#3194: U.S. Agent

U.S. AGENT

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Originally appointed by the US Government to replace Steve Rogers as Captain America, U.S. Agent John Walker must balance his moral compass against his duty to his country.”

When you need a Captain America-esque guy, but you need him to do un-Captain America-esque things, there’s one guy to call: John F. Walker, the U.S. Agent!  Beginning as the Captain America antagonist Super Patriot, John was tapped as the new Cap when Steve gave up the title during a falling out with the US government.  Obviously, Steve was always going to come back, and when he did, his uniform from his interim time as “The Captain” was handed over to Walker, who repurposed it as U.S. Agent.  He’s since become the go-to character for when you need someone who’s on the right side of the law, but maybe not morally there, albeit not in a totally villainous sense.  And, he got a great focus in the MCU in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.  All of that’s given him some leverage for a cool new comics-based figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

U.S. Agent is figure 6 in the Controller Series of Marvel Legends.  His presence in the series allows for all three of the main heavy hitter Avengers to have some sort of presence, without there being an actual Steve Rogers Cap variant needed.  This marks U.S. Agent’s third time in Legends form, and his second comics-based release, following the prior Hasbro version from way back in the Return of Marvel Legends days.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  U.S. Agent is built on the Reaper body, along with its Cap-specific parts courtesy of the Cap-Wolf release.  The Reaper body is perhaps just a touch small for how Walker is usually portrayed, but it’s not too far off, and I get the want for internal consistencies with the standard Cap.  He gets a brand-new head sculpt.  After years of Hasbro going a bit too gruff with Steve before finally getting it right, they dial back in on that gruffness for Walker.  The head’s maybe just a touch too large for the body, I think, but it’s otherwise a pretty good fit for the character.  U.S. Agent’s paint work is generally pretty decent.  Not quite as impressive as Speedball, but still better than previous fare.  The face gets a decent amount of accenting, and the detailing on the uniform is nice and crisp.  U.S. Agent is packed with his shield, two sets of hands (fists and a gripping/open gesture combo), and the arm for the Controller Build-A-Figure.  If there’s one thing I’d have liked to see, it’s an alternate Steve head to let this figure double as The Captain, but that’s far from an essential piece.  As it stands, he works well for John.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since getting a few goes at a good update to a classic Cap, and finally getting a really definitive one in the 20th Anniversary release, I’ve definitely been jonesing for a good U.S. Agent.  The prior one just wasn’t cutting it, so this one was certainly welcome.  As with Speedball, I expected this one to be a rather by-the-numbers release, though unlike Speedball, U.S. Agent winds up being truer to that expectation.  He’s not anything crazy, but he’s honestly just what he needs to be.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website.

#2825: U.S. Agent

U.S. AGENT

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“After being stripped of the Captain America title, John F. Walker’s spirit is shaken and he takes on a new mantle: US Agent.”

John Walker is always sort of a necessary evil when it comes to the Captain America mythos.  He’s kind of got to be there to remind you of the things that Steve Rogers isn’t, and never should be.  The Ultimate Universe had no John Walker, and it kind of showed, because the end result was a Steve Rogers that wound up with a lot of John’s traits.  In the case of the MCU, they really hammered home that comparison to Steve, by actively making John a character that almost feels like Steve at first glance, but who quickly becomes very not Steve very suddenly.  It was an intriguing story, though perhaps not an overly pleasant one.  But, much like the comics, John’s not meant to stay in the Captain America role, and the show ends with him transitioned into the role he’s been in for about four decades in the comics: US Agent, the guy who can be what Captain America isn’t.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

US Agent is figure 5 in the Disney+-themed assortment of Marvel Legends.  Given’s John very prominent role within the story, he’s a natural choice for the line-up, though it is obviously a slight change-up that he’s in his US Agent garb, which he only wears for a single non-action scene in the final episode, rather than the Captain America costume he wears for most of the show (which itself got a Walmart-exclusive release).  This gets into what I was saying with the Loki review, where I mentioned the set’s tendency to go with the looks with more staying power, which is what I’d say is true of this look over John’s Cap look.  The figure stands a little over 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation.  His articulation scheme is on par with the more recent Steve Caps, which feels appropriately consistent.  There are probably some areas where he could stand to have a little more range, but for the most part, he does what he needs to do.  His sculpt is, rather predictably, shared with the John Walker Cap figure.  The two designs are very similar, and it only makes sense, really.  It’s a pretty good sculpt for the most part, capturing Walker’s slightly larger build, as well as all of the smaller details in the suit’s design.  I’m not big on the molded gun in the holster, especially at this point in the line, but there may be some licensing things going on there.  Unfortunately, the decision to do a complete parts share means that his helmet’s not screen accurate, since John’s US Agent helmet doesn’t have the A-Star on the forehead. It’s too bad they couldn’t do that one new piece, but I have to wonder if it may have been an early design element.  On top of the sculpt issue on the helmet, John’s paint also takes a slight hit.  They’ve clearly just used the same paint masks as the Cap figure, but with some of the colors changed out.  For the most part, this is fine, but in the case of his torso, it means that he’s got smaller red straps over a black chest, when going by the show, the chest part should be red, and the straps should be white, making for that true US Agent look a la the comics.  This ultimately bugs me more than the helmet, because this isn’t even a cost of tooling issue; it would literally just be changing out the paint apps.  This further adds to me wondering if maybe the US Agent costume wasn’t as different in the original designs, and that’s what we’re seeing here.  John is packed with two sets of hands, one set in fists, the other gripping, as well as another piece to the Captain America wings.  Even if his gun is molded into the holster on the figure, it’s still again a shame that the gun wasn’t also included.  I’m pretty sure we’ve already got the mold for it and everything.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve always liked John Walker as a concept (though I don’t actually like John Walker as a guy, because he’s generally not the best), so I liked that they brought him into the show, and I liked that they allowed him to have his proper arc.  Wyatt Russell was fantastic in the role, and I look forward to seeing more of the character, even if I don’t actually look forward to seeing him.  While his Cap design was cool, I didn’t really find myself drawn into the exclusive, because, for me, he’s not Cap, he’s US Agent.  This figure has its few issues of accuracy, but even so, I do still really like him as a figure.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#0754: US Agent

