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War Machine

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

You better watch out!

Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes unleashes a torrent of explosive devastation from the air as War Machine.

Tony Stark designed the Variable Threat Response Battle Suit, Model XI, Mark I - better known as the War Machine armor - just prior to his death. He wanted to provide his best friend, James Rhodes, with a suit of armor that would be capable of handling almost any situation, since he wouldn't be around to make upgrades. When it was revealed that Stark was just faking his death and hadn't bothered to tell his successor, Rhodey took the War Machine armor (by then the Mark II-A) and left, disgusted with his former friend. They've since made up, but this is the old-fashioned suit from back in the day.

Surprisingly, this is the first time this armor has been made into a normal action figure - the only other toy it's had was the Minimate. ToyBiz's War Machine was a great toy for its time, but it represented an alternate-reality version of the character, while this one is 616. On the surface, the details look quite similar: silver body, dark grey armor above it, a band running down the front of the abdomen, etc. But if you get in there and really examine what's been sculpted, you'll see the differences.

We can tell this is the Mark II-A by several distinctive features. The boots have four raised rectangular panels on the sides and insets on the front, plus a layered square on the inside, and it all leads up to angular kneepads. The "trunks" and stomach armor have seams like a tank tread, while the plating over the chest is extra blocky. This version of the armor has a unibeam in the center of the chest (something the original lacked) and tracks running over the shoulders so the weapons can be moved into position. A small panel over the left breast seems like it would be an access port or something - basically, just a little thing to keep the design from being boringly symmetrical.

You can tell the War Machine armor was created while Tony had been using the "Horse Collar" armor - not only because they both have a band up the stomach, but also because this suit has a bit of a collar. The face plate is very squarish, with sharp cheeks, a blocky forehead, and a mouth that angles just like the lines on the abdomen so it looks like he's always frowning. A targeting laser is mounted on the right temple, and there are hints of angry eyebrows above the black eye-slits.

Hasbro has still never done an Iron Man with a removable faceplate, the way ToyBiz used to, but they do love them some alternate heads. That means we're not just seeing Rhodey's Tracy-Morgan-inspired face, we're seeing his entire '90s face: a neatly trimmed beard and a high top fade. You know, in case you forgot what decade this came from.

Like Iron Man 2020, War Machine is built on the same body as 80th Anniversary Iron Man, though in this case that really only means the upper arms and thighs - the different armor means the rest has to be new. The thigh swivels were stuck pretty tightly on mine; to get them moving, I just had to bend the knee all the way back and use that as leverage to break whatever seal was keeping them in place. We could really use some forearm swivels, to allow him to aim the guns on his gloves, but that shortcoming is made up for by the awesome shoulders: the War Machine armor has rounded shoulderpads (another holdover from the Neo-Classic armor), something that's often been a problem for action figures; mount it to the shoulder's pin, and it can fall away from the body, leaving a gap; mount it to the body, and it just gets in the way when you try to move the arms forward or back at all; this figure puts them on a separate little piece that fits between the arm and the body, so they turn when you turn the arm, but are still hinged to stay near the trunk when they do. That's really cool!

As is tradition, War Machine's accessories include a Gatling gun for his left shoulder and a missile launcher for his right. They're mounted on balljoints, and on tracks that allow them to rest behind his back or rise up to point forward. You'll recall ToyBiz's War Machine came with a whole bunch of blast effects to make him into the most badass walking tank ever, something no one else has really duplicated. Well, now Hasbro has duplicated it. Above and beyond, in fact!

We start with the same boot exhausts that Iron Man 2020 intro'd. They're still two-piece things (one part that plugs into the foot, another part that sits on the ground) that serve as a stand for the figure, though Rhodey's get grey paint apps along the bottom edge to look more like smoke. They can be used separately, or plugged together like puzzle pieces to form one single large base.

His only hands are fists, so there are no repulsor blasts, but we do get a flare for the Gatling gun and three firing missile for the launcher, both things the ToyBiz one enjoyed (as well as the 4"-scale IM2 figure). The missiles on the ToyBiz one couldn't be removed from the cloud of smoke, but these can for some reason - it doesn't really add a lot of value, and it's not like there's anything else that can fit onto the blast effect to replace them.

There are also three different options for the guns on the right glove: two small individual muzzle flashes, a single large "sweeping" firing effect, or little curled wisps of gun smoke. Variety! And it turns out the smoke and tiny blasts can plug into the back of the missiles, if you want to somehow pose them farther way from the launcher than the normal effect would allow.

The ToyBiz War Machine was part of a regular Marvel Legends series, and cost the same as all his fellows; Hasbro War Machine is a standalone release and costs 50% above the usual price. It's easier to accept that price for him than for Archangel, that's for sure. And even without the benefit of a Build-A-Figure piece, 2020 War Machine is a better toy than 2005 War Machine in almost every regard.

-- 11/09/20

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