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Invincible Iron Man

Black Panther
by yo go re

Yeah, we're still working on Black Panther reviews. Blame Hasbro and the sheer deluge of Marvel toys they released this year!

Technological upgrades and weapons help Iron Man bring order to any battle.

Hey, an Iron Man! Just what this line needed: more white guys. I mean, it's not like there's any black character who could have filled the slot of "an Iron Man" in this line, right? One who would still look recognizably like IM on the shelf, with red and gold armor, but who not only would have been getting their first action figure (instead of, like, their 90th), but also would have kept the comic-based half of this Black Panther movie line from being 100% honkies. Yeah, shame there's no one at all like that in the Marvel Universe, huh?

(The prevailing theory is that we got Black Bolt, Sub-Mariner and Iron Man all together as some sort of "Illuminati" thing, but that still doesn't track for why they're in this series. And Hasbro's "Black Bolt and Namor are kings, just like T'Challa" excuse doesn't involve Tony either. So who knows what's going on?)

This armor, the Mark 51, was at least inspired by Riri Williams: after she managed to reverse-engineer some of his old armor designs and post them online, Tony Stark realized he needed to get his ass in gear and start designing things again. The "Model-Prime" suit featured a surface made from hexagonal scales that could change color and be formed into any shape needed: tools, weapons, whatever. The sculpt is very smooth and sleek, a departure from the last few toys we've gotten; that's a choice that's true to artist David Marquez's designs (based on fancy real-world vehicles like the Lamborghini Aventador or F-22 and YF-23 fighter jets), but it also makes the toy look slightly cartoonish.

The armor's faceplate is pointier than expected - not "classic 'horned' face" pointy, "Cobra Commander" pointy. There's an edge running down the front, presumably to help reduce aerodynamic drag when flying. The pointiest spot on the face is up by the eyes, rather than where the nose would be, which has to be uncomfortable when he's wearing it.

Lest you forget for even a moment that this Black Panther toy is a... wait, what is Tony Stark's ethnic background? His mom's name is Martha Maria, so is he Italian? "Stark" is a German name and "Howard" is English. So basically, he's like "Europe's greatest hits"? [it's the final countdown --ed.] Tony Stark is "Eurpoean" the way Wakanda is "African." Anyway, the toy comes with an alternate, unmasked head that sort of looks like Marquez's art, but less detailed and more stylized. Maybe it's the modern comic coloring that keeps his art from appearing as cartoonish as this sculpt would imply?

The toy is red and gold, with some blue accents and dark metallic greys visible from the interior portions of the shoulders and neck. The eyeslits are very thin, which makes the armor look "squinty" (though it's probably been dozens of models of armor since Tony's actually needed to look through eye-holes to see what's around him), and there's a notch taken out of the lower edge of the upper half of the toy's torso so that the silver spot on his stomach can be visible even when the chest joint is in its neutral position. That color, by the way, should be the same seen inside the shoulder and neck joints, and should also be matched by the gaps on the back of the hands. We miss out on grey apps on the palms of his hand, plus some yellow and grey on the backs of his knees, but at least the red doesn't look too toyish.

One of the variants to Invincible Iron Man #1 depicted the new armor as an action figure, and this toy would have done well to copy more of its suggestions. While we do get alternate repulsor blast hands (without wrist hinges, meaning the Mark VII wasn't the first toy to do that) and the bare head, the cover also posited a head with just the faceplate retracted, as well as two alternate arms with different weapons sprouting from them. The real toy has a cannon that snaps onto the arm, and two blue blast effects, which beats getting nothing, eh? Still, with no piece of the Okoye Build-A-Figure, it feels like there could have been more.

Yes, this is a fully unique new mold, and thus would have been expensive to produce, but is does have some re-use potential: the Mark 51 armor was the basis for the "Infamous Iron Man" armor, which was worn by... not Tony Stark. It would only really take a new head and paintjob (and maybe a cape accessory) to turn this mold into that armor. This isn't a very exciting release, and one it seems a ot of fans skipped - the lack of BAF piece meaning they didn't "have" to buy it - but it's not a bad toy by any stretch. It can go into the same category as Prowler, of "yep, this is a thing that exists."

-- 11/05/18

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