OK I confess I love Iron Man and the Iron Man line is a dream come true. The K-Mart exclusive Proving Ground Set is perfectly named. I am going to say up front (rather than at the end) if you are a casual fan of Iron Man, avoiding this set is a good way to save money. If you are borderline fanatic (like I am) this set is a must have. Thus it truly becomes the proving ground for peopleís level of fandom.
I am not sure what else I can say about Iron Man that I havenít said already. He is Marvelís James Bond, he has been a fav of mine since I was 7 (only during Civil War have I ever turned on Stark). While he is not my favorite superhero he is always somewhere in my top ten.
Long ago I developed a fascination with Translucent figures. While making a figure translucent doesnít mean I will grab it, I will look twice at it. Thus that clear Vision Variant is killing me, but I digress.
This has commonly been referred to ďTronĒ Iron Man. This is primarily because the markings on it resemble the Tron figures from the early 80ís. But this markings make the figure interesting rather than bland. Also there is a nice effect that the camera barely picks up. The figure actually has some red in it, very subdued and hard to see in the camera, but it is there. This adds to the ďhologramĒ idea of the figure and is pretty nifty to me.
This is yet another repaint of the Mark VI mold, however this time something is different. The chest joint is very loose on mine, I am not sure if this is a flaw in mine or if this is true of all the Hologram IMís. But this is reminiscent of the crappy Mark IV armor.
Still even with that knock this figure is really cool on a great many levels. To me this is the winner of the set, and if you get this set this is the driving force to the purchase. He is a fun variation on the red and golds we have been getting for the past several months.
Conversely Hulkbuster is probably the loser of the set. While I end up liking him more than I thought I would he is still a weak figure. First off we have a great Hulkbuster IM already and this one just recycles the Iron Monger mold with a new head.
That fact isnít so bad except for the fact the head is glued on and thus canít move. To say this is a PTA is an understatement. My biggest pet peeve in modern figures is no articulation in a place that by all rights should have articulation. There is just no excuse for there not to be head, shoulder, elbow, hip and knee articulation on any figure in the modern world of Action Figures (Yes, Spider-Man line, I am looking at you). Any attempt to eliminate those points of articulation is just cheeping out and causing the customer to pay extra for subpar quality. Although in this case I will grant that the head is at least a different one than originally on the figure.
The colors are extra bright on this figure and normally I donít mind on a comic book figure, but here itís a bit too bright. Bring the red down one shade and the paint would be more tolerable.
What I do like about this figure though is it reminds me of the Repaint Monger from the end of the first Iron Man line. The Iron Monger in question was painted with Iron Man colors and was a neat variation on the Monger armor. As such he does have redeeming qualities at least.
I do get the feeling we will see a bunch of these on the second hand market, so if you are wanting to buy this set separately this will probably be the easy one to find. I am keeping him though, he is a neat enough variation to warrant a space in my collection. But I can see many people not wanting to keep him.
Lastly is Recon War Machine which was the surprise of the set. I say that cause I thought I would like him much, much more. Maybe I am getting bored with War Machine but I doubt it. Last year I would have killed for a War Machine and now I have 4, soon to be 5 most likely. I do like him but not as much as I liked the Omega Armor. What really wowed me about the Omega Armor was the way the paint job brought out such detail on the mold. That is not the case here of course and thus the paint job seems to be a step backwards.
But more than that the Paint job of the camouflage seems to be a bit lacking, itís decent but should be great at this point. I think the addition of a darker brown or even a black really would have made the paint job pop and would have added volumes to this figure. Sure I can customize it but the point is I shouldnít have to. As it stands the camouflage comes across as cheap, which is especially heinous when you consider Hasbro made its money back on this (and the other molds in this set) a while back. They could at least add some money to the paint apps. But again an darker color would have made this seem more detailed. As it is the colors used are so similar that they are almost not noticeable. That isnít to say the camo isnít decent, but needs to be better.
But Recon War Machine isnít a total loss, he is just ok when I expect fabulous. He comes with a different missile launcher which is pretty great. And while the paint does come across cheap, it is not a total loss and is kind of a good variation of IM. However I do think some customizers would get more from just adding camouflage to an extra Omega Armor WM from the last K-Mart Exclusive.
In the IM line there are a few even cheaper looking multi-packs (the worst has to be the Whiplash, Mark V, Drone Target set, at least this one has some differences). Still this is one of those for people who love Iron Man (like me) and dig variations on the norm (again like me). Itís a bit overpriced for what you get, but could be worse.