If there’s one thing LEGO likes to oversaturate every single theme with, it is mechs. Can you blame them though? Kids love mechs. And I mean, they love it. Mechs have now become the staple of all children’s favourite toys, in addition to cars, dinosaurs, houses, and dolls. So when LEGO wants to cash in the popularity of mechs, it’s reasonable to understand why. For crying out loud, they started a new LEGO Marvel sub-theme this year, where they just sell you a mech and a minifigure for $10 USD! However, this surplus of mechs hitting the market every year has really turned off many older collectors of LEGO – including myself, from buying these sets. But one type of these builds that have remained consistently good, all-around has been the Hulkbuster. For those who don’t know what the Hulkbuster is – simply, its just a massive, massive Iron-Man suit, designed to fight and bring down the Hulk. With LEGO releasing a new Hulkbuster in some regions soon, and others later, I thought it was time to re-visit each of these different builds, to determine which is truly, the best Hulkbuster.
2015 – The Hulkbuster Smash (76031)
2015 was the year we received our first LEGO Hulkbuster, coinciding with the release of the Avengers: Age of Ultron wave from LEGO Marvel. Not to dwell on it too much, but this wave, being our first really big Marvel wave, was so damn good. And the Hulkbuster that came in this wave was, in my opinion, revolutionary. A quick disclaimer first – this was indeed my first LEGO Marvel set, along with the 76030 Hydra Showdown. For me, this was the set that started my real love for LEGO and the journey to becoming a true collector. So yeah, you could say I am quite fond of this set. Bias aside, this was still quite a strong set.
At that time, the Hulkbuster looked absolutely marvelous – that being said, we had no other version to compare it too. Now, in comparison to the other Hulkbusters, it does look a bit rough around the edges, but for that time was exceptional. It was big, bulky, and looked like it was a formidable force against the Hulk. I especially loved the way they designed the legs. It’s just something about it that elevates the look of the entire build. We received a printed dome piece which was really nice. The ability to fit Iron Man in the build and conceal him so well was just amazing. The stud shooters on its arm, although a little ugly, was still nice for kids to use to shoot down Scarlet Witch.
This model also had such great movement with the ball joints, providing amazing playability. The secondary build, was also pretty cool as you could trap the Hulk. There was also a clear piece at the back of the trap which you could place Scarlet Witch on, to imagine her flying, and it could be knocked down, which was also such a fun play feature.
What that really nudged this set into being one of the best Marvel sets of all time, were the minifigures. There was an exclusive, detailed Ultron with intricate print work, another really well-done Iron Man, and a decent Scarlet Witch – although it was inaccurate due to the wrong hairpiece and power pieces being used. The best part of it, was that all minifigures had leg printing – something LEGO Marvel has really skipped out on these recent years. But, the star of the set was the new Hulk. Holy Moly! Our first olive coloured Hulk with purple pants! He had great printing overall on his head and legs. Such a great big fig.
This Hulk became the standard of all modern-day big figures. However, the fact that they were able to include a Hulk in a $30 set with three other minifigures and builds was just awesome. Usually, the price of all sets gets bumped up when LEGO decides to include a big figure. But they didn’t in this instance, keeping the perfect price of the set. Overall, LEGO’s first Hulkbuster set started out with a bang and could go down as one of the best Marvel sets of all time.
2018 – The Hulkbuster Smash Up (76104)
Ain’t it a bit suspicious how this set’s name is so similar to its predecessor? Lazy names aside, with the release of Avengers: Infinity War, in 2018, LEGO decided to release another Hulkbuster. It had been 3 years, so it was understandable. By this time, the previous version had retired and was going for a lot on the third-party market. So LEGO found their opportunity.
They had to somehow top the previous set, a set that was just so great. And they did – well with the Hulkbuster, rather than the set. This new Hulkbuster made the old one look ugly and puny. They beefed it up so much more and looked even more imposing. The first version was already oversized, compared to the Hulk, but this one went even bigger. The new beefy design was welcomed by Marvel fans. Not many complained about LEGO copying their other version, as this stood out on its own. Its body was bigger, the hands were bigger, and the legs were bigger. It was like the older Hulkbuster, although buff, hit the gym harder and became a monster.
