How did it take the sixth smartest man in the world this long to go plug-and-play?
A dazzling technological achievement, the modular suit allows Tony Stark to reconfigure sub-systems like boots, gloves, helmets and scanners on the fly.
Yes it does, which was very convenient when it was the suit adapted for his 1994 Saturday morning cartoon, and thus served as the base inspiration for the accompanying toyline, which was all about swappable armor. And that's about the same time he was put into the first Marvel vs. Capcom game, so this is the suit he was wearing there, too. That's a ton of exposure for this particular design, the same way some people will always consider Gambit and Jubilee to be "core" X-Men rather than just ancillary hangers-on, simply because they were in the Animated Series. Exposure breeds familiarity, so this is a major armor.
This is not the first time there's been a Marvel Legend of this armor, but the last one was from ToyBiz, which should tell you
how long it's been. At first glance, this appears to be based on the 80th Anniversary Iron Man, but none of the pieces are shared - it's just a similar sculpting style. This was the first armor to look like he was wearing pants instead of superhero trunks, and the angle on the upper portion of his waist matches the angle on the lower edge of his chest. He's got the Superman-shaped chest beam, but there's an odd gap between the pauldrons and the chest armor. Pretty sure we're not supposed to be able to see a line of gold between them.
Hasbro has never done the "removable faceplate" thing on its Iron Men than ToyBiz liked to do, and that's mostly been fine: the majority of his
armors had helmets, not masks, so swappable heads are sufficient. This armor, though, was the first to have a separate faceplate, so not having the option is a little missed. They could have done it; make interchangeable faces, like MODOK had. Probably would have been too expensive, I guess? Especially when all the rest of the molds are new and not highly reusable. The comic art on the box shows the sculpted lines on the forehead colored yellow, to match the rest of the armor, but that varied from issue to issue, so it's not wrong here.
Modular Iron Man has a balljointed head mounted on a hinge,
a balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, a hinged chest, swivel waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel boots, and swivel/hinge ankles. Because of that weird gap between the shoulder and chest armor, raising the arms to the side can be difficult: the edges want to bump against one another, so you have to purposly get the edge of the shoulder armor under the chest armor, just like with Obi-Wan Kenobi. According to our own Sprocket, some people have had trouble with the right shoulder being overly stiff, but this one is just fine.
Those ridged gold panels on the suit's gloves, waist, thighs, knees, and boots are the things that allow different modules to latch on, but this figure doesn't have any. All he has are open hands and blue repulsor blasts. He doesn't even get a piece of this series' Ursa Major Build-A-Figure. At least ToyBiz gave theirs a few little weapons. Actually, there is something Hasbro could do. Remember how we said these molds wouldn't be reusable? That they wouldn't work for anyone else? What if they didn't need to?
If you recall, the original Hulkbuster armor was not its own thing, but rather a group of add-ons for the Modular Armor. So what if they did just that: release an ultra-deluxe set that features this figure with a bunch of big, chunky armor pieces to turn it into a Classic Hulkbuster? It would let them reuse the steel tools, and it would sucker all us into buying a figure we already have. You know how they love that.