Ultimate Captain America
6 Inch Scale
There are many aspects of collecting that provide difficulties, from beating the dreaded scalper to the aisle, all the way down to having the funds to buy what we want. But the most frustrating of all is actually finding what we’re looking for. I’m a little bit old school in that regard: I could easily do the pre-order thing like most others do, and have for things I know will be hard to get (let’s face it: Florida is a literal swamp where things are hard to find in the toy world). But as far as having an actual reason to get out of the house for something other than work, then I still make the pilgrimage to Toys ‘R’ Us or the nearby big box boys Target and Wal-Mart. It was during such a run that I was finally able to snag an Ultimate Captain America.
If one were to go by the internet community, then Ultimate Cap has been “available” for several months now. I put the word in quotation marks as it appears that those who were able to procure him either ordered him online or somehow found him when Wave 4 of Marvel Legends hit the few stores that actually ordered the series (as of right now, my Target is still sitting at a fresh restock of Wave 1, and only scatterings of Wave 2 have been at my Wal-Mart).
That being said, Ultimate Cap was one of the few figures from the fourth wave of Hasbro’s resurrected Marvel Legends that I really wanted. I haven’t read a Marvel comic in years, so that ticked X-Force Wolverine off my list; I may snag Archangel, but I’ve slowly begun phasing X-Men out of my collection so that’s another low priority. Iron Fist (who is the running change for Protector) makes for some good Bronze Age charm, and even though he’s in his modern outfit it’s a welcome update; I have my eye on Red She-Hulk, and should the running changes happen (we’re still waiting on Wave 2’s changes with Moonstar and Blade, who has finally been announced) I will definitely get the Sentry and She-Hulk updates. Until I find those, I’m pretty good with just Cap.
One last thing before I move over into the review: I’m shaking things up, and doing away with the compartmentalized nature of my previous reviews. What this means is that I’ll only occasionally take pictures of the packaging, rather than make it a consistent feature like I have been. I’m not much of a MOC collector and only seldom am I finding the packaging worthwhile to comment on. I may return to this when I receive the DC Infinite Earths Wally West Flash figure, so I’m not ruling out anything for the future; for another thing my comments will be less itemized and more free-wheeling and relaxed. I welcome feedback from those out there who have read my previous musings, and if they miss the old structure I’ll bring it back.
ULTIMATE CAPTAIN AMERICA…America’s first super soldier battles evil wherever it arises!
When Hasbro took over the license from Toy Biz, they kept up with the brief biographies on the back of the package, but now that they’ve restarted the line again they’re keeping bios short, sweet, and maddeningly vague. In some cases a full rundown would help in learning teeny bit about a character who exist on the fringes of the universe (like Hope Summers) but a pass can be given in the case of Ultimate Captain America. This isn’t the first time that the character has seen an action figure: he first showed up in Wave 8 of the Toy Biz line, and yet again in a two pack with the comic version of Ultimate Nick Fury under Hasbro (later given a single card release in the Captain American movie line). That Hasbro would chose now to do an update is interesting given the plethora of other Ultimate characters yet to be made, but I can understand their trepidation in going into that universe too much—previous Ultimate characters under their banner such as Iron Man and Wolverine were met with ho-hums and jeers (that Ultimate Wolverine headsculpt…the less said the better).
Because I haven’t read much Ultimate comics outside of Ultimate Spider-Man, I can’t say if the sculpt is designed to be artist specific or not. The old Wave 8 version was a little inspired by Bryan Hitch’s artwork but not much. I’ve heard that Cap here is meant to be based on his look either during or after Jeph Loeb’s run on Ultimates; the problem with that hypothesis is that there is a choice between Joe Madureria, David Finch, or Frank Cho. I want to think that it’s more than likely a Frank Cho Captain America, since he shares a few Cho trademarks (slightly cartoony face, exaggerated eyebrows) but it could otherwise function as a nice generic Ultimate Cap.
The body is based around an old Toy Biz mold, specifically the Punisher from the Face Off two-pack with Jigsaw, a mold which also saw reuse for the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. The reuse was a solid choice: if this Cap is meant to be a Cho Cap, the smoothness of the Punisher body was much needed (since Cho never drew Ultimate Cap with the chainmail). His vest and utility belt are separate pieces and as such can be removed. However, the holster and gun on his right leg are molded as one solid piece and can only be removed by cutting the thing off him. I’m not without my armaments to give him, but it does suck as it would have been nice to have that extra piece as an accessory. There is a hole in both the back and vest, reminiscent of the holes for the Doop flight stands, or any flight stand, to help with simulating the high kicking martial arts moves Cap was known to execute.
His right hand is sculpted with a closed fist while his left is open, almost in what I would say a trigger finger. It speaks to the differences between 616 Cap and Ultimate Cap in their willingness to kill or even brandish a gun. There are far more instances of Ultimate Cap willfully killing without considering the moral compass of the act, whereas 616 Cap has had a “no kill” policy much like Batman, only breaking it under the most extreme circumstances. And like Batman, the 616 Cap has used a gun but again those instances are few and far between.
