Rescue Captain America and Red Skull
following is a guest review. The review
and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford
or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the
|Jeff is doing the double whammy
tonight, with a look at Cap and Red Skull - tell us all about them,
I already reviewed the Cap in his ‘main’ outfit from Captain America:
The first Avenger a few months back here
and even though we didn’t get a unmasked portrait I was mostly happy
with the outcome. This time however we get a totally unmasked head for
Steve Rogers and two head sculpts for Hydra Commandant Jonann
Schmidt/Red Skull. In my previous review I already went over my
thoughts on the movie, which was a solid adventure romp in the vain of
Indiana Jones meets The Rocketeer with just a hint of jingoistic flag
waving thrown in for good measure… but when your titular hero is called
Captain America what can one expect?
So ahead of the Golden Age version revealed at the conventions earlier
this year and the hopefully soon to be released Avengers suit as well,
lets take a look at the militaristic fatigues he donned when first
called into action. But what is a hero without a villain, so alongside
Americas finest I’ll be looking at Germany’s dastardliest in the form
of Johann Schmidt… Red Skull to his friends, the sinister ex SS
Obergruppenführer (Lieutenant General) who now fronts up Hydra.
I’m pretty sure most fans of the comic and indeed the G.I.Joe line of
figures will know the connection between the two stories, but for those
that don’t here is a brief history lesson to bring you up to speed.
Initially when Hasbro were in talks about creating the G.I.Joe line
with Marvel, it was mooted that captain America should front up the
team, and their opponents would be Hydra, led by the evil Red Skull.
However during meetings to flesh out the universe it was eventually
decided to create an all-new team of super soldiers and the bad guys
morphed into Cobra (still in keeping with a Nazi based, serpent
inspired uber army). The rest as they say is history.
|It’s a while
since I did a double whammy review, but when you consider
these two go together like Romney and Obama, and I received them at the
same time… well, it was a no brainer, so here we go.
- Cap- ***3/4 Red- ***1/2
I recently reviewed the Lt Jim Gordon figure from The Dark Knight, who
like the figure of Cap was part of the holy trinity that made up this
years various convention exclusives, and the box for Cap A is in
exactly the same style as Gordon’s was. It consists of a matte hessian
effect slip case with a muted colour image of the character wrapping
around the front to the back of the box, whilst the inside carton has a
folded card overlay with window displaying an almost fully kitted up
figure inside, alongside his various accessories. Like on the Gordon
figure we once again get the groovy little sail-rivet on the side of
the case through which we can see the icon printed on the side of the
inner box (in this case the shield design). The bottom tab on the inner
card overlay also has a rather nice die-cut image of the shield, a nice
little detail I think you’ll agree. Inside the box the figure is as
usual held securely between vac-formed plastic layers, and the build
and quality throughout is fantastic.
The box for Schmidt (yeah… he’s still playing agent Smith) follows the
same cues laid down by the previous Marvel universe figures, meaning it
is a shoebox format with a lift of lid. The top of the box bears the
Hydra crest in red against a graphic that mimics the sleeve of his
leather coat, it also has the movie logo whilst the character details
beneath it. Inside we have a full colour card overlay with a brief bio
of the character. Then beneath this is the figure in the usual trays,
and a second shallower tray is attached to the inside of the lid for
his long leather coat.
Both boxes are well designed and well constructed, but the use of
slightly superior materials and cute little design flourishes on the
convention exclusive make it pull ahead by a nose. But looking at Red
Skulls facial profile that was almost a given.
Sculpting - Cap ***3/4,
I like this sculpt of Evans, and when fully kitted up with the helmet
and other gear it is definitely Steve Rogers as the irrepressible
Captain America. I have to admit when I first saw the prototype of the
figure I was concerned that there was something just a bit off with the
likeness. However, as soon as I opened up the figure for the first time
it hit me that the likeness was way better than I expected. The
expression is strong and focussed, and the likeness is actually
remarkably strong. If I did have to aim a slight criticism at the head
it would be that it is perhaps a few percent too small. This is down to
the fact he needs his head to fit inside that real metal helmet, and as
I (and I’d hazard a guess you too) plan on displaying him in his helmet
pretty much all the time, It’s not a great concern. Better a smaller
head that looks convincing fully kitted up than a big head that doesn’t
fit the helmet (check out this pic
of Jim Gordon for proof of that!).
