Iron Man (’80s)

“Iron Man, Iron Man, does whatever an iron can.”

I love those old ’60s Marvel cartoons. My first exposure to ’em was waaaay back in the day, back before comics went mainstream and finding superhero-anything on TV was a snipe hunt. But there I was, six years old, vacationing in Argentina. Those Marvel toons had long since gone off the air in the States — I never even knew they existed. Bored out of my mind (and only able to understand broken Spanish), I was flipping through the channels when MADRE DE DIOS! The Sub-Mariner was suddenly on the screen! “Te voy a matar, Krang!”

I almost fell off the bed. Superhero cartoons? That DIDN’T have the Wonder Twins or a f*cking super monkey? My world was turned upside down. And holy crap, Spanish Thor was on next! “Yo digo NAY!”

Already a fan of the Marvel Universe thanks to my older brother’s comics, the entire Silver Age Marvel U was now opened to me. The Titanium Man? The Red Skull’s Sleepers? Odin turning Loki into a tree?!? It was the superhero cartoon tipping point: no more Wendy and Marvin. From now on it was horrible Marvel animation or nuthin’. BONUS: Iron Man taught me Spanish.

Speaking of which, that’s a good transición for my Iron Man mod…

There’s been a buttload of Iron Man Heroclix figures–original armor, modern, unmasked, Hulk Buster, Silver Centurion, Ultimates, blah, blah, blah–but when it came to the ’80s version, they totally whiffed. Yeah, they made one, but it was 100% meh. Not Karate Kid Heroclix terrible, just underwhelming for what I think is Shellhead’s most iconic set of duds. So I went in and made my own vodka-fueled Avenger.

I started with…okay, hang on. I’ll get back to my Iron Man custom in a minute, but all this talk about old school Iron Man is giving me flashbacks. When you think “Iron Man villains” nowadays people usually imagine technological threats. Makes sense, given the nature of the character. But back in the day–the far less techno-sophisticated comic book days–Shelhead’s baddie of the month was often a bit more blue collar.

Some of my favorite “Wait, Iron Man is getting his ass kicked by WHO?!?” moments…

Shirtless UFC guy sits on his chest and beats him with a rock.

BONUS: They’re in a sewer. That top rat just rubbed his eyes with his dirty little paws and did a double take. “This is some crazy sh*t, yo!”

Snake bear hug + Impractical vat of acid

“No way to escape! No Way!” Eeesh, Shellhead’s lucky this is his solo book and not The Avengers. Cap would slap his pussy mouth hearing him talk like that.

Monkey dogpile buzzsaw apocalypse

There’s a rational explanation for everything on this cover EXCEPT the bare chested bald guy with the disco medallion. The ’70s were a strange and mysterious place.

something something FRANKENSTEIN MIDGETS!

There it is, the reason Tony Stark drinks captured in a single image. Think the ’70s are bad, Tony? Grab some scotch…the ’90s will see you killed and replaced  with a teenage version of yourself that was plucked from the time stream. True (and bad) story.

Alright, enough silliness. Back to the serious business of figure modding…

Ingredients: All parts culled from Heroclix figures. The upper body & arms are swiped from a Cyclops (Mutations & Monsters). Legs, boot jets and head are modified from the Silver Centurion Iron Man (Supernova). The helmet needed some modding: the horizontal band on the back had to be whittled away and ear pods (ear muffs?) added. For those I used the boobs from a Callisto (Ultimates). That sounds creepy.

Shellhead’s chest beam is lifted from the lantern of a Manhunter (Cosmic Justice). That was a clutch find…I’m terrible at scratch-modding anythinground . Belt buckle and those lil’ nipple dials are pulled from the chest of a War Machine (Armor Wars). Hip pod thingies are the top of the heads scavenged from a couple of Kobra Fanatics (Unleashed).

Shoulder pads & belt are thin strips on index card paper held in place with a pinprick of Elmer’s and hardened with Krazy Glue. Some metallic acrylic paint, a spritz of matte sealant and–SH*T! I JUST SPRAYED A METALLIC FIGURE WITH MATTE SEALANT!! Ah, crap. I’m so used to modding flat-finish figures that I grabbed the matte instead of the gloss. A quick touch-up of metallic paint and…he’s getting a bit goopy looking. Better leave him alone and not make things worse. Custom Iron Man dial here.

Overall he came out okay, but his pose…I dunno. My thoughts going in as that I’d give him the classic “flying bullet” Iron Man look, and while that’s what he ended up with, it’s a bit dull. Maybe I should have given him more of a combat pose, something with translucent plastic “energy blasts” coming out of his palms. Eh, something to remember for next time.

Some random Shellhead from around the web:

Jaw-droppingly awesome Iron Man custom toy & model gallery.

Wicked Iron Man made of Lego.

Wee Iron Man made of Lego.

Saddest Iron Man cake ever here, Iron Man cake gallery here.

Tales of Suspense cover gallery here (Shellhead starts with issue #39), Iron Man cover gallery here.

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