For every pack of the Super Hero Squad that is clearly made for kids, you get a pack made that seems oddly specific and targeting an entirely different demographic. The Danger of the Dreadknight is a great set but it seems like it should have come out during the early 90s back when Iron Man got his own cartoon as part of the Marvel Action Hour!
The mystical master known as Zhang Tong and the technological terror of the Dreadknight have teamed up to take the Iron Avenger down! Against the magical power of Zhang Tong, the only hope Iron Man has is the sneakiness of his stealth armor, while the power of the Dreadknight can only be matched by the high-flying might of his traditional armor!
Iron Man is no stranger to showing up again and again, but at the time of this set’s release, this was a brand new version of the Classic II armor, which is very similar to the Modular Armor he started wearing later on. It’s red and yellow and has a great looking sculpt. It’s the costume Tony wore between 1988 and 1992, which just happens to be when I was getting into comics so it’s one of the suits I most associate Iron Man with.
The sculpt looks good and is from the time when his metal suit looked more like a covering, so his legs, arms and chest show off some muscles. He’s sporting some large boots and gloves and helmet actually looks like it’s big enough to fit a head into! Iron Man moves at the shoulders and neck.
The paint isn’t bad, but isn’t great either. He’s golden rod and a shade of red that has just a hint of pink in it. But what’s weirdest to me is the fact that he’s got solid white eyes that just feel wrong on Iron Man.
The second Iron Man suit is one that fans had been requesting for a while since it’s an easy repaint and a popular look. The Stealth Iron Man armor is the same as the Classic I suit, only done all “stealthy” and goes by the mouthful of a name Model X Mark I. This version of the suit is just a straight repaint of the punching Iron Man that came with Fin Fang Foom.
The figure is repainted in very glossy blue. His gloves, chest and boots are done in a very dark navy while his arms, legs and face are a big lighter. His eyes and mouth are red and it all looks good.
Except it’s all entirely the wrong color. Until recently, comic books were printed using the exact same technology as printing newspapers which mean minimal colors and difficulty producing certain shades. Colors like red, blue, green and yellow were easy to print but any shade of gray or black was near impossible. It’s the reason the Hulk went from gray to green – the printers couldn’t get him to stay the same color!
So the Stealth Iron Man suit was supposed to be solid black, but was colored blue because everything that was black got blue highlights at the time. I mean, the cover of The Invincible Iron Man #152 when the suit debuted even declared him “The Now-Ebon Avenger.” But now it just keeps showing up as blue because an all-black. And the idea of having a stealth suit being completely shiny doesn’t make any sense for the technology. Either way, the figure looks good and matches up with how most people think of the suit.
But it’s the villains in the pack that really make me think this set was completely inspired by the Iron Man cartoon because it includes Dreadknight! Not exactly the most popular character, Dreadknight was originally a Latverian scientist named Bram Velsing who worked for Doctor Doom. Velsing thought Doom was a “grotesque mockery” of science and Doom did what any diabolic dictator would do: he permanently attached a helmet to Velsing’s head! So maybe not the most rational response, but Doom is rarely ever rational.
So whenever an odd event occurs in the Marvel Universe, a new villain is born! So Dreadknight met up with Victoria Frankenstein (yes, the great-granddaughter of Victor Frankenstein) and got a suit of armor, a hellhorse and a new lease on life as the replacement for the Black Knight! Sometimes comic books are kind of absurd.
Dreadknight doesn’t really look like he’s wearing a suit of armor the same way Iron Man doesn’t look like it. He’s sporting a blue armor suit with a purple tabard, gloves and boots that all kind of evoke the image of sometime in the past. His head is a skull-like visage sporting giant wings that would make both Captain America and Thor jealous. He’s also got a nice looking cape.
In his right hand, Dreadknight is holding his power-lance that has the ability to do whatever the plot needed and he’s got a holster on his hip for his “carbon-dioxide pistol.” I’m not making that up. Dreadknight moves at the neck, shoulders and waist but his massive lance and flowing cape inhibit some motion.
The paint is well done for a guy in purple and blue. The purple is very glossy, and his silver looks good. The skull and crossbones decal on his chest is well centered but the red on his eyes is a bit on the sloppy side. More than anything, I’m surprised this guy even got made into a figure! I just remember him as being a minion of the Mandarin who just wanted to hook up with Hypnotia.
The final figure in the set goes by many names and was originally little more than a walking, racist caricature. The package calls him Zhang Tong but everyone knows him as the Mandarin! While not the most politically correct name, it’s what I’m used to calling him because Zhang Tong is just some filler fake name (or it may not be possible to have a copyright on the name “The Mandarin” as a toy).
Sure, it blew my mind as a kid when I found out the Mandarin wasn’t actually green but looking back on it, I wonder why they made him green in the first place. But the Mandarin is a fun figure that looks great.
Mandarin is wearing his ornate red and yellow robes that have a flame motif on them. He’s also sporting some ornate chest piece that looks like he stole it from Doctor Strange. His face isn’t the most exciting and borderline generic evil, he’s sporting a beard and mustache after all. He’s also got some rather long hair and manages to look less Asian than some Tony Stark figures. Mandarin moves at the shoulders only. The paint on the figure looks good with everything being in the lines with his intricate outfit but the best part of this whole figure is a minor touch that blew me away.
The Mandarin is best known for his ten rings. He salvaged these gems from Fin Fang Foom’s crashed space shuttle and fashioned himself a ring for each finger, and each one of them has a different power. But with Super Hero Squad figures, the characters only have four digits on each hand instead of five! But the sculptors PUT TWO RINGS on each of his middle fingers! It’s a minor touch, but is absolutely genius! I don’t know who did this at Hasbro, but they deserve a raise! The rings are all sculpted differently but the gems aren’t painted.
This pack is far better than it deserves to be. Iron Man got two new additions to his armory and Mandarin is a classic foe of the armored Avenger that was owed a figure. Dreadknight isn’t a character I have any personal connection to, but he certainly looks good and looks different. But the fact that the Mandarin still manages to get all ten rings just blows me away.
Iron Man Super Hero Squad
Wave 2 – 4 Packs
Crimson Dynamo Attacks
Crimson Dynamo, Desert Armor Iron Man, Assault War Machine, Classic Iron Man
Genius of Tony Stark
Ultimate War Machine, Iron Spider, Hulkbuster Iron Man & Second Appearance Iron Man