76104 The Hulkbuster Smash-Up vs. 76031 The Hulk Buster Smash

What happens when you try to compare Hulkbusters from the LEGO Marvel Super Heroes sets 76104 The Hulkbuster Smash-Up and 76031 The Hulk Buster Smash?

Three years, a few Marvel Cinematic Universe films, six toes and nine stickers are among the things that separate the Hulkbusters from 2018’s 76104 The Hulk Buster Smash-Up and 2015’s 76031 The Hulk Buster Smash. Now with the former’s recent release and the latter most likely still in a lot of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes fans’ collections, there is the serious matter of truly determining which Hulkbuster is ultimately the best.

Enter Brick Fanatics. We have kindly made up five categories – Dimensions; Accuracy; Design; Poseability; Hulkbusting – to put each Hulkbuster through its paces and put to an end once and for all the fierce debate that has raged since the start of this very article.

LEGO_Marvel_Super_Heroes_76104_The_Hulkbuster_Smash-Up_76031_The_Hulk_Buster_Smash_comparison_mainCategory One: Dimensions

Putting each mech in a ‘natural’ ready-to-bust-Hulks pose places the 2018 Hulkbuster noticeably taller by almost two bricks, thanks to a much longer torso design that raises the shoulders and position of the head. In spite of this, there’s no difference between the two in shoulder-to-shoulder width, nor interestingly in each Hulkbuster’s reach with its arms, due to the fact that their joint connections are at the same height to each other and the designs of each arm at core level are the same. It’s the same in consideration for where the legs of each Hulkbuster are connected to the torso. The 2018 version may be taller, but it is height that has only been built up from the shoulders. Whether having to reach down boxes from shelves, or pitted against each other in a boxing match, there’d be no clear advantage between the Hulkbuster brothers.

Verdict: DRAW

Category Two: Accuracy

Neither Hulkbuster can be described as perfect when it comes to comparisons with their onscreen source material – where 2015’s design is strong in the body and the positioning of the head and shoulders, 2018’s version brings more detail and bulk to the chest, forearms and legs, not to mention adding some toes. The more detailed head print on the dome should then cap off a one-sided victory in this category. Unfortunately, though, the way that the various improved pieces to the mech come together do not work as well as you would hope, and the end result is no more close to an onscreen Hulkbuster as the 2015 attempt from the LEGO Group. Both have excellent plus points, but both have issues that mean there’s no clear winner in this category.

Verdict: DRAW

Category Three: Design

Looking in more detail at the LEGO design, the first thing to point out is how exceptionally sturdy both Hulkbusters are. These are solid mechs that have a very similar range of motion and an exceptional ability to balance thanks to comparable frameworks. Similarities continue with consideration to even the negative aspects, with both rather disappointing in how their backs look.

Aesthetically, whilst neither may look 100% like the source material they are based on, both are built with intelligent consideration to how their parts have been used  and how they will be used once together – the builds are refreshingly different to each other, yet both manage to create well-angled machines with plenty of menace appeal.

Studying in further detail, though, the 2018 Hulkbuster certainly benefits from an upgrade in the torso. Where the 2015 model simply folded down in one entire piece to reveal Iron Man, the 2018 version has a smaller central flap that folds down, as well as flaps that fold to each side, to make for a neatly designed shell for Bruce Banner to pilot within. That the minifigure can also ‘pilot’ with his hands in an upward position adds a further level of authenticity to the 2018 model.

It can be argued that the 2015 Hulkbuster better cocoons its minifigure inside, but this comes at a cost – the shoulder flaps at the top that help achieve this effect are jarringly displaced if you move either arm up too high. The 2018 version may not be any more movie accurate than its three-year-old brick brother, but, none of its movements impede or are impeded by other parts to its build.

The final reason to favour the 2018 Hulkbuster in this category comes in the form of the right-arm play function. Whilst both Hulkbuster’s right-handed actions are as simple as they are effective, it is the extra internal design that has gone into the 2018’s arm that helps edge this category.


Category Four: Poseability

A Hulkbuster needs to be poseable if it wants to look awesome in the heat of battle, and quite frankly, there’s not much to criticise about either here. Joints in all the right places allow this combo of Hulkbusters an almost unrivalled repertoire of poses. However, in putting the 2015 and 2018 versions through their paces with all manner of positions tested, interestingly the older, more experienced Hulkbuster is a clear winner, thanks in part to the ball joints at the hip that the newer model has had replaced with click joints. Six toes may look prettier than no toes, but if you can’t move at the hip, you just can’t dance. Or something like that. In short, 2015 Hulkbuster wins this category.


Category Five: Hulkbusting

So far, with the Hulkbusters level at one apiece, we’ve proven not a great deal and answered very few questions in trying to separate these Hulkbusters out. The final test has to resolutely give you something to work with, so, faced with a rampaging Hulk, how does each fare?

Final verdict: YOU DECIDE…

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