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Iron Man and Spider-Man

Transformers Crossovers
by yo go re

The first Star Wars Transformer two-pack was Han Solo and Chewbacca, who joined forces to turn into the Millennium Falcon. It was a clever design, pairing two characters and a ship that all belonged together and made a lot of sense as a set. The first Marvel two-pack? Not so much.

Basing their designs on alien technology, Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man create powerful new battle suits for the heroes of Earth. Faced with the war suits of Earth's villains Iron Man designs powerful new battle suits for himself and Spider-Man. The heroes can attack separately, taking advantage of their unique powers, or combine spider powers with super tech to create an immensely powerful super jet. This new armor is the most powerful technology in the world, combining the might of two of Earth's greatest heroes.

Putting Iron Man and Spider-Man together is really nothing more than picking two popular heroes and figuring they'll each sell well. It would have at least made sense when Spidey was wearing the suit Tony made for him, but that was at least three crossovers ago.

Iron Man, at least, makes perfect sense as a Transformer: if he's already willing to enclose himself in a suit of armor, isn't the next logical step a suit of armor that can change into a second useful form? Because he's already mechanical, his TF robot mode looks a lot more "natural" than, say, the Human Torch would. Yes, it looks like a big blocky robot, but Iron Man always looks like a big blocky robot. It's in his nature.

The suit is red and yellow, and the hands are sculpted with the palms exposed, so you can see his repulsors. The circle on his chest is comparatively huge, and juts out of his chest rather than being sunken in. He has wings poking off his back, but Transfans have always been very accepting of that sort of kibble.

The head is classic Iron Man: red dome, yellow face, slits for eyes and mouth... you know the style. The squared-off "widow's peak" suggests this is based on the "Classic II" armor, which Tony wore from 1988-1992, starting in Iron Man #231. It was the first built without human input: Tony designed it, but his in-house computer HOMER manufactured and assembled it in the basement.

Iron Mech's altmode is a "flying wing" sort of jet, with an 11" wingspan. It, too, is red and yellow, but does manage to look more like "an Iron Man-branded airplane" than "Iron Man as an airplane" - there's no visible robot kibble unless you look down the exhaust ports for the engines, and even then, it's only minor. It just looks like a crazy futuristic plane that Tony painted his favorite colors. There's a black missile under each wing, which can be fired at the push of a trigger.

The flipside of that coin is Spider-Man, a character who will almost assuredly never work as a robot. [I'll take that bet! --ed.] Iron Man you can turn into a giant mech suit with no trouble, but Spider-Man? A guy in the clothiest of cloth costumes? Even as guys like Daredevil, who started out in simple cloth outfits, have gotten more and more complex, Spidey's kept it simple. He doesn't wear reinforced leather or unstable molecules or molded rubber, it's just spandex between him and a terminal case of road rash. Making him metal is inorganic. Particularly in this case!

Spider-Mech's design isn't terrible, if you're willing to ditch everything you know about his character and just concentrate on the visuals. All our complaints in the previous paragraph? Ignore them for now. Thinking of Spidey as a guy in a red and blue costume, this figure works. The colors are in all the right places, mostly, and he has a big black spider on his chest. Granted, he has some painfully obvious kibble on his arms, knees and back. Just looking at the robot, you could probably guess he turns into a helicopter even if you didn't already know it. The blades sticking up behind his back are the worst of it.

As you know, Spider-Man only has webs on the red areas of his costume, not the blue, and this toy follows suit, with sculpted webs everywhere there's red, including the head. He has his recognizable large white eyes with the black outlines, though the silver jawline and neck aren't quite standard features on your average Spidey outfit. Makes him look like Deathlok, a bit.

Like we said, Spider-Man's altmode is a helicopter. What does a helicopter have to do with Spidey? Nothing. Spidey's already been a motorcycle in the Transformers Crossovers (and is soon to be a car), and this still makes less sense than either of those. It's not the best helicopter, either: it's very thin, and shows as much kibble as the mech did: sure, the shins becoming engines works out well, but you can totally see the upper legs and groin beneath the fuselage; and that's not even mentioning the hollow cockpit! The rotor and stabilizer spin, and a landing gear folds down from the tail to provide stability.

There wouldn't really be much of a point in making this a two-pack if the figures didn't combine, and combine they do! In fact, they combine two ways: first, the "super bomber" mode, in which the helicopter just seems to dock beneath the plane. Well, that's the quick and dirty version - there are actually a few other changes, like the copter's engines flipping around, the cockpits merging, and the plane's wings raising and splitting. Be careful with that bit, though: the hinges are very tight, and the plastic is already showing signs of stress.

In case the skies are too cloudy, you can switch to the gerwalkish "heavy assault mode." It is, admittedly, kind of a mess, but the fact that both figures use the same shade of red (and both have silver accents) means the design hangs together better than it might have. The plane's wings are still split, but now the tips fold up a bit, and new panels fold out of Spidey's legs to create larger feet capable of supporting the added weight. Linked together, the heavy assault mode stands 8½" tall.

Iron Man and Spider-Man don't make sense as a two-pack. The robot modes are only so-so, and the vehicles seem uninspired. The two gestalt modes are just weird, and seem only to exist in order to provide an excuse for pairing these two toys. This set is totally not worth the original asking price, but since it's recently hit clearance at Target, I finally gave it a chance. It's not much better than I expected it would be. I don't recommend the set, but if you're interested, you should at least wait for the clearance to get deeper.

-- 03/23/10

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