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Iron Man 3
by yo go re

I'm no meteorologist, but I'm pretty sure it's raining Ultrons!

For years we've suffered without an adequate Ultron toy, and now in the span of just a few months, we have two. There was the Toy of the Year-winning Marvel Select version, and now a real Marvel Legend!

Hank Pym's crazed creation will stop at nothing to conquer all mankind!

Nice. Let's see what the "Inside the Armor Vault" has to say:

Ultron constantly upgrades his own technology, searching for the power that will finally enable him to defeat the Avengers. The mad robot hatches a plan to harness the power of the genius who created Iron Man, hypnotizing Tony Stark so that he can be rebuilt as the menacing Ultron-9!

Oh, well, that explains why this figure is being released in this line! Those events took place (behind the scenes) in Avengers #201, and in the next issue, the team fought Ultron and defeated him by knocking him into a vat of liquid adamantium, which then cooled and hardened around him, like The Collector falling into Lucite.

This figure is mostly a repaint of the Iron Man Armored Avenger Titanium Man, but that's a choice that works: Titanium Man for some reason had a skinny, segmented suit of armor, and Ulton has a skinny, segmented body. This isn't what Ultron-9 looked like in the comics - like most Ultrons, he just had the usual smooth body - but it absolutely looks mechanical, and not at all out-of-place on the murderous robot.

The head is, of course, new. If you don't have the right kind of head, you don't have an Ultron, as ToyBiz learned in 2005, but this one is great. It's more exaggerated than the DST head, but still has the triangular eyes, antenna-ears, and the gaping jack-o'-lantern mouth. A ridge runs over the top of the head, with several shallow rings (rather than bumps) in the front.

The limbs of the figure are banded, like Colossus' (and many other "bionic" characters). That's not the way Ultron's ever really looked, but it's not so outlandish that it looks wrong. 1990s comics taught me that metal bodies should have lines, not be smooth! His feet are big and chunky, and there are bands around the shins that suggest the tops of boots (with matching pieces on the arms to fake gloves). He has armored kneepads, bands around the thighs, a distinct belt, and extra armor on the chest and spine. If you didn't know this sculpt originated with a different figure, you'd never be able to guess it wasn't intended to be Ultron all along.

The figure is molded in metallic gray plastic, and left mostly unpainted - only the mouth, eyes, and dots on the shoulder pads get any defined apps, while there appears to be some light airbrushing on the insides of the limbs. That means he's got the same old "swirly" plastic that's made the rest of the toys in this series look so crummy. The back of the card shows him as being painted silver, which would have been much preferable to what we actually got. The art makes him look like a metal machine, the real thing makes him look like a plastic toy.

A variant was also recently uncovered in one of those illicit eBay auctions, showing Ultron done in gold instead of silver (similar to the way he's appearing in the current Age of Ultron crossover event). Between that, the announced movie Mandarin toy, and the fact that the back of Lt. Col. James Rhodes' packaging shows his armor in traditional War Machine grey rather than Iron Patriot's red, white and blue, we may be looking at a third trio of figures.

Ultron's articulation is quite good, as you'd expect. He has swivel/hinge joints at the neck, ankles, shoulders, hips and wrists, double-hinged elbows and knees, swivel thighs, biceps and waist, and a hinged torso. The shoulder pads are on hinges as well, so they raise up out of the way when you lift the arms. He doesn't have any accessories, but since Ultron's main weapon in a fight is "more Ultrons," that's to be expected.

He does come with a part of the Iron Man Legends Build-A-Figure, though: Iron Monger's head. It's a big rounded helmet, large enough that it would be able to fit over a regular Iron Man helmet - you know, kind of like the Hulkbuster armor was originally supposed to be able to do. Of course, it's done in the same swirly plastic as the rest of the BAF parts, so it may not look great, but at least it will look consistent.

When the Marvel Select Ultron came out, we were all glad to finally have a good toy of the killer robot, even if he was slightly too big. This verion is the right scale, but not as good a design. It's still a wonderful toy, though! Not Toy of the Year material, thanks to the lack of paint, but who couldn't use an extra Ultron in their collection?

-- 06/03/13

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