Tuesday, October 12, 2010

REVIEW: Marvel Universe's Captain Britain

Unlike his siblings, Brian Braddock is not a mutant.  Until he was a young man, he lived a perfectly normal life.  He never considered himself particularly heroic until a string of tragedies brought him into inevitable contact with Merlyn, who flooded him with mystical power.  Now he serves the British Isles as CAPTAIN BRITAIN, a hero powered by the magical energy inherent in Britain itself.  So long as his homeland thrives, Brian Braddock will protect her.

Today I'm looking at - if you haven't already guessed - Hasbro's Captain Britain.

The Marvel Universe release Captain Britain is a somewhat unusual choice for Hasbro, given his distinctly British (well, let's face it, English, given Braddock is a toff) flavour.  Originally created by Chris Claremont and Herb Trimp as a British analogue to Captain America, the character first appeared in Marvel UK's publications exclusively until Claremont's 1978 run that saw the Captain team-up with Spider-man, bringing the character into the Marvel Universe proper and introducing him to the US audiences.
The Captain's original look - which included a full-face mask and staff weapon - were replaced with the modern, sleek costume by Alan Davis and initially, Dave Thorpe, who was later replaced by the King-in-Waiting, Alan Moore.

It's this version of the character that Hasbro's figure represents and - a few minor quibbles aside - it does so well.

Captain Britain

Hasbro appear to have a new basic model to use: this muscular build using the peg-and-hole hip joints is the same as that seen on Dark Spider-man, with a few new details added.

As you can see, there's the obligatory individual head sculpt, the Captain's gauntlet-stlye gloves and - best of all - his flappy-topped boots.  Much of Captain Britain's look is inspired by formal uniforms, such as those worn by the Queen's Guard and I'm pleased to see they got his boots right.  It's a somewhat odd configuration, though, with the tops of the boots having their own joint.  I'd have expected a simple over-the-knee boot in a single piece, but this still works.

The body itself is a good one and works well within the limitations imposed by the peg-and-hope hips.

However, my Captain Britain figure is incredibly loose.  The Dark Spider-man, which uses the same parts, was not, so I'm assuming this is a production quirk rather than a design flaw.  That doesn't stop it from being a little disappointing, as getting him to hold any kind of pose is rather difficult due to his feet, knees and upper-torso joints being so loose.

The other major problem is with the paint job.  The costume is simply wrong.  The red chevrons around his ribcage descend too far down his torso and then simply stop.  They're supposed to wrap around to the back, with a curve, at a much wider angle and then form another cross over his back.   It looks as if his shirt is tucked into his pants.

There's also some weird stuff going on with his waist - a wash has been applied to give it a wrinkled effect and this makes his costume look like he's wearing the classic Superman outer-undies style of outfit.  Captain Britain's costume is a one-piece, with no belt-line or separate upper/lower pieces.

I know it seems an odd thing to dedicate half the review to, but I've waited long enough for a Captain Britain figure and so I expect them to at least get his trousers right!

As with all Marvel Universe single-figure releases, Captain Britain comes with his own (numbered) stand and a HAMMER dossier.

Final Thoughts
Captain Britain is a good figure, aside from some minor issues.  He looks great if you pose him hands on hips.  It's difficult to get him into any other pose, though, due to the floppy joints.  As I say, this may simply be a production issue rather than any form of deep-rooted problem with the mold, but it's still somewhat frustrating.

Worse though is the lack of attention given to his costume - specifically the chevrons and his belt-line and - worst of all - the lack of back detail.  Would they release a Captain America if his shield bore a red star instead of a white one?  I doubt it.  So why release a figure - however rminor a character - with such a mistake?  It's a very sloppy oversight that mars what could have been a great figure.  The build is right, his head sculpt is excellent (the helmet details and his stoic expression are superb) and they went to the trouble of giving him the proper boots (which I appreciate.)  It's just a shame its let-down by poor production and an incorrect paint job.

Production QualityB
Final ScoreB-

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