As some regular readers will know, I recently paid a visit to the good ol’ U.S.A., and had an absolutely fantastic time while I was there. It’s a wonderful country. And when you visit a new place, you should bring back a souvenir. I have two tiki mugs from my time in Hawaii, and scotch glasses from Tasmania, for instance. But America was trickier – U.S.A. shirts/mugs/pint glasses/hip flasks/flags were all in abundance, but I don’t tend to go for something so obvious. But it just didn’t feel right leaving America without buying something patriotic. And then I stumbled across this gem in Gamestop.
But why a Captain America figure? Sure, it’s overtly American, but what makes it stand out more than any other one? Read on to discover more…
SCULPT AND ARTICULATION
This is a comics-based Cap, complete with pirate boots. It’s much more spandex superhero than military tactician, and could be from virtually any Cap comic from the 1970s through to the 1990s. I’m sure the face is based on someone’s art, but I’m pretty sure it’s also reused from an earlier figure – maybe one of the Captain America: Winter Soldier waves? I only own a handful of ML figures, so I can’t pinpoint it with accuracy. More familiar readers should feel free to chime in the comments section.
Articulation is what you’d expect from an ML figure – ball-jointed and hinged neck, swivel-hinge biceps, ab crunch, double elbows, swivel-hinge wrists, cut waist, ball-jointed hips, cut thighs, souble-jointed knees, cut calves (for the boots) and rocker ankles. I believe this is slightly more than some figures get – I don’t think everyone has the double elbows, but everything else seems pretty consistent with the other ML figures I’ve bought. Some of the joints will be a little stiff at first, but if you;re careful you shouldn't have any issues. Though speaking of the double elbows – I know some people love them, but I don’t think it works as well as it should here. The forearms are cast in white, in a softer plastic than the rest of the body. I assume this is to accommodate the slightly-flared gloves, but it makes the joints a little trickier to move. I’ve also had a little of the red paint rub off on one of the gloves too, though fortunately it can be covered with the shield.
Accessories that aren’t crappy oversized missile launchers are becoming an increasingly rarity in the action figure world, so it’s nice to get some at all. There are:
*Two additional hands, including a pointing one: Cap sure does love to point, especially in the movies, so it’s a good inclusion. Jon at Preternia suggests that this is the first time a comics-based Cap has had this hand, which just seems crazy to me! Oh well; the toy industry works in mysterious ways. He's also got one that allows him to salute too, as seen at right.
*His signature shield: Naturally. I suspect it’s more reuse from another figure, and can be clipped to his forearm or stored in the plughole on his back. Both look pretty good.
*One other accessory: which I’ll get to in just a moment…
*He also comes with a BAF piece: Onslaught’s cape. I don’t have any real desire to complete the BAF (though it does look cool) so I think this will go be going on eBay shortly.
There’s one other thing I should mention, too – I’m not sure if they’re meant to be accessories, but he does also come with two shoulder straps. They’re attached to him in the packaging, and they look really cool in place – I assumed they’d be a conjoined piece, with a strap running across the back. However, they're separate pieces, so as soon as you move him, they fall off. There doesn’t appear to be any sensible way to keep them on, short of gluing them, and then you might even manage to ruin the articulation of the shoulders in the process. It’s a bit of a misfire, which is a shame – had it worked properly it would have been a nice bit of detailing. As it is, they’ll just go in the accessories box.
Paint is very…adequate. As you can probably see in the photos, they did his eyes properly, but everything else leaves a bit to be desired – the wings, his chin, the skin lines around his mask – it could probably be fixed by someone with a dream and a paintbrush, but it does seem unusually sloppy. There was only one on the shelf, so I didn’t have multiple options to pick from – if you do, I’d suggest you weigh up some different ones before picking it up. As to the rest of him – well, Cap’s costume in the comics is all about extreme contrasts, mimicking the colours of the American flag. It works very well on the printed page, but as anyone who’s ever done any painting knows, red paint over white paint can run into some issues. I’m already mentioned some rub on one of the gloves above, but I can see this being an issue for anyone who fiddles around with the ab-crunch too much as well. I had some very (admittedly minor) chipping, so just be careful.
THE BIG REVEAL
So, I’ve told you a lot about the figure, but I haven’t revealed the real reason I bought it. After all, it’s a pretty standard Cap figure so far, isn’t it? Well, remember I mentioned there was one another accessory? Here it is!
|Possibly the best thing you'll see this year|
That’s right, it’s a Capwolf head.
Many of you will no doubt be asking what the hell this is, and that’s a fair question. Well, to grossly simplify, comics were crazy in the 1990s. Marvel and DC were selling gangbusters, but younger players like Image were a real sales threat – so Marvel and DC threw everything they could to compete; the EDGIER the better. Hence why Superman died, Green Lantern became evil, Wolverine was in every Marvel (and some DC ones) and Captain America became a werewolf. CAPWOLF.
I’ve never read the relevant issues, but I don’t need to. All I need to know is that Captain America became a werewolf. In fact, reading it would probably ruin everything – comics tend to date pretty quickly, and I strongly suspect time has not been kind to the 90s-tasticness of this concept.
Taken as a whole, the figure is not accurate to the comic – the neck looks a little thin, there’s no torn up boots or costume, and no clawed gloves. But the fact that Hasbro gave a nod to this relatively forgotten and ridiculous piece of Cap’s history in action figure form was just too good an American souvenir to pass up – and hey, I love wolves. In case you hadn’t noticed, the blog is called the Lupine Book Club. Even better, there is no reference to Capwolf on the packaging. The head just sits there in the box as an accessory, no doubt leaving many to just ponder on what it all means.
Thanks to the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there have now been almost as many Captain America figures on the shelves as Spider-Man and Batman ones – no small accomplishment. This is a good, solid standard Cap for a kid who’s never had a figure of him before, but the true strength of the figure for more long-term collectors lies in the Capwolf head and the pointing hand accessory. With such heavy reliance on variations of Captain America (and Iron Man for that matter), Hasbro and Marvel alike are going to have to get pretty creative to hold the interest of consumers and retailers alike. Figures like this are definite steps in the right direction.