Iron Man Mr. Potato Head? Must be Tony Starch! -- FIRST LOOK

Sure, the other spuds settle for tin foil but, as you can see yourself, there’s nothing typical about this tuber. Allow us to introduce a sleek new Iron Man Mr. Potato Head, a rocketing russet of red-and-gold who is making his world debut today both here on EW.com and at the 110th American International Toy Fair, which got underway Friday in New York despite some weather challenges.

The armored hero (we can call him Tony Starch!) joins two other heroic veggies — Wolverine Mr. Potato Head and Thor Mr. Potato Head — as the vanguard of a new Marvel line that will try to stir attention as a collector’s item. The product description from Hasbro: “The attention to detail, scale and consistent design elements … with a variety of fun components to mix and match, or collectors can proudly display them thanks to their compact size and design intricacy.”

Iron Man has been a Mr. Potato Head before but the other tough guys are newbies. All three of characters are returning to the big screen in 2013 and collectively (if you count cameos) they will finish the year with appearances in 14 feature films.

As Hollywood brands go, actually, Mr. Potato Head hasn’t exactly been sitting at home on the couch. Toy Story 3, his third movie, now stands as the highest-grossing animated film in international box office history with a take of more than $1 billion.The Pixar success is merely one chapter in the long, strange saga of a toy brand that was (appropriately) ground-breaking when it first came into view in 1952. To help you peel back the history, here are five fully baked facts about Mr. Potato Head.

1. He was alive once. Seriously, the first Mr. Potato Head’s were genuine potatoes that had been fashioned into “unique” playthings with a kit that came with 28 items (16 body parts, eight pieces of felt hair, three hats and a pipe). Check out a vintage commercial…

NEXT: PEEL BACK HISTORY

2. The Potato Head commercials, by the way, were transformative – Mr. P.H. was the first toy advertised in a dedicated television commercial and they were the first commercials to speak directly to youngsters, not their parents. It was genius, as efficient as a McDonalds French fry. Hasbro piled up a then-astounding $4 million in a matter of months.

3. Mrs. Potato Head debuted in 1953. The family grew to include little Spud and Yam, and kids could even buy them a family car — the best potato upgrade since butter.

4. Parents complained that children shouldn’t play with their food and seriously hated the new tradition of  finding rotted vegetables with angry eyes behind toy chests and under beds. The plastic potato arrived in 1964.

5. Mr. Potato Head was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2000. That was five years after he appeared in the first Toy Story as the only licensed brand among the main character. Savvy move by Hasbro, a company that didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.


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