Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Toy Review – Marvel Legends Infinite Series Marvel NOW! Captain America

Towards the end of last year I had pretty much given up on Hasbro’s Marvel Legends.

Again.

I think that makes three times? The first time was after the Hulk waves with the Fin Fang Foom build-a-figure. That was when the prices went up to $15 each and I decided that was JUST TOO MUCH! The second time was after Hasbro’s first wave of peg-warming character selections. The third was when Hasbro switched to only doing two-packs (I think these were TRU Exclusives) where you got one figure you wanted and one you did not; not to mention that they would do variants and it was impossible to find the ones you did want.
The most recent time was because it looked like Hasbro had just given up on the line.

Announced and highly anticipated figures (to me, anyway) like Dani Moonstar, Blade, and X-Force Archangel never materialized. Waves just never seemed to show up at retail. And at Comic Con Hasbro announced that all future releases would be directly tied in to Marvel movies. I wouldn’t have minded that so much except for the fact that the Wolverine Legends wave never showed up at retail (it ended up being a Diamond Exclusive).

So between that and Mattel’s utterly contemptible handling of the DC Comics license I was resigned to just not collecting 1/12th scale superheroes anymore, which sucked because that has been the heart of my collection for a very long time.

But then I happened across a full set of the new Marvel Legends Infinite Series (that’s what they’re calling them now) Captain America figures at Target. They looked great. There appeared to be a lot of new tooling, the paint was solid, and it was a good assortment of characters. Heck, I was drawn in by the neat-o new packaging as well. And any toy collector will tell you that finding a full wave will double the enticement factor. It’s easy to pass up a couple of piecemeal figures, but to find every figure and their variants is just overwhelming good luck. On top of all that the figures were priced at $14.99 and I knew they were slated as $19.99 figures.

So I bought one of every figure except for Baron Zemo (who I already have and didn’t need because the same build-a-figure part comes with his alternate, an AIM soldier).

I was the most excited about this Cap figure. Not because it’s his NOW! look, but because none of the Caps I own are quite perfect to lead the rest of my Marvel Legends Avengers. Will this one fit the bill?
FIRST GLANCE

Every single bit of this figure is new. I don’t know why, but I am surprised that Hasbro would put that much into a figure that was just based on some comic books. I mean, obviously that’s where Marvel Legends originated, but the toy market is a vastly different place today.
This is a look that seems somewhat derived from the Ultimates Captain America, which is fine by me because I like that look. This isn’t drastically different; it just has some grey to break up the red, white, and blue. Id’ say the most immediately noticeable thing about this figure is how shiny it is.
PACKAGING

I think these new boxes – for Star Wars Black, Funko’s Legacy line, and Marvel Legends – are ridiculous and overdone. But I love them. They just look so darn classy! The only thing I don’t like is how difficult it is to take good pictures of these new boxes. I had to lay the Game of Thrones figures down and hold the camera over them to get even passable pictures. Stupid glare.

The inks are different glosses and the graphics are reserved and uniform. This is a look that is clearly geared towards the Adult Collector. IT is also very successful at focusing the buyer’s attention on the figure, a smart move considering how good most of these new figures look. It’s apparent from the get-go that this is a shift from the unending shared bucks of recent Hasbro ML releases (but not too much of a shift, as my reviews of the Spider-Man side of this line will show).
Rather than a bio there’s just a blurb that actually is relevant to the current run of Cap comics. I do miss the old days of file cards or full biographies. I feel like they would be especially helpful given how many variations we get on all of the primary characters now.
LOOKS

Once I had the figure out of the package the first thing I noticed was that the likeness seemed to be of Michael C. Hall as Cap:
Granted, I was watching Dexter at the time, but it sure does look like his jaw. Even the eyes have that look to them.

The second thing I noticed was Cap’s gimpy right leg:
It’s bent way out of whack at the knee joint despite the figure’s relatively neutral in-package pose. It’s because when it was situated in the tray the hip swivel was not turned and the leg was forced into the indention in the wrong position. This isn’t a huge deal, but it seems like I’m making excuses about this sort of thing for every figure I buy. I could probably spend two hours fixing figures with hot water and a hair dryer. And that’s just for the last few months’ worth. I’m about ready for poly-bagged figures at this point.

Dexter face sculpt aside, the head is good. This is Cap in a helmet, though I’m a bit baffled by how the chin strap is meant to work. The lines of the helmet are slick and I like the clear demarcations between Cap’s face and the headgear. What I don’t like is the sloppy paint, and that proves to be a problem throughout this figure. You’ll notice the grey of the chin strap slops up onto Cap’s face. The eyes also aren’t quite up to snuff. The graphics – the “A” that doesn’t stand for France and the wings – are applied well and are centered. There’s a also a big ol’ blue hinge right in the center of Cap’s flesh tone neck and that’s pretty ugly, but I do prefer the increased posability that hinge provides. If Cap could fly he could at least be posed like he was flying. Unlike every Superman figure ever.

