Hot Toys Iron Man MK XLIII Makes Me Eat My Words [Review]
I give Hot Toys a lot of grief over the number of Iron Man figures its released since the first movie arrived back in 2008. Over the course of the last seven years, there have been more than 40 different Iron Man sixth-scale figures (including Tony Starks) crafted by Hot Toys. New armors or variants seemingly get announced every week, and with Iron Man set to appear in at least a few more Marvel movies over the next four years, it's a trend that will likely continue, too. However, in all that time, I've only ever purchased one figure based on the license, and even that was a Tony Stark figure, not a true Iron Man suit of armor.
Given just how many armors have been released by Hot Toys, you'd think it would be hard to craft a piece that truly stands out among it peers. To an extent, that's true enough of the Avengers: Age of Ultron Iron Man MK XLIII sixth-scale figure. Just like its movie counterpart, the Hot Toys MK XLIII is a repainted MK XLII from Iron Man 3, which swaps the red and gold color arrangement. But that's just on the surface. Where this figure sets itself apart is in the little details, and sometimes that kind of attention to minutiae can make all the difference.
Though I have a few Hot Toys Marvel figures in my collection, I was surprised at the heft of the AoU Iron Man out of the box. Being made with die-cast components (but not 100% die-cast), the figure automatically adds some weight to its build versus a more standard Iron Man sixth-scale collectible. All that added bulk isn't really visible in the build, as the metal components are truly indistinguishable at first glance. It isn't until you've got Iron Man in you hands up close that you can really see a discernible difference in the machining of its parts.
This figure came one one of the more elaborate instruction manuals I've seen in a Hot Toys figures. Typically the little booklets are just filled with advice on how to handle posing so as not to ruin the paint applications or joints. Iron Man's had those details, but included even more "handle with care" comments with regards to all those metal bits. See, they're pretty sharp around the edges, and as a result, could end up scraping/scratching the paint off adjacent parts if you weren't careful. As if there isn't already enough pressure handling one of these $300+ figures.
In addition to notes on where to best locate parts that may cause injury, there were also detailed battery insertion instructions. Iron Man comes with five different lighted body parts (both arms, chest, and two heads), each of which needs 3-4 of the world's tiniest batteries. They're not hard to put in place, but it is a little bit of a challenge if you have large hands. Fortunately, the end result is worth the effort, as seeing Iron Man all lit up drives home the realism Hot Toys has striven to recreate. There's some outrageous detail in the chest reactor, too, which is so technical and precise, it's hard to believe detail like that can be achieved at such a small scale.
Most importantly in the directions though are the notes on how to properly pose Iron Man with the extended limbs. Where the film version of Iron Man is made of mostly CGI, and thus doesn't worry much about whether or not he'll be able to rotate his arms in a manner consistent with an actual human, Hot Toys needs to incorporate actual movement into its figure. Nobody wants an Iron Man that can't move his arms. It's bad enough when figures based on more agile characters like Black Widow and Captain America can barely articulate. To have the same thing happen with a figure that isn't constricted by a skintight body suit would be unacceptable.
In his shoulders, pelvis and abdomen, Hot Toys has included extensions to allow for a more fluid figure. By gently pulling on either shoulder, you can slide out the rotor and swing either arm into a position that suits your mood. When the shoulders are popped back in, the range of motion is significantly decreased and the shoulder pads scrape against the trapezius portions of the armor. There's a small extender in the abs as well, which when pulled up, lets you twists Iron Man's upper torso slightly. There's about 45 degrees of movement, which isn't a lot, but it is enough to offer variety in posing.
A small button on Iron Man's lower back unlocks the pelvis, which you can pull down to give the hips actual room to move. The legs and chest are where the most die-cast parts are, and when the figure is locked in the normal position, the contact points for all that metal are immediately visible if you try to swing the legs in any direction. Sliding the pelvis down opens up a nice gap to allow for free movement, and some more dynamic stances. When both the legs and arms are popped out for posing, Iron Man does look a bit disproportionate. It's not something that's obvious to more casual observers, but if you're used to tinkering with figures in a collection like this, the slight variances will catch your eye.
Once you do get used to the different ways in which you have to handle this Iron Man in order to pose it, there are some cool things you can do. There are multiple heads included (one closed and one open with Tony's face visible), which has become a staple of the Iron Man line. Our version included a third "battle damaged" head as well, which had some nice scarring effects and red LED lights instead of the standard white. Iron Man also comes with a few different hands you can use (fists, open palms, articulated fingers) and two different right forearm parts (closed and open with missile). All these small touches give you more than enough material to create a vision of Iron Man that suits your style best.
Despite being a reversed palette colorway of the MK XLII, the Age of Ultron's Iron Man still looks fantastic. If there's one thing you can almost assuredly never knock on a Hot Toys figure, it's the paint application. Sometimes the portraits don't come out as well as you'd expect from such a pricey piece, but you can almost always guarantee the paint job will be tremendous. That's certainly the case here, as not only crisp and clear and shiny, there are also some nice embellishments in the wear and tear department. This suit is clearly one from after the battle against Hydra, as Tony's got a lot of minor damage to his suit. The MK XLII included actual battle damage pieces to swap around, but here the affected areas are more subtle.
That stellar paint work continues into the special base and busted up Ultron MK I, too. The base is a simple rocky area, but the granular detailing makes it hard to ignore. It also helps separate this Iron Man from the legion that previously released with the special lighted base. This Iron Man has seen some action, and isn't just a prototype that may never see the light of day beyond the lab. Though small and made from plastic versus metal, the destroyed Ultron MK I is a nice touch. The detail is just as impressive as the main figure, but the paint app is a little duller. The actual production run figure of Ultron MK I looked much better at SDCC this year, so anyone worried this mini version would be indicative of full 1/6 scale quality can assuage those concerns. That this piece looks so much more unspectacular compared to Iron Man takes away from the aesthetic a bit, but the slight articulation and ability to pull it apart to make a more interesting diorama make up for it a bit.
For as much of a hard time as I give Hot Toys for its seemingly endless array of Iron Man collectibles, even I can't deny the meticulous attention to detail that has been paid to making these figures such a success. Hot Toys wouldn't be making them if people weren't constantly buying the latest version. The Avengers: Age of Ultron Iron Man MK XLIII is a strong statement, and delivers everything that's so great about the company's products in one piece. If I already owned an Iron Man, I can't say this figure would have been enough to persuade me to add another, but it has shown me that owning at least one actual Iron Man figure is worth the price of admission. Even if that price is a bit higher than Hot Toys less metallic heroes.
You can purchase the Hot Toys Avengers: Age of Ultron Iron Man MK XLIII sixth-scale figure now from Sideshow Collectibles for $344.99. This figure was provided by Sideshow Collectibles for review.
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