Created by Eric G. Myers and Jason Geyer

In July of 1994, Toy Biz announced a new action figure line: Iron Man. Set to coincide with the new animated series, the figure line was a surprise to many since it was not unveiled at Toy Fair. But the amazing success of Toy Biz's Spider-Man line and the simultaneous cartoon launch led them to capitalize on the Marvel license with two more toy/cartoon launches: Fantastic Four and Iron Man. These would collectively be known as the Marvel Power Hour. The 5" figures were the heart and soul of the entire line. What drove this line was a new concept for Toy Biz: interchangeable vac-metallized armor. The figures were basically split into two types: Armored or Unarmored. Of the armored figures (mainly Iron Man variants) the separate armor pieces were removable. Given the uniformity of design, most of the armor pieces were interchangeable and could be used with other armored figures.

Finally realizing that they had a property that could capitalize on the Batman concept of multiple versions of the main character, Toy Biz made sure that the Iron Man line relied heavily on variants of the title character. It seemed like a natural fit given that Iron Man actually had worn many of the armors. It just made sense that he would have multiple versions (unlike some of the nearly nonsensical Batman variations). However, the Iron Man character is not quite as archetypal as Batman and the concept ultimately failed after four series. Another factor that had to have helped along the line's demise is the fact that having multiple armor pieces cost more for tooling and production that a normal figure, and vac-metallization is somewhat expensive anyway. Toy Biz's profit margin for this line was most likely fairly lower than that of Spider-Man or X-Men.

Canceled fifth assortment

But these were not the only factors in the line's hasty departure: there were some production problems with the Iron Man line. Armor pieces didn't always fit properly. And there were often problems with the vac-metallization of the little armor pieces such as chipping and loss of color resulting in many sloppy looking figures. But even despite these minor problems, Iron Man had an almost immediate cult status among collectors. Either you loved them or you hated them.

The card backs were similar for each series, but each had it's own unique artwork of Iron Man on it (see the individual series pages for examples of cardbacks from each series). The series are easily distinguishable by the picture on the cardback: Regular Armor Iron Man (Series I), Stealth Armor Iron Man (Series II), Arctic Armor Iron Man (Series III), and Samurai Armor Iron Man (Series IV). Many of the armors in the line (and the cartoon series) were based on outfits Iron Man wore throughout the comic book's long history. Unfortunately, the supporting cast relied more on the short-lived comic ForceWorks, which has recently debuted, than on a more appropriate group such as the Avengers. If such a tradeoff had been made, maybe the line would still be around today. Of course, we never even got one lousy "Classic" Iron Man from before the 1970s, so maybe that type of thinking is what killed the line.

Fortunately for collectors, most figures were plentiful while they lasted. Future collectors may have problems finding mint, loose specimens given the number of small armor accessories. It is hoped that this guide will serve as an archive for identifying these figures for newer collectors. With information on defunct lines becoming increasing difficult to find, it would be a shame to let this line slip into oblivion without some monument.

If you have any info on other items or just feel the need to make a correction, write me here.

Series 1 | Series 2 | Series 3 | Series 4 | Series 5 | Other Figures | Armor | Misc | Main | RTM Archives


All images, format, content, and design are copyright © 1994-2001 Raving Toy Maniac, Eric G. Myers, and Jason Geyer. No part of these pages may be reproduced without express written consent of the Raving Toy Maniac. Licensed character names and images are copyright © their respective companies.