On the other hand the likeness of Hugo Weaving as the dastardly Johann
Schmidt is just jawdroppingly spot on. I think part of this is down to
the fact that Chris Evans has a rather generic and dare I say it
homogenised pretty boy face, where as Weaving’s features are much more
characterfull… one might even say extreme. There are some great
detailed observations around the eyes and mouth and the way the hair
parts and sweeps over the head is expertly executed, you will also
notice a scar behind each ear (well, not so much a scar as a vent, to
aid in the removal of the ‘human’ face mask, when revealing himself as
Red skull. Both the human likenesses are by K.A.Kim who also did the
first version of the Cap linked to above and the sublime Jim Gordon
that I recently covered as well. She also created the Angelica head
sculpt (I think this might make her the first person to have created
the portraits for all three convention exclusives), and it shows what a
great talent this sculptor Is. It also highlights how all
individual artists, regardless of talent create some portraits that are
stronger or weaker than others, however her recent crop of work
showcases that she can consistently put out work that is the envy of
much of the competition.
The head for Red Skull was the work of Jung Ju Won, and illustrates a
different but equally impressive set of skills. I know people that have
worked in the make up and effects departments of movie and television
studios, and the thing they have told me is that as convincing as you
need to make your prosthetics and make-up, when dealing with a known
‘star’ you also need to allow the actors features to be at least
vaguely recognisable. They also need to be fine-tuned enough to let the
actor emote and express feelings through all those layers of latex and
grease paint. And here the portrait replicates near perfectly just how
the character represented in the film. His look is one of permanent
seething anger, with arched eyebrows (well, arched brows, any semblance
hair is long since gone) and a sneering scowl that could teach John
Lydon a thing or two. The cool thing is that when you examine him
closely you can still Weaving coming through in the portrait,
particularly around the eyes.
So we end up with three cracking sculpts, but the one that really
shines of trio is the unmasked… sorry, that should actually be ‘masked’
version of Johann Schmidt… who I have a sneaky feeling might be bashed
into no end of Agent Schmidt’s from the Matrix.
As is generally the case with Hot Toys, you can debate till you are
blue in the face as to what elements you like and what you don’t in any
given portrait, and if you frequent any collectors forums you will be
only too aware of this fact, it can get quite heated! But the pros and
cons of the sculpting are one thing, the paint app is quite another. I
don’t remember the last time I heard/read anyone complaining about the
quality of a Hot Toys paint app, the reason being that they seem to
pretty much dominate the market in this particular arena. Even
companies putting out bigger and more expensive statues are left
trailing in their wake.
So once again we get three stunning paint applications, with the two
human heads perhaps being the easiest to judge. They exhibit all of the
usual deft touches on the super detailed skin renditions, alongside
well-applied crisp glossy eyes and delicately painted hair. This is how
it’s meant to be done!
The Red Skull head is a different beast altogether, none of the regular
human colouration is here, instead we have a rather sore looking angry
red noggin. But even though we basically have a blood red head, JC Hong
has still managed to cram in a ton of detail in the way the sinews and
bone structure of the underlying head are shaded and given emphasis. It
obviously works well for the character, but with a few patches of
sculpted hair and some sections of flesh hanging loosely from the face
it would make an awesome base for some very cool zombie bashes as well.
However, I’m not here to sell the merits of ‘bash’ potential, merely to
look at how good it is in representing the character, and in that
respect its an all round winner.
Because both these figures
are fully clothed it means Hot Toys get to use a classic True Type on
Schmidt, but for some reason use a muscle bod on the Cap. Hopefully you
shouldn’t need any pointers on how well these bodies perform, but if
you do go check out these old breakdowns here and here and I also recently
did a breakdown of the muscle body here.
I have to admit I’m not quite sure why Hot Toys felt the need to use a
muscle body on this occasion? It expressly tells you not to attempt
undoing the leather jacket, meaning the body is never seen below all
those layers. Both figures also have a skin-tight fitted singlet over
the upper torso (kind of a fat suit). It appears that Schmidt utilises
the slim body so the padding gives him extra bulk around the chest,
while the Cap A version seems to add extra padding around his abdomen.
