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Red Skull

Captain America
by yo go re

The first series of Thor movie toys came out and immediately... did nothing. They've sold very poorly. Series 2, the one with all the interesting characters, is unlikely to receive a wide release. The Captain America toys are doing slightly better, but that still doesn't mean you'll have an easy time finding the ones you want.

Red Skull is an evil genius with an endless hunger for power. He wants nothing more than to see Captain America destroyed. He creates ever more devastating weapons by harnessing the might of the Cosmic Cube. Now armed with an explosive rocket launcher, Red Skull is ready to make another attempt at world domination!

Upon watching the first trailer for Captain America, some folks complained that the movie was attempting to whitewash history, that they were ignoring the Nazis and using Hydra instead. Which is kind of like saying "I guess with all these Green Berets, the movie is shying away from using the Army" - in other words, "stupid." All the Hydra troops are Nazis. Red Skull? A Nazi. His private army? All Nazis. It doesn't mean Red Skull's origin has changed just because he doesn't wear a brown shirt.

Red Skull wears a grey-green shirt. A whole grey-green uniform, in fact. The previous 4" Red Skull, an SDCC exclusive, reused an Indiana Jones body, but this one is all-new. It's a classic look, with tall leather boots, fancy jodhpurs and a jacket with a high, folded collar. There's black piping on the jacket, and silver buttons. The sculpt is damn fine work, with either padded sections or something similar running down the insides of the arms, and complex pockets on the chest. He's even got little epaulettes! There may not be any swastikas on the uniform, but he's definitely more than just the neighborhood mailman.

The head is particularly impressive. It's hard to believe, but they actually managed to capture Hugo Weaving's likeness, even under the Red Skull makeup. The head looks slightly bulbous, as it should, and is generally very close to what we'll see in the film. Remember that the red is his skin, not actual bone - that's why he's still got ears.

You do need to watch out for the paint, however: for whatever reason, the figure was sculpted with a normal nose, rather than a nasal cavity, and they've tried to conceal that by painting the tip of the nose black. You should really be able to compare paint apps before you buy, but oh, wait, that's right, he's shortpacked for some godforsaken reason! Articulation is mostly good, but it also has a flaw: if Red Skull has hips, the lower edge of his jacket keeps them from moving at all. He's got a balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders and elbows, swivel wrists, waist and thighs, double-hinged knees and no ankles whatsoever.

His accessories include a Luger pistol, the Cosmic Cube and some kind of giant missile launcher. The pistol is nice, and the grip is large enough that the figure can hold it securely (unlike the Indiana Jones toys). The cube is translucent blue and has an energy effect rising off it, to make it look more impressive - or perhaps to make it large enough to not get lost in the couch. The cannon is something from the movie (it can be seen briefly in the trailers) and fires a missle that's the same color as the Cosmic Cube: is it firing Cube energy, or is it just a question of sharing a single tool at molding time? It's slightly too large to look right. In fact, the version that came with the Minimates might be better.

So far Red Skull is only available in one casepack, and he (like fellow casemate Crossbones) is packed only one per case. Two Bucky Caps, two Captains Britain, two Arctic Caps, two movie Caps, two USAgents... and one Crossbones and one Red Skull. Who's deciding these assortments? Is it the same person who said the first Thor shipment should include three Thors without a cape, six Thors with capes, one Loki, one Odin and one Frost Giant? And if it is, can they receive an official talking-to? Because this is a classic Marvel villain, available for the first time in the 4" scale, and his design is close enough to the comics' that he's going to appeal to people who don't even want the movie toys. Shortpacking him this way is... just evil!

-- 07/18/11

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