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Initiative War Machine

Iron Man: Armored Avenger
by yo go re

The most magical thing about Christmas? Stores putting out stock they've been sitting on for a while.

Upgraded with the latest in Stark Technology, Jim Rhodes took easily to training Initiative recruits. His military background, combined with his experience as a hero, gave him an advantage few of the other trainers had. Many of the recruits viewed him with awe, especially when they witnessed the sheer power of his armor.

Nothing like getting the very first fact in your bio wrong - War Machine wasn't upgraded with Stark technology, he was upgraded with Stane technology. His new armor was Tony Stark's failsafe, cut off from the interconnected Starktech just in case anything ever happened to it (say, for instance, an army of Skrulls managed to corrupt the whole network). So basically, his armor is a Mac while Tony's armor (and 90% of all the other technology on Earth) is a PC.

This armor debuted in The Initiative #1, so we must assume it was designed by Stefano Caselli. Caselli has a great art style, with the expressiveness of an animator, but not the hollow "coloring book" art you often see. War Machine's helmet has an extremely pointed chin and narrow triangular eyes, giving this armor a distinctive look.

Initiative War Machine reuses a lot of his sculpt, but it's not from a source anyone is likely to recognize. The head, torso and forearms are new, but all the rest is recycled from the "Inferno Armor" figure from the Iron Man concept series. Not Iron Man 2, the first movie. Remember the toyline that had Captain America armor? Well it actually went for two more series after that was released, though no one ever saw them. Inferno Armor was part of Series 5, and was cast in translucent red plastic to make it look fiery. The biggest giveaways that this figure is a repaint of that one? The bundles of cable on the inner thighs, and the inexplicable fins on the outside of his shins. Seriously, fins? What's that about? Were they used for navigating through lava? They're certainly not anything that showed up on War Machine's design in the comics.

In traditional fashion, War Machine's main color is black, or at least dark grey. It's accented here in white, which makes him look like he's officially sponsored by Oreo. The white on mine seems incomplete, and has a few spots where it was obviously touched up at the factory. The comic design had a lot of floating green lights (possibly to suggest some sort of HUD), but of course a toy can't duplicate that; instead, there's green paint airbrushed around the white ports on his gloves and gun. You get what they were going for, but it doesn't really work: it just ends up looking messy.

Also in traditional fashion, War Machine has a Gatling gun on one shoulder and a missile launcher on the other. They mount via balljoint on arms that swivel so the guns can either be on top of the shoulder or behind his back. Both weapons have plug-in black hoses that trail down to his giant, chunky glove-guns. The gun launches a green missile, and the barrel extends.

The figure's articulation is totally indicative of its origins, but it's been so long since this mold was first seen we can't reasonably expect you to remember what that means. He has a balljointed head (slightly loose on mine), swivel/hinge shoulders and hips, swivel biceps and thighs, double-hinged elbows and knees, swivel/hinge wrists and ankles, and a balljointed torso. The right elbow got warped all to hell because it was misaligned in the package, but thankfully nothing stuck or broke.

We say "thankfully" because there's no getting a replacement for this figure. He's part of the second series of Iron Man: The Armored Avenger figures, which has never really showed up anywhere because the first series is selling very slowly. Why is the first series selling so slowly? Probably has something to do with Hasbro suggesting an $11 pricepoint, and stores selling them for $20. So Series 1 is still plentiful and Series 2 is almost a phantom, and thus there's no chance for you to pick up a spare or even compare paint apps before you buy. Heck, if they hadn't suddenly appeared at TJ Maxx, I'd still be waiting for War Machine, because I certainly wasn't about to pay scalper prices. The figure's decent, even at the $10.99 Hasbro says he should cost, but I wouldn't go much above that. Shop wisely.

-- 12/19/11

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