Ultimately both base bodies work well, but because of the slight
limitations of the muscle body, particularly at the elbow and shoulder,
and because the Schmidt body has to try and operate beneath all those
layers (not such a problem if you don’t plan on using the coat) they
both end up just shy of a full score.
At first I was tempted to give Schmidt a lower score than the Cap, but
after analysing the complete haul of goodies they actually seem pretty
similar. Yeah the Cap has a Thompson machine gun, a pistol, a shield
and real metal helmet with goggles, but Schmidt has pistol, the
Tesseract (Cosmic Cube) an extra head (which in my book is always quite
a biggie) and that groovy extra leather coat, so all things considered
I’d say they were pretty much level pegging.
have to admit I am liking the detail on the Thompson with its
articulated elements, plus the weathering and scratches on the shield
are expertly applied, but it’s that real metal helmet that is the
crowning glory for this figure, even the detailing on its interior is
He also has a selection of six hands in various
poses to interact with his accessories, all are gloved and show a great
degree of finish in both the way they are sculpted and painted!
extra Red Skull head has already been described above, as has the extra
leather coat, both items are supremely well made and make up the major
part of his haul. We do also get the Tesseract, which is basically a
small blue plastic cube… but even a simple item like this is fabricated
very well and has a highly polished finish to mimic the way it looked
in the movie. Lastly he has a handgun that is a fantasy weapon design,
but takes all of its design cues and silhouette from the classic German
Luger. He also comes with a selection of six gloved hands in various
positions, and I’m particularly fond of the one designed to grip the
Tesseract, very dramatic looking!
Both figures also come with
the classic black oval figure stand, but both managed to stand well
without them. I did notice that the Cap’s ankles can tend to slowly
give way when posed in some more extreme positions, but on the whole he
stays upright just fine.
- Cap ****, Schmidt ***1/2
As with the Jim
Gordon figure the Cap is dressed in a pretty militaristic outfit, apart
from the flash of the white star on his chest beneath his jacket and
the prominent ‘A’ printed o the front of his helmet he could be a WWII
motorcycle despatch rider. His outfit consists of sculpted ankle boots,
gaiters, combat trousers, his Captain America under shirt, a brown
leather field jacket, a webbing belt/harness combo and lastly his real
metal helmet. As usual the tailoring is top notch and the way the whole
outfit hangs is very convincing. Many of the pockets are working and
the fine detailing on the harness and jacket is expertly observed. Take
note that you are not meant to undo the zipper on the jacket, it is
stated in the instructions not to do so, it looks like it would be
doable, but could end in disaster, so if I were you I’d leave well
Schmidt’s outfit is a whole lot more ‘fantasy’ compared
to the Cap’s, looking like a classic SS outfit fashioned by Jean Paul
Gaultier (or perhaps John Galliano might be more apt knowing his
political leanings). It has that severe style of Nazi officer wear, but
with a slightly camp theatricality.
It consists of black moulded
boots, military jodhpurs (you know, the kind with the poufy upper
thighs) and a tunic styled jacket with a belt. He is also equipped with
a bonus ‘accessory’ item of clothing in the form of a long Gestapo type
leather greatcoat (though again it has a lot of fantasy styling) and an
extra belt. This is a snug fit and took some pushing and pulling to get
looking right, but after a little futzing I was mostly happy. It has a
number of press-studs on the front and a velcro panel on the belt. I’d
advise giving the whole coat a gentle warm with a hairdryer if you have
one, as it makes it far easier to handle and slip onto the figure. I
did however have a devil of a job trying to get the extra belt to do up
over the coat, as I couldn’t get my fingers inside the tight fitting
belt to push the tiny peg of the buckle through the corresponding hole
in the strap. So I chose a different tack! I did the belt up, warmed it
with a hairdryer and just slipped it up over the legs and outside of
the coat. This was a cinch and far easier than fiddling with the
buckle. It does however mean that the outer belt doesn’t go through the
belt loops on the coat, but quite frankly I don’t give a damn!
to sum up, both outfits are well tailored and the look great, but the
lived in look of the Caps fatigues have the edge, and also have far
less impact on his articulation. They hang convincingly and have that
authentic look that when photographed (by more talented snappers than
me) he can actually look like a real person.
inspired regalia is in it’s own way a more complex beast of an outfit
to get right. The cut of his trousers with the twisted red piping on
the seams and the complicated cut of the jacket, which also has red
piping and leather panels must have been a pattern cutters nightmare.
