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Iron Man

Marvel Legends 20 Years
by yo go re

...20 years?

To the public, Tony Stark is a handsome, jet-setting industrialist and inventor. What they don't know is that he leads a second life as Iron Man. The armored Avenger gets his fantastic powers from his suit of micro-mesh armor. It gives him superhuman strength, the ability to fly via his jet boots, and a variety of built-in weapons, foremost among these being his devastating repulsor rays! Iron Man is dedicated to defeating those forces that would threaten the security of the nation and the entire world.

That's the bio from the original 2002 Marvel Legends Iron Man, because this anniversary homage doesn't have any specific text, instead just talking about how the line began two decades ago and how Hasbro is now honoring that history. Honor it by putting info on the card, guys.

Like many Iron Men in recent years, this one uses most of the Marvel 80th Anniversary Iron Man mold. That's fine, because both those armors were functionally the same one - it's not like they're trying to brute-force the 80th Iron Man to be the Neo-Classic suit or anything. The mold has some definite flaws, which we've discussed before: overly long legs, arms that are too thin to accurately suggest a human being wearing armor over their body, etc. Those are "fridge logic" though, the kind of thing you only recognize when you spend too much time thinking about something; in the middle of a battle or a Hall of Armor, it'll look fine. And the figure this one is supposedly homaging had its own problems, like those giant ape arms. Given the choice between this mold and the one from 20 years ago, modern toys win. The chest has been redone minorly, to remove the raised ring around the unibeam.

There's a major difference between this release and the 80th Anniversary figure, and that's the head. This one gets the "horned" helmet, which actually pre-dates the smooth helmet: Steve Ditko designed the red and gold armor in 1963's Tales of Suspense #48, and it wasn't until issue #54 that Don Heck changed the face mask to be rounder. Hasbro's made the horned helmet in the past, but it wasn't as good as this one.

ToyBiz's Iron Man featured a removable faceplate to reveal Tony Stark's face within. Hasbro doesn't ever do that for whatever reason, but they did give us an alternate head. It's sculpted by Paul Harding, based on his "Marvel in the '70s" series (same as Dr. Strange's "meditating" head). So it's got thick hair, a slight smirk beneath the mustache, and little crow's feet wrinkles by the eyes. The toy certainly doesn't look drunk, like the inspiring art was, but it's there if you know to look for it. It's a very large head, for the body, but that's nothing new.

An amusing reversal from the ML1 figure is the paint. If you go back and look at that figure, it was yellow just like this one, rather than gold like the 80th Anniversary release; fine, that makes perfect sense for an homage line. But ToyBiz did make a variant with the horned helmet... and gold paint instead of yellow. So the 2002 Iron Man was available in yellow/round or gold/pointy, while the modern mold is available in gold/round or yellow/pointy. How about that! The colors on this one do match the AI armor quite nicely, though, so maybe you'd like to borrow that helmet to lend over here.

ToyBiz's Marvel Legends didn't really come with accessories in the early days, because "super articulation" was still a rare selling point, not a baseline standard. You don't really think about the way Marvel Legends changed the industry, but everybody's been walking the path they blazed for 20 years now. This Iron Man gets the mini blast-effects and swirls of smoke from Riri Williams, but the smoke is so dark it ends up looking like he's being attacked by Venom.

Before Build-A-Figures, Marvel Legends used to come with display bases. Sadly, this 20th Anniversary homage line doesn't (though for $31.99, they damn well should have), but we do get a cardboard rectangle with a comic cover on one side and art referencing the old base on the other. 2002 Iron Man came with some sort of Stark-branded generator or something, and that's exactly what the unknown artist has drawn here. It's nice art, but again: Hasbro is overcharging us for these reused molds, and a small cardboard backdrop doesn't make up for that.

It's not clear whether this line will be in stores or not - I got Iron Man from Hasbro's web store when they were having a 40% off sale, which made the price a lot more palatable. Unfortunately, Captain America was already sold out, or you'd be reading something a lot more patriotic for the Fourth of July.

-- 07/04/22

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