As I said before, while a walking trashcan with flamethrowers is okay for busting out of a flea-infested dirthole at the back of beyond, once you're home with the world's most advanced R&D lab in the basement, it's not surprising that you'd start thinking you could do a bit better.
The thick, interlocking plates of this armor offer a high degree of protection to the wearer from small arms fire, ranging up to light artillery. Integrated artificial intelligence grant extremely sophisticated tactical options, making the user a match for far superior forces.
With the aid of a supercomputer named Jarvis and a really cool holographic workbench, Tony Stark gets a lot closer to the Iron Man we know and... well, detest, in the case of most Marvel readers currently, but it's definitely a love-to-hate kind of thing. Iron Man MkII is sleek and sophisticated, its technology streamlined and miniaturised, its aesthetic closer to cutting edge strike aircraft than the MkI's Great-War-tank-style design. It's still grey, but in all other regards it's light-years ahead of the old clunker Tony broke out of jail in.
The MkII may not be the Iron Man of the movie, but it's close enough that the toy shares the same mold.
There's quite a lot of detail in the sculpt, with lots and lots of seams between plates, mostly laid out in a musculature-inspired pattern that gives a very futuristic look to the suit - it's still clearly a machine, but it's a very, very good one. There are fine details here and there - locking bolts on the chest and shoulders, vents on the back, and interlocks on the "spine," for instance - but there aren't any of the rivets or weld lines that characterized the MkI's homemade appearance. It's debatable whether or not you could actually fit a human body within the slim dimensions of this suit - especially while retaining any kind of serious armour capacity - but it looks advanced enough that suspension of disbelief isn't that difficult.
It's paint that sets this suit apart from the finished Iron Man, and the paint job is good... but not great. As with the MkI, bare metallic grey plastic is used, and this time the swirling does look bad -
there's a black wash to bring out the sculpted detail of the armour, but the irregular, asymmetrical colour variances of the swirls don't fit in with it, leaving the suit looking less clean and polished than it did on screen. On the plus side there are various silver paint apps on the thighs, biceps, and faceplate - most of the places where the final suit had its gold - and they come out nice and clean, giving the whole armour a shiny, solid feeling. There are also small yellow details around the hips and knees, marking joint profiles and indicating key points, very much in keeping with the prototype theme. The eyes are a two-tone blue, with slightly brighter centres, inside a black border, and the ARC reactor in the chest is a very glossy eggshell blue.
Articulation is plentiful, and almost all that you'd ever need. The neck is a balljoint, surprisingly mobile considering how tightly the head sits over the neck - there's some play in the plastic of the head, but it's sturdy, and the joint is tight. The shoulders are balljoints, with the shoulder armour mounted on pegs at the cross-section of the joint, turning freely to allow the arm to move. Double peg elbows and balljoint wrists round out the arms, and here's the one flaw - the heavy armour on the back of the hand doesn't allow the hand to be held with the palm facing forward, as if the palm-mounted repulsor were being fired. The torso incorporates a balljoint, but the fit of the chestplates over the abdomen is very tight - it's a useful, versatile joint, but not a very wide-ranging one.
Balljoint hips with three-axis mobility, double peg knees, and balljoint ankles (limited by the shin armour) finish off the legs. I found the hips a little loose, but not so much that the figure has trouble standing - it just won't necessarily hold the position of the leg if you pick the figure up.
The MkII features two spring-loaded "missile launchers" - at least, that's what the packaging claims, though given that even it says they fire missile "blasts," let's just admit they're repulsors and be done with it. They're cast in the same metallic grey as the suit, and fit equally well over the biceps or forearms - but they're ginormously big compared to the sleek armour. As spring-loaded weapons go they're quite serviceable, and provide plenty of play value if that's what's required, but as a collector the best thing about the launchers is that they're not permanently attached.
Of course, silver is all well and good, but everyone knows that red ones go faster...
This armor suit is the peak of human technological achievement.
It makes the wearer extraordinarily strong, and resistant to damage even from tank shells and rockets. Equipped with an array of repulsors and missiles, it is nearly unstoppable.
And it's red and gold! Okay, in the movie the MkIII was (evidently) all kinds of advanced compared to the MkII, but so far as we're concerned it's the same figure with a new paint scheme. All the MkII comments apply so far as sculpt goes, but the red and gold does make a big difference. The use of glossy red paint for the armour's primary colour, rather than cast plastic, means there's no swirls, and though there is a wash, the dark red armour absorbs a lot of its visual effect, making it look even more sleek and advanced - instead of ink shadowing the crevices to provide detail, here it's the light reflects off the leading edges, making the whole body look thinner and smoother. The contrasting gold patches set up a much brighter, heroic feeling, though the dark red keeps the figure from looking too toy-like.
Iron Man MkIII also gets silver paint on a collar piece, the locking bolts on his chest,
and the hinge bolts on his boots, which keep him from looking too streamlined. His ARC reactor is a pearly, glossy white, brighter than the MkII's, and the two-tone effect of his eyes seems a little brighter, making the eyes seem to glow a bit more, especially set against the gold faceplate, slightly darker compared to the silver. As it's the same body as the MkII the articulation is identical - right down to the loose hip joints, which suggest it's something inherent to the line, and the hands not hinging far enough back. It's worth noting that, probably due to the slightly soft plastic used, many of the joints on all these figures were stuck when they came out of the packaging -
a little coaxing freed them up, but it would be wise to be careful twisting joints with thin pegs, like the wrists, until they're definitely turning freely in their sockets rather than shearing.
The MkIII comes with a repulsor cannon - same design as the MkII's pair, but only one of them this time. It has the same glossy red paint applied to the main casing to make it blend in with the armour, leaving the barrel silver, while the pale blue missile is identical to MkII's, as is the degree to which it looks way too big.
When you're merchandising a movie called Iron Man, your action figures of Iron Man had better be passable. Here, Hasbro delivers - there may be some small issues, but overall these are pleasing, versatile, enjoyable figures. I hadn't intended to buy them, but I found myself so entertained by the movie that I did anyway, and I'm not disappointed.