Three years apart in release date, there’s not a great deal separating the two System scale Hulkbusters that the LEGO Group has produced so far, respectively in 2015’s 76031 The Hulk Buster Smash and 2018’s 76104 The Hulk Buster Smash-Up. In trying to compare the plus and minus stats to these red Avenger mechs, it occurred to me that perhaps combining the two models could prove an interesting solution. By taking design aspects that worked from each and putting them together with some fine-tuning, maybe there’s a more definitive Hulkbuster to be created. Working with just the parts available from one copy of 76031 The Hulk Buster Smash and one copy of 76104 The Hulk Buster Smash-Up, here’s what I came up with…
Combining elements of both Hulkbusters and rearranging and extending limbs, the attempt here has been to create a more movie-accurate design, with more contouring for shape, and more red where otherwise it would be black or grey. The end result is bulkier than either official version, its legs are longer, shoulders more pronounced and chest more curved. In all, there is a greater level of detail, albeit in a build that is slightly more fragile than an official LEGO set.
In approaching this task, genuinely the first step was to just swap the arms and legs from each LEGO Hulkbuster over, as much as anything out of curiosity, but also because as a starting point the limbs to the more recent version from 76104 The Hulk Buster Smash-Up were far more accurate than those from the three-year-old version from 76031 The Hulk Buster Smash. At the same time, it was the central body and head positioning of the older Hulkbuster that provided a much better starting point that the rest of the design could work around. Using the older model’s core also allowed for ball joints at the hip as well as at the ankles, meaning balance would be far less of a concern than if the model was based around the 2018 core and its less flexible click joints.
Creating this starting point and running it in comparison with various screenshots of the movie Hulkbuster as source material helped to highlight the immediate aesthetic points that needed attention, such as the raised shoulder pads, the colouring in the arms and the width and length of the legs. The first area I focused on was the central body, deducing early on that it needed to be widened by two studs, so as to push the arms out further and give the chest that little extra space across the front and into the shoulders.
Whilst the opening mechanism to the more recent Hulkbuster would have been nice to replicate in this version, it wasn’t possible due to the practicality of creating a more toned, angular chest with shape and detailing that continues around and underneath. The key aspect of being able to house a minifigure remains in place, but the chest folds down as per the 2015 Hulkbuster, in one solid piece.
The feet were my next point of focus, for not being happy with how either official Hulkbuster looked. From designing these, it was clear that the legs had to be elongated, which also helped to better proportion the entire thing, with respect to arms that were otherwise too long. The flexion and extension of the joints is more limited than those of the 2015 LEGO Hulkbuster, but, to the advantage of covering more of the black and grey with red panelling.
The arms were the hardest area to satisfactorily improve, particularly in finding the balance between keeping their general thickness down and still maintaining the right balance of colour. Ultimately the end result is a compromise based on the increasingly limited number of parts I was working with, but they still hold their own within the final model. There were enough spare parts to design a jackhammer arm, and even a reshaped custom arm in the midst of charging up to fire a large energy blast.
What do you guys think of the end result? Perhaps it’s no more a movie accurate Hulkbuster than either design from the LEGO Group that contributed their parts to this, but maybe there are some cues here that will inspire you to create a truly ultimate Hulkbuster. How would your Hulkbuster look, building just from 76031 The Hulk Buster Smash and 76104 The Hulk Buster Smash-Up?