Iron Man Mk VI
Review by Prometheum5
The Invincible Iron Man is basically American tokusatsu, so it is fitting that Marvel’s movie-verse Iron Man is the latest addition to Bandai’s SH Figuarts line. The Figuarts line is designed to bring live action characters to life with incredible detail and unparalleled articulation. When the Iron Man releases were first announced, I realized that Bandai’s effort could very well be the best small-scale action figure the Golden Avenger has ever received.
Iron Man Mk VI was introduced in 2010’s Iron Man 2 as the end-of-film upgrade Tony Stark cooks up to cure his dying artificial heart and provide the extra boost he needed to save the day. The Figuarts Mk VI comes packaged in them standard diecut style box for the line with sharp graphics and photoshopped pictures of the toy. On the back of the box Iron Man is pictured along with War Machine, the other Marvel Figuarts release so far. Look for a review of War Machine shortly!
Iron Man stands around six inches tall and is made from some combination of PVC, ABS, and probably POM plastics, with diecast metal feet for balance. Most of the figure is molded in hard materials for sharp detail, but armor bits like on the skirt and hips are made of softer plastic for flexibility. The paint has a wonderful, deep metallic luster and is without flaw.
Iron Man sizes up well alongside a standard six inch (1/12 scale) human figure, with a Wraith Pheyden for scale. As a man in a suit of armor the figure is a little lean in spots, but that’s comics for you. The suit in the film works within a very thin margin of believability anyway, and I would rather the figure be sculpted for mobility rather than perfect realism.
The back of the figure shows off additional detail. The elbows and knees are particularly well engineered, which we will get to in a moment.
The Figuarts line combines the best of both worlds, delivering sharp detail and an incredible range of motion with a focus on maintaining a lifelike appearance. One of the main goals of the line is to have extremely dynamic figures that still look like a human skeleton would fit in them, so the stylization is kept to a minimum. The joints all move smoothly with just the right tightness so that the figure is fun and easy to handle while feeling durable and stable.
Bandai’s Iron Man can do a picture perfect Iron Man Movie Poster Pose. I expected nothing less, but this shot still makes me giddy. The Hot Toys Iron Man releases set the standard in detail and craftsmanship, but still were not bendy enough to really nail the poster pose. This guy pulls it off without breaking a sweat.
I’m going to walk through all the really impressive bits on the articulation side before going into features and gimmicks. There are some clever tricks at play here that allow for an incredibly dynamic figure while not sacrificing looks. Since the first Iron Man film debuted toy makers have struggled with Shellhead’s shoulder pads. Hasbro’s line from the first film was plagued by annoying pads that were loosely attached to the shoulder balls and fell off at the slightest touch. Most of the Iron Man 2 figures from Hasbro had flexible shoulder pads attached to the shoulder balls that looked alright but hindered motion. Even the Hot Toys figures’ shoulder pads can be a bit fiddly and fragile at extreme poses. Bandai opted for an elegant solution that keeps the pad on the shoulder while not getting in the way of posing. The pads are attached to a hinge on the top of the shoulder ball, so they will turn with the shoulder and then swing up and out of the way for lateral motion. The pads are securely attached and look natural in all but the most extreme poses.
The elbows are super cool to me, and an area that many other Iron Man figures have struggled. The elbow is double hinged, but the motion point is offset so the elbow can come out for an almost 180° bend. In order to not look like some kind of anatomical disaster, the red elbow guard piece can slide along the inner joint part so that it bridges the gap evenly between the upper and lower arms. On most Hasbro releases the elbows are just big ugly ball joints, and on the Hot Toys release detail was prioritized over motion. Bandai’s solution is much more aggressive and does not skimp on parts count or cleverness to provide the best range of motion while maintaining detail and accuracy.
Iron Man’s wrist guards have been a constant source of anguish on most figures. Hasbro usually sculpts the plates as part of the hands, restricting motion and preventing most of their figures from being able to do any palm-out repulsor firing poses. Hot Toys had to go through a couple of iterations before settling on movable guards attached to the forearms that were hinged, but still prevented good repulsor poses. Diamond Select Toys actually managed a decent attempt on their IM2 figures that allowed for a good range of motion with guards attached to the hands, but then the guards were too short and inaccurate. Kaiyodo put flexible guards on every hand that were flimsy and prone to breaking, before switching to arm-mounted fixed guards. Bandai has opted to provide one set of hinged guards that peg onto the hands. The wrist is a ball joint with good range of motion, and the hinged guards allow for tight repulsor poses without fear of breakage.
Another of the main areas of engineering prowess that allows Bandai’s Iron Man to be so mobile is the abdomen. Bandai took a note from the Hot Toys sculpts with a number of sliding armor segments over a multi-jointed ab unit, allowing for a very wide range of motion in all directions without breaking the lines of the armor.
The hips feature the extendable joints that are standard for the Figuarts line. At ease, the hips can be pushed up a bit, providing a clean look for the figure. For wide stances, the joint pulls down a bit so the leg armor has better clearance. Adding further to the package, check out those ankles!