The new pieces on him include the gloves and boots, which have been sculpted with an impressive amount of wrinkles and texture. I do wish the boots had been painted differently, or rather the shoe strings been a different color like black, because right now both boots and strings are one color, red. This does bring back the comparison to the Toy Biz figure and the changing of times for action figures, when there would have been money in the budget for such a thing and a wash could be applied over the whole figure. Hasbro’s Ultimate Cap doesn’t get much of one, except on his vest which has a dark wash to give it that worn in leather look. Even his the utilities on his utility belt have all been painted on color, brown, and given a slight wash, but things like his tear gas canisters or the hilt of his knife should be given their own distinctive paint app. That sounds petty but with amount of money spent on figures these days I think one can afford a little pettiness.
Underneath his boots have been sculpted with treads. It’s a detail that could have been overlooked and I’m glad it was remembered. It’s a reminder that this isn’t the simplistic 616 Cap, this is a whole new gritty beast of a Captain America.
Speaking of paint details, one important detail separating Ultimate Cap’s costume from his 616 counterpart is the stars on the shoulders. The Toy Biz Ultimate Cap had them, but this version doesn’t. I think this is where speculation of the artistic origins of the figure, as Marvel has used aspects of the Ultimate universe Cap for both his animated appearances (Ultimate Avengers, the best Avengers movie before the live-action flick) and his big screen adventures, in that the wings on his mask have been done away with and his costume is meant to be more realistic. I don’t have my Avengers Movie Cap on hand to check but I don’t think that version had the stars on his shoulders either, so either Marvel is telling Hasbro to streamline their versions of certain characters (so that Ultimate Cap can function for any universe), Hasbro painters forgot to add the stars, or in the long run it didn’t cost out to add them. It just serves to make Ultimate Cap into more of a Generic Cap, not a bad thing considering the lack of Ultimates cast members from Marvel Legends.
The rest of the paint appears to be fine. As I said earlier there is no wash over the figure to bring out any details but given the smooth quality over the majority of the body I don’t think they would have been necessary except on the boots and gloves. At present his torso, arms, and legs sit on that nice border between looking like spandex or a a stretchy cloth material, definitely not chainmail or armor.
Ultimate Cap’s accessories includes his shield (obviously), and probably the vest and belt although I’m only counting those because they are separate removable pieces. The shield is a reuse from the Bucky Cap of Wave 2, painted a deep red with a grayish white ring. The shields are smaller than Toy Biz, but thankfully there’s enough around that I can just give him an extra but on the other hand this one is nice on its own that I might just keep as is. One neat little thing about the shield is that while missing the straps of the Toy Biz releases, he does come with a nice hook to attach onto his left wrist, as well as a handle to further help with poses when resting the hook. You can also plug the shield into the hole in his back, to make it look as though he his carrying it, so Hasbro didn’t forget that Cap sometimes did that.
I didn’t mention the head when talking about the sculpt and there’s a reason why: someone at Hasbro or Marvel must have wanted this to be the standard look for Steve Rogers that they remembered the Commander Rogers figure from Wave 1 and based the headsculpt of Ultimate Captain America off that. And when I say based, I mean the structure of the eyes and chin are dead on similar. The head also adds a nice little fun factor, in that you can pop it off and plop that Commander Rogers head right on him for an unmasked Ultimate Cap and everything fits like a glove. Both Rogers and Ultimate Cap share the same size hole for the balljoint, which makes the swap terribly easy and leads right into my next comment on articulation, which if you collect toys and have collected Marvel Legends in the past, then you know how high the bar was set for articulated action figures. Hasbro had a few hits and misses when they took over the license, and it wasn’t until the last two or three years that we’ve seen them step their game tremendously.
Ultimate Cap has a lot of the classic articulation: balljointed neck, shoulders, and hips, with double jointed knees and elbows. The tops of his bootcuffs and gloves are on a swivel, while at the ankles they are probably the best rocker joints I’ve ever seen on an action figure. I kind of miss the joint at the tips of the toes but it doesn’t hurt the figure, and posing isn’t hampered without it.
So with all that being said, how does Ultimate Cap stack up? He’s a nice update of an old, hard to get figure but was he really needed? Part of me thinks that Hasbro could have used this slot for another Ultimates character, namely Thor or even giving the comics Ultimate Nick Fury a single card shot. Or, since the Iron Man Legends series was already stacked, an update of Ultimate Iron Man is much needed. Hopefully one day Hasbro does do an Ultimates wave with either a Hulk or Giant-Man build-a-figure, but I digress. At $14.99 Ultimate Cap isn’t cheap, but where I have in the past complained about that price regarding Mattel’s DC figures and lack of reason to cost so much, Hasbro has given Cap enough articulation and accessories to ensure that all important fun factor for either display or articulated comic book art work.
I really hope Hasbro does more with the Ultimate universe, if not another Ultimates character then it’s not too late to think of Ultimate Spider-Man or someone from the Ultimate X-Men as a future contender (perhaps an update of Wolverine in a box set exclusive with Cyclops and Jean Grey?).
Til then, this is the Batced signing off.
Hey, ho…let’s go!