And frankly, the fact that the plot is attributed to Stan is a bit of a stretch itself, considering "Asian soldiers capture white dude, force him to make weapons for them" was also the plot for a Green Arrow story in Adventure Comics #255, five years before - a story drawn, again, by Jack Kirby, meaning it may have been his plot to begin with.)

There aren't a ton of details on the Model 1 armor, but those we do get are executed nicely. For instance, the two electrical outlets(?) on his stomach, the particular shape of the belt (rectangles with dials on the front, simple discs on the sides), the way the knees and knuckles are designed to look like flexible material rather than solid metal, even the big seams and rivets where the suit was assembled. It's great stuff! All the work of Dan Mitchell. The repulsor beam port in the center of his chest is sculpted with vertical lines, like a car's headlight, a feature seen in the original design. The tiny antenna on the shoulder only appeared inside the book, but it's just as accurate as the rest.

There's not much paint to speak of. The figure is molded from silver plastic - unfortunately the swirly kind, which does make him look less "definitive" - so the only things that needed paint apps are the black shadows in his mask, concealing his eyes and mouth from view, and the beam on his chest, which is white with a blue ring around the outer edge. So this is accurate, just simple. It took me a while to realize all the light lines on him are supposed to be painted "scrapes," not just evidence of crappy plastic. You can't even see them under normal lighting conditions!

Iron Man moves the way you would expect him to: swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, a balljointed waist, swivel/hinge wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, balljointed neck, and barbell head. There are lines around the shins where the boots could swivel, but those are just molded on. This is mostly the same as ToyBiz's figure, just turning the waist into a balljoint instead of a swivel and losing the articulated fingers, but going pinless on the joints does make him look more like armor than a toy. It's only the unpainted body that holds him back.

Something else Hasbro has given their figure that ToyBiz didn't? Accessories. You can replace his open hands with fists, and he also has the usual blast effects and odd dust swirls. The ports in his palms are solid, so you can't actually use the blasts there: the only thing you can do is put them in his feet. To represent his "transistor-powered air-pressure jets." Because there were no repulsors yet. Considering we're paying $27.99 for this, they should have gone wild, and given us hands with suction cups on them (legitimately the first Iron Man device Tony used) or roller skates to plug into his feet (those came six months later).

This is a good figure, but doesn't really have anything to justify its higher price. Yes, this is a unique mold right now, but you know they're going to paint it gold as part of an Avengers #1 box set or something. Maybe a stretch goal for that HasLab Giant-Man they're going to announce later today. Heck, that's probably why his belt is a separate piece rather than simply being molded on: so they can swap it out for the little skirt the Model 1 Mark III armor had. Still, it may have taken them 17 years, but Hasbro has delivered a superior product to what we already had.

-- 09/08/23

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