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I have a memory of reading a book as a child (read in the 90s, felt like a not-so-recent book, though) that involved a metal giant.

Some elements of the story seem to match The Iron Giant and/or The Iron Man, except for one specific memory, which doesn't ...

I remember that the metal giant ate other metal and machinery (check for The Iron Man, based on wikipedia), and that it came crashing down from outer space (another check for The Iron Giant trailer) but I also very specifically remember that it had to reconstruct itself - I remember a scene where the hand of the Iron Giant is pulling itself along by its fingers, trying to put itself back together from the crash.

That scene isn't mentioned in the wikipedia page for The Iron Man, and is specifically not what happens in The Iron Giant.

Have I confused this with some other book? Or was it changed in the film?

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That IS The Iron Man (novel).

Although it's not mentioned in the Wikipedia page for The Iron Man, the reconstruction scene DOES happen in the book, in the very first few pages. You can check it here:

But as soon as the eye and the hand got together, the eye looked at the hand. Its light glowed blue. The hand stood up on three fingers and its thumb, and craned its forefinger like a long nose. It felt around. It touched the eye. Gleefully it picked up the eye, and tucked it under its middle finger. The eye peered out, between the forefinger and thumb. Now the hand could see.

It looked around. Then it darted and jabbed one of the gulls with its stiffly held finger, then darted at the other and jabbed him. The two gulls flew up into the wind with a frightened cry.

Slowly then the hand crept over the stones, searching. It ran forward suddenly, grabbed something and tugged. But the thing was stuck between two rocks. The thing was one of the Iron Man’s arms. At last the hand left the arm and went scuttling hither and thither among the rocks, till it stopped, and touched something gently. This thing was the other hand. This new hand stood up and hooked its finger round the little finger of the hand with the eye, and let itself be led. Now the two hands, the seeing one leading the blind one, walking on their fingertips, went back together to the arm, and together they tugged it free. The hand with the eye fastened itself on to the wrist of the arm. The arm stood up and walked on its hand. The other hand clung on behind as before, and this strange trio went on searching.

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