Iron Man has had a lot of different armors over the years, but most of them have eventually faded away, replaced by something newer and better. Only one has actually gone on to be its own spin-off character.
While working with Stark Industries, Jim Rhodes helped create War Machine, a technological marvel combining armor, weaponry and ease of mobility. After being terminated from Stark Industries, Rhodes attracted the attention of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. who were impressed by War Machine's capabilities, and recruited Rhodes to assemble a strike force of similarly armored War Machine operatives. The War Machine suit has armor-enhanced strength, speed and durability. It is also able to fly via jet-boots and has a state-of-the-art weapons system, which is constantly modified and upgraded.
Tony Stark designed the Variable Threat Response Battle Suit, Model XI, Mark I - better known as the War Machine armor - just prior to his death. He wanted to provide his best friend, James Rhodes, with a suit of armor that would be capable of handling almost any situation, since he wouldn't be around to make upgrades. When it was revealed that Stark was just faking his death and hadn't bothered to tell his successor, Rhodey took the War Machine armor and left, disgusted with his former friend.
Like most of the Marvel Legends, this isn't the first time War Machine's had an action figure. He showed up a couple times in the mid-90s Iron Man line, which was based on 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 about 6 1/2" tall, War Machine looks absolutey wonderful. He's based on the same body as the Iron Men from series 1 and 7, but of course he's got lots of newly sculpted elements to help set him apart: new chest and shoulders, new gloves, new boots, new waist, new back and a brand-new neck and head. Basically, if it ain't silver, it's new.
Yes, this resembles the regular Iron Man, but that's fine - the character did, too. The facemask isn't quite right, however. War Machine had a distinctive mouth that reflected the pattern of his suit, and this figure doesn't. It's a bit annoying, but not awful.
Just like all the previous Marvel Legends Iron Men, the figure's mask is removable. It took me a while to figure out who Rhodey looked like, but finally it dawned on me - apparently Iron Man handed over control of his armor to Tracy Morgan. The mask fits over his face perfectly, though his head does look a little bit too wide once it's in place - War Machine doesn't have that classic Iron Man "shell head" look.
Armor is only part of the equation when you're named "War Machine," so this figure's brimming with weaponry. There are the palm-based repulsors, as always, and guns mounted on the forearms. A pivoting rocket launcher perches on his right shoulder, while a Gatling gun (with real rotating barrel) mounts on the left. A non-removable tube connects the gun to the figure's back, and there's a separate ammo belt that feed into the outside of the gun. There's even a little laser sight on the helmet.
That would all be very cool, but ToyBiz went one step beyond. To make War Machine look like the engine of destruction he is, the package includes six more pieces, representing the armor and weaponry in their "active" state. Basically that means that we get translucent orange flame pieces, but they're really much cooler than they sound.
There are two thin, straight pieces that plug into either of two holes in the figure's feet, to suggest his boot jets. A large muzzle flash can plug into each palm, so it looks like he's fired up the repulsors. A larger, swirled flame slides beautifully into the center of the Gatling's barrels. The final piece is really neat, a large piece that plugs into the rocket launcher and shows three of the tiny blue missiles shooting out of a cloud of smoke. It's very cool, and ads a nice dimension to the figure. All the attack pieces do.
To allow you to uset the boot flames, War Machine comes with the translucent display arm that we first saw with Deadpool. To ensure it lifts him high enough, it plugs into his butt instead of his back - no jokes, please. However, War Machine is a much heavier figure than Deadpool, so unless you pose him with the tip of one of his flames touching the ground, he tends to fall forward. Here's a tip: as you look at the base from the front, make sure the ball screw things are on your right - then way the weight of the figure will work with the screws to keep the joints tight, while if they were on your left, he'd make them looser.
Instead of a display base, all the figures in ML9 come with a piece of Galactus - buy all seven, and you can build the devourer of worlds. War Machine comes with the right leg, a piece that stands 7 1/4" tall This thing is taller than the figure it comes with, and really give us an idea of just how very big the completed figure will be. The leg is detailed nicely, and articulated at the toes, ankle, boot top and twice at the knee.
There's piping down the front and inside of the leg and around the knee. The boot is three stacked rings with an angular connector down the front and back. There are a series of ridges along the top of his foot, and a triangular pattern around the sole of his shoe. The blue used is bright and metallic, setting off the purples and grey nicely.
War Machine comes with a reprint of Iron Man #281, the issue that introduced the armor. I have to say, this is a really bad choice. Not only doesn't it feature the design of the armor seen on the figure - that comes from Chuck Austen's excellent U.S. War Machine miniseries - it doesn't even have Rhodey inside the armor! Bad choice. They already put the cover from #282 on there, so why not pick a better interior? They couldn't use any of Austen's issues, for various reasons, but there wasn't anything better than this?
Three series in a row, now, we've gotten an Iron Man figure, and while there isn't one in Series 10, there is another in 11. War Machine may be another variant character, but ToyBiz really went the distance to make the purchase worth it.
What's your favorite "non-Iron Man" Marvel armor? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.