One design drawback of this set for me was the shoulder spacing. The play feature, which will be discussed shortly, involved gears which resulted in a noticeable space between the arms and body. This awkward space, for me, is a bit off-putting. But that’s just a nitpick. Now that play feature: The mech had the ability for it to move its arms without being actively positioned by kids. Through a series of simple gears, a round 2×2 cylinder was able to move, controlling the movement (up and down) of the Hulkbuster’s right arm. You could still fit a minifigure inside the mech.
Again, the side build, like the previous version was too a great throw-in. The cannon had a ball shooting function which exerted quite a strong force onto its target. It could send a minifigure flying across the room. It also hid an infinity stone in a secret compartment at its rear side. The primary gimmick of the set was to use the moving arm ability of the Hulkbuster to smash down the front of the turret which will deactivate as the top is knocked into a downward position.
There were four minifigures in the set. We got a rehash of Bruce Banner which we had gotten in the previous year’s Thor: Ragnarok wave. It’s a bit lazy, considering it is extremely inaccurate to the scene. We also got a new Falcon minifigure. It had a great new face and torso print. But this figure lacked leg printing. We also got a rehash of the Outrider, which is fine as it is a great army building figure. Again, I wish that at least we got leg printing for these figures, considering the actual characters have this detail. Finally, we got Proxima Midnight, which was the first minifigure leaked from the Infinity War wave. We got an amazing new moulded hairpiece, and great detailed head and torso. But again, no leg printing. This was such a strong set but ultimately was brought down by the lacking minifigures.
2018 – Hulkbuster: Ultron Edition (76105)
2018 also saw the release of the Hulkbuster: Ultron Edition, commonly known as the UCS or Ultimate Collectors Series Hulkbuster. This was more detailed, more accurate, and even larger than the previous two versions. You could rotate the arms, hands, and feet on those special joint pieces. Despite being more detailed and way more accurate, I am not that much of a fan of this set. My main gripe is the chest area. Something about it makes it look very off-putting to me. It should have definitely been a bit bulkier.
This version was also a bit tall, so its legs looked out of proportion, in comparison to the rest of the model. If you look at the following picture, you’ll see what I mean. The chest is also not well connected together like the real model, so we have even more awkward spacing. The elevated shoulder pads look nothing like the extra armour that it is supposed to have. For me, the design of this Hulkbuster is just a miss.
The sidearm build and stand were good secondary builds. The arms could rotate to replace parts of the mech, as a reference to the first Avengers movie, wherein the beginning, we saw a bunch of mechanical arms take off different parts of the Iron Man suit. There was a fire extinguisher too. I like the stand – well I’m a sucker for any set that comes with a display stand, so this was a great addition. Finally, there was a plaque, displaying different specifications of the Hulkbuster.
LEGO also included an exclusive Iron Man minifigure due to some extra detail on the torso and legs. They had previously done this exact suit, with different printing in the Age of Ultron wave of sets. So this extra exclusivity was alright, even though the new printing wasn’t very revolutionary.
Anyways, I have quite mixed feelings on this set. Yeah, we got a new, more accurate Hulkbuster, with a great stand and an exclusive minifigure, but, the primary build just looks weird and off-putting to me and the minifigure isn’t all that exciting. All that for $120 USD, doesn’t make it worth it. I have every LEGO Hulkbuster to date, except this one. So that shows, how much I just don’t have great feelings about this set. But that’s just my opinion.
2019 – War Machine Buster (76124)
Technically, this isn’t a Tony Stark Hulkbuster, but I wouldn’t feel right not including this. It’s the War Machine Buster that retailed for $30USD, coinciding with the End Game sets. This thing didn’t show up in the movie but was probably based off of concept art. I’m also still a bit mixed on this set. The design is done very well, yet it’s so similar to its 2018 counterpart, that I just feel like its lazy.
