Pop Culture
Sep 01, 2010, 07:07AM

The Iron Man Armor Racer

The most pointless toy accessory ever.

Pretend that you’re an eight-year old boy, playing with a generic Superman action figure. On a literal level, you’re piloting Supes through your bedroom; in your imagination, he’s soaring over Kansas wheat fields, changing the paths of great rivers, casually rearranging the presidents on Mount Rushmore, foiling a complicated Lex Luthor plot involving nuclear weapons and a flying mobile with gigantic, scary pinchers. Now, pretend that during all of this, someone gives you a Superman forklift. There’s a Superman insignia, in sticker form, on its side. It’s Superman-sized, more or less, and because your figure has movable limbs, you could conceivably situate Superman in the driver’s seat and make believe that he’s using the forklift to move boulders, produce, or jumbo-sized HD television sets. You could perform these mundane tasks with Superman, but why would you even want to? Why limit the infinite possibilities of the Superman mythos to a warehouse floor, to an Ikea retail location—especially since the Last Son of Krypton is strong enough to juggle eight or more forklifts?

If this sounds like a lame, hypothetical Jerry Seinfeld routine—which it kind of is, since there’s no such thing as a Superman forklift—consider the case of Iron Man. This storied Marvel super hero has, in recent years, enjoyed a massive up-tick in popularity due to Jon Favreau/Robert Downey Jr. movies. (The first one was sick; haven’t caught the second, as of press time.) Iron Man is the secret identity of billionaire weapons inventor Tony Stark; he wears a red and gold suit of plated armor that allows him to fly, hover, do battle with dangerous robots and super-villains, and trash your weekend villa without really trying. Iron Man is a one-hero wrecking crew who’s pretty much guaranteed not to ruin a party, because there’s no chance that anybody else anywhere will be sporting the same welded threads.

Iron Man does not need the $9.99 toy “Armor Cycle” that Hasbro conceived of, manufactured, and marketed in the wake of the Iron Man II juggernaut. (It’s worth noting that Hasbro also felt compelled to create an Iron Man Quantum Quad ATV and an Iron Man Battle Racecar—Mark IV Red Vortex, but the motorcycle struck me as especially useless.) This plastic cycle is on some flashy, crotch-rocket The Fast and Furious shit, thick black tires set into a hulking frame of gold and crimson, with a hint of silver-gray around the foot-rests, perhaps a nod to the Santa Claus costume design of yore. Obviously, Iron Man is like any mid-life crisis suffering Everyman: after a long day of saving the world, he wants to hop on his hog, and take to the open road, maybe meet up with some buddies, raise a little hell, right? Or maybe he’s an auto-show regular, or, you know, chicks dig the wheels. Perhaps he and Ghost Rider race for pinks, after dusk, on long, level desert strips where only coyotes and lizards dare to tread, where the silence is so complete and all-consuming that it’s practically a presence.

All of this while wearing a heavy metal suit? After an afternoon slicing the skies to shreds, getting off magnificent hipshots, divebombing population centers at ludicrous angles only to veer away to safety at the very last second, heart a lump in throat, boxers soiled? Really? Please. Don’t merchandize-taze us, Hasbro - we’re not buying in.


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