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Titanium Man

Iron Man 2
by yo go re

When it comes to armored heroes, America only has Iron Man (more or less) - why, then, does Russia get two?

As a loyal KGB agent, Boris Bullski was more than happy to undergo the experiments that increased his size and strength, and wear the massive armor that turned him into the Titanium Man. He was assigned to embarrass the United States by defeating Iron Man in open combat, but the armored hero's fighting skills and superior technology defeated the massive Russian armor.

The original Titanium Man suit (known in its homeland as "Chelovek-Titan") was a huge, bulky lump of a thing. Like, "he'd have to be a Build-A-Figure" big. But after Boris was defeated a few times, the Gremlin designed a new suit (which, given his size, was more of a piloted mecha than powered armor) that blew up while fighting Iron Man. Seriously, IM's boot-jets ignited the metal, and that was the end of Gremlin. His design was reworked slightly and the suit was rebuilt, this time designed to be worn by a normal human, and it seems like Boris is back at the controls.

This particular suit first appeared in Iron Man #394, part of Marvel's 2001 "'Nuff Said" event - an entire month of silent comics, inspired by Larry Hama's classic GI Joe #21. As such, the story didn't specifically name Boris Bullski as the wearer, but the context heavily suggested it. The armor looks to be made of a silver "body," the limbs and trunk ribbed like Colossus', then with green costume elements worn above it. The dominating feature is the giant pair of shoulderpads, but he's also got a piece running vertically along his chest, a detailed spine, little trunks, bands around the forearms, thighs and shins, green gloves and large, chunky shoes.

The head is what really pegs this as being the third Titanium Man, and not the second: that one had a face that was basically just a flip-down panel, more like The Destroyer, while this one gets a distinct eyeslit. In the comic it seemed more like a visor over a faceplate, while this one appears to be inset below the surface, but that's a small difference at most.

Titanium Man is a fairly big figure, standing more than 4½" tall. That's good, since even this suit was bigger than average. Articulation is plentiful, with swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, balljointed torso, swivel wrists, swivel/hinge elbows and shoulders, and some kind of neck. It's probably a balljoint, judging by the other figures in the line, but the range is no better than a swivel. The figure has a translucent yellow snap-on flame blast that makes him look like he's in Street Fighter. Still better than Crimson Dynamo's stupid eye-thing.

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.

Titanium Man is a weird Iron Man villain. At the end of the day, he's just a guy in a suit of armor - and yes, that describes a good 95% of IM's enemies, but Titanium Man lacks any kind of "hook" to make him unique. He's basically a second-rate Crimson Dynamo, which is probably why he's been used much less over the years. His biggest role recently was helping Iron Man fake an assassination attempt in order to sell the idea of the superhuman registration act; some claim to fame! Still, he is a classic foe, and this is only the second action figure he's ever had (if you don't count the Minimate), so he's going to be one people want.

-- 09/05/10

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