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Iron Man 2
by yo go re

How bad are the Iron Man 3 toys? Bad enough that after the movie, we're still reviewing Iron Man 2 toys.

Mandarin long ago mastered the alien technology within the ten rings he wears. For decades he has plotted to conquer the world with the power the rings grant him, but his plans have always been foiled by Iron Man. Despite his control over the most fundamental forces of the universe, the genius of Tony Stark and the super technology of Iron Man are more than a match for him.

The Mandarin is the main villain of Iron Man 3, and yet he doesn't even get a toy anywhere in that line [since this was written, the first picture of a 6" Mandarin has shown up online, but no one knows where or when (or even if) it's being released --ed.] and that seems like an oversight. They really could have just re-released this figure: as one of the last IM2 figures released, it was pre-destined for phantom status - and the fact that he was shipped one per case didn't help things any.

Mandarin has never really had one fixed costume - he's just got a specific sense of style. So while he's never worn this outfit or anything like it in the comics, it looks right on him. It's styled like ancient Chinese armor, with a skirt made of small plates tied together, golden lions on the kneepads, and thin strips of metal leading down to the curled points of the shoes. Wait, curly shoes? Those sound more Middle Eastern than Chinese. And come to think of it, his helmet looks Persian as well. Maybe they're going for a pan-Asian feeling? Sure, why not. He's got a big dragon on his belt, and a separate shoulder pad thing with raised, intricate medallions and hooked spikes on the corners. It's all very intimidating.

The helmet is removable, but the face beneath it is just weird. He has long black hair and a thick goatee and mustache. He appears to be scowling - or appears to be giving "duck face." What is he, taking a picture for his Facebook page? The helmet is thin PVC so it doesn't bulk things up too much, and the head itself is slightly undersized.

Mandarin is sculpted with his ten rings, but he also comes with an accessory: it's a translucent yellow scimitar with energy crackling over it. Is that supposed to be an effect of one of the rings, or does he really have a clear sword? It, like the costume, isn't from the comics, so you can make up whatever story you like for it. The figure has swivel/hinge joints for the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips and ankles; swivel wrists and thighs; a balljointed torso; and double-hinged knees. The legs seem very narrow (as they need to be to fit under the skirt), but everything moves the way it should.

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. If there was ever a plan to have a game or something attached to the cards, it never came to be, leaving these forever 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.

Mandarin may have been overlooked in the Iron Man 3 toyline, but you can still get a 4" figure of the character. And in case you missed this figure like all the rest of us, Hasbro reused the mold for a recent Comic Pack, in which Mandarin was painted red instead of green, and the "Silver Centurion" Iron Man he's paired with is white instead of silver. Yeah, the single-carded versions of both are better.

-- 05/13/13

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