US AGENT
IRON MAN (TOY BIZ)

USAgent1

Who’s up for a history lesson? Well, too bad, cuz I’m giving one anyway.

Let’s talk about US Agent. As a member of the West Coast Avengers, he was carried over into the reformation of the team, Force Works. Force Works had the luck of being relevant at the time of the 90s Iron Man cartoon, resulting in the team serving as Tony’s primary supporting cast for the first season of the show. US Agent, while a member in the comics, was never on the show. But, since the cartoon’s toyline was taking just as many cues from the comics as it was the cartoon itself, US Agent was slated to be released in the third series of the line. Unfortunately, he was cut from the line-up at the last minute, due to a change in the case pack-outs. His tooling was shelved, and later re-purposed for the proposed Living Laser figure in Series 5 of the same line. When that figure was also canceled, the body was re-re-purposed into the “Muntant” Armor version of Professor X. Then, in 1997, with no rhyme or reason, a slow trickle of US Agent figures began appearing from overseas. They were dubbed a “Limited Release” courtesy of Elegant Way, and were very quickly discovered to be unsanctioned by Marvel or Toy Biz. Some 10,000 units were produced before Toy Biz could halt production, but they did their best to make sure as few as possible made it to the US, ironically making US Agent exclusive to areas outside of the US, and quite a pricey commodity amongst US-based collectors. What does all this have to do with me? Well, in case you hadn’t figured it out, I got one.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

USAgent2US Agent was, as noted above, supposed to be released as part of Series 3 of the 90s Iron Man line. Ultimately, he ended up being released on his own, as an unsanctioned product, so this is effectively a bootleg. However, unlike most bootlegs, the quality of the figure seems to be about on par with the official figures. The figure stands 5 ¼ inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation. He only has elbow movement on his left arm, due to a spring-loaded feature being implemented on his right. I’ve actually reviewed most of this figure before, when I looked at Astral Projection Professor X. The right arm, upper left arm, and upper legs are identical between the two figures. The torso and lower legs are mostly the same, though the Professor X pieces had ports for armor add-ons, and the US Agent’s torso has an additional sculpted insignia on his torso. The left hand has a tighter grip on this figure, which is odd, since he doesn’t actually have anything to hold, but it looks fine. The end result is a body that is nearly indistinguishable from Professor X’s to the average viewer. The body’s not the greatest sculpt ever; that torso still looks wonky. That said, it does work a lot better for US Agent than it did Xavier, which makes sense, since US Agent was the character for whom it was intended. US Agent does have his own, totally unique head sculpt, which is cool. It’s not exceptional work or anything, but it is pretty nice, and it gives Walker an appropriately sneer-y expression, plus it sits well on the body. US Agent’s paint work is generally pretty good. Unsurprisingly for a guy named “US Agent,” he consists mostly of red, white, and blue. The blue is molded and the rest is painted on; the application is decent enough, though there’s some slop around the edges. The official prototype shots for US Agent showed him with black in place of the blue, but it’s not unlikely that Toy Biz themselves might have made this change before dropping the figure. US Agent included an energy shield (which has trouble staying in place, due to the spring feature), and one of the standard Iron Man line badges, though it does not have the usual character bio, presumably due to Toy Biz never writing one.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Back in the 90s, when I was first getting into toy collecting, the Iron Man and Fantastic Four lines from Toy Biz were my jam. I got every figure I could, and I even saved the backs of the packaging so that I could cut out the small thumbnail images of all the other available figures. US Agent was one of the ones I remember having that little thumbnail for, but never being able to find. In those days, you didn’t have many ways of finding out about cancelled figures, so I just assumed he wasn’t out yet. It wasn’t until a little later, after discovering the awesome Iron Man Achive on Raving Toy Maniac, that I found out he never came to be. Then it was another several years or so before I found out he actually had come to be, but not in an easily attainable for a 10 year old sort of way. So, I was excited beyond belief when I came across a dealer at this year’s Baltimore Comic Con selling this guy loose, and not even for a small fortune. I’m really happy to finally have this guy, and to have finally completed my Series 3 collection!

USAgent3