No preamble. Let’s get into it.
Overview: This might be my favorite assortment of the year so far. There’s a lot to be said for an assortment that is so heavily, well, comic book. We’ve gotten some great movie figures this year, with more to come, but my favorites are always going to be the ones heavily rooted in the Marvel mythos. Couple that with a couple of long-terms Wants, and this turns out to be a real delight.
Stealth Iron Man: Yes, this is essentially the same body as the 80th Anniversary figure and the recent A.I. Iron Man. HOWEVER. Like many of the armored figures in the assortment, it makes great use of the metal finish. Back in the ‘90s Toy Biz Iron Man line, they called it vac (vacuum) metallization. Whatever the process name is now, it looks great. The metallic sheen looks great in the deep blue in particular. Even if you have an earlier pass at the Stealth Iron Man, this still looks extremely good. I was lukewarm on this at the announcement, but I really like it in person.
Vault Guardsman: Though it wasn’t at the top of my Want List, it was still a figure that I wanted to see. I’ve been digging the Guardsmen at least since the Avengers two-parter back in #236 and #237 in 1983. It’s a fun story with Spider-Man, Blackout, Moonstone, and yes, the Guardsmen. This is a strong representation of the characters from the comics, and it also deploys the metal process. There’s also a slight bulkiness to the frame that I think looks good; it varies the size of the armored figures and is a great look for a character that’s a potential threat. I also really like the green, which is a generally unrepresented color in the armored figures.
Hologram Iron Man: My very first thought upon seeing this in person was how much it reminded me of the Tomy Tron figures from 1982. I loved the look of those, and I would be surprised if it wasn’t a touchstone of inspiration for the design team. As you know, the Hologram Tony has figured into the books in a number of ways over time. And like the green of the Guardsman, this figure is striking because it stands out among the other armors. I enjoy the fact that Hasbro is willing to take risks with oddballs like this. As you know, I’m always for the most complete version of the Marvel Universe that we can get, and this fits the bill.
Ironheart: Similarly, you know that I’m given to go on about the hair work that the designers do on the figures. In that regard, this is a (no pun intended) champion. The Riri head is spectacular. That is top-flight hair and face sculpting. This is one of those instances where it looks like the figure was peeled off of the page. It’s just outstanding. Another great note is the slim build for the figure; this LOOKS like an armored teen. I knew that I would like this figure, but it’s really terrific to look at once you get it out of the package. Ironheart also looks great next to fellow Champions Ms. Marvel, Miles Morales, and Nova (Sam). This is the part where I stump for Brawn (Amadeus Cho) and Snowguard. If you’re on the fence about this one, remember that it will likely skyrocket in price once the impending Disney+ series gets closer. Don’t be left out.
Modular Iron Man: Can a review just be the Daniel Bryan “Yes!” chant? The much-demanded look that debuted in Iron Man #300 and was the cornerstone of the ‘90s animated series gets the modern Hasbro version it deserved. This sculpting, the finish, and the over coolness of the original design merge into an absolutely terrific figure. The only possible knock is that it would have been cool for the Modular armor to come with a couple of attachments outside of blasts and extra hands. I could totally see some of those coming down the road, though. In fact, here’s my second stumping: how about some Hasbro Pulse accessory packs and/or alternate heads? I could see some modular arm and back attachments for this one; for something like the Crimson Dynamo assortment Black Widow, I could see a sniper rifle and an alternate head with braided or lose hair like she sports in the film’s climax. That aside, I know that this was long-awaited, and the team didn’t let us down.
Darkstar: You know I like to fill out teams. And Darkstar fills a gap in both the Winter Guard and the original Champions. I’ve dug this character since I was about 10 years old, so it’s great to see her become a Legend. This has another top-notch hair sculpt; happily, the extra mass of the hair doesn’t unbalance the figure. I know that some have grumbled about the frequent use of the “conjuring” hands, but I think that they’re a perfect fit for a figure of a character with her particular powerset. Darkstar also works well in terms of height next to the rest of her team. Rock solid delivery.
Ultron: Not gonna lie. This is the Ultron I’ve always wanted. It’s the classic look from the classic stories that I grew up on, from the Crimson Cowl to “This Evil Undying” to the original Secret Wars. And the use of the Kirby Krackle is just a work of insane genius. What a treat this figure is. Shoulder spikes, ear pieces, that face . . . this is fabulous, kids. Nothing more I can say.
Ursa Major: I am unreasonably happy that this exists. Hasbro did tremendous work on the claws, and the overall paint ops are spot-on. Love the head, too, which looks appropriately savage. Kudos also for that sort of carapace over the back that fills out the overall appearance of the figure. It would have looked oddly thin without it; with it, it makes Ursa look more like a bear in full. As good as this looks on its own, it’s even better when grouped with Darkstar, the Crimson Dynamo BAF, and the comic Red Guardian. I can’t believe that Hasbro gave us a Winter Guard! That’s awesome, kids.
We’ll have to see how the rest of 2020 shakes out, but this is a strong contender for my favorite assortment this year. A mix of much-wanted characters, surprises, and generally strong craftsmanship makes this a winner for me. How about you?