Monday, June 18, 2012

Cancelled Iron Man 2 Unmasked Stark, Rhodey & Black Widow - Undercover Assault


A couple weeks ago, we looked at the cancelled unmasked War Machine, which suddenly became available in large quantities on eBay about a month ago.  Today, we look at the entire cancelled boxed set.



This set has been somewhat of a grail for me over the last couple years.  Just before the Iron Man 2 line officially launched at retail back in 2010, popeater.com exclusively revealed five figures from the line based on the actors likenesses.  We of course got Whiplash in the single carded line, and Nick Fury in a Toys R Us exclusive pack, but the other three - Tony Stark, James Rhodes, and Black Widow - were supposed to be released together in a Target exclusive set toward the end of 2010, according to Hasbro at that year's San Diego Comic Con.  This set was unfortunately cancelled before making it to retail.  This left many collectors, including me, feeling like their Iron Man 2 collections were incomplete.



I've been trolling the secondary market for these figures ever since they were cancelled.  A small number of loose samples made it onto eBay last year, but I unfortunately missed them.  Then about a month ago, War Machine alone showed up in big numbers on eBay from a variety of Chinese sellers.  The day after publishing my review of that figure, another Chinese seller listed this completed set, mint in box.  He had only three available.  To the best of my knowledge, this was the first time a complete, packaged sample had shown up.  In fact, other than a blurry snapshot of a Hasbro powerpoint slide at SDCC 2010, I'm pretty sure the packaging had not been seen by collectors until this eBay auction.  I pulled the trigger and bought one of the sets, knowing full well that these could show up in higher numbers and a lower price later down the line... but then again, they could not.



Ever since receiving the set a couple days ago, I've been conflicted as to whether or not to open it.  I'm an opener.  I believe that figures should be freed from their plastic prisons.  I gave up MOC collecting years ago.  But... this is a cancelled item that, as far as we know right now, exists in very limited quantities.  For now, I'm going to leave it sealed in the package.



The package is very similar to the first Target "Super Value" 3-pack, which included Iron Man Mark V, Whiplash, and the Sea Assault Drone.  Tony Stark and Rhodey are presented together, in front of a backdrop made to look like Stark's lab, with cardboard gantry arms "holding" their helmets, as if they're suiting up.  On the right, in a separate chamber of the package, separate from the "suiting up" scene, is Black Widow.  Widow stands in front of a S.H.I.E.L.D. logo encircled with the words "Avengers Assemble".  The "Only at Target" sticker is present in front of Widow, and the "Undercover Assault" title is printed beneath Stark and Rhodes.



The back of the package features photos of the three figures included, as well as a brief synopsis of the scenario this set portrays, and a cross-sell featuring a couple other items from the line.  The two armored figures are shown with their alternate heads, and Black Widow is again shown separately from the men, this time in front of a yellow backdrop, again with the "Super Value" tag line.  Overall, the packaging is pretty nice.  My sample does have some minor wear, though.  A dinged corner and minor scuffing on the window.  You can tell this has been sitting around somewhere for a couple years.



According to the date stamp on the box, this set was manufactured in the first week of August, 2010.  Shortly after it was officially announced at SDCC, and a couple months before it was due to show up at retail.  So the timing definitely fits.  And this is definitely not recent production, as some have speculated.  I don't think that these sets are currently in production to fill the demand for fast-selling Avengers product, or to be sold through the discount retailers like Ross or Marshalls.

Let's look at the figures themselves...


Tony Stark uses the same Mark VI body that was available everywhere else in this line, but with a newly sculpted head based on Robert Downey Jr's likeness.  Of note, this head sculpt is a scaled down version of the one included with the Walmart-exclusive 6-inch Iron Man Mark IV, but without the sun glasses.  The curl in the hair on the left side is a dead give away.



Also of interest, despite the mustache and goatee being sculpted to look like RDJ's in the movie, the paint job is somewhat inaccurate, covering some area where no hair is sculpted.  Overall, the likeness to RDJ is pretty decent.  It's a real shame that to this day, we still don't have a Tony Stark head sculpt released in the 3.75" line.  Especially since we now have an unmasked Captain America.



James Rhodes uses the same War Machine body available elsewhere in the line, and includes the "realistic" mini-gun and ammo belt, as well as the "realistic" missile pod that was only available in one other 3-pack (the K-Mart exclusive Proving Grounds set).  No spring-loaded shooty launcher, thankfully.  The head sculpt bears a strong resemblance to Don Cheadle.



