Though I've talked about the virtues of T.J. Maxx hunting before, it continues to pay off as yesterday's visit turned up yet another awesome Iron Man figure I'd never heard of before, the Hammer Drone. For those who have yet to see Iron Man 2 (and why haven't you by now?), there are mild spoilers ahead so look out.
A large part of the second film's plot involves Tony Stark's competitor, Justin Hammer, attempting to create his own version of personal mech armor. He gives up on that after a few less than successful prototypes and decides it would be much easier to simply steal the technology from Stark and with the help of Ivan Vanko (Whiplash), reverse engineer it into a series of variable attack drones to sell to the military. Clearly, nothing can go wrong with using a revenge-driven convict with his own agenda to design your automated military-class weapon platforms. Before Iron Man and War Machine destroy the majority of them however, we get to see three very cool armored drone designs, each adapted to a specific environment; land, sea or air.
This is not one of those models. In fact, I'm pretty certain this version isn't in the film at all, but there's nothing wrong with that because it is still outstanding. The Hammer Drone shares 99% of it's mold with the Weapon Assault Drone from the Iron Man 2 movie line, having only a new, skull-like head to differentiate the two on a sculpt level. Where the Hammer Drone blows the Weapon Assault Drone away however is paint scheme.
The Weapon Assault Drone is primarily a dark olive green with only a bit of silver in it's joints and weapons with white highlighting it's Arc Reactor, overall not a very exciting scheme. The Hammer Drone is far more visually interesting, using a lighter olive green than the Weapon Assault Drone on it's forearms, chest and lower legs, with silver making up the rest of the body color.
Like Stark Racing Armor Iron Man, the Hammer Drone benefits from quite a few tiny tampographed details, like this Hammer logo on it's right thigh...
And this one on it's left forearm, along with some of the warning stripes that are also present in a few other places on the Drone's body. There are also several small yellow triangles bordered in black and the black and yellow quartered circles you see on crash test dummies (I can't seem to find an official term for them.) The black and yellow detailing really pops against the silver and olive green and gives the impression that this is an early prototype, still being tested and recorded in one of Hammer's facilities before the design is given the go ahead for full production.
But just because it's a prototype, there's nothing saying it can't beat the snot out of you. Check out that whip action! The Hammer Drone includes the same serrated whips the Weapon Assault Drone sported, they're soft enough to get some whipping poses out of, but they won't hold any shape you try to curve them into and can't be used to strangle your Iron Men or anything (at least, not without some creativity.) The whips plug snugly into the inner forearms and can be switched out for the other weapons borrowed from the Weapon Assault Drone.
Big ol' chainsaws! While the whips look mean, these just look brutal. If supposedly emotionless robots can express sadistic glee, it would be on the face of this thing as it uses it's saws to slowly carve it's way into Tony's armor.
Unfortunately, the figure is packaged with the left saw in a section of the bubble tray that by very design, cannot help but bend the holy hell out of it. As the picture shows, you end up with a pretty warped saw on one hand. I'm trying to flatten mine out by leaving it pressed between heavy books and it could also be fixed via boiling water I'm sure, but really this sort of thing could easily be avoided. They managed to make packaging that didn't bend the Weapon Assault Drone's saws, why make a whole new tray layout that seems designed to damage an accessory?
The Hammer Drone features ball jointed shoulders, neck, hips, and ankles, though the hips are those weird ball-hinge joints Hasbro loves so much on their super hero toys these days. There is technically an ab ball joint, but it's far more restricted than the Weapon Assault Drone's so it's limited to mostly swivel movement. Rounding out the articulation are hinge elbows, double jointed knees and upper thigh swivels. I would have liked to see the Drone be a little more flexible (he sorely needs elbow swivels) but the clunky movement sells the walking tank aesthetic of the design. Just like the Weapon Assault Drone, panels on the Hammer Drone's forearms can flip up. I'm still not sure why, nothing is revealed beneath and I don't remember this feature coming up with any of the drones in the movie. Though as I've only seen the second movie once, eons ago, I'm hardly an expert on the subject.
Besides the paint scheme, the factor that turns a "meh" mold into an "OMG I NEED THIS" repaint is the new head. I can't put my finger on exactly what is so great about it, the four eyes? The skull-like shape? The fact it kind of looks like a Zaku from Mobile Suit Gundam? Most likely all these factors and more, but the bottom line is that it looks pretty damn sinister. Tilting the head down even slightly makes the Drone appear to be glowering at you, cocking the head to the side makes him look like he's scheming, it is a surprisingly emotive sculpt for being a largely faceless robot.
As is typical of these Marvel reviews however, after all the praise I heap, I have a bit of complaining to do as well. What you're looking at up there is the Hammer Drone's hip joint. That lighter band of gray in the center of the circular joint section should be the same metallic grayish silver as the rest of the joint. It isn't that color because fresh out of the package, the paint on his hip joints flaked off the first time I moved them. This isn't a huge negative, but it seems to me it would have been better to either leave the joints unpainted, or use the same method as the Weapon Assault Drone. That figure also has this problem, but the plastic of the hip joints are much closer in color to the metallic olive paint applied over them so it's far less noticeable.
My other issue comes from a couple of the tampographs. That isn't shoddy camera work in the picture above (well, not entirely at any rate), that triangle really does look that fuzzy and broken up on the actual figure and there is some yellow slopping into the black sections of this particular crash test dummy marking. Though these two are the only sloppy/blurry tampos out of seventeen or so on the figure so it's not that bad considering.
The Hammer Drone, if you can find it, will make a fantastic addition to your Iron Man or mecha collection. I really love the paint job and the idea of this being a "just off screen" character you could imagine being a step up from Hammer's earlier suits that tended to horribly malfunction (that poor guy who tried to turn at the waist...) and the polished final drones seen during the climactic battle. The Hammer Drone seems to be semi-rare and sells online for around twelve to twenty bucks depending on where you look, but if you have a T.J. Maxx or Marshall's nearby, I'd suggest searching there first as I only paid six bucks for my Hammer Drone.
"Stop! ... Hammer Drone!"