It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I’m a Captain America nut. He’s been my favorite super hero since before I could read the comics I picked up every week from my Grandpa’s book store. Imagine my elation when I heard they were finally going to make a proper big budget movie starring my hero, directed geek demigod by Joss Whedon. Of course, big super hero summer movie means dedicated toy line.
The Captain America toy line from Hasbro follows the model Hasbro set up when they made Iron Man 2 toys last year, two separate lines of 3-3/4” action figures, one based on the movie, and one based on the comic book version of Cap. The movie line has yet to hit stores, but last week the comic series started popping up on shelves at retailers everywhere. So far only the first four basic and three deluxe figures are out, along with a few vehicles and role play items.
These figures are nice. Like the Hasbro Marvel Universe and Iron Man lines, they boast excellent articulation and beautiful likenesses of the characters. The toys combine collect-ability and playability very well, with multiple cool accessories.
So far I have picked up the Winter Soldier and Battlefield Captain America figures, and am very please with both. The Winter Soldier comes with three guns, and has holsters for both of his hand guns. He also comes with a winged rocket pack, adding a cool play option for kids. Battlefield Captain America comes with two guns, his old-style triangular shield, and a removable helmet. The shield can easily fit on his arm, or on his back for carrying. Both are lovely figures, with very nice sculpting and detail, making them very true to their comic book likenesses. Some of the other figures have gimmicky shields, which collectors and purists won’t be happy with, but add a playability factor for kids.
The deluxe figures come with accessories for added play value, but aren’t patently goofy like so many other lines can be. There is a Parachute Cap, one with a winged jet pack, and a Fortress Assault Cap. The Fortress Assault version is the goofy one of the bunch, with Cap in red armor and carrying a missile launcher.
Future waves include characters that have been overlooked by Hasbro in the Marvel Universe collection, including Crossbones, U.S. Agent, the Red Skull and Hydra soldiers. One can only assume they were holding them back, knowing they would be making this line for the Captain America movie.
A few minor complaints, though – the paint apps can be a bit spotty, so you need to look the figures over before buying to make sure you get a good one. Also, The gimmicky shields are a bit silly on some of the figures, I would prefer U.S. Agent and Heroic Age Cap with their standard shields to display in my collection.
The role play items or kids are pretty cool, too. They include a shield that shoots little disks, a standard Frisbee-like shield, a mask, and a full costume.
Overall, I love this toy line. Yes, it has its goofy kid stuff in it, but mostly it is very collector friendly. I will be buying many of the figures, and am especially looking forward to Crossbones, who I was never able to get the Marvel Legends version of. My kids will also probably talk me into picking up many of the role play items for them. This is definitely the best movie tie-in line this summer, easily besting the Thor and Green Lantern lines. Hopefully, the line sells well, and we will see more comic characters pop up, like Batroc the Leaper (I can dream, can’t I?).
Summer movie season is fast approaching, and with it comes the inevitable movie tie-in toy lines. With typically lackluster offerings over the years (refer to the Playmates 3-¾” Star Trek line from a couple of years ago), the major toy companies have successfully lowered my expectations of what we will see for movie tie-in merchandise, particularly in the action figure department. This year’s Green Lantern movie toys from Mattel stick to the long-standing “Throw anything on the shelves, kids will buy it!” tradition.
We had all had seen pictures of the line from Toy Fair earlier this year, and I was under whelmed to say the least. The toys looked kind of cheap, and the likenesses didn’t look right. Today, however, I got to see the 3-¾” toys in person at a Toys ‘R’ Us store.
Holy crap, what steaming piles of dog turds these are. As fake-y as the CGI characters look in the trailers and TV ads we’ve seen so far, they look even goofier in plastic form. Kilowog looks like a cartoon dog. Hal Jordan looks like a stiff-armed Jerry Seinfeld. Also, the line boasts a whopping 6 points of articulation – shoulders, hips, head and waist, at least on the figures I saw (Sinestro, Hal and Kilowog). It does appear that some of the figures have ball joints at the shoulders, which provide some range of motion, but most of the Hal Jordan figures are simple up-down swivels. So, the only action poses you can do with them are waving, pointing, and goose-stepping. At $8.99 MSRP per figure, are we really supposed to get excited about toys like that?
As toy collectors, we have come to expect better, even in a 3-¾” line. In a hobby where Hasbro is putting out super-articulated G.I. Joes, Jedis and Marvel Superheroes, we demand better. Mattel has really dropped the ball on this line, in my opinion. They can say it’s aimed at kids and not collectors all they want, but it’s no excuse for poor quality. Hasbro has been making beautiful figures at that scale for years, Mattel just can’t seem to get it right. They should have learned from their ill-fated DC Infinite Heroes line a couple of years ago. You need to please the kids and the collectors with a line like this to be successful, and you do that by offering a combination of cool sculpts, reasonably good articulation, and a high level of playability. You don’t achieve that by giving us cheap-looking, stiff-armed junk.
To be fair, the 6” line doesn’t look terrible, but those figures are fifteen dollars each. I’m already stretched thin trying to collect toys I really want, like the great 6” DC Universe and comic-book themed Green Lantern lines Mattel is putting out, which does prove Mattel can make great toys when they try. Too bad they didn’t put in any of that effort here.
In short, I will not be buying these, not for me or my kids, not even when they inevitably end up in the clearance aisle at Wal-mart. Am I completely off-base? Does anybody want any of these? What movie toy are you looking forward to Thor? Captain America? Let me know.
Dennis Burdziak is a toy enthusiast, comic book reader, and friend to people more talented than himself. Follow him on twitter @dburdziak.