S.H. Figuarts Iron Man and War Machine

S.H. Figuarts figures are a new thing for me. Japanese imports are toys that I've found I have to police myself away from. If I didn't, I'd be blowing every paycheck on this or that Revoltech, Figma, or Playarts toy that came out. They're generally more detailed, better built, and more nicely designed than their American counterparts, and aside from characters from Japanese characters, companies like Bandai, Max Factory, and Kaiyodo all take on the occasional American property.

Case in point: S.H. Figuarts' Iron Man 2 figures.




The figure comes packaged in a plain, rectangular box with very nice product photography of the figures, the gimmicks, and the accessories, as well as some nice cross selling photos of the other figure in the set. Because the Japanese collectors market doesn't have the same restrictions as the US when it comes to price setting, the two figures come in different sized boxes to accommodate the extra gear that War Machine comes with, and the prices reflect that extra material.

I pre-ordered these (P2,500 for the MK-VI and P2750 for the War Machine) at the beginning of the year and picked them up at WasabiToys in Greenhills a few months back. They're out of stock now, but last I saw, they're regular price was about P200 more than the pre-order. I imagine that they're pretty had to find now, so expect to pay more.

Inside the box, the figure is perfectly protected by a heat molded tray that has spaces for all the parts that came with each figure. I'd recommend keeping the packing as there's no better way to store these rather expensive figures than in their boxes.

The MK-VI armor comes with selection of extra hands and armor attachments, as well as some effects parts for his jets and repulsors, while War Machine gets all that, plus additional weapons pods and machine gun effects rather than repulsors. The extra money Bandai's asking for that one really is worth it.

Again, keep your tray and the box, because some of these are easily dislodged from the figure, so you're liable to lose a shoulder pad or something if you just throw it into a drawer unprotected.

You'll also find some instructions in the boxes that warn you to remove hands and parts carefully, and only removing them with by pulling them straight out. Take care to do what it says, because the posts are tiny on the parts and I imagine, easily broken. Thankfully, I haven't done it yet, despite my ham hands.


Side by side, Iron Man is slightly smaller than War Machine, which makes sense in my head. I suppose that's not really canon, but since Japanese toys aren't usually to scale (apparently, they have more imagination than we do so they don't need to bitch about that as much) I can let it go pretty easily. In action poses you don't even notice.

The detail in these toys is off the wall, completely blowing anything you see with the Hasbro Marvel Legends figures out of the water. The paint, the finishes, the sculpting, all top notch. Even the plastic is nicely done, with little shiny bits that reflect light nicely. Note that there are differences in the proportions between this one and the Walmart Iron Man/War Machine figures, but more on that later.

Most of the weight for the figures is concentrated in their legs, while the upper torso is pretty much hollow to make room for their fantastic joinery magic. Here's a closer look at that section:

Best as I can tell, the figure's basically got two limited ball joints under that middle section, so you can get it in a variety of positions you can't do with other Iron Man toys. Together with the other joints (all of them with crazy ranges of motion), Bandai has given us one of the best 1:12 scale figures ever.

Take a look at another of the joints, this time the knee joint:

We've seen the double knee joint in the past, but this time it's paired with a collapsible piece on the bottom of the back of the thigh. This allows the lower leg to come up much closer to the thigh than any other figure in this scale.

There's simply no way that I could do either of these poses with the Marvel Legends figures:


The MK-VI also comes with a few features in the figure's back. There are two panels on the back and two on the lower legs that you can pop out, leaving small holes at their anchor points. In the tray are four panels that can be attached to those points, but instead of closed panels, you get open air brakes that display the Iron Man's flares and other doohickeys.

The figure also comes with eight pairs of hands,which you can swap out by pulling them off the posts on his wrists. They're ball joints, and the tiny, articulated armor plate for the back of his hands comes up, so you'll need to be very careful.



One of the sets has a small post where the repulsor emitters should be. You can use those posts to anchor two repulsor blasts (they're the longer of the two smaller effects pieces), or the two stabilizer jets (the shorter ones). The other three sets are a bitch-slap version, a more relaxed open palm, and a pair of fists. Each has a small slot so that you can fit the armor plate to the back of the hand. The fit is firm, but not permanent, so be extra careful you don't lose something.

He also comes with jet effects parts for the exhaust ports on his boots (the biggest ones). If you want your Iron Man to look like he's rocketing across your display case, then pick up one of Bandai's figure stands or a generic wire flight stand and shove those babies in there.



War Machine comes with similar effects parts for his rockets, but his weapons are more traditional than Tony's. Instead of the repulsor blasts, Rhodey comes with machine gun fire effects; one for his shoulder-mounted GE M134 Minigun (7.62x51mm NATO), and two for his arm-mounted FN F2000s. All three fit perfectly well, and look amazing.

He also comes equipped with rocket boosters in his boots, calves, and back. The four lower ones have effects parts, while the two upper vents (hidden in his back), I guess don't warrant inclusion.


In addition to the articulated (oh, my god, it's so well articulated!) "Uncle Gazpacho" and it's attendant ammo belt, the War Machine armor also has a small selection of shoulder-mounted weapons packs. You can choose the normal, closed shoulder, a pair of rocket pods, or the "ex-wife" ("as seen on TV!") module.  Each of the missile pods is articulated with a pivot; basically you can move them up and down. There's no swivel, since the connection inside the bay is a square peg, and that's unfortunate since that leaves very little room for the figure to turn it's head.

If you strip the figure down and remove all the accouterments, you'll get a nice idea about the construction of the toy. The shoulders and hips are remarkable in that they are compound joints that increase the range of motion dramatically. The "ball" of the hip or shoulder can actually drop out of the socket so that it can get clear of the surrounding material if necessary. I haven't seen anything like this in anything else in my collection, but I'm sure its old hat to S.H. Figuarts enthusiasts.

The torso is similar in construction to the MK-VI, as are the knees, but the armor plating on the back of the hands is now attached to the arm (though again, it's not on there permanently, so be cautious). Also attached to the arm are the FN F2000 machine guns, also detachable.



Next to the Walmart pieces, you can see marked differences in the MK-VI. The Walmart toy (left photo above, figure on the left) is noticeably bigger than its Japanese counterpart, with much nicer proportions to it; a wider trunk and a bigger head that is more in balance with the rest of the body. The height difference between the Walmart War Machine (right photo, on the left) and the S.H. Figuarts version is less apparent than with the Iron Man toys, but the proportion issues are still there. The Walmart one looks beefier and has a better chest/arm/head ratio, making it look more like a man in armor.

Still, the two Japanese toys have so much more going for them; paint, construction, design, articulation, accessories, packaging, playability and display options... basically they win the contest when it comes to all those categories. These are even better than the Revoltech versions that came out a while back, since these aren't dependent on the annoying "Revolver" joint and don't fall apart constantly.

Honestly, the only versions that come close to these are the 12 inch Hot Toys figures, and they cost what? 10, 15 grand now? While it would be awesome to own a Hot Toys collection, the cash, the space needed means that it's not an option for most collectors. While these Bandai toys aren't nearly as tall, they've got almost as many features and accessories and the level of quality is comparable.

If you can still find them, definitely add them to your collection.

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