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The Iron Giant

Mondo Mecha
by yo go re

You'd think being one of the most universally beloved animated films ever would have earned The Iron Giant some toys over the years, but after the 1999 Trendmasters line, things just dried right up. But hey, 20-year nostalgia cycle and all that, so we're finally getting the goods again. Before Diamond Select got the license, there was Mondo - yes, the company that somehow convinced people to pay $80 for a five buck movie poster got into the toy game a few years back, with a $300 Iron Giant. We tried to get one, but couldn't. Now the company is starting a new "Mondo Mecha" collection, and the Iron Giant is the first figure in the line. And this time it's only ("only") $200. Such a value!

Mondo Mecha Iron Giant stands more than 12½" tall, which is a good size - it's not in scale with anything else, but it's big enough to look impressive, while still being small enough to take in all at once. Officially, the character is 50 feet tall. Doing a bit of math suggests this is approximately 1:48 scale, so maybe surrounding it with Lego figures would work?

Mondo's first Iron Giant figure was based on digital files from the filmmakers, so there's no reason to believe that's changed now. Basically, every line and rivet is sculpted just where you know it to be from the movie. The plastic does feel slightly thin, and slightly brittle, like one good tumble could crack him. Were these the best materials they could use?

The colors are darker than you might expect. At least when DST made a dark Iron Giant, it was because the toy specifically came from a night scene. This one is just dark because... it's not light? Like, the darker sectionsi n the middle of his arms and legs barely stand out at all, because everything around it is so close in tone. There's plenty of contrast on the neck and abdomen, but not the limbs.

One area where this figure does shine is the articulation. No previous Iron Giant has moved this well! He has hinged toes and ankles (both up/down to go with the piston on his heel and rocker style to keep the feet flat in more extreme poses), plus a hinged jaw on all his heads. There are swivel/hinge combos at the knees, shoulders, elbows, and technically at the wrists, but the hands mount into a ball-and-socket piece so they technically have both; the hinge parts are all ratcheted, clicking when they move so they can support the weight of the toy. The wrist balljoints are matched by ones in the hips, waist, chest, under the neck, the base of the neck, and a barbell joint connecting the head to the neck. The upper arms, thighs, and shins have swivels, so the limbs can point different directions. The legs can extend, pulling up out of the shin about ¼" so the knee can achieve a maximum level of bendage, allowing the Iron Giant to squat down. Pretty impressive! The elbows are the same way.

No, you didn't misread that last paragraph: he has hinged jaws on all his heads, which means he has alternate heads. He's got a plain one on right out of the package, but you can swap that for one that's angry, one that has Philip J. Fry "not sure if" squint, or one with red murder-eyes. The truly weird thing is that the set includes three sets of teeth - upper and lower - that can plug into the mouth when it's open. Of all the things to include, removable teeth? Yes, he's seen both with and without them in the film, but who would ever notice? And why three sets? Are they afraid we're going to lose them and be disappointed? That we'll need to use three different heads at once, all with their own teeth? It's just a weird choice.

And speaking of weird choices, most of the accessories in the set are extra hands in different poses: fists, relaxed, holding, pointing, thumbs up, and holding larger. That's nice variety, but you know what's better? Articulated hands. His fingers already look like joints, why not make them joints? For the price we're paying, there shouldn't be any cheats like that. It's harder to change out the hands than the heads, both removing them from the arm and getting the new ones all the way in.

We do have at least a few "accessory" accessories, rather than just bodyparts: a crumpled metal girder for him to eat, thus giving at least one set of the teeth reason to exist; the big S he tore from the Fresh Seafood sign so he could play Superman, done as a magnetic piece that just sticks to the figure's chest with no problem; and an alternate right arm that's been transformed into his big laser cannon.

That last one is why we needed a head with evil eyes. Evil eyes and no more dent on the forehead, like the other three had. Sadly, the gun does not include the little "crab arms" that somehow fired physical projectiles by tapping on that disc on the top. That could have been two weapons in one!

If you pre-ordered this figure directly from Mondo, it came with two other accessories: a "compassionate" head, which, we could technically do without, especially since it looks more "sleepy" than "loving," but also Hogarth in the car he and the Giant used to play rocketship. So yes, this release could have included Hogarth Hughes, but doesn't. Because screw you if you want a complete figure, I guess. Why not make all those extra teeth the exclusive? People love teeth! Teeth! Teeth! Teeth! Teeth!

Is the Mondo Mecha Iron Giant worth $200? No, not even remotely. It's good, but it's not $200 good. At the extreme outside, it's $100 good. Extreme outside. It's $50 great, $75 good. $200 is an utter rip-off. But it's Mondo, the company that perpetually overcharges for everything they sell, so you have to be prepared to be cheated if you want to buy something from them. It's like when Matty Collector was a thing. But worse, because Mondo has a veneer of respectability that Matty never did. If you want an Iron Giant for your collection, you're better off with one of Diamond Select's offerings; they may not be as playable, but they're damn sure a better value for the cost. You are who you choose to be: don't choose to be a sucker with your money.

-- 02/25/21

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