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Iron Man 2
by yo go re

Man, you try to do something nice for someone else, and look what happens! It all inevitably goes wrong.

Wearing a suit built for him by Tony Stark, Kevin O'Brien became Guardsman, an armored powerhouse nearly as strong as Iron Man himself. Unfortunately, an overlooked bug in the cybernetic interface software drove O'Brien insane with jealousy. His out-of-control emotions made him a dangerous new enemy for Iron Man.

Though this armor eventually became standard-issue gear for the guards at the superhuman prison known as the Vault, the original suit was just a one-off. Tony was considering retiring Iron Man, since being the hero put so much strain on his already-weakened heart, so he designed the Guardsman armor as a replacement, intended to be operated by the aforementioned Kevin O'Brien, a Stark Industries employee and bright scientist in his own right. But O'Brien was already slightly mentally unstable, and the flaw in the suit exacerbated the problems.

The Guardsman armor was designed in 1971, so it's reminiscent of the "Classic" armor, in that it looks like a normal superhero costume rather than a suit of metal. Guardsman doesn't even get the benefit of banded underwear or cuffs on his boots and gloves - he might as well be wearing shiny spandex. No surprise, then, that none of the costume details are sculpted, not even the bands on his biceps: after all, the more generic the body, the more it can be repainted into other characters later.

The Vault Guards' designs have changed over the years, to be sure, but one thing that always remains the same is the head (or the helmet, if you're some huge stickler for accuracy). It looks even more like a bucket than Iron Man's helmet did back then, and can be easily identified by the two lighter panels covering the face, separated by a central piece that leads down to the pointed chin. On this one, the eyes are yellow.

The colors on this figure are darker than you might expect. Looking at the comic art, the Guardsman armor should be a medium green, with yellow-green over the arms and legs; for this toy, the dark sections are sort of a British racing green, and the lighter sections are Islamic green. To really be accurate, the toy's "light" green should have been used for the dark sections, and the light sections should have been closer to the lime color used for the included repulsor blast.

The blast is an odd design, with a large flare at the base where it fits over the Guardsman's left hand, then a perfectly straight section with angled ribs, and finally a rounded blast at the tip. What's the idea behind this sculpt? The ribbed section in the middle makes this look too precise to be an energy blast, but the translucent plastic used precludes it from bening anything else.

Guardsman stands 4¼" tall, and moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, forearms, torso, hips, thighs, knees, boots and ankles. The hips are the same sort of "balljoints" all the old Marvel Legends had, where it's a swivel/hinge joint immediately above the thigh swivel, but one of the legs on mine doesn't connect the way it should: the peg from the right hip doesn't push far enough down into the leg, so he's constantly leaning to the side. Luckily, this is the kind of thing you'll be able to see through the front of the blister. His right hand is sculpted in a clutching pose, while his left hand is a fist.

The Iron Man 2 toys all come with "Armor Cards," three 2x3 cards that display info about the armor. The back card is solid, while the other two are clear - overlay them, and you get a complete picture of the armor in question. The torso is on one card, the legs on another, and the head and arms on the third. Buy multiple toys, and you can "design" your own armors. There's a URL printed on the side, but it just redirects to Marvel's site. Eventually there may be some game or something attached to the cards, but right now they're just a display element. The cards fit into slots at the back of the included display base, which actually makes for a rather nice showcase for the figure.

Guardsman is one of those characters we kept waiting for in the 6" scale, but he never showed up. The colors are too dark, but this is still a welcome addition to the 4" ranks. It's also the first army builder released in the Iron Man line - sure, the Hammerdrones will fall into the same category, but they haven't been released yet. If you've got a big villain display, you can get a whole slew of Guardsmen to surround them and play prison break.

-- 06/07/10

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