Hot on the heels of the Hydra two-pack, Hasbro released another armybuilder set, this time of a goon who didn't already have an army's worth of existing toys.
A.I.M., or Advanced Idea Mechanics, is a scientific organization bent on designing the technology that can take over the world. Combined with the brute force of the Shock Trooper, the A.I.M. scientists innovate international design in the pursuit of world domination.
The AIM scientist on the left side of the packaging is, fundamentally, the same figure as the one released five years ago -
uniforms is uniforms, so why shouldn't it look the same? Especially if we're going to build an entire army of them. Having a couple different styles of Hydra uniforms makes sense, since there are always a couple different factions of Hydra running around indirectly competing with one another and trying not to step on each others' toes, so naturally they'd get their gear from different uniform companies. AIM, meanwhile, is just AIM; they have a single board of directors, they have division supervisors... they're the Coca-Cola Comapny with laser guns instead of second-place sugar water. And like Coke, they recognize the importance of consistent branding. (Except for the time there was a schism and half of them started wearing blue.)
That said, there are a few little differences between this figure and the older one: here, the gloves are black, rather than yellow; the visor on the hood is black, rather than metallic blue; and the strap of grenades across the chest is brown rather than black. So, enough differences that the old toy can hold its value, but still look good enough mixed in with these.
But again, the point is to buy multiples of this set and use the extra pieces to add diversity when you want it. There aren't
as many alternate heads in this set as in the last one, but don't assume that means there's not a lot of variety. So for this guy, you can remove the hood and replace it with the masked head from Paladin, painted in AIM colors: yellow on the top, black on the sides, and with blue goggles. It actualy looks pretty snazzy on the AIM uniform, with the black blending into the throat and the tall collar, but the goggles retaining the usual anonymity - you can imagine this is a more special employee, maybe middle management.
For further differentiation, you can take off the grenade belt and swap it for a simple harness in either brown or green - your choice! The set includes the same two weapons as before, a rifle and a pistol, both super high-tech and both painted exactly the way the last release did it.
As we said, AIM's beekeepers are pretty much
all we ever see of them in the comics, so this set could easily have been two of the same figure. Even with the single one we've looked at so far, there were two heads, three chest decoration options, and two kinds of gun, making an even dozen different potential looks for him alone. But just as with the Hydra set, they did better. There have been a few times we've seen AIM guys dressed as shock troopers, for lack of a better name, so the second figure in this set is less "technical" and more "tactical."
The AIM Trooper wears body armor and a gas mask that make him look exceedingly well protected. The colorscheme is clearly based on the shock troops seen in the comics, with the armor being yellow and the suit beneath it black, rather than relying so heavily on the yellow as the normal uniform does. It kind of makes him look like a giant bumble bee. Like he'd be the Ultimate Comics version of Swarm or something.
The alternate head included for this guy? The normal AIM hood! Yes, you can have a totally jacked and armored
SWAT team member, and then put him in one of those silly flat-topped masks. It's hilarious! You could also give him the alternate head we assigned to the scientist, but putting Paladin's head on Paladin's body? I just don't see how it could work! (Conversely, that also means you could put Scourge's gas mask onto the scientist, which would be quite the odd combo indeed!)
AIM Trooper has the knife and pistol that go along with this mold, as well as a rectangular rail gun and a shotgun, and all the weapons have been given the AIM colorscheme. He can wear whichever of the harnesses (green or brown) you don't want to give to his little buddy, but the strap of grenades doesn't quite look right if you want to shift it over here - a little too snug.
There's one more accessory that can be used by either figure: Deathlok's backpack! Yes, the same one we said should have come with Forge, since he's such a mechanical guy. It's painted yellow with blue panels on the top and a metallic grey for the turbine in the center, and it really does look quite nice on either of these figures. So good it's almost a shame there's only one in the pack.
Even the packaging is worth mentioning! The art on the sides of the box is a big closeup of an AIM beekeeper helmet, rather than a full-body shot,
so it's already going to stand out a little. But then, in a move we haven't really seen since the ToyBiz days, the insert behind the figures is an appropriate diorama. It depicts a Jack Kirby-ish science lab, absolutely the kind of thing two AIM employees would be standing in front of, and meaning that for once, you may not want to immediately throw this packaging in the garbage.
Even if the more martial AIM Trooper is a rather obscure thing to reference in toy form, it does pre-exist this figure, making him just as canonical as the "beekeeper" is. This set ended up a lot more interesting than the Hydra one, and feels like it offers a better value.