HOWARD STARK, PEGGY CARTER, & HYDRA AGENTS
The civilians in superhero stories are very important to the mythos, but sadly, as rather average looking people, they don’t exactly lend themselves to lots of toys, no matter their prominence in the stories they hail from. Fortunately, there are lines like Minimates, which are able to take advantage of their slightly different distribution methods to get us characters we might not otherwise see. Take, for instance, today’s focuses, Howard Stark and Peggy Carter!
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Howard, Peggy, and the Hydra Agent made up the specialty-exclusive component of the First Avenger-themed ‘mates, released in Series 40 of the main Marvel Minimates line. Howard was the heavier packed of the two, with Peggy being his one-per-case “variant.” In light of the movie and Peggy’s later importance moving forward, this was, and still is, an odd sort of case pack-out, but I guess they really wanted to make sure everyone had a chance at a young Howard.
The young Howard Stark presented in The First Avenger is clearly influenced by another famous Howard, aeronautics pioneer Howard Hughes. Director Joe Johnson had experience with Hughes, having used him in the film adaptation of The Rocketeer, so I guess he was just going with what he was comfortable with. The figure is built on the standard ‘mate body, so he’s about 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation. Howard has two add-on pieces, for his hair and his suit jacket. Both are re-used, from the Universal Monsters line, in fact. The hair is from Creature From the Black Lagoon’s Dr. Reed, and the jacket is from The Wolfman’s Laurence Talbot. Given the similar time-period of all of the films in question, the re-use is pretty sensible. Additionally, it’s nice to see the pieces made from slightly higher grade plastic, as it allows the details to show through a lot better. His paintwork is somewhat on the drab side, being mostly greasy and the like. The face has a reasonable likeness of Dominic Cooper, though he’s more of a generic Howard sort of look. I might have liked a more expressive face, but this works well enough. Howard is packed with a hat (re-used from The Spirit line), which can be swapped out for the hair.
It seems crazy to me that this is the only Peggy Carter action figure out there. It’s also true of Howard, of course, but he’s more of a supporting player. You’d expect Peggy to get a little more respect, wouldn’t you? Though, I suppose it’s fitting that a character like Peggy wouldn’t be getting the respect she deserved. At least she got this. She’s got two add-on pieces, one for her hair, and one for her skirt. Both are re-used, though the hair was originally meant for Peggy, but ended up going on the First Class Emma Frost first. It works well enough for the look they’re going for. The skirt piece is the same one used on Gwen Stacy, and it’s a standard piece that is still in use now. It all replicates her uniformed look from the movie nicely (though, if we’re being picky, I personally would have preferred her Hydra base-storming gear from the end of the movie; oh well). Her paintwork is a little more detailed than Howard’s, since she’s not relying on sculpting for the torso detailing. The detail work is nice and sharp, and her face even has a decent likeness of Haley Atwell, though it’s once again a little void of expression. Peggy is packed with a Thompson machine gun, first seen with another WW2 hero, Sgt Rock. It’s a little tricky to hold, but it’s a nice piece.
Also offered in the army builder singles case, the basic Hydra Agent was easily one of the most sensible MCU army builders to grace the ‘mate line. There’s a whole ton of these guys running around getting plowed through by Cap and the Howling Commandos, so getting a minimum of two to start with here was great. The figures are add-on heavy, with pieces for their masks, straps/skirts, and glove cuffs. Apart from the glove cuffs (which are, appropriately, re-used from Captain America), the other pieces were new to these guys. Or, at least, they were new to this general assortment, since the parts are shared with the other variations of Hydra agent. The pieces match up well with the film design, and the detail work is pretty clean. The paintwork is pretty decent, and features more detailing than you might notice at first glance. Perhaps the coolest part is what’s under the mask piece; since there were a few different Hydra masks seen in the movie, this one has the bulked up look, as well as a more streamlined design beneath it. It adds an extra element of customization to them, which makes the army building all the more fun. The Hydra Agents were both packed with a rifle, which has remained exclusive to the First Avengers offerings.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I picked both of these sets up new from Cosmic Comix. These were actually the sets I was most excited for at the time, and while they are perhaps not the most thrilling designs, I still really like them all. The execution is definitely there. And where else are you going to get Howard Stark and Peggy Carter action figures? No where!