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Sharon Carter & Stealth Armor Iron Man

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Two things you need to know about being a worthwhile human being: never be ashamed to apologize, and never be afraid to admit you were wrong.

Before the events of the Civil War, Sharon Carter and Iron Man fought side by side with none other than Captain America. Cap's death shattered their fellowship. Sharon Carter, wracked with guilt over the hero's assassination, resigned as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and went underground. Despite her training and strength of will, she fell victim to the machinations of Dr. Faustus and the Red Skull. Meanwhile, Iron Man, struggling to hold S.H.I.E.L.D. together as it was rocked by the loss of many good agents and a string of crises, searched desperately for Carter. His hope was to bring her back into S.H.I.E.L.D., where her training could do the greatest good.

When she was first introduced, Sharon Carter was the younger sister of Cap's wartime girlfriend, Peggy Carter. But as the years have gone by, that's become less and less believable. So now she's Peggy's neice, and someday, she'll probably have to be Peggy's granddaughter. This is what happens when you give your characters a firm starting point, but don't allow them to age in real time. It's not like you can claim WWII happened some other time, you know?

Rather than a plain piece of arm candy, like Peggy was, Sharon has always been an agent of SHIELD - she even served as its executive director before Maria Hill took over. She's an action girl, through and through, and that's why Cap loves her: she's capable of holding her own with him, rather than being a human target he has to watch out for.

This figure is an excuse to reuse the Maria Hill body, so she is (of course) wearing her SHIELD uniform. I suppose it wouldn't really count as a spy catsuit, since the male agents wear similarly form-fitting versions: no gender disparity here, just spies who dress like they live in a world that also has superheroes. It's dark blue, with a zipper on the chest, though in a subversion of the trope, it stops mid-ribcage, rather than running all the way down. In theory, her boots and gloves are white - or they would be, if the paint covered them properly. In practice, they're fairly blue. She has straps running under her arms, and a free-floating utility belt.

Now here's the part where we admit we were wrong. Remember how the Maria Hill figure came with a second head, and everybody assumed it was Sharon Carter? Well, obviously, it wasn't: otherwise we wouldn't be getting Sharon now. This is Sharon, the other head was just some random agent. Or maybe Sharon's LMD. The sculpt is the same, but the paint is different: the skintone is a healthier pink, and her hair is a more vibrant blonde.

The set includes a repaint of the "Maria" head, as well, this time with red hair. Since fans everywhere have been so willing to go out on a limb and declare the extra in the last set Sharon Carter, it's perhaps not surprising that this time no one's talking about how we've got our first Pepper Potts. Sure, Pep was never an Agent of SHIELD, but who cares? Iron Man, redhead, Pepper Potts. [What about Black Widow? --ed.] Now that we have said it, it must be canon!

Despite being cast in pink plastic, both heads have also been painted, so the skin isn't overly glossy. Her accessories include a matched pair of German HK USP .45s and a Bulgarian AR-M9F assault rifle with an UBGL-M6 grenade launcher attached. The pieces are of course reused from the Maria Hill set, but originated with Nick Fury. And just like Maria, she has nowhere to store the ones she's not holding.

We're likely mentioned this before, but Wal*Mart used to have a policy of not buying any toyline that wasn't supported by a movie or tv show. That's part of the reason Lego used to be absent from their aisles. It's also why they didn't carry the first few series of Marvel Legends - the ToyBiz ones, not the Hasbro ones. When the line was a success, they demanded a catch-up series, which was stocked with re-releases and new variants, including the ML1 Iron Man painted blue.

The Model X, Mark I armor was developed in Iron Man #152 (November 1981) to infiltrate an East German fortress, because back then they were still all evil Commies. The East Germans, not fortresses. Though there probably weren't a ton of heroic fortresses, either. In order to maximixe (minimize?) the stealth profile, the suit had almost no weaponry, for the simple reason that there was no room. Guess it pays to be invisible when you can't even survive one punch. Giant wimpy suit of high-tech armor!

This is nothing but a blue repaint of the previous two-pack Iron Man figure, which is fine, since the "Low Observable" armor was basically nothing but a repaint of the same thing. Knowing that the odd angles of the Stealth Bomber wouldn't work for a suit he was wearing, Tony opted for different means of baffling radar: force fields that give him a tapered round profile. Sonically. This meant that the comic artists were free to keep drawing him anatomically, rather than like a real suit of armor, and the toymakers can do the same. The sculpt is good, particularly the ribbed areas, and the unexpected details on the bottom of the feet.

In the comics, the suit was meant to be black (as evidenced by the fact that they called him the "Ebon Avenger" right on the damn cover, but standard coloring limitations of the time meant that he was given lots of shiny blue highlights. For whatever reason, toys of the Stealth Armor focus on the blue, but at least this is a very dark navy, so it's close. Amusingly, there are two different shades of blue, here: one for the areas that would be red, another for the areas that would be yellow. The eyes and mouth slit are red, as they should be. They skipped the paint app on his chest circle, since it wasn't colored in the comic, either.

Like the previous release, this figure has an extra head and set of hands. The head is Tony Stark's unmasked face, logically, and the extra hands are fully open "repulsor blast" poses. Tony doens't get any pink paint apps, so his skin is both slightly yellow and glossy, both of which combine to make him look ill. They've also colored the repulsors on his palms red, which is a mistake: they should be the same as the rest of the suit, since they're not actually weaponry.

The Iron Man/Maria Hill two-pack has been out for nearly a year, but it's still easy to find. This repainted set has been trickling out slowly for a few months, but is finally starting to show up in some numbers. Sure, the only real differences are superficial paint apps, but the figures are different enough that even if you have one set already, getting the other isn't a waste of money. Besides, who can't use more Iron Men?

-- 05/10/10


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