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Iron Man

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

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.

Iron Man is one of the elder statesmen of Marvel Comics, with his origins in the Korean War. An arms dealer, his helicopter was shot down by a Vietnamese warlord (in the same way that M*A*S*H dealt with the Vietnam War by setting their action in Korea, Lee wrote about Korea by using a pre-war 'Nam). With a piece of shrapnel lodged near his heart, he was forced to kitbash a pacemaker from materials available in the POW camp. The giant chest plate soon led to a full suit of armor that allowed Stark to escape his captors.

Part of the conceit of the character is that Iron Man is techincally Tony Stark's bodyguard. The average citizen of the Marvel Universe knows that Tony Stark is a billionaire industrialist and that he invented the Iron Man technology, but they assume there's someone else inside the giant tin can.

Like most of the Marvel Legends, this isn't the first time Iron Man's had an action figure. He had his own line, in fact, to coincide with the mid-90s cartoon. The line was quite good, with generic bodies and interchangeable armor. High costs eventually brought it low, but even those fan-favorites can't compare to this figure.

Standing 6⅜" tall and sculpted by Dave Cortes, Iron Man looks absolutey wonderful. His armor lends itself well to the super-articulation the ML toys have (35 points on Tony, here), and he looks as natural crouching and lifting something heavy as he does standing still. Some other companies that would do well to take note of how a good toy is done these days.

Iron Man has had more costume changes than Madonna over the years, so the sculptors could pretty much design whatever they wanted. They went with a bit of a retro look, from noseless faceplate to the anti-gravity pods on his hips. The reds and yellows of his costume are painted with a slight metallic sheen, and his faceplate is removable, revealing Tony Stark's (cross-eyed) face beneath.

When Don Heck was designing Tony Stark, he patterened the playboy on Errol Flynn. The fact that he had a mustache was really the only thing setting Tony apart from DC's resident black-haired industrialist, Bruce Wayne (fortunately for Marvel, Archie Comics didn't have the money or the inclination to protect Ralph Hardy).

The Fantastic Four were a family and the X-Men a school, but the Avengers have always been the superhero equivalent of a football team. While Iron Man may not have been the first-string quarterback, he was a great backup. Provided he could keep his raging alcoholism and congenital heart disease from sidelining him.

Like the rest of the Marvel Legends, Iron Man comes with a detailed base. His is a Stark Industries generator, perfect for recharging his armor. There are three foot pegs and a wall-mounting bracket, though I'm not sure how well the base would support the figure's weight if hung on the wall.

Old Shellhead comes with a reproduction of Iron Man #149, part one of a fight against Marvel's other armored heavyweight, Dr. Doom. Featuring artwork by John Romita, Jr., the issue doesn't recap Iron Man's origin, but it does feature the armor seen on the figure and give readers an idea of his powers.

There are two variants of Iron Man. The first, released at the same time the regular figure, features a different mask and golden armor. It was more readily available than most ML variants, possibly because the gold looked so bad. Then, in the Wal*Mart-exclusive Marvel Legends line (which they ordered to make up for opting not to buy this successful first series), Iron Man got a totally blue paint job and became "Stealth" Iron Man.

-- 03/03/03

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