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Hulkbuster Iron Man

Iron Man 2
by yo go re

Okay, Tony Stark is one of the smartest men on Earth, right? So why is it that the only thing he can ever think of to beat the Hulk is to get into a punching contest with him?

Tony Stark is always thinking ahead about how best to protect the Earth. One of the dangers that has preoccupied him for years is that posed by the Hulk. Stark built the Hulkbuster Iron Man armor, an immensely powerful suit designed specifically to take down the Hulk and prevent him from threatening the planet.

You already know how this design isn't actually the Hulkbuster armor, so we won't go into that again here. Consider this, perhaps, the Hulkbuster MkII: redesigned to be less a jacket worn over another armor, and more a standalone suit. Sure, it's never appeared in the comics, but so what?

Okay, that's not quite accurate - this armor has appeared in the comics, but not as the "Hulkbuster Iron Man" the front of the packaging claims. After getting the Extremis upgrade, Tony could control machines with his mind, so he decided to build some extra, unmanned suits - "the Argonauts" - and this design showed up there. It even made it to the cover of Invincible Iron Man #12, and it's that cover that served as the basis for this figure.

The design is clearly based on the ML11 figure, with a few more stylistic flourishes. It's still a very heavy, wide suit, and has curved panels on the shoulders with honeycombed sections in the center. The pelvis is wider and more ornate, but that just serves to make the suit look better proportionally. The legs have been almost totally redesigned, looking more "technological construction" and less "blocky superhero." There are two grey exhausts on his back, and those are definitely straight from the comic, because the Marvel Legend didn't have anything like them.

Every time the Hulkbuster suit gets released as a toy, its head gets flatter. The first, in 1995, looked just like the comic's image; the ML version was shapped more like Juggernaut's helmet; this one is barely even taller than the shoulderpads! If they keep this up, next time it won't even be a bump on the torso. They've given up all pretext of making it look like the Hulkbuster MkI: the faceplate is an entirely different shape, to say nothing of the eyes and mouth.

The colors on this figure are darker, to match the current style in the comics. When Hulkbuster was designed in the '90s, Iron Man wore red and yellow - these days, he's more of a dark falu red and gold, so the new toy follows suit. There are a few paint errors on mine, but they're only visible when you turn his chest joint: the upper torso has scraped away some of the gold paint on one of the corners.

Hulkbuster Iron Man has no accessories, but moves at the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, chest, wrists, elbows, shoulders and neck. Yes, the head turns, though it's very hard to do, since the thing is so flat. Surprisingly, the knees are double-hinged, but the elbows are swivel/hinges. It would have been preferable to get double elbows, as well: since there's a swivel in the elbow, Hasbro didn't give him one at the top of the arm, despite it being sculpted to look like there's a joint there. The ribbed panels on his forearms are actually attached to his hands, so they move when you turn the wrists. The figure is 4⅜ tall, which is pretty average for the Iron Man line, and barely even larger than most of the Marvel Universe figures. We're not asking for Iron Monger-levels of hugeness, but definitely more than we got here.

The Iron Man 2 toys all come with "Armor Cards," three 2x3 cards that display info about the armor. The back card is solid, while the other two are clear - overlay them, and you get a complete picture of the armor in question. The torso is on one card, the legs on another, and the head and arms on the third. Buy multiple toys, and you can "design" your own armors. There's a URL printed on the side, but it just redirects to Marvel's site. Eventually there may be some game or something attached to the cards, but right now they're just a display element. The cards fit into slots at the back of the included display base, which actually makes for a rather nice showcase for the figure.

Hulkbuster Iron Man isn't a perfect figure - far from it. He's not even the best he could have been. But those weaknesses don't mean he's a bad toy. The design is cool, and it's closer to being comic-accurate than any Hulkbuster before. Plus, it comes with a coupon good for $5 off a future purchase of $20 worth of Iron Man toys: combine that with a good sale, and you can get some really nice discounts.

-- 07/11/10

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