Shield Launcher Captain America
Height: 10cm to top of head.
Captain America is more than just an incredible warrior with years of experience - he's also a peerless leader. It is his keen intellect and flawless tactical thinking that makes the Avengers truly a force to be reckoned with.
So here we are again, the same basic way this always happens: see movie figures, be underwhelmed, see movie, buy figures. I was double underwhelmed because I really did prefer Cap's original costume from Captain America: The First Avenger, and still do. But in motion this costume does come off a lot better, as some costume designs tend to do.
On closer examination combined with a second viewing of the movie, this seems to be a not-quite-final version of Cap's Avengers costume. The biggest giveaway is that the stripes continue across his back, where in the movie they end on his sides. The main thing that made the figure look wonky in the prototype stage, I think, is how high the stripes come up Cap's ribcage. That, coupled with the shape. In person it still looks a little like a very patriotic girdle, but the costume does look a lot more cohesive in person, and having seen it in action helps as well. It does have Superhero Movie Costume Syndrome a little bit- that being where people decide that the original costumes are too goofy. Or, even more hilariously, too "unrealistic" for movies about people with laser eyeballs or thunder-shooting hammers. When this happens, we get instead nightmares of pleather and over-textured cloth. My compliments to everybody involved with this costume, however, for not being a mass of needless textures. It's still definitely a movie superhero costume, but it has its strengths. Maybe the popularity of Avengers will kill the texture problem once and for all.
Paint is not one of the figure's strengths, however, at least in one important area: Cap's white stripes are more blue-grey because of inadequate coverage on the blue plastic pieces. This is an exceedingly common problem with blue plastic, and there are places where Super Combat Captain America had similar problems. But except for the head, the entire figure's having these problems here. Otherwise the paint coverage looks good and not very sloppy, especially by Hasbro movie line standards. One thing that's amazingly well-painted for the scale? Cap's ears- if there is rough coverage there it's too small to be easily seen. Though those are covered in the movie, so that's slightly funny, actually. But I prefer the look with them uncovered in all honesty. The sculpt seems a bit soft in places, but that may be overly thick paint in the red areas. This is especially evident on the left hand, where whether it was plastic or paint I actually had to push out a red obstruction keeping Cap's left hand from holding anything. At first I thought it was molded as a fist, but it was only on closer examination that I noticed that this was both probably not intentional and also solvable.
The head's ball-joint is, functionally, a swivel. I wish Sword Spike Thor (Thor movie version, not the Avengers figure of the same name) had heralded the beginning of universal-joint necks in movie line figures, but I guess he got special treatment since Thor can fly. The shoulders swing straight out to the sides, about average for this kind of figure or maybe a touch below. The elbow flexes to 90 degrees, which is good, and swivels within ordinary human range because there's a defined elbow in back, which I could do without. No wrists- in order to deal with rising costs this year Hasbro is decreasing articulation in most of its 4"-scale figures, just as it's shrinking Deluxe Transformers back to more-or-less Beast Wars-era size levels. The most painful loss here is in the lack of a torso joint, especially since this sculpt is just calling out for one. Even a simple swivel waist would be better than nothing! But there is a bright side, that being that the universal joint hips finally work the way they did on Toy Biz-era Marvel Legends again; it's no longer a hassle to swing the leg forward or out to the sides. The tradeoff is that moving the right leg tends to want to drag the left leg along with it. That's kind of a pity, but I've had it on a couple of my slimmer Clone Wars figures too- there's only so much space. There's still a thigh swivel here, which works fine and is better-hidden than most of its type. Unlike a lot of figures in the line, Cap retains double-hinge knees because his costume is pretty much designed for it. Most of the other figures have universal-joint knees like those commonly used in the Star Wars line. No ankles, but the remaining articulation does okay in terms of posing and balance. He kneels better than a lot of Marvel movie figures, too. It's not nearly as dynamic as Super Combat Cap, but it doesn't feel completely crippled either.
An automatic pistol of some kind- not sure if it's a specific model because I can't remember Captain America actually using it at any point in the film. (EDIT: which as it turns out, he couldn't have, because the final costume has no holster and thus no pistol.) It fits in the holster fine, but as it turns out neither hand has a separately-molded trigger finger, so he can't really hold it in a manner that looks good. But again, he never uses it. ...if this had been a glued-in piece, as with older GI Joe 25th figures, could we have had ankles? (Probably not.)
Of course, design-wise Cap's shield has not changed between films. The piece is similar but not matching to Super Combat Cap's shield, but a bit larger. The underside is no longer painted, which makes the glue used to keep the straps on pretty obvious and sloppy-looking. So the underside is uglier. But the top is slightly more crisply-molded than SC Cap's, which looked decent to begin with, and the paint is absolutely gorgeous. It's a much brighter metallic red, and even the tiny bit of paint slop on the middle red ring can't diminish how pretty this looks. I was poised to throw a fit when I thought Cap was molded with a closed fist on his left hand, because Chris Evans uses the shield almost exclusively left-handed except when he's throwing it. But with that fixed it fits the arm very well, and though he should be throwing right-handed, the narrower opening in the left hand does make for a firm grip on the shield where the right hand, as with Super Combat Cap, has a problem with that.
It's a Hasbro movie figure that isn't Super Combat Captain America, so we must have a big dumb launcher accessory. And we do! It's an olive-drab piece about as tall as Cap, that does a very good job of looking like a piece of army surplus(despite the Avengers logo on it). It launches a disc which can in no way on its own be used as a shield. The launcher itself has the hinged peg/c-joint combo that most Cap shields use, but it's hard plastic here, and since the red on the forearms is most assuredly painted, I see no point in risking paint damage. Instead, I use the peg to let him hold it in his hand. The position's more or less right for use as a shield, if you forgive the big pile of hardware sticking up above his head. The launcher function works relatively well- it's a pressure-based launcher that pushes the disc out of a C-shaped connector. It gets okay range, in case you care. It also pegs into his back firmly- disturbingly so, since we're talking a rigid-on-rigid plastic connection, which tend to spook me.
It's not a total disaster, but you can see cost-cutting rearing its ugly head. Shield Launcher Captain America does quite well for its newfound limitations, with decent-looking paint except for its white stripes, and perfectly serviceable if not wonderful articulation. It's a Very Good figure on the Figurereviews.com Non-numeric Rating Scale, and would easily be Excellent if articulated along the lines of last year's toys. It's good enough that I'm probably going to try for Loki, and even Iron Man Mark VII if I'm feeling really charitable...
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