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First Appearance Iron Man

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Some folks complain that, since the state of technology is to constantly shrink, it's ridiculous that Iron Man's armor just gets bigger and more complex over the years. Following Moore's Law, the armor should be a smooth, skin-tight sheath by now. He should be wearing an iPod, not a Victrola. But they forget that his modern armor has a lot more features than his old ones, so even with the growth (or reduction, really) of technology, his new suits would still have a fairly constant size - a personal computer case today isn't significantly smaller than it was in the '80s.

First Appearance Iron Man Businessman. Ladies' man. Super hero. Gravely injured by an act of industrial sabotage, billionaire genius Tony Stark saved his own life by designing a life-sustaining shell - the hi-tech armor that is the invincible Iron Man. Today, the world thinks Iron Man is an employee - Stark's personal bodyguard. In this dual role, he faces corporate intrigue and super-powered menaces. Iron Man is a modern-day knight in shining armor, fighting injustice wherever it rears its ugly head!

You'd think that the last thing we needed was another Iron Man. We already got Tony Stark (or at least his handywork) in ML1 (classic armor), ML7 (silver armor), ML8 (modern armor), ML9 (War Machine) and ML11 (Hulkbuster armor), with more coming in ML15, Face-Off 2 and Hasbro Legends 1. So how is this poor guy supposed to stand out?

Actually, this may be the most distinctive armor ToyBiz has given the guy yet. We're used to his complex, detailed armors, but that's not where he started out. Yes, this is First Appearance Iron Man, back when he still looked like a guy wearing a Buick. And though most of the First Appearance figures so far have been less than impressive, FA Iron Man breaks the string of losers.

The suit, designed by Jack Kirby, is huge and bulky. think he has buns of steel? It has the stylish visual asthetic of a chrome Airsteam camper, with a tiny antenna on the shoulder and electrical outlets on the stomach. Seriously. There isn't a ton of detail on the sculpt, but there shouldn't be. This is a suit of armor, not body-hugging spandex. There are seams and rivets, flexible seals and a speaker on the chest. The knees and elbows are actually designed to look like overlapping shells, which is kinda cool.

If anyone doubts that Tony Stark is a freaking genius, remember that he pretty much scratchbuilt this thing while in the jungle with a shard of metal in his heart. You won't change the channel if you have to get up and get the remote control; he kitbashed a suit of armor that could walk around and fire energy blasts, all while waylaid with a sucking chest wound.

The suit's faceplate can be removed ''Hello, I'm Vincent Price.'' No, I'M Vincent Price! to reveal a face that looks like (current SNL cast member) Bill Hader playing Vincent Price. Of course, the thing is supposed to be a helmet, not a mask, so that's a bit screwy. Boo-hoo. No one's making you take it off. The design of the suit's face is right on, with the three-slit mouth and eyeholes big enough that you can see Tony behind them. In a neat move, the removable mask actually fits under his chin a little, so it does completely cover his head.

Articulation is good. one's 110 volt the other's 220 Better than a walking steel tube like this deserves. Ankles, shins, double knees, thighs, balljointed hips, waist, fingers, wrists, double elbows, biceps, balljointed shoulders and a balljointed neck. Why no chest joint? Because all the others were actually part of the armor - Tony's chest was covered in a solid piece of metal, so he couldn't bend or flex it. To give him a joint there would be wrong.

FA Iron Man has a variant. Second Appearance Iron Man Most of ML14 does. His is the later, golden version of the armor. The paint on both versions is good, with solid coat of the main color and a few shadows around the seams and joints. If it matters to you, though, the silver version is more acccurate: the gold one he wore with the Avengers had a little skirt, too. Why did it have a little skirt? Because Jack Kirby's got problems, that's why.

Since Iron Man is a science/technology hero, it makes sense that he gets the most electronic part of this Series 14's build-a-figure, Mojo: the backpack and mechanical tentacle. He comes with a Tales of Suspense reprint that showcases his first appearances (appropriately enough) from issues #39 and 40. The stories are pretty goofy, with suction cups and roller skates and a filing cabinet full of rocks. Oh, and I think he kills a leopard. Stan Lee had a real admiration for scientists, but little practical knowledge of how science works. The comic reads like it was funded by a grant Mojobutt from the National Transistor Council - Stan latched onto the word like a drowning man grabbing a life preserver, and found a way to work it in every three panels or so. You know, the way writers use nanites today.

ML14 continues the trend of including diorama backdrops printed on the insert card. Cut it out, stick in in the included stand and you've got a nifty little scene for your figure. Iron Man gets a labratory in some stone castle, seemingly occupied by the Mandarin (I guess) and the Living Laser. The detail on the scenery is better than the anatomy of the two villains, so it really would have been better (and more versatile) if it was just the lab.


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