Wednesday, October 19, 2011

REVIEW: Marvel Universe's Steve Rogers Captain America

Produced by Hasbro | Released September 2011

STEVE ROGERS was changed into the perfect human specimen by the super soldier serum. He was the first to take on the identity of CAPTAIN AMERICA. Blessed with superhuman abilities and an indestructible shield, he protects the people of the world as the director of SHIELD and commander of the SECRET AVENGERS.

Steve Rogers Captain America
Released as part of the Series 3 Wave 4, Steve Rogers Captain America (or Commander Rogers as his stand names him) sees Steve Rogers depicted here in his newer role as the director of SHIELD. It seems odd then that the packaging uses the Captain America name. Presumably this is to avoid confusion among buyers unfamiliar with recent events in the Marvel Universe. Or it's to cash-in on the release of Captain America: The First Avenger...

The packaging continues to use the fairly standard Hasbro approach of a blister-bubble glued to a back card. This Wave's art duties are handled by Simone Bianchi and whilst I like his technique, I really dislike his actual character depictions. X-23's hair seemed very odd and here Steve Rogers looks to be making the Teenage Girl Facebook Pout Pose.

I'm also not sure why - as mentioned above - they use two different naming conventions, with the figure's base referring to him as ''Commander Rogers'' yet the packaging uses the wording Steve Rogers Captain America.

Sculpt and Design
As Hasbro continues to add to the Marvel Universe line's roster, so too they've been honing the core figure parts, both in terms of sculpt and articulation (more on that later) and the Commander Rogers figure (as I'll call him from now on) features a few new pieces and innovations over some of the earlier releases.

Hasbro usually does a pretty good job of capturing the basic look of the Marvel Universe characters and Commander Rogers is no exception. Indeed, because of his more militaristic, less spandex-costume look, he's actually a pretty engaging, interesting toy. It's surprising how well a few additional pieces can enhance the look of the figure beyond simply being yet another guy in a tight costume.

Whilst the basic body sculpt is nicely tooled and produced, it's pretty much what you'd expect and there are no real surprises.''Solid'' is probably the best way to describe it. You won't be hugely wowed by it but it's not horrible, either. The musculature is captured well and the detailing on his gaiters is a nice touch, with the character design echoing the World War II-era Captain America costume from some of the more recent comics.

The figure's look is greatly enhanced by the addition of the extra layer of costume pieces in the form of a ''utility'' belt and chest harness/holster. Both pieces look great but it's a shame neither includes an actual working holster, as it would have been nice to have somewhere to put the included pistol (see below.)

As you can see for yourself in the above photo, the head sculpt is pretty strong, with a nice, determined look about his expression and well-proportioned features.

As mentioned earlier, Hasbro has been working on a number of enhancements to the Marvel Universe line over the course of the last few years and Commander Rogers sports a number of articulation modifications over earlier releases.

Whilst I always welcome the introduction of more articulation to the line, I'm not sure how well these changes enhance the figure. For starters, the Commander Rogers waist joint is simply horrible. Look closely at the above image and you'll see a gap just below his belt where the male and female connectors simply don't fit together correctly. As a result of this, he has not only a very loose joint but also a lot of upper-body lateral ''wobble'' of almost bobble-head proportions.

Speaking of his head, the neck articulation is very disappointing. There's a left-to-right rotation joint and nothing else. On top of this, the head socket is a tight fit for the neck ball joint and - as a result - whenever you do rotate the head, it tilts at an angle, meaning he can't look to either side without adopting a confused/cocky pose.

UPDATE: Since the Review I've discovered there's an up/down tilt joint on the neck (it was remarkably tight, which is why I missed it originally.) However, the neck/head set-up still has somewhat limited movement and the ''cocky'' head pose still remains.

The new hip and thigh-cut joint is also used here and the more I see of it, the less I like it. Not only is it difficult to get his legs to ''line up'' when posing but the hip joint itself is also very restrictive, to the point of actually popping-out should you attempt to pose him in wider-leg stances. No sir, I don't like it.

