Let me make something very clear: The "Action Toy" aisle of your local retailer is not "the boys' aisle." Action figures are for everyone... just like superheroes... comic books... and a vast assortment of other things that often get assigned a gender by default. I've said it before and I'll say it again - kids should be able to like what they like, and be encouraged to explore whatever interests happen to catch their little eyes. My oldest daughter is pretty well-rounded. She's got quite the assortment of dolls and princess paraphernalia, but as documented here on The Rock Father, she also has a serious obsession with cars, and she digs superheroes. That said, she was pretty excited when a package from STARK INDUSTRIES (via Hasbro) arrived here at Rock Father HQ loaded with a sampling of new toys from IRON MAN 3. What was not exciting for me was watching her preschool teacher compliment all the girls on their dresses the other day, and then make a weird and silent pause when she looked at Addie's MARVEL Comics t-shirt (which she's been wearing on occasion for months). Hence the opening statement of this post.
I was a big fan of the first two IRON MAN films, though being busy with the kids... I have not yet seen THE AVENGERS, THOR, or CAPTAIN AMERICA. I need to get caught back up on the MARVEL universe, and can hopefully squeeze a viewing of IRON MAN 3 in at some point in the near future. Daddy's diggin' these toys, but what matters is how they hold up to play from an actual child. After all, the IRON MAN 3 collection is advertised for ages 4+, and I'm in the "+" range.
Lt. Col. James Rhodes (played by Don Cheadle in the movies) was previously rockin' the grey armor as War Machine. Now, Rhodes gets an upgrade and CAPTAIN AMERICA-esque paint scheme to take on the identity of the IRON PATRIOT. This toy was the big surprise of the bunch - an immediate hit straight out of the box. A 10" figure with limited articulation (arms, legs, partial knee bend), the IRON PATRIOT comes complete with sounds, voice clips (though not Cheadle) and light. Additionally, there's a spring-loaded rocket launcher on his back that features sound and motion when activated. Addie loves it... but toys like this bring to mind some interesting feelings since they have weapons. My wife is extremely "anti-gun," and while I'm not - I have been limiting access to certain things and being creative with what they're called at this young age. I've been saying "shooters" instead of "gun" for things like this... for now. It's so touchy, but I grew up with stuff like this (and G.I. JOE, etc.) and it was never a big deal. Regardless, IRON PATRIOT has been getting some serious action... and he's the right size to interact with some of Addie's "fashion dolls." I do believe I saw Rhodes cruising around in a pink corvette with an attractive blonde the other day. Imagination... roll with it.
When it comes to Addie's interests, it couldn't be more perfect that a car was included in the IRON MAN 3 assortment. As a grownup (for the most part), it's interesting to see these toys that are added to certain lines for the all-important "play value" that would never be featured in the source material (comics/movies). As the box for this states, "When Iron Man needs to get blasted into battle, he rolls out in his repulsor-charged race car." NO HE DOES NOT. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is Iron Man, so he just suits up and flies wherever he needs to go. But that's the adult in me speaking, and kids love vehicles for their action figures, and that's where a "Battle Vehicle" like this one works out great.
Built to go perfectly with the "Assemblers" line of 3 3/4" action figures, the interchangeable pieces from the figures can be swapped into various weapons ports on the car. An included IRON MAN figure attaches to what Addie calls "Iron Man's skateboard" and can be placed into the spring-loaded cockpit. Press down the spoiler, and IRON MAN is ejected from the vehicle, and should theoretically "roll out" in an upright position on "his skateboard." Cool concept, but he rarely lands on his feet... though that hardly impacts the play value for the little one.
IRON MAN 3 Assemblers Action Figures - Available at local retailers, or Entertainment Earth (full case)
I'm a big fan of 3 3/4" action figures. After all, it was Hasbro that practically pioneered the genre of articulated figures of this size with the 1982 G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO line that I grew up on. Hasbro later absorbed Kenner, who made other childhood staples like the original STAR WARS figures and the classic SUPER POWERS line, so when it comes to figures of this size, they know what's up. Assemblers are a bit of a different spin on things, with everything swappable. Arms... legs... weapons... add-ons... kids can create hundreds of different combinations of IRON MAN armor. While the IRON MAN 3 Assemblers line includes versions of WAR MACHINE and the IRON PATRIOT, there are several different versions of IRON MAN, each with a very specific purpose. In our case, they included "Stealth Tech" and "Hypervelocity" IRON MAN. As a parent, I see a bunch of little pieces that could possibly go missing... or pose a choking hazard should my 10-month-old happen upon them. But for a kid? A ton of fun.
These guys have already got what could best be described as "road rash." Addie's had them up and down the sidewalk (at one point she was kicking them - don't know why), in the driveway, and they've taken flight. The landings haven't been very graceful, and I have to say it's sometimes painful for me to see them come crashing down... again having to remind myself that this is what these toys are built for.
Like Tom Hanks as Josh Baskin in BIG, my first response was "I don't get it." These collectible mini-figures are non-moving, static pieces of plastic... and I told my wife that the BIG reaction came to mind. Then she pointed out that "Addie seems to like them." Indeed, she was playing with them a bit... but that was the first couple of days that they were in the house. Now they're sitting on my desk here in my office and the jury is out on 'em. There's 24 available, all packed "blind" - meaning what you're getting is a mystery. I used to buy a lot of trinkets years ago, and now I sometimes view things like this as clutter. At the same time, I remember having some non-moving "figurines" in the 80s as well.
Overall, the assortment of IRON MAN 3 toys we received are cool... and they fit into the larger "AVENGERS INITIATIVE" setting them up to play well with other MARVEL offerings from Hasbro. In fact, I'm dangerously tempted to pick up some fellow members of THE AVENGERS... and maybe SPIDER-MAN and WOLVERINE to join the crew. My biggest question with all of this is "Where are the villains?" Thus far, I haven't seen any forces of evil for the good guys to take on. And where is the Gwyneth Paltrow PEPPER POTTS figure?
FTC Disclosure: In case it wasn't made clear in the post above, an assortment of MARVEL IRON MAN 3 Toys were provided to The Rock Father by Hasbro for the purpose of review consideration. All opinions are that of James Zahn with input from his children. You should agree with them because they're usually right. As for this disclosure, the FTC shakes their mighty cyber-fist at bloggers and brands with vague and somewhat confusing language that results in blocks of text like this one, which The Rock Father is surprised to discover that you're actually reading. High-Five!
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About James: A work-from-home Dad with a pair of daughters (Released in 2009 and 2012) - James Zahn is THE ROCK FATHER™.
Bringing over two decades of experience in the entertainment industry into the family realm, Zahn is an Illinois-based Entertainment Writer, Media Personality and Commentator.
He serves as a PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent) Blogger, has made guest appearances as a member of the Sprout Kindness Crew, was featured in the Father's Day issue of Lake County Magazine, and is a former contributor to Chicago Parent.
Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for the likes of FEAR FACTORY, DIRGE WITHIN, PRODUCT OF HATE, ARCANIUM and others, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Blogcritics, Fangoria, Starlog, The River Cities' Reader. Slowfish, Oil, and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360, and in 2013 he's been quoted on CNN, Babble, The Huffington Post, and The Good Men Project, in addition to making appearances on ABC News and WGN.
Learn more here.