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War Machine

Iron Man 2
by yo go re

The Iron Man 2 toys have been (officially) released at last, just as the new extended trailer has hit the airwaves. Following the path set out by the successful Wolverine toys, the line is offering a mix of movie and comic-based figures.

Built by Iron Man for his best friend James Rhodes, the War Machine armor was meant to fill in whenever Iron Man wasn't available. Every bit as powerful as Tony Stark's original armor, and bristling with weapons, War Machine is built not just to stop evil, but to destroy it totally.

The ML9 War Machine was one of the coolest figures released in that line, so this little guy had a lot to live up to. To say nothing of the fact that there was already a figure that was a perfect stand-in for movie War Machine! But Rhodey's wearable tank has never been made in any style in this smaller scale, so at least he's not facing any competition there.

While the ML9 figure was based on the alt-reality US War Machine book, this armor is the original, which debuted in 1992's Iron Man #281. Officially known as the "Variable Threat Response Battle Suit, Model XVI, Mark I," the War Machine armor underwent a few changes when it was bequeathed to Rhodey, and the sculpt makes it clear this is Tony's original: major giveaways are the ammo shunt/power cord down the left arm and the lack of a unibeam in the center of the chest; most of the other details carry over - the studs on the knuckles, the gauntlet mini-cannon, etc. - so they could belong to either suit.

One of the upgrades the VTRBSM16M1 (now you know why they just call it War Machine) suit had over the previous versions was, no joke, a more aggressive voice modulator; in other words, it sounded meaner when he talked. Really? Really, Tony? You didn't think the plethora of weapons would be intimidating enough? There's a laser sight mounted on the right temple, and the faceplate is the version with the big frowny mouth we all know and love.

Speaking of weapons, War Machine has the shoulder-mounted rocket launcher and Gatling gun, which not only slide up into place, but also swivel on their mounts. And just like the awesome ML9 version, this one has pop-on "muzzle flare" accessories to bring the weapons to life: a cone of yellow fire for the gun, and a cloud of green (?) smoke with three white missiles zooming out of it.

War Machine is a big figure, 4⅜" tall, but that's still in-scale with the other Marvel Universe toys: remember, wearing a giant suit of armor bulks you up. Articulation is good, with swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, balljointed torso, swivel wrists, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel hinge shoulders, and a balljointed head. The plain swivels at the wrists is weird, but not a deal-breaker: we don't need them to flex back for repulsor blasts. One huge disappointment, though? The shoulders of the armor. They're hinged so you can move the arms, which is fine if you're raising them to the sides, but looks awful if you want to move the arms forward or back. That's bad design, and Hasbro is usually better than this.

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.

The comic-based War Machine is my first IM2 figure, and he indicates the line is going to be good. The way the shoulder armor moves is pretty clumsy, but the sculpt is excellent and the weapon blasts are fun. Watch out for the paint on his stomach armor when you find him, but otherwise, don't hesitate to grab him.

-- 03/15/10

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