One peculiar thing to note with Rhodey... the head included in this set is cast in a much darker brown plastic than all of the loose Rhodes currently on eBay.  I bought two of the loose Rhodes, from two different sellers, and they both came with lighter colored heads.  I'm not sure exactly what this means, but I think it may indicate that all of the loose Rhodes were either from a different production run, or were not actual Hasbro production.  They're definitely from the same molds, but it's possible they may have been run on factory workers' own time, using what plastic was on hand, rather than Hasbro's specs.  Just my speculation.  I guess we may never know exactly where all those "Chinese market" figures actually come from.



Black Widow uses a unique body, completely different from the figure out now in the Avengers line.  To be honest, I think the current Avengers version is an overall nicer figure, but the figure in this set is still cool.  She features quite a bit of articulation; ball-jointed head and torso, ball hinged shoulders, elbows, hips and ankles, double jointed knees, and swivel wrists.  She includes two different handguns, one silver and one grey, including a holster for one.  I think the silver one may actually be the device she uses to inject Stark with Lithium-Dioxide in the movie, to "take the edge off" his Palladium poisoning.


The likeness to Scarlett Johansson is decent, but not as good as the current figure.  The hair and costume do match the Iron Man 2 character's design better than the Avengers figure does though, so for me at least, she's still a desirable addition to the collection (I'm a sucker for costume accuracy).


The figures in this set obviously don't look quite as nice as the hand-painted prototypes that popeater.com originally showed, but I do have to say, the figures in my set look a little nicer than the photos of loose samples seem to look.  The deco on the faces in particular seems more detailed than the loose samples that have shown up in photos on a few message boards.  Especially the eyes.



All told, I'm glad to have finally added this set to my collection, even at the higher secondary market price.  It really is a shame that it was never released at retail.  I still hold out hope that this set may spontaneously show up in the discount-chain channel, or that at the very least, the Stark head sculpt will be put to use in the current Avengers line.  Time will tell if either of those eventually happen.  If not, I just may be slicing this set open in the future.


If you're not already following One Per Case on Twitter or Facebook, you should.  We don't suck.  You can also follow me on Twitter at @zaksousa.

28 comments:

  1. Congratulations! If this set had been available I would have scooped one up über fast! A Tony Stark figure, or at least a head is long overdue. I wonder if Hasbro still has the rights to Downey Jr.'s likeness or if we will have to wait until Iron Man 3.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks G-8. I'm not sure if Hasbro still has the likeness rights for RDJ, but I can't imagine why not, especially with Avengers being released this year, and him being in an on-going contract for more films. Hopefully they'll wise up and realize that people would be willing to buy yet another Iron Man figure if they slapped Robert's head on it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice! Were you one of the people that forked over $200? Also, that Widow seems small. Is she smaller than the Avengers version?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yep. That was the very same auction. Widow is indeed smaller than her Avengers version. Quite a bit shorter. That's what I was trying to show with the Avengers version laid on top of the package next the IM2 version.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, I saw that auction. I wasn't sure if the Avengers one was taller or if it just seemed that way. Must put her out of scale

      Delete
    2. Yeah I think this IM2 Widow is a little shorter than she should be. But I also think the Avengers Widow is a little taller than she should be. According to IMDB, Scarlett Johansson is only 5'3.

      Delete
    3. True. I just think that 5'3" is too short for Widow, although I do like the job Scarlett Johansson does

      Delete
  5. I think the dirty little secret over things like a Tony Stark figure is that toy companies don't want to pay the actor for likeness rights. Plus they always claim that kids don't want secret identity figures and that kids want to be Iron Man not Tony Stark. I know when I was a kid my superhero figures had secret identities and I would have loved official alter ego figures.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You could be on to something, there. I could see RDJ commanding a higher royalty percentage than some of the other actors (Scarjo, Evans, Hemsworth), thus making it less profitable for Hasbro. Interesting. I wonder if that has something to do with it. I would think RDJ would rather get his visage in as many people's hands as possible, though, instead of preventing it by expecting too much money.

    And yeah, alter ego figures were always one of my favorites as a kid, just like they are now. My favorite action figure for a long long time was from the old Tim Burton Bat Man movies, and it was a Michael Keaton Bruce Wayne with add-on Bat costume pieces. It's a shame that toy companies don't make figures like that anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Another problem is that some actors/actresses do not like the idea of being made into an action figure or don't want an action figure based on them. I don't really get that. As long as it's a quality product why not approve it? They can always donate any money from the figure to charity.

