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Ivan "Whiplash" Vanko

Iron Man 2
by yo go re

Behold, the power of cross-marketing!

When his village was destroyed, Ivan Vanko swore revenge against the man he believed responsible - Iron Man. He labored for month over the single piece of armor the attacker left behind, reverse-engineering it into a powerful weapon system designed to destroy the Iron Man armor, and the man inside.

Someone pointed out on out message board recently that the version of Tony Stark seen in the movies is nothing like he was portrayed in the comics at the time. It had been decades since he'd been an immature playboy who was chasing after his secretary, but after the movie, the comics realigned to follow suit. And similarly, while Tony had a longtime foe called "Blacklash," he didn't have a Whiplash - so the comics created one whole cloth, using the new new movie villain as inspiration.

When the first concept art for the character was revealed, a lot of fans thought this was just an upgraded version of Blacklash. The confusion makes sense, since Blacklash had an inexplicable green ponytail on his mask, and the new Whiplash had green hair pulled back into a ponytail. He also wears a pointy silver faceplate with red eyes.

The bio on the back of the card is an accurate recap of Whiplash's origins, and it also explains why his armor looks so piecemeal. He's got matching plates on his forearms, shins and waist, then the asymmetrical layout begins: the left thigh is covered by armor, but the right leg is bare. He's integrated the bootleg chestplate into his design, but adorns it with a single pad on the left shoulder. The armor on the chest and leg can be removed, for whatever reason. Did he take them off in the comic? Was it really cheaper to mold separate pieces rather than just sculpting them directly onto the figure?

Whiplash has two removable energy whips, of course. They're translucent blue and have a triangular pattern like zip-ties (which makes them a real treat to get out of the tray) and the purpose-shaped tips plug into the undersides of his gloves. Although he has all the same joints that most of the Iron Man 2 figures enjoyed (balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoudlers and elbows, swivel wrists, swivel/hinge torso, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees and hinged ankles), several of the joints are impeded by the armor: the elbows barely bend, the wrists don't want to turn, and there's almost no room for the ankles to flex. He still moves well enough to have him fight Iron Man, and isn't that what you want?

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.

Whiplash's real name is Anton Vanko (not "Ivan," like the packaging claims), but he has no relation to the Anton Vanko who built Crimson Dynamo - a rare exception to the One Steve Limit! As one of the final Iron Man 2 toys, Whiplash might as well have never been released at all - even TJ Maxx and Marshall's seemed to come up dry on these. The secondary market prices aren't terrible, though, so if you want a comic-based Whiplash, you shouldn't get gouged too badly.

-- 01/21/13

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