Iron Man Gray Armor suit in action

Iron Man armor suit

(Mod. 1 Mk. 1 "Gray Armor")


This is one of the power armour  suits worn by Iron Man (Tony Stark) in Marvel comic books. Each model gets its own profile. For now and in chronological order :

  1. M1 Mk1 “Grey Armour” – this here profile.
  2. .
  3. M5 “Golden Avenger”.
  4. M6 “Silver Centurion”.



This armor is the forerunner of them all, an original suit of armor incorporating the vital cardiac circuitry within its chest plate.

The M1 Mk1 has a semi-rigid interior and a 3-D knitted metallic exterior. It is powered by a flat linear armature DC motors, and uses negative feedback body motion sensing (“body english”), as opposed to a cybernetic interface.

A number of attachment have already been built to greatly expand the armour’s possibilities.

This profile only describes the very first armour. Stark has occasionally built “throwback” suits resembling the Mod. 1 Mk. 1 but these had different specifications.

Likewise the suit he built upon returning to the US (Mod. 1 Mk. 2) was different, though for a little while it had the same general appearance.

Finally, some later depictions of what was supposed to be the original suit were retcons (as is often made clear by the fact that they occur in Afghanistan). Here, we stick with the 1960s material, though some technical descriptions are based on Eliot R. Brown’s 2008 texts for colour.


Notable systems

  • Integral, robust armour plating – though it could be defeated by grenades or rockets, it was proofed against small arms.
  • Air pressure jets in the boots launching the operator in the air.
  • Suction cups that could be attached to the gloves to adhere to smooth surfaces.
  • Power armature allowing the wearer to lift 300-ish kilograms. It could be overloaded (in DC Heroes terms, Pushing) to displace up to half a tonne, but this would rapidly deplete power reserves.
  • “Magnetic turbo-insulator”, essentially a super-charged magnet to deflect metallic projectiles.
  • Some sort of crude radio that could create static interference in other communication devices, or broadcast toward one specific device at a short range (it even worked on a loudspeaker).
  • High-powered finger buzzsaw that could cut through a steel door within a few minutes at most.
  • A blowtorch.

Iron Man also once unfastened his lubrication system to squirt a jet of flammable oil over several dozen meters. That was presumably the entire, pressurised oil supply of the armour that was flushed out. One imagines that Stark had to quickly refill the tank after that.


The outer shell pieces were built using a programmable 3D mechanical loom. It was loaded with a 40-mile spool of fine mono-crystalline iron wire coated with tetrafluoroethene plastic. The code was done on punched paper tape by Stark, who also came up with the general concepts and structure of the suit. There are reasons to think that the ETFE coating was done by Yinsen using an unique personal technique.

All the circuitry was created using Professor Yinsen’s direct-write electron beam device to machine sheets of silicon, using Stark’s designs. It represented 200 transistors per square inch, plus wiring and the like. This original integrated circuitry was called “micro modules” by the 2 technologists.

The e-beam was also used to machine fine systems such as the air jet turbines, without creating heat distortion within the material (usually a ferrous-ceramic billet).

Art and schematics for the very first Iron Man suit

The suit had dozens of Yinsen’s powerful, flat DC motors. For instance each glove had a dozen, being the most articulated parts. The micro modules associated with each micro motor worked either as pulse-code modulated drivers, or as a power amplifiers. Each micro-motor could thus deploy up to 1 horsepower.

The armour had crude weather seals, and was padded using… yak fur, presumably from Professor Yinsen’s native China. The flexible parts used rubber/iron combination plates, and the semi-rigid inner layers usually involved a foamed iron-silica alloy.

The body motion sensing within the suit was done by Stark using an array of small silicon levers. This crude system likely explained his initial difficulties in moving whilst wearing it.

Yinsen’s designs also included the defibrillator circuit and flat antenna within the chest plate. It monitored and stimulated Stark’s vagus nerve to stabilize the sinoatrial node’s bioelectric impulsion rate. Presumably the goal was to slow down the heartbeat whenever it went off the rails.


Unlike some later Iron Man suits, the original required familiarization to operate. For a completely untrained operator, even walking is in DC Heroes terms a Difficult DEX/DEX task. Simply standing is Challenging at first.

Stark could familiarize himself with the operations within minutes, but most operators will likely need an hour or so to fully erase the penalty. After 15 minutes or so, the penalties for ordinary operators would be down one step on the Universal Modifier Table.

Though the suit is clunky, Stark was markedly more physically adept (for instance in hand-to-hand combat) than without it once he was familiarized with it. For less gifted operators though, reaching this level would take lengthy training – this is the Vehicles (Power Armour) Subskill in action.

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Grey Iron Man armour suit (earliest)

/STR/ 05 /BODY/ 07, R#3

Claws: 08, Clinging: 03, Density Increase: 01, Flame project: 02, Jumping: 02, Radio communication: 03, Reflection/Deflection: 11, Skin armour: 02

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Claws can only work on an immobile, firm surface and takes time.
  • Clinging only onto smooth surfaces and using one’s hands.
  • Radio communication only to create static in an electronic.
    communication device (it worked on a loudspeaker), or broadcast toward an electronic communication device in plain line of sight.
  • Reflection/Deflection only to Deflect, only vs. magnetisable attacks.

Misc. : include an unique cardiac support system.

Attack Vulnerability (-1CS OV/RV vs. magnetic attacks), Serious Bulletproof Syndrome (from lack of mobility), MPR (land speed capped at 2 APs), Misc.: the armour is somewhat vulnerable to rusting, being made of coated iron, Misc.: the armour is very noisy of running on a hard surface such as concrete.

First retconned version

The depiction in Iron Man Vol. 1 #144 is different, though it’s supposed to be the same suit. For this retconned-but-not-too-much version :

  • STR is now 08.
  • Add Attraction/Repulsion: 06 with an Area of Effect of 1 AP, but limited to magnetisable objects. It was used to disarm soldiers, repulse oil drums or even help an helicopter climb faster.

Design Notes

The MPR isn’t clearly demonstrated – it’s more of an inference.

Running out of power

At this point, Stark’s armour can still run out of power – leaving him very weakened, and possibly triggering his Fatal Vulnerability if the pacemaker becomes inactive.

This always happens after an extraordinary effort depletes the batteries. In game terms this is thus keyed to Hero Points spending. Use the following table :

Action taken AV/EV cap R# rises by Fatal Vuln ?
Automatic Action Pushed by 1 AP 03/03 2 No
Automatic Action Pushed by 2+ AP 01/01 3 Yes
Dice Action raised by 3-4 APs 06/06 1 No
Dice Action raised by 5-6 APs 04/04 2 No
Dice Action raised by 7-8 APs 02/02 3 Yes

“Dice Action raised…” is the total of the AV+EV boost taken on a given Dice Action.

“AV/EV cap” indicates the maximum APs the armour can now deploy on both Dice and Automatic Actions – there isn’t enough juice left to perform above that.

The R# increase is cumulative – every time an HP expenditure on this table is made, the R# rises by the stated number. Note that rolling under the R# will trigger Stark’s Fatal Vulnerability.

The armour can be repowered with a small amount of electricity. Two flashlight batteries were once sufficient, though it was with the M1 Mk2 armour. However this is gradual. One Phase of draining will raise all AV/EV caps by 1, and lower the R# by 1 (with a minimum equal to the baseline R# of the armour).

Furthermore, if the amount of electricity is small one suspects that Pushing or raising Actions will have immediate and heightened consequences since the reserves are insufficient. The maximal amount of Pushing or raising Actions may also be very restricted if the recharge was done with a very minor source of power.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Comics.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 21st of May, 2016.