I'm also not a fan of the inconsistency of the articulation rigs used by Hasbro. It seems almost every figure has a different set-up, with some featuring joints not seen on others. Given how ''right'' the articulation set-up of Hasbro's GI Joe figures is, I don't understand why the company doesn't simply adopt that arrangement here, especially as they're clearly revising the basic Marvel Universe figure parts to incorporate the new articulation.

With some work you can get him into some good poses but I found my Commander Rogers to be very loose, joint-wise. His waist and upper-body are especially bad and although this could be limited to my figure, it's disappointing to see. I'd advise anybody considering buying this toy to be ready for the possibility of receiving a similarly-floppy figure.

Commander Rogers' OK-to-solid-enough sculpt is greatly enhanced through the paint application. Using a mix of hand-painted detail, washes and tampo transfers, the designers have done a great job of making what could have been a very average-looking figure appear much more interesting than he actually is.

The wash does a great job picking-out the sculpt's detail and the tampo transfers are used well to capture the design details of the character's costume, with the chest and shoulder logos and leg side-stripes really enhancing the look of the figure.

The actual hand-applied paint isn't bad but there are a few blotchy spots around his gloves. Detail on the buckles and harnesses is cleanly applied though and the facial details are nicely captured. The overall impression is one of a good colour design applied with high standards.

Extras and Accessories
Although Commander Rogers isn't equipped to the level of a GI Joe figure, he does include a couple of cool weapons and a nameplate base.

The assault rifle is well-detailed and works well with the figure. As you can see from the images in the Review, he's able to grip it with both hands without any issue and it fits well into either hand. Although the assault rifle is cast in a solid colour with no additional paintwork, it's at least been molded from a lifelike shade of plastic.

The pistol is another good accessory which, like the assault rifle, fits the figure's hands well (although the actual pose/position of the pistol may be slightly odd.) Unlike the assault rifle it's been given a highlight dusting with a very lifelike gunmetal paint effect and the results are very impressive. More like this, please.

Final Thoughts
Commander Rogers is saddled with some pretty major issues. The sculpt - whilst acceptable - is pretty bland when compared to other toy lines of a similar scale. His articulation arrangement isn't as good as it should be and there's a general feeling of the construction quality being severely lacking.

Yet for all these issues, he's actually a pretty good-looking figure. Granted, the basic sculpt is a little average but the additional costume accessories do a good job enhancing the figure's look. Add to this a superb bit of paintwork design and application and Commander Rogers becomes a figure that actually looks pretty neat on the shelf. 

Compared to other figures of this scale he's not really going to win you over. His sculpt is simply too, well, simple and the extra accessories - nice as they are - don't cut it, especially when you consider the design overlooks something as simple as a holster for his pistol (which really is inexcusable, given Hasbro has given us Marvel Universe figures with this feature in the past). But if you're a collector of the Marvel Universe line and are familiar with their quirks and issues they often include then you'll probably find yourself liking this figure.

A solid-enough figure but definitely one for Marvel Universe fans only.

Sculpt and DesignB+
Extras and Accessories B+
Final ScoreB

Image Gallery


  1. Man, yer a tough customer! :D No, I loved this one, and I still haven't caught up with the whole "Commander Rogers" phase of my Marvel reading yet. Like you said, he's equipped like a GI Joe, and I felt he was sculpted/painted more like one- a standout figure in this line, making me wonder why Hasbro hasn't put more effort in this line considering what they've done with the Star Wars & Joes in the last few years. This Commander Rogers is about as good as it could possibly get with a mass produced figure. Good review!

  2. The problem is it kept making me think of a GI Joe and given how superior their articulation is to the MU line, it was always going to lose-out. I know it's not SUPPOSED to be a Joe but it just annoys me that Hasbro can get it so right (most of the time) with one toy line but screw-up so badly with another.

    At least he looks pretty good.

  3. I almost got this guy since walmart had all their MU figures for $4, but even for that price I thought "$4 could go towards a renegades Firefly figure instead," which is what I ultimately did.

  4. A $4 MU sale at Wal-Mart? Dang, I need to check-out my local store for... actually I think I'm up-to-date on them all now...!

  5. You may want to check the head articulation again. My figure's head can look straight up.

  6. I discovered the up/down joint earlier today but the sculpt still causes him to have a tilted head when it turns.


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