When 15-year-old M.I.T. student Riri Williams managed to reverse engineer some of his past armor technology and posted it online, Tony Stark saw his place under the limelight compromised. In order to remain ahead of the technological curve, Tony decided to shut himself off in his lab and make up for the time he hadn't spent working on new inventions. The end result was the Model-Prime Armor, a new suit of armor that could change shape and color based on the task at hand, essentially merging all of his armor modes into a single suit.
When the armor was early in development, and it didn't possess the full version's main feature, namely a shape-shifting scaled surface, Stark was abducted to Battlerealm in order to take part in the Collector's Contest of Champions. This prototype suffered heavy damage in a fight against an alternate-reality Mr. Fixit. Seeing as Stark was no longer of use to him without a fully-functioning armor, the Collector teleported him back to Earth with no clear memory of recent events, leaving the damaged prototype behind.
The suit's final version was finished a few hours before Tony Stark's first date with Dr. Amara Perera, for which he had to postpone testing it. Tony first suited up when he was alerted of Madame Masque's return, and had to fly to Latveria to investigate her activities.
During a rescue mission to save War Machine from the Southeast Asia Crime Syndicate, Tony lost one of the units he had produced of the Model-Prime Armor to the Techno Golem, a technopath who stripped Tony and War Machine of their suits to build her own.
On two different occasions, Tony had assistance from a second self-piloted unit of the Model-Prime Armor while wearing one himself, first when fighting Cassandra Gillespie and her Mandroids, and later on when he infiltrated New Attilan in order to kidnap the Inhuman Ulysses Cain.
When the second superhuman Civil War came to a close, Tony switched from the Model-Prime Armor to a new suit created specifically to fight Captain Marvel. After Tony fell into a coma during battle, units of the Model-Prime Armor remained in display in some of Tony Stark's labs. One of these models was stolen by the reformed Victor von Doom and repurposed into his own version of the Iron Man Armor when he took it upon himself to carry on Iron Man's legacy. When Tony recovered from his injuries and resurfaced, he made use of the Model-Prime Armor for a brief time before switching to a version of the Extremis Armor that was most likely adapted to his now-ordinary biology.
The main purpose of this suit is to serve as an all-in-one tool set. The mostly-hexagonal scales that comprise the surface of the armor can be commanded to separate and reconfigure themselves into any form and color using nanotech principles of molecular recognition. This ability makes it possible for the limbs of the suit to take the form of different tools, and even allow the entire appearance of the armor to be modified, by changing the color and mass of the suit, in order to adapt to the task at hand, including stealth operations, heavy lifting, and orbital flight. After taking shape, the scales smooth themselves out along the body's contours to give a leaner feel to the armor. Some of the forms the Model-Prime Armor has taken are: a Hulkbuster-like physique, stealth armor, a reinforced appearance inspired by samurai, and a kid-sized mode.
Unlike other armor that were connected to the wielder's biology, this one only requires a direct link to the user's brain synapses. When not in use, the Model-Prime Armor can be collapsed into a bracelet on the wrist of the user, which can be activated and forms around the user's entire body when called upon. When the user wants to show their face, the faceplate can split apart and retract inside of the helmet entirely. Recharging the armor from scratch takes at least three hours.
The Model-Prime Armor can reach the speed of sound right from lift-off, and additional thrusters can be formed from the suit's scales to reach higher speeds. Flight while in stealth mode appears to leave no repulsor energy trail, so it could be powered by other means.
Friday is featured as the on-board A.I., which controls the suit's communication systems and scanners, among other tasks. The armor can also release miniature drones for environmental scanning. The suit's systems are so advanced they can cloak its energy signature and any frequency emanation.
The Model-Prime Armor features regular Iron Man Armor weaponry, namely repulsors, a unibeam, and a micro-missile array. The repulsors have multi-vibrational capabilities, being able to damage beings with phasing powers. When the armor was retooled by Victor von Doom, he added two more unibeams in the chest, making the suit capable of firing a tribeam at once.
Different types of weaponry can be created on the spot thanks to the armor's primary shape-shifting function. The scales on the surface of the suit can be commanded to shape themselves into blades, guns, cannons, etc. The armor can also create a "zero-point energy bubble" which drains an excessive amount of energy. This energy bubble can be used to attack enemies with a shockwave energy blast or as a force-field to contain them. In addition to the commonplace increase in strength, the armor's shape-shifting features can enhance its user's strength even further by increasing in mass, giving the suit a bulky appearance similar to a Hulkbuster Armor.
In addition to the extra-durable shell protecting its user, the Model-Prime Armor has shown to be completely immune to different types of powerful attacks, namely sonic attacks and EMPs, with such efficiency that its wearer might not even react to them. The suit can also resist powerful blasts of energy that can destroy entire buildings, and repeated blows from the likes of Captain Marvel. The armor also protects against intangibility, preventing objects and individuals like the Vision from phasing through it.
The division of the suit's surface into individual tiles allows for fast repairing of damaged areas, as the scales simply realign themselves. The extent of this ability allows the armor to rapidly rebuild itself even after being broken down in its entirety.
The suit also possesses a cloaking mode that renders it invisible while its user remains in sight, providing its wearer with all of its protection and a deceivingly-defenseless appearance. The suit's multi-functionality allows it to render its entire surface black for stealth missions. Additionally, magnetic force-fields can be used to attract objects at will.
In case the wearer's life is in extreme risk during battle, the Model-Prime Armor possesses an emergency protocol that causes the suit to burst and separate from its user while the device on their wrist flies them away to safety. The Model-Prime Armor then realigns itself and continues fighting in automatic control until its user accesses a remote interface and gets hold of the armor.
- When Zenn-Lavian forces attempted to use the reality-warping device known as the Illuminatrix to alter the Earth so its culture became a reflection of Zenn-La's, Iron Man's armor temporarily became what it would look like if designed in Zenn-La.
- Tony once equipped the armor's unibeam with a sterile neutrino projector capable of neutralizing Hyperion.
- When Victor von Doom made use of this armor, he used a series of dark arts spell cycles to enhance its technology.
- When designing this armor, artist David Marquez took inspiration from contemporary car and aircraft concepts. In particular, the Lamborghini Aventador and fighter jets like the F-22 and YF-23.
- 177 appearances of Iron Man Armor Model 51
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