#2133: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“As World War II unfolds, and super-powered beings emerge across the world, the patriotic hero Captain America is revealed, ushering in a new age of Marvels.”

It seems like not too long ago, in a review of another Captain America figure no less, I discussed the ramifications of making a good figure into a store exclusive.  Really, when your get down to it, it’s not really about being exclusive to any store at all, but more one store in particular, who seems to be getting a lot of exclusives at the moment, and doesn’t have the greatest history of backing toy exclusives.  The store, of course, it Walmart, who for some inexplicable reason have managed to net their second Captain America exclusive of the year in a year when Captain America hype is about as high as its ever been.  Seems like poor planning if you ask me, but no one did, so I guess I’ll stop rambling about it.  How about I ramble about something I’m a little more qualified to ramble on about: actual toy reviews!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain America is part of the Marvel: 80 Years sub-line of Marvel Legends.  The 80 Years line is effectively just taking the place of last years Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years line, but with comic figures thrown into the mix as well.  Alongside Iron Man and Thor, Cap is part of a trio of figures inspired by the work of famed comics painter Alex Ross.  While those two are standard releases showing up pretty much everywhere, he’s only at Walmart.  Since there’s no markings of him being an exclusive, there are rumors that he may be offered up to other retailers at a later time, but as of right now they’re just unfounded rumors.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation.  The last couple of comic-based Caps were based on the Reaper body, and this figure is at the very least Reaper adjacent.  He shares his forearms, legs beneath the hips, and his belt with the Red Onslaught Cap (and by extension Red Guardian and Secret War Cap).  Those are the good parts of the Reaper body, so that’s all well and good.  He then gets a new head, torso, upper arms, pelvis, and hips, which make him look sufficiently new.  After years of the thug face (which hit critical mass with the Red Onslaught Cap), we finally get a new set of features for the comic book Steve Rogers.  There’s some definite Ross-influence occurring here, and that’s certainly a plus, since it plays true to the classic version of the character.  It’s a nice sculpt, and more than just the face, I also really like the texturing and stitching on his mask.  The new torso and shoulders give us a detail we haven’t seen on Cap since the early Hasbro days: sculpted scale-mail.  The lack of the scales was one of the major prevailing complaints about the RO Cap (well, after that hideous head), and Hasbro had even addressed it somewhat with the paint change-up on the Vintage reissue of the figure, but this time around they’ve gone all out and actually sculpted them properly.  As someone who runs hot and cold on the scales, I have to say, they really add a lot to this figure, as goes that three dimensional star.  There’s just a lot of pop.  Cap’s paintwork continues the Ross inspiration, going for a slightly darker palette than we usually see for a comics Cap.  It’s not a bad look, but I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing a repaint in slightly brighter colors.  As it is, there’s plenty of very strong work on this figure, and I definitely dig the metallic accents on the scales.  Cap is packed with two sets of hands, his trusty shield, a throwing effect with hand attached, and a second head.  The usual gripping hands are included here, but in addition, we *finally* get some fists for a Reaper-based release, which was majorly overdue, and is low-key one of my favorite things about this guy.  The shield is the same one Hasbro’s been using for a few years for the comic figures.  It’s a little undersized, and the star is off-center on mine, but it’s a serviceable piece.  It can be mounted on the throwing effect, which is the same one first introduced on the Secret War Cap, and is definitely a fun extra.  The second head gives Cap a slightly more stern expression.  I’m not certain if it’s based on a specific take on the character, but I don’t like it quite as much as the standard.  I honestly would have preferred an unmasked head, but I can see this one getting some play if you’re really jonesing for a John Walker Cap.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since being disappointed by the Red Onslaught Cap, I’ve been waiting for Hasbro to do a more proper Classic Cap, and when this figure was shown off at Toy Fair, I was psyched.  I was less psyched when he was confirmed as a Walmart-exclusive.  While this one ended up being much easier for me to find than the Endgame version, it was still a little bit of a hassle tracking him down, and I can foresee him being one that a chunk of people miss.  Hopefully Hasbro will have another release of this mold in their back pocket for those who can’t track him down.  In the meantime, this is the best comic-styled Cap we’ve ever gotten, and I really dig him.

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#1209: The Flash

THE FLASH

JUSTICE (DC DIRECT)

flashjust1

A quick glance around the internet tells me that this may be a slightly controversial opinion, but I really love the work of Alex Ross.  Marvels and Kingdom Come are obviously the standouts, but in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s, his work was the best source of classic DC Comics material out there, which was something of a godsend for me, a classic comics fan born into the wrong era. In that regard, his 12-issue maxi-series Justice, which was effectively Challenge of the Superfriends on an even more epic scale, was right up my alley.  The fact that it got a whole line of figures courtesy of DC Direct?  Icing on the cake.  Today, I’ll be looking at my first figure from the line, Barry Allen, aka the Flash!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

flashjust2The Flash was released in the first series of Justice figures from DCD.  This was only the second Barry Allen Flash we’d gotten from them, and the first time he’d been released solo.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  Not a ton of movement, but it was an incredible step up from the prior Kingdom Come figures, which had what can be described as “minimal” movement at best.  He’s based, of course, on Alex Ross’s depiction of Barry from not just Justice, but also the tabloid-sized specials DC put in the early ‘00s.  It’s really just Barry’s classic costume styled as if it were made from real fabrics and worn by a real person, but that’s a pretty good look.  The sculpt on this guy was handled by DCD’s main sculptor at the time, Tim Bruckner, and it’s not a bad stab at this particular design.  The main issues I would cite with this figure come from its desire to be two different things simultaneously.  They wanted him to be in a sort of a running pose (something no Flash figure they’d released up to that point was capable of pulling off), but also be able to stand up relatively straight, like the rest of the line.  The end result is a figure with a rather static and stiff upper half, and a lower half that looks to be mid-lunge.  With a bit of careful posing, you can get him to look fine (which is more than can be said for some of DCD’s later output), but he always seems ever so slightly off.  On the plus side, there’s a lot of fun detail work on the sculpt.  The costume sports plenty of wrinkles and stretched fabric, to make it more convincing that he’s not just sporting body paint, and there’s even a seam running down the front, showing how he gets the costume on and off.  The boots are heavily wrinkled and very obviously a different material than the rest of the costume, and there’s even the appropriate treading on the soles.  The head is some pretty solid work as well; the face under the mask displays Barry’s goofy charm pretty well, and the mask has a seam running across the forehead, much like Adam West’s Batman Cowl.  The paintwork on Flash is pretty good, but I have one small complaint: they used gold in place of yellow.  It’s not an uncommon practice, and this is far from the first Flash to do so, but when companies do this, they almost always use this dark and rather dull gold.  In the case of the Flash, this robs him of some of his costume’s boldness and clash, and on this particular figure, it has the unintended effect of sort of reversing the dynamic of his costume and making the red the lighter color in most lighting.  A more vibrant gold would have looked a bit better.  Apart from that, the application is all pretty clean, and I do really like the slightly pearlescent red they’ve gone with.  Barry’s only accessory was a rather large and unruly display stand, which was the same one included with every figure in this line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite getting most of my DC Direct figures from Cosmic Comix, I actually got Flash from a Suncoast.  I think CCX had sold out of Flash by the time I got there, so I ended up finding him while on a mall outing with my Grandmother and my cousins.  I think he may have even been on sale.  I was quite excited to get him, since I didn’t yet have a Barry Allen in this scale.  He remained my go-to Flash figure until he was eventually supplanted by the Darwyn Cooke-styled Flash from New Frontier.  He’s not a perfect figure, but he’s a pretty solid one, and he definitely brings back some fond memories.