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Hulkbuster Iron Man

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

While most companies just endlessly recycle the one main character from their line, ToyBiz at least tries to change it up in their Marvel Legends line, finding new ways to create dumb variations of three different characters - Wolverine, Ghost Rider and Iron Man.

The son of a wealthy industrialist, Tony Stark was an inventive mechanical engineering prodigy. He inherited his father's business at age 21, transforming the company, Stark International, into one of the world's leading weapons manufacturers. While field-testing a suit of battle armor in Asia, Stark was struck in the chest by a piece of shrapnel and taken prisoner by the warlord Wong-Chu. He was ordered to create a weapon of mass destruction - only then would he receive the operation needed to save his life. Along with fellow prisoner Ho Yinsen, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Stark began work on a modified exoskeleton equipped with heavy weaponry. Yinsen designed the armor's breastplate to sustain the industrialist's wounded heart. Stark donned the suit in an attempt to escape captivity. Overcoming the warlord's forces, Stark returned to America and redesigned the suit. Inventing the cover story that Iron Man was his bodyguard, he embarked on a double life as a billionaire industrialist and costumed adventurer.

It's great that they keep coming up with new ways to make Iron Man figures, but for crying out loud, could they write some new damn text for the back of the cards? They keep giving us new armors, so why not throw some of the suit's specs on there? This is the Hulkbuster armor, which has impact-resistant carbon composites and a magno-hydraulic pseudomusculature rated at 175 tons, but you wouldn't know it from looking at the package.

Despite that, the figure looks great. The Hulkbuster armor was originally designed to be a series of add-ons to Tony's normal suit (at the time, he was using "modular" armor designed, much like the concurrent toy line, to accept any number of interchangeable bits) but it has been redesigned for this figure as stand-alone gear. The general design is the same, but a few of the surface details have been changed.

Though the standard IM armor had proven generally effective against the Hulk in the past, Tony was always one to be ready for anything. Good thing, too, because when the combined Smart Hulk found out about a Stark Enterprises-owned gamma bomb factory, he came a'calling.

Sculpted by Dave Cortes, Hulkbuster Iron Man is a massive figure, standing 7¾" tall. He's also bulky as all hell, so he really looks like he'd have the brawn to go up against Dr. Banner. Though the plates and rivets on this armor aren't as numerous as they are on, say, Modern Armor Iron Man, he's not a plain lump, either: there are ridges suggesting reinforced boots, giant gears supporting his ankles, large angular kneepads, ribbed plates on his stomach and giant shields on his forearms. His fingers are thick and square, with sculpted knuckles. There are hatches ratcheted onto the backs of his hands, and beehive hubcaps on his shoulders. This guy is killer!

Despite his increased size, Hulkbuster Iron Man is just average when it comes to articulation. The biggest surprise is that he has individually articulated fingers, and even that is becoming more common these days. By not going overboard, however, ToyBiz made sure that his huge weight wouldn't be a problem - look for these joints to be perfectly sturdy for some time to come.

Actually, no, the biggest surprise isn't the fingers, it's what's under the hood - HB Iron Man's helmet flips back to reveal the man inside. Yes, all the previous ML Iron Man figures have had removable faceplates, but this is the first time we've seen Tony's entire head. Popping the hatch really gives the figure a sense of scale: unless he's some kind of circus freak, Tony's actual body must end around the suit's knees and elbows. Instead of just a floating head, there's a nice selection of technological doodads sculpted all around the interior of the suit. The head is swivel/hinged, adding another two points of articulation to the tally.

Part of the "Legendary Riders" series, HB Iron Man doesn't have a motorcycle or anything silly like that: he's got a 9" wide flying wing designed to look like it's hovering. Though the Hulkbuster armor could fly under its own power in the comics, this design is different enough to warrant calling it the Hulkbuster Mark II, and maybe the Mark II armor is too heavy for long-distance travel under its own power; hell, if spaceships can get rolled out to the launch pad on a big tray, so can Iron Man.

The hover sled is gold and red, to match Iron Man's classic color scheme, though its use of red is just for accent. There are two large spots for IM's oversized feet, and a peg that allows you to plug it into his back as a giant flightpack. It's not a necesssary accoutrement, but it's not stupid, either.

Hulkbuster Iron Man comes with a reprint of Iron Man #305, the issue that actually saw the Hulkbuster armor in use. It's a pretty good story, showing off not just the features of the suit, but what kind of man Tony Stark is. There's a subplot about business dealings and a backup story about one of Stark's security agents hunting down a hacker, but neither of those are very interesting - we're here to see the big robot fight the green man.

-- 12/08/05


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