Likewise the leather coat (which also has a wire in the hem to aid
posing) is of such a specific and intricate design it is a marvel that
they managed to get it looking so close to the garment worn in the
movie. But because of that elaborate and complicated design, combined
with the layering it does mean the finished look isn’t quite as 100%
convincing as the good Captains!
- Cap ***, Schmidt ***1/4
For some completely unfathomable reason the Cap here was the cheapest
of this years three exclusive figures… only by five bucks, but hey
that’s an extra brewski come Friday night. The work that has gone into
this figure is definitely equal to Jim Gordon, and I might even dare
say is slightly more detailed. I think of the three the Angelica figure
with her intricate layered outfit, rooted hair and cool accessories is
the most complex to get right. So quite why Jim and Angie are $225 and
Cap is $220 is anyone’s guess, but I’ll hazard that it might be down to
$220 is way too much for this figure, exclusive or not it shouldn’t be
more that $170, but just like the Jim Gordon figure it is all relative…
so let your conscience and credit card decide!
Skull/Schmidt figure is still available up on the Sideshow website for
$199.99 which I also think is quite a hefty amount, but compared to Cap
A is ever so slightly more reasonable (especially with 2 head sculpts
included). But that’s just the way it is, and as we all know it’s a
rare occurrence for prices to head south, they tend to just keep
heading north. And with the state of the World economy, manufacturing
prices rising in China and the basic materials needed to construct
these things getting ever higher (not to mention the shipping prices on
container ships rocketing) it ain’t gonna change anytime soon. Well,
unless Hot Toys plan to start selling direct from their own website
(Hmmm, strokes chin, could there be a method to this madness). It’s a
worrying trend and is visibly impacting on collectors and the choices
they make. The inflated prices are a constant topic on most collecting
forums, and the fact that figures of popular characters from well known
licenses are hanging around for so much longer than they used to (and
sometimes ending up discounted) is testament to this. Even though it
had some vocal detractors, can you believe that the DX of Indy is still
available over on the Sideshow site? I rest my case!
Factor - ***1/2
terms of play value, both of these seem like they would be reasonably
robust should you choose to throw them around the sand box, but we all
know you wont!
No, you’ll carefully unpack them, dress them up
in all their extra bits and pieces, sweat a little when you have to
pull Schmidt’s head off to swap over to Red Skull, and probably say a
little incantation as you do so (please don’t break… please don’t
break… please don’t break…). Then you’ll spend somewhere between ten
minutes and three weeks deciding on the best pose to display them in.
If that is an apt description of you, and you are a Captain America fan
to boot, then these two are about as much fun as you can have without
having to visit a ‘specialist’ website… oh hang on, you’re on one now!
Cap ***1/2, Schmidt ***1/4
very strong figures in every sense of the word, only let down by the
astronomical prices. As always I’ve ruminated, cogitated and
deliberated to arrive at my finished scores in what is the most
incisive and decisive of all the categories combined. And as always
there is that little voice in my head (the medication still hasn’t
silenced him), which just instinctively knows what score they deserve.
And even though it was a close run race, the figure of Captain America
just manages to inch ahead of Schmidt, I would say by a nose, but that
might be considered disrespectful to Red Skull.
I do have to admit, I can’t wait to dig Silken
Floss and Hans
out of storage, because stood next to each other, they will make a
great line up of nasty Nazi’s. It almost makes me wish I had bought Kroenen and Toht from Sideshow as
Where to Buy -
Captain America was an exclusive and officially only available from
Sideshow where he
can still be had for the full RRP of $219.99.
does also have him for a whopping $249.99.
Or you can hit eBay
where he’s demanding between $240 to $340.
This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer.
Photos and text by Jeff Parker.