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Silver Centurion Iron Man

Marvel Legends
by Shocka

Ah, ToyBiz, you continue to piss off a world of collectors while still ending up on "Favourites" lists throughout the collecting community. What's the deal? You single-handedly change the way we see articulation - no longer will the "Big 5" cut it anymore - at the same time you boost your sculpt, detail and paint to near-McFarlane levels. But then you bung it all up with poor case distribution, insane casepacks and impossible-to-get variants a'plenty.

First it was just the ridiculous ratios of the Spider-Man line, but the controversy over the variant shortpacks of the recent Marvel Legends series has gone the next step, with fans rabid. ToyBiz don't officially respond in any normal, sane way, and we shouldn't expect too much from the kind of cheapasses whose customer service is based in Asia and is well known as the most useless in the entire collecting world. Or what about the whole Blade debacle, when ToyBiz let hundreds of faulty ML Blade figures with stuck leg joints sell without recalling and fixing the problem? They're bastards, but as they continue to make good figures, we continue to buy them, and thus we're here with Silver Centurion Iron Man, the best Iron Man figure to date.

The son of a wealthy industrialist, Tony Stark was an inventive mechanical engineering prodigy. He inherited his father's business at age 21,transforming the company, Stark International, into one of the world's leading weapons manufacturers. While field-testing a suit of battle armor in Asia, Stark was struck in the chest by a piece of shrapnel and taken prisoner by the warlord Wong-Chu. He was ordered to create a weapon of mass destruction - only then would he receive the operation needed to save his life. Along with fellow prisoner Ho Yinsen, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Stark began work on a modified exoskeleton equipped with heavy weaponry. Yinsen designed the armor's breastplate to sustain the industrialist's wounded heart. Stark donned the suit in an attempt to escape captivity. Overcoming the warlord's forces, Stark returned to America and redesigned the suit. Inventing the cover story that Iron Man was his bodyguard, he embarked on a double life as a billionaire industrialist and costumed adventurer.

As always, the Marvel Legends packaging is a big pretty clamshell, effectively taking up more space than your neighbour's decapitated head. At first, I was quite wary of the clamshell packaging, but they've grown on me. I still miss the old blister packs, especially since I keep and collect the cards, but the pamphlet or cardboard inserts into the well-protected clams are still cool enough and opening a clamshell seems easy enough, just applying scissors to the outside. I'm wondering if there's any way to recycle the plastic, though - seems a waste to throw all that non-biodegradable plastic into the bin so often. (Maybe someone in the know can e-mail me? Can I just put this stuff in my recycle bin?)

Silver Centurion Iron Man is Tony Stark in his silver and red armor, as he appeared in Iron Man #200, the reprint comic included with the figure. That was the official introduction of this armor, although it had appeared before: a few weeks before that issue shipped, this armor showed up in the pages of the Secret Wars II miniseries, and then it was featured in issue #1 of West Coast Avengers. In any case, this issue marked the end of the now-joked-about "Tony Stark is a drunk" storyline, and sees him putting on the new duds to beat down on the guy who stole his company.

Standing just over 6" tall, Iron Man looks awesome, the color scheme much better looking than the red and gold. The body is reused from Series 1's Iron Man, but ToyBiz has gone back and added on so many new details that you can't really tell. He's got a new chest and shoulders, new gloves, new boots, new waist, new back and new head. Detail is simple but top notch - Stark's face, visible when the mask is off, looks great and picture perfect - there's nothing to complain about here, ToyBiz have delivered in spades.

Following in the good words, Iron Man continues the insane ML articulation with a whopping 36 points of articulation, all of which look great due to the Iron Man's metallic, joint-expected design. He can move very well with a single exception - his hands are articulated to close, except their sculpt is a little off, so he can't really hold onto his nifty accessory - his rocket-backpack (or something to that effect).

Yes, you no longer have to wonder if Iron Man is well equipped under the armor - you can rest well knowing he's got a huge rocket on the outside. Stark's rocket is 6" tall and comes in three parts to suit him up with it - the rocket itself, perfectly detailed and painted; a belt, which attaches around Iron Man's middle section and plugs into the rocket; and a strange shoulder pad armor thing, which fits over Iron Man's head and makes him look ridiculous. He can barely see out of it. Ok, it's not that ridiculous, though it's a little weird, covering most of his face - surely his head should be on top of it?

About that, though: when pictures of these figures first popped up, Iron Man's head did indeed come out above the shoulder pads. It looked good, but when you took it off, he was left with a crazy giraffe neck that made him look even worse than this one does. The rocket base is to propel him into outer space, right? Well maybe the shoulder armor fits over his mouth to help him conserve oxygen.

Iron Man's mask is also removable and features holes for the eyes, so plastic Stark can see out easily, a nice touch. The mask is soft rubbery plastic and stays on surprisingly well; it's not as foolproof as the original, but it won't fall off randomly, either. Can't fault ToyBiz for this. What we can fault them for is the fact that this is the second Iron Man in the series and the umpteenth variant of the character, and it's mass-packed into each case, whereas more popular characters that haven't been seen before are insanely shortpacked.

It's irritating and ridiculous and ToyBiz should put some thought into the case packs rather than just thinking of the greed. Sure, the chase can be fun, for awesome unseen variants like the Phasing Ghost Rider [It's not phasing!!! --ed.] but for individual figures from the series? Screw that! Silver Centurion Iron Man warms the pegs all over, not because it's a bad figure, but because it's so readily available when the missing three aren't. So let's all give ToyBiz the finger and hope they rectify this ridiculousness for the next few series of Marvel Legends.

-- 01/27/05

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