    ReplyDelete
  8. True, but I don't think that's the case with Robert. After all, we did get the 6" unmasked Iron Man Mark IV, and Marvel Select had a couple movie Iron Man figures with removable faceplates, featuring Downey's likeness underneath. I really think the reason we still haven't got a 3.75" RDJ head sculpt at retail is simply a matter of Hasbro not realizing that both kids and collectors would be interested in it. Sometimes, I really think Hasbro doesn't understand their target audience.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nah, I think they prefer to pay less likeness royalties, and he's the only one of those characters that wears a full mask, so they can get away with it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Good point on the full mask. I guess that could have something to do with it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Nice find. They look amazing. Sorry I missed seeing those and thanks for the tip off on the War Machine unmaksed figure.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks, glad to be of service.

    ReplyDelete
  13. they were on ebay once but there all sold out oh and sorry about bothering you alot i was just so excited about geting this 3 pack

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem. We all wish they would hit retail. Sad the good stuff usually is at the end of the movie toy release.

      Delete
  14. Open it and Re-review it, the suspense is killing me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The temptation is killing me, too, but since no more of these have shown up since I bought mine, I feel obligated to leave it MIB. For posterity. I was able to get casts of all 3 heads in the set, though, so that relieves some of the temptation.

      Delete
  15. Good News everybody check eBay http://cgi.ebay.ie/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=111016466265 for a chance to bid on this 3 pack.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Full disclosure for all of our readers: First, although this auction uses one of my photos from this review, it is NOT my set that is for sale, and I am not the seller, so that photo is not the actual item you will receive.

      Second, this set started showing up in the UK at a store called TK Maxx yesterday. There are currently two of them on ebay, and a couple more reported sightings on various forums. TK Maxx is owned by the same company as TJ Maxx and Marshalls here in the states, so there is a chance that these may be hitting stateside as well.


      Third, the fact that these are starting to show up in the discount outlets indicates to me that there are a significant number that have been produced, so I would NOT suggest paying as much as I did last year for this set. Pay what you feel it is worth, but be aware that you may very well be able to get it very inexpensively in the near future.

      Delete
  16. When you get another here in the US open it and review it!

    ReplyDelete
  17. So looking back on this, one thing I realized: The Tony Stark head looks so much like John Cusack! Also, I'm hoping this set makes it to Marshall's and TJ Maxx since I would love the set, but not at the eBay prices.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I WANT THIS PACK SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BADLY!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Gotta say, this set is awesome. I opened mine straight away, and I just can't get enough of it. The Tony Stark head looks great. I customed the neck joint of a Mark VII iron man so that the head fits on properly, and it looks beautiful. I picked up 3 of this set, so i've kept one as a Mark VI, then given the last head to a spare Mark 3/4 (keep switching between the two). It does seem a little loose on non mark VI bodies, but it's acceptable for a display piece.
    Now I've just gotta custom them to have the spaces in the beard that he has on screen (hasbro completely painted it all).
    All my Rhodey heads had lobsided hair- one side is painted perfectly, then the other is painted past the sculpted on hair, and almost reaches the eyes! I've started to fix this. Used some nail polish remover to get the paint off, so now I just gotta repaint it back upto the hair line properly.
    The most exciting thing for me with war machine is the addition of the missile pod. He looks so much better with it as opposed to the massive hasbro cannon, or nothing at all there. Shame in the movie it never gets used (it is there, but only the 'ex-wife' is used which sits below the missile pod in the suit, so it could have been used if the filmmakers wanted to)
    Finally, Black Widow. She's a good add-on to the pack, and I'm glad to have another IM2 character that isn't Iron Man. The articulation is great, along with paint apps, but she's incredibly tiny! She's a good head shorter than Avengers Black Widow/any other IM2/Avengers figures, and doesn't fit in well with them. It's acceptable, but it's like looking at 'young/kid widow' or something. My only guess that she's so small is in order for the guys in armour to look bigger and bulkier than normal humans (which they probably should), but she still seems a little too short (she's on par with TBD's Dwallin the Dwarf from the Hobbit line lol!).
    Also sucks that she has a sculpted fist hand, so she can't dual wield the pistols :(
    Overall, it's a great set, and I'm so happy I have it now. Can't wait to finish building my Hall of Armour dio and have them 'suiting up' in there!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I was looking for the black widow iron man 2 please tell me where I can find it, or send to do, I love her.
    It's my favorite character, I want to black widowww the iron man 2 movie.
    Would you be willing to pay a lot for it.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Please do not be bad, they tell me where I can find this package? please, I beg

    ReplyDelete