Tuesday, March 17, 2015

REVIEW: Marvel Legends Captain America (Ultimate Marvel Version)

Marvel Legends Infinity 3-Pack
As you may recall, last week we looked at the first figure in the Target-exclusive Marvel Legends Infinity 3-Pack, in the form of Ms. Marvel. Today we're looking at her pack-mate, Captain America. Overall we were impressed with Ms. Marvel, but how will the Star-Spangled Super Soldier fare? Read on and find out!

Ultimate Captain America
The first thing to note is that this is the Ultimate Universe version of Captain America, hence the ''utility belt'' and modified color scheme. Thankfully, as one of Marvel's tent pole characters, there are other versions of Cap available in the Marvel Legends line-up, with more coming our way soon.

So with that out of the way, let's take a look at the Captain himself...
The figure is a fairly striking, well-built and ''chunky'' piece, with a neat silhouette and some great up-close detail. Even as the Ultimate version, there's no mistaking who this character is (and truth be told, the changes to his look will probably go unnoticed by the majority of people.) I have to admit though that I find the proportions ever so slightly off, particularly when it comes to his head. It just looks a little too big for his body.
Speaking of his head, the set includes an alternative, unmasked Captain America.  You can switch heads by simply popping the piece from the neck joint and then popping the new one on - which can be a little tricky, as the neck joint does tend to move around as you do so.

The masked head is pretty good, overall. I like that they painted his eyebrows (even if the app is a little loose) and the tampo detail on the ''A'' and side-of-the-head wings are neat. The unmasked head is also pretty good (body-to-head scale issues aside) but (A) there's some pretty heavy ''detailing'' on his face (along with some minor casting issues) that really make him look far older than he should be, (B) his eyebrows change color between heads (and the ''anti-aliasing'' on his hairline is horrible) and (C) it appears this is the version of Steve Rogers played by the WWE's John Cena!
Like all Hasbro figures, this Captain America is built from a combination of preexisting and bespoke parts. I'm fine with that, as it keeps costs down and - unless it compromises a very character-specific detail - it makes sense to recycle parts like this. After all, is there really that much of a noticeable difference between the thigh of Captain America and, say, Sentry? Overall, the rendition of the character is very good. It's clearly Captain America and the sculpt and design certainly does him justice.
Articulation is very good, too, with the Cap sporting a pretty complex joint set. From the top we've a tilt and ball-joint head, ball-joint and tilt shoulders, swivel bicep, double-jointed elbow, swivel wrists, torso ball-joint, swivel waist, ball- and tilt-joint hips, swivel cut-thighs, double-jointed knees, swivel shins, tilt-joint feet and ankle rockers.
It's a pretty solid set-up but there are a couple of problems. For starters, he has no wrist tilt joints (due to his gauntlet-like gloves), which is a little disappointing. The double-joint elbows also lack any kind of second plane articulation, meaning the bicep swivel (which connects at the shoulder) has to do all the work there (and speaking of his biceps, the joint arrangement results in an odd ''cut out'' on his upper arm to accommodate the articulation, which can look weird. Personally I think it would have made more sense to not build up his bicep quite so much...)
I'm also really not a fan of the ball- and tilt-joint hip arrangement. Whilst it works just fine at the shoulders, it can be very awkward trying to get his legs into the poses you want, as the process involves a kind of shift-and-rotate motion that's far more frustrating than it should be. I've never liked this arrangement with the Marvel 4'' figures and this does nothing to convert me on that front.
The rocker ankles are, however, awesome. I may often bemoan the lack of display stands with figures but this Captain America manages to be pretty sturdy when posed correctly, so I can just about forgive the lack of a stand (even if it does mean most of your Marvel Legends figures will be displayed in one of six or so poses...)
The paint app is pretty good, overall. There are a couple of minor blemishes or mis-applications but that's always the case with figures and will, of course, vary from toy to toy. The stars on his shoulders are a particularly neat touch, although they will ''break'' when you change his pose.
Of the three figures in the pack, Captain America is the only one to come with any accessories. We've already discussed the unmasked head but the figure also includes his iconic shield, so let's talk for a moment about that...
From the front, it looks great. There's a nice metallic sheen to the piece (although the edging around the center star is a little sloppy) and there's some great functionality with the shield's grip, featuring a ''fold down'' C-clip and peg arrangement that can be used to clip the piece onto his wrist, place it in his left (open) hand or pop it into the port on his back.
Unfortunately, there's a huge design flaw when it comes to the shield, namely that the C-clip will break if you attempt to place the shield on his left wrist - something I discovered for myself and have since found is a common complaint regarding this figure. There's absolutely no excuse for this (and trust me, it's not like I was being particularly forceful when I attempted to switch the shield to his left) and it's shameful that Hasbro allow this figure to go out in this state. I can imagine this breakage would reduce young collectors to tears and even at my age I'm pretty damned annoyed about this. (And no, no amount of superglue will repair this problem.) 

Buyer beware.

Final Thoughts
The Ultimate Marvel Captain America has a lot going for it. It looks great, the articulation (horrible hips aside) is great and it's ultimately - no pun intended - a great rendition of the character. However, it's not without its issues.

I can accept the weirdly-angled biceps if it adds to the articulation (which it does) and the lack of tilting wrist joints isn't too big a deal (especially if it's due to the designer wanting to retain the gauntlet look of his gloves.) I can even excuse the slightly loose paint app on his unmasked head (and indeed, the slightly off-scale of his head in general) and the other slight issues with the paintwork, as this is the sort of thing that will vary from figure to figure and may be something limited to my figure.

What I cannot excuse, though, is the shield bracket. There is, quite simply, no excuse for this. I really cannot comprehend the thought process that went into this. Who would possibly consider creating a piece that fits onto one wrist but not the other? It's absolute madness and I'm pulling my hair out trying to even understand that mindset. Didn't anybody even think to check this? And who OK-ed the idea that the figure should have wrists that varied in size so much? It's not like the glove pieces were designed for another figure or purpose, as they're clearly bespoke parts designed for Captain America!!! GAH!!!

It's mind-numbingly stupid and you'll drive yourself insane trying to figure this one out.

If you're fortunate enough to read this before buying your Captain America (or attempting to attach the shield to his wrist) then do not, ever, EVER be tempted to try and clip the shield onto his left wrist as it WILL break. If nothing else comes from this Review then I'll be happy to know I've helped avoid another collector (or worse yet, a child) from experiencing the annoyance of seeing the shield accessory's C-clip snap.

It's such a shame, as the figure itself - minor issues aside - is very good and if you're looking for a highly-pose-able, good-looking rendition of the Ultimate Captain America at an affordable price, then this is definitely the one for you. 

A neat figure marred by the inclusion of a seriously flawed accessory.

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