I had to pass on the Captain America toy line when I saw them at the Toy Kingdom toy launch last month. With the distribution of Star Wars, G.I. Joe, and Marvel Universe figures set on the same day, it seemed best to prioritize the other lines. I'm glad I did since I got the last of Clone Wars figures and the Marvel Universe sets sold out before the distribution had a chance to get started.
With the Captain America figures at a 2 per case assortment, the movie line didn't fare as well that day. There were a lot of shoppers happy enough to look them over (more than there were at the Thor Movie toy launch anyway) but it didn't look like many of the casual passers-by were biting. The collectors didn't look like they were enamored of the figures either. I heard a lot of gripes about the paint and a few complaints about the face sculpts looking too Cro-Magnon.
Many were turned off by the fact that both of the villains in the line, Crossbones and Red Skull, were drastically short-packed (1 each per case). The two figures were shelved with the others and were promptly sold out 5 minutes after Toy Kingdom opened.
Personally, I was floored by how good they looked when I first saw them on the shelf and still am, despite the horrendous quality control issues. The line is extremely well detailed and I think the bulky, brawler look suits the hero more than the skinny bodies that the Marvel Universe figures have used in the past.
It wasn't long before I gave in and picked up the figures that I could still find:
The first wave of basic figures (ones without the huge action feature accessories) included the Ultimates Captain America, Heavy Artillery Captain America (his classic look), Winter Soldier, and a Battlefield Captain America (a reissue of the SDCC 2010 Captain America). The second wave was better in terms of the character selection with Captain Britain, US Agent, "Super Combat" Captain America (the movie version), Winter Combat Captain America (crappy concept costume with a snowboard), the aforementioned Red Skull and Crossbones, and the review of the day, the Heroic Age Captain America (or Bucky Cap).
Packaging for the line is pretty much Hasbro standard. Generic Movie Cap portrait on the front of the card, an insert that has the figure's name on it, and a back printed with some prototype shots and "also available" insets.
Each of the basic figures gets an action feature accessory, just like the Thor figures did, only for most of them, it's not a throw away and forget part like those silly swords and launchers. Most of these features are actually integrated into the Captains' shields, which is terrible for us collectors since it is such an integral part of the Captain America mythos.
The Heroic Age Cap's shield is equipped with four curved blades that pop out from the edges of the disc at the push of a button. I say disc but in reality it's sort of a somewhat flattened ball. The mechanisms required to pop those plastic blades out takes up a lot of space so the accessory is big and heavy.
And the blades don't hide away completely, either. When folded, they still stick out of the sides like a gray halo, making the thing even BIGGER. But it's not as bad as it sounds. The thing is pretty fun by itself. Think of it as your very own ninja star!
If you have the Bucky Cap from the Gigantic Battles set with the giant Skrull, then you can just switch it with him.
Speaking of the Bucky Cap, this figure is far and above that one. Because the old Marvel universe figure used a rehashed body from previous figures, it felt a little Frankensteinian to me. The head was too big, the body too slight, the joints too loose and the accessories felt ill-suited to the figure, especially the belt with the holster and sheath.
Happily, since this figure is an all-new figure, everything (with the exception of his shield) fits! The gun and knife feel like they're the correct scale and actually fit in his hand. He can even hold the knife tip first if you're careful. The holster and sheath are the right size and hold the weapons securely; not bending when you pose the figure thanks to the belt not being wrapped all the way around the figure. That saves a lot of warping.
I love his gun, which looks like a miniature Desert Eagle. I love how mean this weapon looks, like a handheld tank turret. I'm so glad it's not another Beretta or Glock. I've gotten way too many of those from the A-Team and GI Joe figures I've bought over the years.
The figure itself is a beaut. Like I said, I like the fact that this Captain America is a beefier, wider superhero. He isn't Spider-Man or Iron Fist. I've always imagined him as a knight and knights swing swords and practice with shields. That means a hell of a lot of muscle up top.
One thing that people keep saying is that he's a bit shorter than he should be, but honestly I don't see it. If you're displaying figures in action poses, it's not really noticeable. Only when you stand them straight and place them side by side, and then look at them straight on, do you see a difference between the new line and Marvel Universe figures.
But then my level of geek obsession is still of the mild sort. Scale has always been the least of my worries.
The articulation of the figure is very nice for this scale. Ball-jointed head, swivel-hinge shoulders, swivel-hinge elbows, swivel wrists, torso swivel-hinge, ball-jointed hips, swivel thighs, double hinge knees, and I've forgotten what kind of ankles he's got, but he does have joints there. He's pretty easy to pose in any case.
There is another great thing that Hasbro did with this line that I haven't mentioned yet.
Remember the straps on the Marvel Universe Captain Americas' shields? At first, I thought that was the coolest because I didn’t know any better at the time. Now after I've had them for a few years, those elastic straps are going the way of bacon and wrinkling something fierce. They've stretched so badly that they are next to useless, and that clip that attaches the shields to their arms has never worked as advertised.
The new figures though, they have holes in their backs and pegs on the shields. It's so simple you wonder why they didn't just do it this way before! Sure there's a big old hole in the middle of the figure's back, but we never complained when they did it for GI Joe. Besides, how many figures do you display with their backs to the viewer?
Overall, I've come to really like this figure. It's a nicely proportioned, well detailed 3.75" figure and it's got more accessories than we normally see in Marvel figures.
There is one glaring problem with this figure, or really with the entire line, and that's paint. The paint on this guy is gorgeous looking, all nice and metallic, but I had to look through cases and cases of them on the shelf just to find one that was decent. Slop and missed lines are common, with the skin tone going over the edge, or the red and white bleeding. Or paint chips on the blue. The shoulders especially are prone to chips. Mine has already gotten several since I bought it.
I hope we'll still see the wave 3 of this toy line despite slow sales. There are several restocks and re-colors included in the assortments but I'm hoping to get my hands on like that Hydra soldier and maybe Crossbones with better paint.