- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hasbro helps bring Tony Stark’s latest movie adventures to a child’s hand with its line-up of Assemblers action figures.

Offering a collection of 3 3/4-inch-tall, multi-articulated mini masterpieces composed of armored and weapons variations of the Iron Man technology, each figure allows the swapping of its snap-on head, appendages and parts to produce hundreds of hero combinations.

Building such warriors as Stealth Tech Iron Man, War Machine, Star Boost Iron Man and Iron Patriot takes a new meaning to the phrase “Avengers Assemble.”

Figure profile (paraphrased from the box): When Tony Stark’s good friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes (played by Don Cheadle) was given the chance to live every soldier’s dream, he jumped at the opportunity. With his armor repainted in new, patriotic colors, and a new pride in his step, he stands tall in defense of freedom in his inspirational high-tech and high-caliber suit.

Accessories: A lack of articulation in the arms, legs and torso quickly eclipses the impressive red, silver and blue paint detail of the figure.

Still, what’s to admire of this Assembler is his interchangeable armor system. Owners of Iron Patriot torso get two pair of arms (one with added shoulder armor), legs and a head.

Now lets add an M124 minigun mountable on his back to peek out over his shoulder, a shield with a spring-loaded missile (you’ll poke an eye out) inserted into holes on his arm or back and Iron Patriot is ready to save the day against the Mandarin.

Most important, the pieces pop in and off with little effort and will keep the creative youngster in the family busy for hours.

Price: $9.99

Read all about it: James Rhodes was not the first person to wear the Iron Patriot suit. Rather, in comics mythology, Spider-Man’s arch enemy Norman (Green Goblin) Osborn wore the armor during his alliance with the Dark Avengers.

Seek out the Marvel Comics’ trade paperback Dark Avengers: Volume 1, Assemble ($19.99), compiling the first six issues of the series and starring the prose of Brian Michael Bendis and art of Mike Deodato Jr., to learn more.

What’s it worth: The Iron Patriot won’t appeal to collectors still enamored with the much more impressively detailed Marvel Universe line of 3 3/4-inch figures. However, the Assemblers are not really for the 40-year-old action figure connoisseur, now are they?

The collection offers a sturdily built, role-playing frenzy for the 7-year-old in love with the Iron Man mythos and ready to let his imagination take control while building his favorite armored heroes.

Note: Parents should quickly find a small container to house the collection of small parts for the figures or they might find a Stealth Tech arm embedded in the bottom of their foot when sneaking down stairs for a midnight snack.

Pop Vault

A look at some other types of Hasbro action figures devoted to the new movie “Iron Man 3” and the Iron Man comic book universe.

Classic Iron Man (ages 4 and older $14.99) — Part of the Marvel Legends latest collection (including Iron Patriot and Heroic Age Iron Man), this 6-inch-tall figure harkens back to the days when comic book artists George Tuska, Don Heck, Gene Colan and Gil Kane brought the hero to life in the Silver Age of comics.

Loaded with at least 20 points of articulation, the hero arrives adorned with metallic red-and-gold armor and two head sculpts, easily swappable. One features the horned noggin style (my favorite and most memorable from the days of Tales of Suspense, No. 48) and the more common head (refer to The Invincible Iron Man, No. 1 from 1968).

By the way, Classic Iron Man is part of the latest “Build A Figure” Marvel Legends collection and includes the right leg of the Iron Monger. Unfortunately, collectors will need to wait to the fall to collect the complete Marvel Legends set and all of pieces to assemble a master villain of ole’ Shell-Head.

Arc Strike Iron Man (3 AAA batteries included, ages 4 and older, $21.99) Hasbro offers a 10-inch, interactive statue showcasing Iron Man’s Mark 42 armor while giving younger fans a chance to hear and control their favorite hero. A combination of motion-sensing, lights, sound effects and dialogue bring the figure to life.

First press a hip button to light up the armor and hear an impressive selection of about a dozen phrases (none uttered by Robert Downey Jr.) including “scanning for possible threats,” “repulsors full power,” and “Iron Patriot, you aim high and I’ll aim low.” Even the soothing voice of computer Jarvis delivers an update on combat systems.

Now, tilt the figure forward, the head bobs up as eyes, chest and pulsars light up and owners get some flight sounds. Set figure back down on its feet and we get a clunk and are back-to-land combat sounds.

My younger reviewers found two issues with the potential role-play action. The flight sounds do not stay on as a child moves Iron Man moves around the room, and the figure’s mild articulation, only arms lift, make it a limited adventure at best and more suited as an expensive novelty to rest on an owner’s bedroom shelf.

Iron Man Micro Muggs (ages 4 and older, $2.99 each) Hasbro shrinks its popular Mighty Muggs line down to 1.5-inch-tall figures for fans in desperate need of a pocket-sized, Iron Man fix.

Potential owners buy a box and won’t know which of the possible 24 figures they purchased until they rip it open, offering a modicum of collectibility.

Problem is that the small, hard plastic statues are pretty boring with no articulation and minimal paint schemes. Actually, they look like something you might pull out of a gumball machine in a Food Lion.

My suggestion is pass on the Micro Muggs and look out for Diamond Select Toys’ Iron Man 3 Minimates (about $8 for two) that offer 2-inch tall blocky designs of some of the characters of the latest film loaded with articulation.

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