Wednesday, July 20, 2011

REVIEW: Captain America: The First Avenger Comic Packs - Captain America and Crossbones

Produced by Hasbro | Released July 2011

As mind-controlled citizens riot in the streets outside, CAPTAIN AMERICA aces off against CROSSBONES and four other powerful servants of RED SKULL. The star-spangled superhero is badly outmatched and he knows it, but these villains aren't prepared for the surprising skills of this new CAPTAIN AMERICA.

Packaging Shots

Captain America Comic Packs - Captain America and Crossbones
The Captain America Comic Packs are exclusive to Target and - like the Greatest Battles and X-Men: First Class Comic Packs - feature a reprint of a pivotal comicbook along with two figures. In this case the set includes the previously-released ''Bucky'' Captain America and Crossbones. Cynical cash-in or value-pack? Read on and find out...

Captain America
This version of Captain America - as previously mentioned - sees the Captain's former sidekick Bucky taking on the star-spangled Avenger's mantle. To reflect the change, the Captain adopted a new costume (including a controversial side arm) and this figure reflects the comicbook design pretty well, overall.

The sculpt is pretty good, generally. There's a more sleek look to Captain America with this new costume, which does away with a lot of the bulkiness of the Steve Rogers version and gives it a modern twist. Proportions are good - and certainly better than the weird, long-limbed/short-torsoed version of this character seen in the Gigantic Battles double-pack, as you can see below - and there's a fair amount of detail to the sculpt.

Musculature is well-defined and the costume pieces - such as his fold-topped boots and short gloves - are cleanly sculpted. There's also a cool utility belt with a knife sheath and holster, into which his accessories fit nicely. If I had one criticism though it's that the belt looks strange, given it doesn't meet at the front. However, this is technically accurate to the comic (the Gigantic Battles figure, as you can see, has a buckle) and so it's not really fair to fault the figure for being correct... 

It still looks odd though.

Articulation is pretty good on the whole, with the exception of the hip joints. I keep seeing Marvel trying different combinations of hip/thigh joints and not one of them is a patch on what the GI Joe figures use. Here the cut-thigh joint works fine (even if - like the Scarlet Spider - it ''breaks'' the line of the muscle when twisted) but the hip ball-joint is horrible. It constantly feels as if the leg is being bent or warped when you try to move the hip. I don't like it at all and it makes getting Captain America to stand un-aided (there's no base included with the figure) a nightmare. There's also no waist joint and the torso joint's forward/backward bend is very limited.

Paint is fairly well-applied and - from what I can tell - fairly accurate to the comicbook version - with one major difference. The Gigantic Battles Captain America featured a metallic sheen to his costume, which looks closer to the costume seen on the comic page. This version, however, features a ''standard'' paint app with no such sheen. That aside, the paintwork looks pretty good and the detailing on the costume - such as the stars on his shoulders and stomach stripes - are reasonably clean.

How does the Captain's enemy, Crossbones, fare?

Crossbones' sculpt is solid and very chunky. He's a beefy, buffed-up guy and the figure's proportions reflect this. With the exception of the superhumanly-strong figures like the Hulk, I'd have to say this is one of the larges sculpts Hasbro has produced for the line.

Detailing is very well done, probably because he's wearing an outfit that's not an outlandish primary coloured spandex one-piece. His shirt sleeves feature rucks and rolls, his combat fatigue pants are like something from a GI Joe figure and - as if taking a cue from his Joe cousins - the figure includes a removable soft rubber vest, complete with buckles, pads and a (sculpted) knife sheath. Indeed, Crossbones could well be the latest Cobra mercenary, as his look fits right in with the GI Joe line.

Unfortunately, his GI Joe-esque looks aren't matched by GI Joe-esque articulation. Whilst most joints work nicely, he also suffers from dodgy hip articulation. Again, the cut-thigh joint is a nice addition (and the sculpt even attempts to mask this with the addition of pouches/pockets that overlap the cut) but the hips are simply too cumbersome, too fiddly to make posing him anything but a pain. The actual range of movement is also quite limited. Hasbro need to learn from the GI Joe rig and adopt that for their Marvel figures.

I'm also not a fan of Crossbones' hands. He comes with twin machine guns, both of which include trigger guards. Whilst his left hand's trigger finger is sculpted to fit within the guard gap, his right is not. As a result, the gun either falls out of his hand or - if you can get it to stay there - protrudes at an odd angle. The wrist joints also felt a little weak.

On the plus-side, Crossbones' paintwork is very nicely designed and applied. His colour scheme is muted and lifelike and cleanly painted. The details on his vest - such as the fasteners and the knife - are cleanly picked-out in metallic silver and there's an assortment of well-applied detail on the various straps on his legs. The only real miss-fire on my figure is that his arm skin-tone is a little liberal in its application.

Captain America comes with a pistol, knife and shield. Unlike the Gigantic Battles Captain America, this shield uses the ''double attachment'' set-up, where the C-shaped connector can clip onto his wrist or be folded down and the peg used to connect it to his back thanks to the port in the figure's upper torso.

Crossbones comes with twin machine gun/pistols, cast in a very cool black plastic (the single carded version included green plastic weapons.)

The pack also includes a reprint Captain America #36.

Neither figure comes with a stand.

Final Thoughts
This is a tough one to call. Both figures have some great pluses, but also some major drawbacks. 

Captain America's sculpt is very good. The proportions are a vast improvement over the Gigantic Battles figure, the design is more accurate to the comicbook character's costume and the general look of the figure is very good. However, his paintwork lacks the metallic shine that made the Gigantic Battles figure pop and his hip articulation is just awful.

Crossbones is superbly sculpted, has some great detailing and looks very cool. However, like Captain America, his hip joints are awful, his hands don't grip his pistols properly and he's just not as amazing as some reviews would have you believe.

The real problem I have is that neither figure includes a stand and - thanks to their hideous hip articulation - getting them to stay upright is an absolute pain. If you're a displaying collector, you'll find this disappointing, as it not only limits their poseability but also makes putting them in your display case an exercise in terror. One wrong move and you'll probably bring all your figures crashing to the ground (well, shelf.) It's utterly inexcusable and - without sounding petulant - the Scores below reflect my annoyance that Hasbro didn't bother to include stands with either. Had they done so, this pack would have Reviewed a lot better.

As a playset, though, it's not bad. If you're a kid - or buying for one - and you're looking for a cool good guy versus bad guy set then this is a pretty good option. Both figures feel fairly durable and - weapons aside - I doubt you're going to lose any parts playing with them.

At the end of the day though, this isn't a set I would recommend you rush out and buy. Given that both figures are already available as single carded releases (and buying them together doesn't really save you much in the way of cash) it's only really a desirable option if you can't find either figure individually.

Both figures are pretty solid. It's just not neither are a must-have.

Captain America

Production QualityB
Final ScoreB

Production QualityB
Final ScoreB

Final ScoreB

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