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Hydra Stomper

What If...?
by yo go re

What If... an entire series of action figures could count as a spoiler?

In the universe you know, Steve Rogers was the first Avenger, Captain America. In this universe, Steve is injured and fights in "The Hydra Stomper," an Iron Man armor created by Howard Stark.

That's the bio from the existing figure, because Build-A-Figures don't get any and What If...? Season 2 hasn't come out yet. Heck, it hasn't even had its premiere date officially announced, just general rumors that it's going to be sometime right around the end of the year. Vague!

If you count the fully What If...?-themed series that had The Watcher as its Build-A-Figure, this is the fifth set of Marvel Legends based on Disney+ shows - the others, of course, being Khonshu, Infinity Ultron, and Falcon's wings. There are certainly other figures they could have put in Series 4 that wouldn't have been a spoiler for a show that hasn't come out yet, but no, buy six of these figures (you'd be getting Kingpin anyway, because he's awesome, but he doesn't have a BAF piece) and you can see the future.

Full credit where credit is due: it does not appear that this Hydra Stomper uses any of Dennis Chan's existing sculpt for the old figure - if it does, it's minor things, like the hidden part of joints, but even that seems supremely unlikely. So while at first blush this may seem like a quick rehash to save Hasbro some money, it's actually much better than that. Applause applause!

Much like the evolution between the Iron Man Mk.1 armor and Tony's later suits, the Hydra Stomper has gotten smoother and more refined. Remember that Howard Stark built that armor in a cave the field, during the middle of a war, so of course it was a litle rough and seemed cobbled together from a box of scraps spare tank parts; the new one is rounder everywhere, and while it still has visible rivets holding the panels together, they're more "1970s airplane" than anything else. The original Stomper was anatomical in the sense that Optimus Prime is: shaped like a human, but still very square. The new Stomper is anatomical like a medieval knight.

It's fun to compare the two and see how the basic design has grown up. No more do we have rungs for the pilot to climb up to access the suit, but there's still a power cell right in the center of the chest. There are little flares at the top of the thighs, and ports fully encircling the forearms that might be for bullets or exhaust for more controlled flight. The pauldrons are wider and closer to spherical than before, and the feet and fingers have ribbed patterns instead of being solid. The helmet definitely retains that "first appearance" flair - in fact, it looks more like the comic design than any of the other movie armors have.

The suit is smaller overall, with the fiogure standing only about 7½" tall - bigger than Iron Man, smaller than Iron Monger. That also explains why the suit's head acts as an actual helmet this time, rather than a head-shaped hatch. You can take the helmet off, and trade it for an unmasked Steve Rogers head, which is still small and skinny, as it should be, but does get the addition of a beard. Good on you, you little twink, for being able to grow that thing!

The head is a balljoint, but the helmet's socket is such a tight fit that it doesn't want to turn at all, instead just making the plastic twist; that's not good. Everything else is teh type of articulation you'd expect from a figure of this size: swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows, and wrists, a balljointed chest and hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. The pauldrons are the type that turn with the arm, and since this is a Build-A-Figure, we have a rare opportunity to see those attached before they go into the body. Neat! The Hydra Stomper doesn't have any repulsor blasts or anything, so the only accessories are a pair of fists to replace the open hands.

Rather than military green, this modernized armor is dull silver - clearly whoever upgraded it doesn't have the same sense of flair as mainline universe Tony Stark (or were just not allowed to show it off). We do still get a few hints of hot rod red on the air intakes on the collar, and on the rocket pack that plugs into the figure's back. Other than that, the major decoration are the large white stars on each shoulder.

It's good that this BAF isn't just a repaint of the existing toy, but it's still annoying to know about it before the new season starts. It's not like there was a shortage of other things they could have done for a Disney+ series; just giving it two seconds' thought, how about She-Hulk Abomination (a character who's never been done in this scale at all)? Or trade out Goliath for Werewolf By Night and do Man-Thing (which would have been perfect for a series that first hit stores right before Halloween). Taweret from Moon Knight. Heck, even Frost Giant Loki as seen in a hologram in the first season of that show would have been something new and interesting and not spoilery. The Hydra Stomper is a nice toy, no doubt, but it could have still been nice sometime in the future instead.

Warrior Gamora | Talos | Nick Fury | Agatha Harkness | Goliath | Yelena Belova

-- 11/29/23

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