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"Heroic Age" Iron Man

Marvel Universe
by yo go re

It's the first week of 2011 - ladies and gentlemen, the future is here!

This is the sleekest, most lightweight armor ever designed by Tony Stark. Built to meet the parameters of any possible challenge, it is covered in ports that can house any of hundreds of mission-specific modules. In the space of moments, this armor can swap out a suite of research scanners for a weapons package that would put most battleships to shame.

Hey, that's really neat and all, but none of it describes this armor. That's a fairly accurate description of the Modular Armor, but this isn't the Modular Armor (despite the fact that that's what name is listed on the card); this is his modern armor. No, not his Modern Armor, because that's now called the "Advanced Armor" (judging by the Iron Man 2 movie toys, where it's #32). This is the armor he's currently wearing, known to some fans and no one else as the Bleeding Edge Armor.

In-universe, Tony designed this armor after the heroes defeated Norman Osborn. It's the next step up from the Extremis armor, built entirely from iron/platinum nanoparticle fibers stored inside Tony's bones, and weighs less than 25 pounds. In the real world, it was designed by Ryan Meinerding and was meant to look like a sleek, glossy sports car. It's kind of a weird design, honestly, with the yellow and red sections scattered seemingly at random around his body. Really look at it: the layout doesn't appear to follow any logical scheme; if the yellow is undersuit and the red is actual armor, then there are a lot of anatomically vital points left nearly unprotected. Still, you must admit it's visually distinctive, and the sculpt is true to what we've seen in the comics - and that's no mean feat, considering that the suit was first seen on January 8, 2010, and we got a toy of it by the end of the year.

It's hard to tell from photos, but the figure's head is surprisingly narrow. It's almost like it got pulled out of the mold too soon, or was somehow otherwise squished. His eyes are white and blue, matching all the little dots on the rest of his body. Apparently those are all repulsors, like the ones on his palms, but they also act as cameras, allowing him to see 360° in a fight.

"Modular" *wink-wink* Armor Iron Man stands 4¼" tall, and has good articulation. He gets a swivel/hinge neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, balljointed torso, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, hinged ankles and swivel "rocker" feet. The metallic red and gold chosen for the figure are nice, and the blue ringing the repulsors is dark, making an excellent contrast. The figure includes a display base with his name and number (#004) on it, and a blue copy of that same weird energy vortex all the MU Iron Men have included.

Iron Man is part of the first wave of Marvel Universe Series 3, and that means a few changes. First of all, the unfortunate Mike Deodato Jr. card art is finished - obviously Hasbro is going to change it every year. Series 3 gets Oliver Coipel, which makes it kind of a shame that the Thor based on his work was out last year. If you like the art, though, you'd better open the packaging carefully, because the paper accessories the figures came with for the first two years have been done away with. There's no longer a little envelope with a memo and a Superhero Registration Act ID card featuring the raw card art. There's also no longer a code to use on the Fury Files website, which seems to suggest that Hasbro's finally admitted defeat and will never be updating it again. It probably shouldn't come as any surprise, since they never even activated the one that went with the Iron Man 2 toys. The HAMMER logo that was on Series 2's packaging is back to being a SHIELD logo, and this time the guy on the back entreating us to buy more toys is Steve Rogers. That's much better turnaround than it took to get Norman on the back.

Everything about this release says "fast" - not just the figure, but the packaging, too. It took almost half a year for Series 2 to come out, so its packaging designs were already out of date. Series 3 is right on time, and this is a version of Iron Man that's otherwise only had a single repainted Minimate before. For the toy industry, this is one hell of a quick release!

-- 01/03/11

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