This is a big, bulky Cap that looks like he’s ready to beat somebody’s face in. I like that the figure has that thick Romita look to it. Rather than the traditional scaled armor, this Cap has a mesh design that evokes the classic scaled look. That combines with some flexible body armor-looking parts to create an interesting new look that is part classic Cap, part Ultimate Cap, and part movie Cap. I feel like if the US military were going to design a suit for a superhero, it might look a lot like this.

The lines and detailing are sharp and clean. All of the various segments and plated are well-defined. The joints are worked into the sculpt nicely and aren’t as obtrusive as they have been in the past. When Cap is just standing there the many points of articulation don’t jump out at you. You can see them, but they don’t break up the profile.
 
Cap’s gloves and boots are just as detailed as his torso. There are straps, buckles, and plating. The boots even have visible laces under the armored shin plate – a nice touch.
Captain America’s web belt has a great looking buckle with pouches and a good bit of fine detail.

This is a tightly sculpted figure that successfully walks the fine line between comic books and reality. Cap has enough flash to look superheroic, but just enough real world detail to feel grounded and not-too-spandex-y.
 
Sadly, that beautiful sculpt is tarnished by an unforgivably sloppy and lazy paint job.
There are bits of slop, unpainted portions, and scrapes all over this figure:
Just look at those armpits:
Ridiculous. But that’s QC stuff.
 
The real problem for me is the choice in paint apps. The blue is too glossy, as are the red and white on the torso. The light dusting of paint on the belt buckle is terrible. 
It needs a few more coats. As things stand it just looks like it’s slightly more metallic than the rest of the belt. The flat red of the boots and gloves would be okay if there were any other paint at all. Either a wash or some paint on the details. That goes for the whole figure – the lack of fine detail or a wash makes the figure look cheap. Not Dollar Tree cheap, but cheaper than a twenty dollar action figure should look.

ACCESSORIES

Cap comes with the head for the Mandroid build-a-figure and his trusty shield, Shieldy.
Okay – I don’t think the shield actually has a name.

It’s molded out of a metallic red plastic and the paint apps are pretty tight.
The inside features some seams and rivets and the standard pivoting piece that alternates between a clip to attach the shield to Cap’s forearm or a peg to plug it into his back. It all works just fine and looks good.

My favorite shield is the one that came with the first ML Cap – it had the clip and a couple of elastic straps that actually fit over the figure’s shoulders. I have to admit, though – modern technology has probably come up with a more efficient way for Cap to store his shield on his back. I can’t imagine having to stop and take it off like a backpack is very convenient in the heat of battle.
FUN

I may not be entirely satisfied with the looks of this figure, but he sure is a heck of a lot of fun to play with. All of his joints have a tremendous range of motion. The knees and elbows have nice, deep bends. That neck joint is fantastic. The ankles are Hasbro’s peg and pivot system, where the feet are mounted on pegs that extend from hinges on the ankles. It doesn’t create the most natural looking poses, but it’s a very stable way of giving the figures a great range in the legs.

Honestly, this figure is great fun just to look at. The paint is crap, but the sculpt is so good and the profile makes it look like such an ass-kicker. All I wanted to do was pose this guy having adventures with other badass figures. I wish I had a Hitler for him to punch.
OVERALL

This Cap is really the most disappointing kind of figure. It’s just the worst when so many aspects are perfect and one simple thing is keeping it from being great. And this crappy paint job is keeping it from being great. Not only that, it’s so crappy that I don’t get how it made it past whoever decides these things. It’s one thing when a poorly designed figure is painted well or vice-versa, but this one has what I consider to be a slack paint job with terrible quality control.

If Hasbro decides to repaint this figure someday, I’d buy it again and recommend you do the same. But for now, unless you absolutely have to have Mandroid’s head (and I do), I’d say this is a pass. It isn’t a totally failure, but it should just be so much better. If the sculpt weren’t so excellent this would be a “2”.

3 out of 5
You should have no problem finding this Cap at Target or Toys R Us. It’s one of four figures from the current Infinite series that are always on the pegs. The others are the inaccurately named World War II Cap, Superior Spider-Man, and movie-style Amazing Spider-Man, which also has a shameful paint job. But I might end up buying one because I want Ultimate Green Goblin way more than I want Mandroid.



2 comments:

  1. Do you know if this figure comes with a WWII helmet and sunglasses. My son purchased this exact figure with the Mandroid head and it has a different head. Can't find it on-line anywhere.

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    1. Nope. No extra head with mine. I definitely would have mentioned that. There is an older World War II Cap that came with Nick Fury that had 2 heads.

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