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Pepper Potts, Iron Man Mark XXII & The Mandarin

Iron Man 3
by yo go re

Suited up as Iron Man, Tony Stark disappears to rural Tennessee to investigate global terrorist attacks and discovers that the redical soldiers are afflicted with Extremis, a virus that can enhance human strength and durability, but can also be fatal to anyone infected by it.

Yep.

When CEO of Stark Industries Pepper Potts is infected with the life-threatening Extremis virus, Tony Stark's mission to take down the Mandarin gets personal.

It's one of the tragedies of the modern world that Gwyneth Paltrow is not recognized as being among the greatest living actresses - nay, perhaps the greatest actress in history. Gwynnie, in real life, comes across like a detatched airhead who heard every dumb blonde joke ever told and thought they were aspirational, not insulting. Her ridiculous lifestyle blog/magazine/whatever hawks the same kind of snake oil you'd normally only find recommended by the tinfoil-hat set, just with a pricetag aimed at taking advantage of the ultra-affluent, rather than bilking grandparents out of their Social Security money. And yet you watch Iron Man, and Pepper Potts comes across like a clever, attentive, and down-to-earth woman who would brook no nonsense. Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark, Chris Evans is Steve Rogers, but Gwyneth Paltrow is portraying Pepper Potts.

The figure's sculpt is completely new. This is an Iron Man 3 set, and since a white business suit isn't very toyetic, Hasbro went with her Extremis-infected self from the third act. Not that yoga pants and a sports bra are more toyetic, but... well, we'll get to that in the next paragraph. For now, just know that the sculpt is good, but the facial-printing seems to be going a little too heavy on the blush. You could make an argument that's supposed to be her Extremis glow, but... it's not. C'mon, you know it's not. Though imagine if they'd molded her in translucent orange plastic and given her a furious look on her face. That would have been neat.

So, why this outfit? Not because someone at Hasbro really wanted to sculpt Gwyneth Paltrow's bare feet, but because it's when she turns into an action girl. That allows the figure to come with a cool accessory: an alternate right arm clad in the remnants of a shredded Iron Man armor (the Mark IX, specifically, making this the only toy representation of the Mk.9 in any form). The armored arm moves at the shoulder, bicep, and elbow - there's no joint in the wrist, but we do get a yellow repulsor blast effect. The hole in the palm is slightly too small for it, though. And getting either arm out of the shoulder is tough: you're equally likely to pull the arm off at the bicep as you are to get it off at the right place. So be careful.

As the Ten Rings criminal organization begins to terrorize nations around the world, Tony Stark looks to shut down its alleged leader, the Mandarin, as Iron Man.

Well, now that we finally have a Mark VII, I guess we can start in on all the other ones. While the bio just talks about Iron Man in general, this is the Mark XXII, or "Hot Rod" armor. Named after (and painted like) Tony's favorite car, the Hot Rod armor was really just a War Machine 2.0 prototype, which is why this toy is just a repaint of that mold. It's probably why Hasbro chose this suit to get a toy, too: the steel tools were handy. After all, it's not like this is the only "House Party Prtotocol" suit that is basically a repaint. Turn the Mk.4 into Python or Midas, or the Mk.7 into Jack or Piston. It's not like we're asking for them to whip up an Igor from scratch! The Hot Rod armor does at least get a memorable scene in the film: it's the first one Tony tries to jump into that get ganked out from under him by an Extremis soldier.

Under the guise of the Mandarin, Trevor Slattery works under Extremis-propagator Aldrich Killian, taking credit for systemic attacks on global soils and hoping to profit from feeding both sides of the War on Terror.

Hey, speaking of Aldrich Killian, it's weird that we don't get a toy of him in this set, isn't it? After all, didn't Ike Perlmutter insist on making Killian the villian because his toy would sell so very, very well? That was the reasoning, right, and not the exact kind of backwards bigotry and sexism you'd expect from one of President Fuckhorn Muchango's corrupt little cronies? Sure, that. "The toys."

This is not a new figure - it was first shown off at SDCC 2013, with a little placard saying it was going to be part of the Iron Man Legends line and was due out in November of that year. Basically, we all thought that he, War Machine and Rescue would be part of a second series of figures after Iron Monger was finished. But nope, he just disappeared, with no further word. Now it's five years later, and Hasbro's pulled the molds out storage for the anniversary line.

The Mandarin Iron Man 3 presented was a media-friendly idea of a terrorist. He's focus-grouped to be frightening, mixing ideologies in the most theatrical way. He still wears rings on every finger, but in Iron Man's realistic corner of the MCU, they don't have any magic powers - like the character himself, they're purely decorative. His Asian robe sticks with Mandarin's comic colorscheme of green and gold, then he wears a Middle Eastern-style grey tunic over a black T-shirt beneath that, and finally camouflage pants and combat boots. He definitely looks like a movieverse version of this guy, that's for sure.

And no matter what you think of the movie's bait-and-switch, there's no denying that Ben Kingsley was outstanding. He basically had to play two different roles, with different voices and body language for both of them. You can pick any random frame of the movie and tell who he's playing based just on his expression. Considering that this toy's sculpt is five years old at this point, the likeness really is great. He's got the beard, he's got the top knot, he's got the big "old man" ears... this is a wonderful Ben Kingsley face. Our only complaint is that he doesn't come with an alternate head with sunglasses on. Or any accessories at all - the SDCC reveal had a katana and a knife, and both his hands are posed with trigger fingers extended, so why's he got nothing?

This set was intended to be a Toys Я Us exclusive. In fact, it was even available for preorder on their website before the liquidation was announced (and all the preorders were cancelled). Luckily, Amazon stepped in and saved it. The Iron Man armor in the set might not have been anyone's first choice, but it's something new, and the other two figures easily carry their own weight.

-- 10/15/18


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