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Neo Classic Iron Man/Stilt-Man

Minimates
by yo go re

I've got a confession to make: sometimes I can't tell one Iron Man suit from another. Sure, if you line them all up I can pick out the differences, but other than a few major versions, the names don't mean jack to me.

Tony Stark's Neo Classic Iron Man armor made its debut after his lighter armor was destroyed in a battle with The Controller and several others in his rogues' gallery. While on the surface this new armor does not appear to vary much from previous incarnations, it is much heavier and stronger than past suits, and the first to feature an integrated force field and increased power to the repulsor rays.

You ever wonder where Marvel comes up with the names for these armors? It's not like there's some definitive source. The Model XIV, Mark I armor is called "Neo Classic" for this figure, but fans call it "Classic II," "Oversized Red and Gold Armor," "Horse Collar Armor," "Coffee Can Armor" and probably dozens of other identifiers. How are we expected to communicate without a shared vocabulary? Put out a simple guide, Marvel!

Whatever you want to call it, this suit debuted in Iron Man #231, at the end of the original Armor Wars. Tony sacrificed the Silver Centurion Armor to fake Iron Man's death, but couldn't stay out of the game for long, building this bigger suit. The armor's dominant feature is the bulk around the chest and shoulders, which this Minimate tries to duplicate by adding new shoulderpads and a little collar. Unfortunately the shoulders are angular, rather than rounded the way they should be, and though the collar is nice, it would have been better if he'd gotten a short chest cap to make him properly large. He does have a new repulsor blast left hand and huge boots, though.

The helmet is a new mold, with all the details painted on the face. Again, that's a bad choice, because the paint is crooked, so Iron Man is constantly looking off to the side - check before you buy. The face beneath is a surprisingly angry Tony Stark; maybe this is actually the Model XIV, Mark II armor, which he wore after being shot and paralyzed by an ex-girlfriend; that would make anybody angry! His wavy hair is a new piece, as well.

Wilbur Day was a mild-mannered scientist - until he stole the plans for a hydraulic ramming device which he soon used to invent his battle-suit. As Stilt Man, Wilbur has fought against the likes of Spider-Man, Captain America and even Thor himself!

Stilt-Man was originally a Daredevil villain, but quickly achieved the status of "throwaway loser the hero beats while on their way to somewhere else." Yay him! He's also one of the only named characters the Punisher has ever managed to kill, and since he was blown up on-panel (rocket launcher to the crotch), there's not much chance of that being retconned. Of course, since the only part of his body that's visible through the costume is his mouth, finding a replacement shouldn't be too hard.

Stilt-Man is one of the tallest Marvel Minimates released to date. Even in its "resting" position, the suit gives the wearer a minor height boost, and this figure does the same. He's 2¾" tall, so he already stands a full head taller than the average figure. He gets a fancy belt, a big neck brace thing (possibly to protect him if he falls?) and rings around his forearms to simulate his gloves. His helmet is repainted from Yellowjacket, and if you take it off you'll see big white goggles.

He comes with a gun (a silver version of Blue Beetle's BB gun), but the important thing is his legs. Stilt-Man doesn't have normal Minimate legs, rather getting unique hips that immediately end in little pegs. The pegs then fit into his leg armor, which are 1⅛" long segmented tubes. Two more leg pieces are attached to the back of his collar: since they're all modular, you can double his height. Buy as many Stilt-Men as you can find, and you can build him forever. Supposedly in the comics his stilts can extend up to 250' - in order to duplicate that, you'd only need 83 of the segments (per leg), so get buying! And with two segments per leg per set, you only need to buy 41 more sets to reach that number! To keep him standing, the set also includes a black disc base with a peg specifically designed for his tubular feet.

The argument could be made that the Minimates are the greatest Marvel toyline ever. They've survived rumors of their own cancellation several times, and no other property that's been Minimatized has even come close to matching their longevity. The first series of Marvel Minimates were released on July 9, 2003, which means the line just celebrated its seventh anniversary. That puts them in some really rarified company. And really, how many toylines ever get so far into the catalog to produce a loser character like Stilt-Man? Hasbro's Star Wars, Playmates' World of Springfield... anything else? At all? It shows a dedication to the license, and is a measure of success that DST feels they can safely release someone like this. I really wish he came with more legs, but still, this is a very cool set.

-- 07/19/10


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