Anyways, like the 2018 version, it was similarly built, just with different pieces being used for the arms, legs, and body – still in the same vein as the older one. Again, it could fit War Machine in and like the first LEGO Hulkbuster, shot studs from its hands. However, like its operator, War Machine, it had a massive arm cannon on its back, which shot out six studs and a dual missile launcher right next to that. Again, it has the same possibility as the previous version, although the wrist joint was very different.
The heroes came in their Quantum Realm outfit. The only difference between War Machine and Ant-Man was that of their face prints and helmets. War Machine used the last year’s Bricktober Pack head print, while Ant-Man used a generic face print which looks nothing like the actor at all. I’m happy we at least got the Firefly helmet piece reprinted for Ant-Man, to give him a more accurate look. Again, we got two Outriders which is fine, as they are a good army builder still.
Anyways, although this set is a solid set, it just feels like a re-tread of the previous version, with a colour swap and a few design changes. The minifigures are decent, although I do wish we got arm printing for the Quantum Realm suited minifigures as this design was reused for most of the heroes in the Endgame line, in addition to leg printing for the Outriders.
2020 – Iron Man Hulkbuster versus A.I.M Agent (76164)
I like this $40 USD Hulkbuster. Its comic book look and wackiness set it apart from the four previous versions. Its flat head has been memed by the entire Lego community, with others really hating it. I think it’s cool, and it adds to its wackiness. However, I will need to see it in person if the flat face actually looks trash. This one towers the previous minifigure-scaled Hulkbusters, as it is much taller and wider. Like previous versions, it can move its arms and legs. You can fit Iron Man in it by opening the top dome, revealing a seating area. It has a shoulder cannon for Rescue (Pepper Potts) to sit and shoot at enemies. It has 2×2 cylinders at the back, used as details for the thrust, so it can fly. But the design for me is a win, even though from some angles it looks very weird because of the dome.
The minifigures are however a mixed bag. We are getting the same Iron Man and A.I.M Agents that can be found in most Avengers sets of this year. However, the A.I.M Agents do have new weapons and flight builds. The Iron Man is a phenomenal minifigure, but still is oversaturated. The real draw minifigure of this set is the Rescue suit with Pepper Potts is using. Late last year, we got an MCU version, but now we are receiving a comic variant, which is absolutely amazing. The print detail all around is exceptional. Overall, I think it’s a good set, but definitely pricey for $40 USD.
Ranking Time! (Hulkbuster Design)
From a design aspect, the weakest LEGO Hulkbuster, in my opinion, is the 2018 – Hulkbuster: Ultron Edition (76105). This set, being an Ultimate Collector’s Series, is the set I have the most issues with. The whole chest part, plus the longer legs just throw me off from liking the set, which is why I put it at last.
The second worst Hulkbuster is the 2015 – The Hulkbuster Smash (76031). Yes, it was such a great, even revolutionary build when it came out in 2015. Because of the minifigure value and the price, it could be the best Hulkbuster set out of all of these. However, LEGO has vastly improved the design over the years, which in comparison, makes this one look rough.
In third place, it’s the 2019 – War Machine Buster (76124). It just looks too similar to the 2018 one and adds no real new value to the Hulkbuster evolution overall.
In second place, it’s the 2020 – Iron Man Hulkbuster versus A.I.M Agent (76164). I may get a lot of hate for this, but I really, really like this new one, despite not physically owning it yet. Its comic book design and the squashed head makes it look so cool and funky. And its design is much different from the other versions.
In first place, it’s the 2018 – The Hulkbuster Smash Up (76104). This is the one Hulkbuster, most people can agree is the best. It one-upped the previous version in so many different aspects. It’s much bulkier and the play feature is well hidden and unique.
And that’s it! I have compared every single LEGO Hulkbuster to date. Again, this is all my opinion, and therefore I do have certain biases, but I’ve tried my hardest to look at each set objectively. Even though the 2018 Hulkbuster is the best Hulkbuster, I still stand by the 2015 Hulkbuster being the best of the Hulkbuster sets, and one of the greatest Marvel sets of all time. But that’s it for today. If you’re considering buying one of these, I hope I have helped you in your decision to an extent.
Images belong to the author unless otherwise stated