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Silver Centurion Iron Man

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Remember a few years ago when the world's saddest sadboys were getting upset about how much Marvel's characters were changing? It's a good thing there was no internet around back in the '80s!

Tony Stark jets back from obscurity in Silver Centurian armor, a breathtaking technological achievement equipped with a uni-beam, force field, and rapid-fire Pulse Bolts.

When Steve Ditko changed Iron Man's armor from its original gray (or gold) appearance to the red and gold, that change stuck. The classic armor first appeared in 1963's Tales of Suspense #48, and it was 1976 before Tony even built another suit - one that had the exact same look, making its "newness" kind of moot. (The old one had fallen off a roof.) There were a few specialty armors along the way, but it took until 1985 before anyone really changed Iron Man's sense of style. The Silver Centurion armor is something Tony had been toying with while rehabbing from his alcohol addiction, but it was forced into action when it was time for him to take down Obadiah Stane. But how is it this armor was never handed down to someone to become their own standalone character?

It's been 15 years since there was a Silver Centurion Marvel Legend, which means a lot of room for improvement. Like that old ToyBiz figure, this one has a lot of repainted parts - in his case, they come from the 80th Anniversary figure, making it the third repaint of those molds. The re-use is limited to the upper arms and legs, the hands and feet, and the abs, but sharing them makes this armor look like it's part of the same Stark manufacturing process. And honestly, the stuff that's new makes all the difference. That big chestplate, with its unique uni-beam and those pointy shoulder pads? The plain gloves and boots, and even the simplified shorts? That's the stuff we look at when determining whether or not designs look identical. Certainly no other Iron Man has had a little techno pack strapped behind his shoulders, that's for sure!

The Mark XII armor had a much bulkier helmet than any of the previous models, something this toy homages by making the head and neck a single shared mold. The face looks a little small by comparison, but that's as it should be. The eye and mouth slits are painted black, despite the fact that IM was still being drawn with visible eyes right into the '90s (Silver Centurion was the first armor to feature something resembling the HUD we know from the movies, but it was done on separate lenses that dropped down inside the mask, so pretend that's why it's painted the way it is).

Like War Machine, Silver Centurion's articulation is designed so the shoulder pads turn with the arm, to preserve the total range of motion. This is such a clever little touch, and really makes the quality of the final toy that much better. Most of the other joints are what we're used to from modern Hasbro Legends (ankles, knees, thighs, hips, waist, torso, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders), though the design of the head means it's just mounted on a balljoint, rather than a combo of balljoint and hinge. The range of motion is frankly a little better than we usually get, and what would normally be a big visible gap between the neck and body is gets some help being concealed by the short collar on the chestplate.

Iron Man's accessories include an extra pair of "repulsor blast" hands (permanently flexed back to show his palms) and several different blast effects that can fit into the hands or into the soles of his boots: the flared blasts we've been getting since Civil War, the larger flares that the 80th Anniversary toy had, and new blasts with no flare at all! So you can pretend he's powering up from just a blast, to a blast with a flare, to a blast with a large flare, to a blast with a small flare on top of a large flare! One of the Silver Centurion armor's features was its ability to absorb and rechannel energy attacks made against it, so the extra power makes sense. The effects are translucent yellow, but it's a bright neon shade we haven't seen before - it makes a really strong contrast against his armor.

This is the second Iron Man exclusive Walgreens has released this year, though he seems more plentiful than any of the recent ones have been - all three of my local stores have gotten him in stock, which is more than could be said for anything in the past two years. The figure is good enough that it could haven earned a spot in a regular series (the art on the sides of the box matches the Avengers videogame series), but getting accessories beats getting a BAF part in that case.

-- 11/23/20

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