So, as many of you may know, there’s a movie based on Marvel Comics’ Iron Man coming out soon. And as you may not know, I happen to have been a huge Iron Man fan since 1982, through good times, bad times, and just plain baffling times. I’ve hung in there even when the questionable editorial minds over at Marvel have turned him inexplicably into a villain.
So you might expect that I’d either be looking forward to the movie with a barely contained passion… or dreading it utterly. After all, there have been some damn fine superhero movies, and, uh, some not-so-fine ones.
Well, the trailers for Iron Man look pretty damn good – and don’t have anything to do with the brain-damaged bull they’re shoveling over in the comics these days – so I’m excited. And even if it wasn’t any good, it might produce some cool toys. Most of the first round of movie toys hasn’t reached this part of the universe yet, which isn’t all that surprising, but the area’s Wally Worlds do have at least one of the early ones in.
Repulsor Power Iron Man is a sizeable toy – he stands 12 inches high – but his articulation level is a bit disappointing, especially for a figure this size. Except for his neck, he has only simple swivel joints at shoulders and hips and basic hinges at elbows and knees. That’s it. He doesn’t even have a waist joint (presumably because his torso is stuffed full of a speaker and the control module for the speech feature), and both of his arms have to be rigid from the elbows down to accommodate the gimmicks built into his hands (the left one has a light-up repulsor in the palm, the right fires a plastic missile that’s supposed to be molded to look like a repulsor blast), but why the rest of him is so immobile, I don’t know; maybe just to keep the price down after the cost of the electronics.
Apart from the light-up palm, RP Iron Man has three main electronic gimmicks:
- Pushbutton-activated speech. His unibeam (that round bit on his chest, for you uninitiated types) is actually a button. Pressing it causes the button to light up yellow and the toy to say one of four things: “I am Iron Man!” (predictably, though at least he isn’t doing an Ozzy impression), “Repulsor blasts!” (followed by a repulsor sound effect – this one also makes his left palm light up), “Target engaged!” and “Auxiliary power!”
- Arm movement thingy. Basically, if you wave his left arm around, it makes the palm light up and elicits either one repulsor blast, a series of them, or the “Repulsor blasts!” (pew pew) sound option from the chest button. I assume because of the wire connecting the motion sensor and the light to the core of the electronic gadgetry in the chest, his shoulder only rotates through 180°.
- Boot jet sound effects. This one doesn’t work the way it says on the package, at least on the one I have. The package says if you tilt the heel of his right boot up, it plays a “boot jets start up” noise, followed by looped “flight” sounds that are interrupted by “swooping” noises if you move the toy around in the air, and you turn them off by tilting the same bootheel down, which plays a “shutdown” noise. On mine, the heel only tilts up, so it’s up for on, then up again for off. It’s quite easy to set this off by mistake, so it’s a good thing there’s a switch on his back that turns the electronics off. (It has a third setting, the one the toy is packaged in, which disables the boot and arm triggers and restricts the chest button to two of the four sounds.)
On the plus side, it’s a nice sculpt. It looks a lot like the Adi Granov/”Mark III” design featured in the bits of the movie trailer that come from (at a guess) the last half or so of the film, so if you like that design, you’re golden, and the large scale allows for a lot of detail. The only real downside is that his very restricted articulation means there’s really no good display position for his arms – since they’re molded permanently in a “repulsors firing” pose, putting them at his sides looks weird and the only other really viable pose makes him look like he’s surrendering. (Well, and if you had an appropriately sized globe and some Fun-Tac, you could turn him into a statue of Atlas, I suppose.)
All in all, a little disappointing, if only because over the last few years I’ve been spoiled by the dramatic advances in action figure articulation technology. This guy’s only a little more poseable than the original 3-1/2″ Star Wars figures. In a 12″ figure, these days, you tend to expect a bit more. On the other hand, I’ve seen catalog entries for (but no pictures of, yet) other 12″ toys from this series, so maybe those, lacking electronics to accommodate, will do a little better on the “action” front. Also, the smaller figures in the line look promising on paper, though I haven’t seen them in person yet.
Benjamin D. Hutchins is an author, public relations writer, and semiprofessional muser upon the random. His other nonfiction writings can be found here and here.