- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thanks to the proliferation of film, comic book and cartoon characters, companies are bombarding consumers with an incredible selection of action figures. With tongue in cheek, let’s take a peek at some of the specimens worthy of a place in Zad’s Iron Man Toy Vault.

War Machine

Hasbro helps children and collectors bond with Tony Stark’s weapons of mass destruction with its “Iron Man 2” collection of action figures. Based on the stars from the new movie and comic books, these 3-inch-tall gems feature more than a dozen points of articulation and multiple accessories.

The current group of armor-encased icons 16 variations will be available, by the way includes Inferno Mission Armor, Mark I through Mark VI suits, Hypervelocity Armor, Iron Monger, Crimson Dynamo and a suit used by Tony’s best buddy.

Figure profile: From the packaging This suit is modified by military technicians for Tony Stark’s best friend, James Rhodes. What it lacks in the advanced weaponry of the Mark IV, it more than makes up for with an overwhelming payload courtesy of the Air Force.



Accessories: This pint-sized powerhouse in silver and dark gray armor wields a retractable machine gun (with belt) and working missile launcher along with a pair of projectiles.

He also gets a display base and trio of Armor Cards, a new concept to Hasbro’s action-figure lines. These collectible miniature trading cards include a pair of translucent overlays that highlight armor parts and can be mixed with other cards to illustrate new suit models.

Price: $6.99

Play potential: This is a very solid figure, but watch out when attaching the weapons to the back sliding mounts and don’t yank at the shoulder pads. Also, the bullet belt is a complete pain to attach, and please don’t move the weapons while it is in place.

Read all about it: A trio of Marvel Publishing trade paperbacks highlights James Rhodes’ valiant work. First, Iron Man: War Machine ($16.99) collects writer Len Kaminski’s story arc from Iron Man, Nos. 281 to 291, that explores the Stark/Rhodes friendship. Next, a pair of books “War Machine: Volume 1, Iron Heart” and “War Machine: Volume 2, Dark Reign” ($15.99 each) compile the 12 issues of the Greg Pak story.

What’s it worth? With 40 figures to be released over the year, tweens will find plenty of play potential with their army of iron men as they coexist with Hasbro’s in-scale figures based on the Marvel, Star Wars and G.I. Joe universes.

Mark VI Metalon

Mega Brands uses the power of magnetism to bring some of Tony Stark’s greatest armor designs to life with its Metalon collection.

The 6-inch-tall sets include more than two dozen pieces that mix and match with other Metalon figures. Current characters include the War Machine and the version of Iron Man seen in the latest movie.

Figure profile: From the website (www.megabrands.com) The Mark VI is the latest refined design of Tony Stark’s Iron Man armor, packed with all sorts of new gadgets and weapons, including the triangular repulsor technology.

Accessories: Owners assemble, and can just as easily disassemble, 26 red and yellow plastic pieces, including metal joints. The armor can be removed easily to reveal a robotic-looking being one might find in the “Terminator” movies.

For the ultimate Iron Man collection, pick up Mega Brands Tri-Armor Suitcase set ($19.99) featuring one robot skeleton and three sets of interchangeable armor, including the Mark II, Mark III (with battle damage) and Mark V. Of course, the case resembles the one seen in the movie and the armor sets fit snugly within it.

Price: $9.99

From the 10-year-old builder’s mouth, paraphrased: It was very easy to build and just as easy to lose a limb in the heat of battle.

Read all about it: “Invincible Iron Man Omnibus: Volume 1,” ($39.99) compiles 19 issues of the monthly series in a hard-bound edition with a pair of story arcs highlighting Stark’s deteriorating mind issues and many of his armor variations.

What’s it worth? Despite being a perfect match for the Mega Brands magnetic figures, the Iron Man collection is a bit pricey and does not quite deliver the beauty or detail of the company’s Halo Wars Spartan magnetic figure line. However, my slight criticism will not stop a young fan from quickly begging parents for all of the Metalon sets.

Pop vault

A look at more toys devoted to the main character from “Iron Man 2,” now in theaters.

Iron Man Helmet (Hasbro, $34.99, includes 3 AA batteries) Hasbro cornered the market with licensed pop-culture headgear for the “Star Wars” and “Transformers” fan in the family. Its latest offers the most advanced role-play item yet, with a helmet that looks a bit like the Iron Man design seen in the Ultimate series from the Marvel comics universe.

The helmet uses adjustable straps to tightly and completely fit over a youngster’s head. Features include a bank of buttons on the earpiece and retractable armor visor that closes with the press of a button and glows blue around the translucent eye area.

A selection of weapon, flight and operational sound effects (from the ear buttons) enhance an owner’s experience while the all-calming voice of Stark’s artificial intelligence, JARVIS, offers advice and direction with phrases such as “Iron Man, bogies are on your tail.”

A robotic voice of Iron Man (not Robert Downey Jr.) also offers a limited selection of vocalizations, led by “I am Iron Man.”

Now, throw in Hasbro’s Arc Chest Light ($6.99, includes two AAA batteries) that mimics Stark’s latest lifesaving technology. Press the center and it illuminates and offers power-up sounds. A cup helps conveniently mount the light to the chest of any human wearing a thin shirt.

Rocket Boost Iron Man (Hasbro, $24.99, includes two AA batteries) Younger fans of Tony Stark’s exploits are not forgotten with this 10-inch-tall, very kid-friendly version of Iron Man plucked from the Marvel Super Hero Squad.

The mostly hard plastic figure presents the Mark VI armor design and seven points of articulation.

Press his arc chest device or earpiece to hear a teen version of Stark speak five phrases and a selection of sound effects. His eyes, chest and repulsor weapon also light up.

This Iron Man also comes with wings and shoulder missile launchers (no projectiles included) that pop up with a click of the button or can be completely removed to view the more traditional costume.

Whiplash Showdown (Mega Brands $19.99) Mega Brands takes a bit of artistic license with the first confrontation between Ivan Vanko and Tony Stark with this buildable multivehicle battle extravaganza.

I’ll ignore the problems with the instruction manual, which had pages upside down and in the wrong order. Let’s, instead, concentrate on the positives and fun provided when constructing a 7-inch-tall, mech walker with detachable flight pod and cockpit for Whiplash (complete with rubbery blue whips and a working missile launcher).

Stark gets a 6-inch-long red-and-silver Stark race car with rubber tires, cockpit and pull-back action.

The crown jewels of the set are the pair of 2-inch-tall micro action figures. Builders get the shirtless Whiplash (who slightly resembles Mickey Rourke) with a pair of blue whips and a Mark V version of Iron Man complete with a miniature suitcase.

Expect a 10-year-old to spend about 60 minutes building the 172-piece set as long as he doesn’t try to follow the directions.

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