You have to wonder about ToyBiz, sometimes: are they really so out of touch that they can't tell the popular figures from those that will just be pegwarmers? When Marvel Legends 8 was announced, anyone could have easily picked one figure out as unneccessary: Modern Armor 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 not that Iron Man is a bad character or that the armor is ugly. No, the problem is that we already have plenty of Iron Man figures; we just got one in series 7, for pete's sake! Was anyone really clamoring for two Iron Men in a row? No, they weren't.
This time Iron Man is a completely new sculpt. Yes, the Silver Centurion armor was well done, but it was, at its heart, just a repaint. For the Modern Armor, ToyBiz started fresh. The design is nice, very distinct from all Stark's previous armors. Most of the old suits looked, for the most part, like a few big pieces of red metal worn over yellow cloth - the suits were designed to look anatomical.
The Modern Armor is more like a series of overlapping plates: it's anime-inspired without looking too "manga," which is good. He doesn't look like a miniature Gundam (more like a miniature Eva), but this is definitely an advanced suit of armor, from head to toe. The sculpt is very detailed, with the edges of all the metal plates clearly defined. This is much more intricate than the original, and even has the edge on the Silver Centurion sculpt.
Modern Armor IM looks smaller than the previous two figures, though he stands the same 6½" tall. Look at the size of his head as comparison: MAIM just looks tiny! Of course, if they'd made him larger, fans would be complaining that he was out of scale. The facial sculpt is nice, and the armor's faceplate fits in place well. The gray mouthpiece looks a little out of place, but it's part of the design.
The figure moves at the toes, ankles, shins, knees,
hips, waist, torso, shoulders (times two), elbows, forearms, wrists, neck and head, and even has four individual finger joints on each hand - I guess you can get away with that in these non-organic designs. It's a bit disappointing that he can't flex his wrists back to aim his repulsor beams; the plate of armor at his wrist keeps them from moving that way. The colors aren't as vibrant as the original red and yellow, but that just helps him look more realistic; the paint apps are applied well, with no spillage among all those tiny details. But shouldn't the little beam thing on the front of his chest be painted something other than red?
Fortunately for Tony, the figure's base
is probably going to tip quite a few fans who might be on the fence in his favor. MAIM gets a 5⅞" tall section of wall that he's just blasted through - the edges of the hole are painted the same bright orange as Ghost Rider's bike to make them look nearly molten. Scattered on the floor are the wrecked bodies of four Ultrons, letting you play "Avengers Disassembled" with Vision.
MAIM doesn't come with a reprint comic for some reason. Instead, we get a poster book showcasing different artists' takes on the armor-clad Avenger. Would it really have been so hard to find a story featuring this armor that made sense to new readers? If so, then it's time for the editors to have a talk with whoever is writing the book.
Modern Armor Iron Man isn't a figure that demanded to be made, and he'll probably be pretty easy to find even a few months from now. But overall, it is a good update and a worthy addition, even if you own one of the others.