The knees feature a double jointed segment and collapsible panels on the gold section, allowing for tight bends without making the knees look weird and elongated like on some other high-end action figure lines. The silver knee guard piece is part of the joint part and slides cleanly around the thigh and calf armor when the leg is straight. Everything is mechanically linked internally, so the collapsible gold panel moves in and out on its own back to a flush place with the knee straight.
The one area that I am not as keen on is the helmet sculpt, another area that toy companies have struggled with. The shapes of the mask on Bandai’s version are very severe and the mask is a little too long, giving it a very gaunt and appearance. The cheeks almost look sunken in and sickly. It’s not the best helmet sculpt out there, but it is also not distractingly bad like on the Revoltech MkIV/VI. I also wish the eyes had a little more color or life to them. They are painted shiny whitish silver in an attempt to mimic the look of the eyes lit up, but they are a bit flat and tend to get lost among the other metallic tones of the face.
Speaking of all those also-rans, I wanted to take a shot or two comparing the Figuarts version to the other comparable versions available. From left to right are the Kaiyodo Revoltech Iron Man MkIV (which is the same as the Mk VI but for the chest plate and paint), the Hasbro Mk VI, the Figuarts, and the Diamond Select Toys Mk VI from their eight inch line. Immediately apparent is how over-stylized and misshapen the Revoltech sculpt is. The waist is too thin, the chest shape is all wrong, and that helmet is still the worst. The Hasbro sculpt compares pretty favorably in general proportions. The problem with Hasbro’s sculpt is that the shoulder pads are terrible and the torso is too thick front to back, making Iron Man again look very odd from some angles. The Figuarts sculpt is a little lean in the waist, but that is in line with the traditional ‘heroic’ proportions of classic comic book characters. The DST sculpt is actually quite good with believable proportions and a decent helmet sculpt, but it has no neck. I have never understood how DST released their sculpt with such an obvious and glaring problem that ruins both articulation and the overall look of the figure. The DST figure looks like it was thumped on the head.
Standing at attention is one thing, but how the figures can pose is another. This is where the other versions crumble against the Figuarts Iron Man. The DST figure is stilted and awkward in motion with those weird hips and lack of neck articulation. Hasbro’s release is, again, not bad, but the lousy shoulder pads and fat torso become more apparent. The Revoltech figure can bend in all sorts of odd ways, but never looks natural and is a pain to get standing. Plus, the knees on the Revoltech are hideous. Even in a wide stance the Figuarts figure can keep both feet on the ground, the shoulder pads sit naturally, and he can do better repulsor poses. At this point there’s no reason to give the other figures another glance, unless you absolutely cannot afford an imported figure, in which case the Hasbro figure is still a passable second place.
Bandai’s Iron Man can do any pose you want, but it also has a couple of cool gimmicks to further distance it from other previous versions.
In addition to the fists, splayed hands, and karate chop hands, two repulsor firing hands are included. These hands feature a different wrist shape to allow for tighter palm-out poses, and a peg in the palms.
Two shapes of repulsor blast effect part can be attached to the pegs. The first is a long skinny offensive blast. The effect parts are made from gummy translucent plastic with nice airbrushed color fades.
The second set of repulsor blasts are smaller parts for in-flight maneuvering. I have always really liked the explanation for Stark’s developing the palm-mounted repulsors in the first film as flight stabilizers first and offensive weapons afterwards.
Thanks to a very well designed neck and all those lovely effect parts, Iron Man can pull off a very striking flight pose. Getting him on a stand can be a bit tricky due to the weight of the diecast feet, but once up he looks great.
The flight pose brings us to the third and final set of effect parts, larger gummy candies for the boot jets! These parts peg snugly into holes on the soles of the shoes.
Rounding out the accessories is a set of swappable deployed airbrakes for the shoulder blade armor and for the backs of the calves.
Swapping the back panels can be a bit fiddly. There are two red armor segments on the collar area that come off first, allowing the flaps to be swapped. Replacing the collarbone armor overlaps with the tabs of the flaps, providing a little extra attachment security, but they are pretty small parts to keep track of. The calf armor parts are easier to deal with. Worth noting that the un-deployed parts are actually slightly different, so there is a left and right that will only fit back on one leg each.
Bandai’s SH Figuarts Iron Man Mk VI is smartly designed for fun and articulation while not skimping on details or durability. The build quality on my figure is impeccable, with not a loose joint or stray paint mark anywhere. For 4500Y or around $70 from US retailers you get the best small-scale Iron Man figure yet. This guy is still not on the level of Hot Toys in terms of detail, gimmicks, or shelf presence, but the paint work is on par and the articulation is leagues better. Figuarts Iron Man and War Machine can be still be picked up from a few retailers, and I highly recommend it. Here’s hoping they expand the line to do all the movie suits, because I would happily buy more toys of those designs! Maybe they could even get wild and do some comic suits.
|Posted 25 June, 2013 - 06:09 by Prometheum5|