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Hammer Drone/Pepper Potts/Happy Hogan

by yo go re

We may have (so far) skipped over all the first Iron Man movie Minimates, but we're trying to make up for lost ground with the Iron Man 2 series. Hell, we've already reviewed eight figures, and the actual series just showed up in the mail last week!

Tasked with running all of Stark Industries as their new CEO, Pepper Potts must balance her personal friendship with Tony Stark against mounting evidence that the armor-clad hero may be unable to control his own demons.

Movie three, demon in a bottle? Certainly seems that's where we're going, what with the drunken debauchery and all. Of coure, it's not like Word 1 of the sequel script has even been written yet, so whoever wrote the copy for the back of this packaging was just having a little fun, throwing out a little nod and a wink to fans.

We've had a Pepper Potts Minimate before, but she, like most of the Series 21 Minimates, wasn't very good. The fact that she was wearing a pantsuit made her look rather masculine (an unavoidable side effect of using the same block torso for every figure), but this one is better. Yes, yes, shame on me for requiring a female figure to be in a dress before I'll recognize her as a "she." Whatever, grow up. As far as I can tell, this is supposed to be the outfit Pep wore on the plane back from Monaco: that dress was blue and had a short v-neck, and while it did have sleeves, they were very short - too short to worry about on Minimate arms. Oddly, she also gets a separate watch, cast in brown plastic.

Gwyneth Paltrow does not have a countenance that translates to Minimate form very well, it seems: the face painted here is clean and simple, but it's not a likeness; this could be anyone at all. She gets a new hair piece, parted on the right and coming down just to the level of her shoulders. In the comics, Pepper's a redhead, but in the movies she remains steadfasly blonde. The first Minimate had hair the color of straw, but this one is at least strawberry blonde.

Created using a fusion of technologies from Stark Industries, Hammer's own company and Whiplash's improvisations - the Hammer Drones are immensely powerful and potentially lethal in the wrong hands.

That is not... entirely accurate. Sure, it is eventually, but that bio doesn't describe this figure. This, as evidenced by the dull gray color and the lack of customized shoulder armaments indicates that this is just the generic vanilla Hammer Drone, the sort that Justin had rows and rows of lined up and waiting in his factory. Just like in the movie, it can raise its left leg, and it can spin 180° at the waist! Yeah, like it... oh. Oh! Ow.

The Hammer Drone is built on a standard Minimate body, mostly: strip off all his armor and you'll find a decapitated grey body with no hands or feet. It's just like going for a walk in New Jersey! The thighs are new pieces, with the armor molded on, rather than being a separate piece. The add-ons include big boots, a large belt piece, huge chest cap and mighty gloves. With everything on, the Hammerroid is 2½" tall.

Another clue that this is the in-the-works battle suit rather than an unmanned droid can be found on the head. In that it has a real head. And no, not a helmet that fits over a Minimate head, this is an entirely new mold. It's slightly smaller than the average 2" Minimate head, which serves to make the Drone look bigger than it actually is. The armor is gray with grey detailing, and yellow and black caution stripes all about.

As we've said before, it's common these days for the variant in each Minimate series to share space with an army-builder - something collectors wouldn't mind having more than one of. Since the Hammer Drone is clearly an army-builder, you can probably guess where this is going.

Not only Tony Stark's bodyguard and chauffeur, Happy Hogan is also one of his closest advisors. As events unfold, however, Happy finds himself torn between his friendship with Tony and his feelings for another...

Now, see, that's interesting, because it gives you an idea of how long ago the copy for these figures was written. In the comics, Happy was part of the love triangle involving Tony and Pepper, but he was the one who eventually won her hand - they were married and written out before Iron Man even broke out into his own series. An early draft of Iron Man 2 did have Happy admitting his love for Pepper (while she had her hand in his pants - great timing, guy!), but that was cut out for the same reason the stuff between Tony and Natalie was.

In the films, Happy Hogan is played by Jon Favreau, who's done quite well for himself playing superhero sidekicks. You can put this one in the same category as George Lucas, Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino, as directors who've had toys in the lines based off their films. It's an exclusive club! This is a fairly plain 'mate, showing Happy in a standard black suit, using the same jacket as Tuxedo Tony Stark.

Harold "Happy" Hogan got his nickname because he never smiled, a tradition this Minimate carries on. The likeness is only so-so, since Favreau has a longer face than the Minimate head will allow, but they at least tried by using thin black lines to define his his cheeks and chin. His hair piece is an unexpected faux-hawk that doesn't accurately reflect the character.

Happy gets a few accessories that no one else does. Since he's an ex-boxer, he's got a pair of boxing gloves. Sure, he never wore them with a suit, but it's not like they're ever going to make a "Sparring Match" Happy Hogan figure, so take it while you can get it. He also includes a pair of handcuffs and the red and silver suitcase. The suitcase is an entirely new piece, and it's painted well. Obviously the cuffs are meant to connect the suitcase to Happy, but since they don't actually open, you can't chain the two together in the usual way. Tie a lark's head knot around the handle and you're set.

Pepper is a definite improvement over the previous release, and there's never been a Happy Hogan toy of any sort before. If you've seen the movie, you know you'll want to get as many Hammer Drones as you can lay your hands on. So overall, this set - both versions of this set - are worth the time to track down.

-- 06/13/10

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