Kevin Allen, a friend of the site, frequent commenter on our social media sites and resident "toy guy," got a look ahead at some of next week's Iron Man 3 toys. Here's what he wrote for us as a result:
This Monday, the toy aisle will see Iron Man once again fill up the pegs. Among the face masks and Arc Blasters that have become commonplace in recent years, there will be a slew of toys featuring new gimmicks that Hasbro hopes will set the line apart from the recent lines Iron Man has already been featured in.
While the normal 3 3/4th" figures will remain (featuring small 'energy' blasts reminiscent of the Green Lantern line's constructs), the main focus will be the Assemblers figures (formerly known as Exo Connect). Taking a page out of Lego's Hero Factory and the upcoming Transformers Construct-Bots (another Hasbro property), the Assemblers line is all about customizing figures to open up play choices.
In past lines, Iron Man toys were basically the same figure with a new accessory to go along with it. While there were some variations, such as Iron Man 2's Hulk Buster armor, for the most part the line was old Shell Head with a new gun or blaster (or, in some cases, a simple palette swap, as was seen in The Avengers Wave 1 set). Assemblers seeks to bring a bit more originality to the line.
The basic premise is that each figure can be separated into 6 basic parts: a head, torso, legs and arms. While the first four don't offer much other than color swap (save one or two that offer a backpack or a gun mount on the torso), it is the arms that are clearly the focus of this series. Each figure is packages with two sets of arms: a standard set of limbs and a weaponized set. These include missile launchers, attack claws, and Ash Williams' style chain saw hands. All limbs can be interchanged so that the figure can be armored up to best fit the fight he is in. The Stealth Armor right arm can easily be given to the Deep Space figure, allowing for a multitude of different designs that are only limited to one's imagination... and wallet.
One may wonder what should be done with these extra limbs, as when not in use they become merely loose pieces. Hasbro's answer is Assemblers Vehicle line. Starting with an Iron Man-themed car, this toy comes with a small Iron Man figure that can be ejected from the car so that he can quickly intercept the bad guys. What makes this part of the Assemblers line are the port holes that litter the body. Assemblers limbs can be connected to the vehicle to armor it up and serve as storage for extra pieces.
Also part of the main line are two versions of the Iron Man mask: a simple plastic one, much like the one produced for The Avengers, and an Sound Effects version. There are also two types of palm reactors: a standard one that slips over a child's hand and an Iron Man Gauntlet. For figures, there will be the Iron Man Flyers, which launch figures, and the 6" Marvel Classics Line (Hasbro's answer to the popular Movie Masters line) that will feature six classic Iron Man designs with a Collect and Connect piece to build a comic's faithful Iron Monger figure.
Iron Man 3 will also be the first movie line to feature one of Hasbro's 12" figures. Hearkening back to the days of Star Wars' original trilogy, these are oversized basic figures. Star Wars and Ultimate Spider-Man have already produced their own and for Iron Man 3 there will be a Mark XLII figure.
While Hasbro should be commended for attempting to think outside the box when it comes to this line, there are some negatives that hurt the Assemblers Line. Due to multitude of color variations, switching limbs and torsos will result in custom figures looking more like the Power Rangers' Megazord than Tony Stark's sleek designs. This can be figured with paint and patience, it is enough to hurt the appeal of customizing for those that desire their figures to have streamline colors.
Second, there is very little variation of the torso, head, and leg pieces. Swapping the standard Iron Man head for the Space Armor head merely changes the color and not the shape and design. While it is understandable that Hasbro would like to avoid altering their design too much, the result means that other than the arms, the Assemblers gimmick is wasted. What could have been a chance to create completely new variations of Tony's armor becomes a game of swapping out the missile launcher for the chainsaw. Different head, chest and leg designs would have been a huge improvement.
And, of course, there is the choking hazard these figures present; a parent might be better off handing their child one of the basic figures rather than a toy whose head can easily be pulled off.
The Assembler Vehicle presents all sorts of nightmare fuel as it can be quite off-putting to see Tony Star driving around in a car that is covered in his own arms. It is easy to see how the idea came about, but the way it was executed fails to impress this reviewer.
The final issue is one that has plagued not just Iron Man but all movie lines: lack of villains. The Assembler Line is designed around Tony switching out pieces of his armor to better take on his foes. But, in wave one at least, there are no foes for him to battle. Wave 1 comes with 4 variations of Iron Man, Movie 2 War Machine, and Movie 3 Iron Patriot/War Machine. It is understandable that Hasbro and Marvel would not want to tip their hand and reveal the looks of their villains, but the lack of enemies for Iron Man and War Machine to take on is definitely a weakness, for now.