Armors of the 1960s

Original (Grey)

  • First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #39

The original grey armor was built around an iron chestplate designed to prevent the piece of shrapnel he’d received in Vietnam from traveling to his heart and killing him. The armor, made from ordinary iron, provided protection from physical attacks (completely resistant to small arms fire) as well as heat, cold, some energy forms, and acid. Powered by flat linear armature DC motors (rechargeable via any electrical outlet), the exoskeleton boosted the strength of the wearer by about 10 times, and employed negative feedback for motion sensing. Air pressure jets allowed for extended jumps, but not true flight. Weaponry included a chest-mounted monobeam (proton beam generator; useful range was only a few yards), a miniature hacksaw that extended from the gauntlet’s fingertips, and magnetic turbo-insulators that allowed him to magnetically deflect metal projectiles or bring metal objects to him. Sensors consisted of a short-wave radio. All of the armor‘s devices and functions were manually controlled by the wearer.

Stark constructed at least one updated, form-fitting version, still rigid, upon his return to the United States.


Golden Avenger

  • First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #40

Stark soon changed his grey armor to gold, so as to make it less frightening to the general public, and slowly added more and more improvements to the suit. The biggest step was the basic construction of the armor, no longer basing it on rigid metal segments, but instead on a three dimensional, collapsible micro-structure; as a result, the armor, in deactivated form, could actually be folded and stored in perhaps one eighth of the volume of its magnetized, active mode. The chestplate was streamlined so that it could be worn under normal clothing without being noticeable. The suit had a semi-rigid interior with 3D knitted metallic exterior of a lightweight iron alloy, providing protection from physical attacks as well as heat, cold, some energy forms, and acid; the groin section was covered by a kilt made of the same alloy. This was the first suit to be equipped with a force field generator. Power was still provided by flat linear armature DC motors, rechargeable via any electrical outlet and via solar recharger, and motion sensing was still provided by negative feedback. The Mk I boot-jets provided limited flight; steering while flying was accomplished by bodily movement. Weaponry consisted of the chest-mounted Mk II Monobeam (usable as either a concussive force beam or a heat beam), a sledgehammer, hacksaws extending from the fingertips, hand drills, electromagnets allowing him to pull things to him and push them away, and an electrical field generator. Communications and sensor arrays consisted of a loudspeaker, short-wave two-way radio, radar, and a tape recorder.

When one iteration of this particular armor was partially destroyed by the Melter, a supervillain who could dissolve iron and iron alloys with a special ray, Stark built an exact copy out of aluminium which was unaffected.

Red & Gold

  • First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #48

This armor, composed of ultra-fine 3-D knit alloy and incorporating motors into the knitting to allow full mobility, ran on batteries and was able to recharge itself from electrical sources. However, the power handling was improved making this armor much more efficient. The chestplate still served as Stark’s pacemaker. The boot jets were actually chemically-fueled thrusters, which provided a much faster flight speed. Weaponry consisted of the chest-mounted Mk II Monobeam (useful range was still only several yards), Repulsor Rays, and a Proton Gun, and powerful electromagnets to pull metal objects to him or repel/push them away. Communications and sensors consisted of a short-wave radio. Other features included an image reproducer and collapsible roller skates. Most functions were controlled by miniature electronic switches mounted on the insides of various pieces of the armor such as the helmet and the gloves; by pressing various combinations of them, different systems were engaged. The switches in the helmet were enabled by the wearer’s tongue; other functions were utilized with wrist-mounted controls.

Beyond these features, Stark also occasionally experimented with cosmetic modifications such as adding a nose indentation on his faceplate (in truth an attempt to match the character’s in-comic appearance with that of the concurrently released Mego action figure, which had an incongruous nose), or rimming the face-plate with rivets.

While the appearance of the armor changed only slightly, over the years its technology improved with leaps and bounds, resulting in vastly increased strength, speed, and firepower. Control of the armor was slowly shifted from motion feedback and internal buttons to cybernetic controls, which could sense and interpret the wearer’s own brainwaves and respond accordingly. Also, eventually the pacemaker function of the chestplate could be abandoned as Stark’s heart was repaired using artificial tissue.

It was recently hinted that Tony Stark based the new cosmetical improvement on a childhood fantasy, as the red and gold color scheme came from his elementary school’s colors, and the whole “Iron Man” motif from the eponymous song by Black Sabbath.


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