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Captain America vs. Skrull Giant Man

Marvel Universe
by yo go re

When Hasbro announced they'd be starting a line of 4" Marvel figures, there were a lot of complaints from the fandom because, of course, most fanboys never take two seconds to think about the benefits of a new situation. For instance, how easy it is to do big characters.

The Skrull invasion has come, and super powered alien warriors fill the streets of New York, destroying all who oppose them. Fortunately, Earth's Mightiest Heroes have rallied, and come to challenge the would-be conquerors in a gigantic, final battle. Captain America leads the charge against the extraterrestrial horde, facing off against one of the invasion's leaders - the Skrull that had disguised itself as the hero Giant-Man.

Okay, that bio makes it sound like this is the Hank Pym Skrull. Well, one of him, anyway. As revealed in Mighty Avengers #17, Hank was a hard guy to replicate: that pesky heroism of his kept poking through, and the imprinted Skrulls kept rebelling against the plan. Then they'd have to be killed, and the process would start all over. Like his handler said, "you're sharing a brain with a smart man. Smarter than you. And you're sharing a brain with a man more heroic than you. ... You're also sharing a brain with a man who thinks he is smarter and more heroic than he actually is." Hank Pym may be a wife-beating bastard, but he wants to be a better man. That's why he's a hero, and that's why the Skrulls pretending to be him kept rebelling.

But that Skrull isn't this Skrull. Hank Pym was Yellowjacket through the whole thing, and while there was a Skrull Giant-Man, he was different from the one posing as Hank.

The body comes from a clever and unexpected source - it originally belonged to the Marvel Legends Icons Magneto. ML Icons was, of course, the line of 12" figures that started under ToyBiz and continued under Hasbro. The line was decent, and had some really nice sculpts, but in a day where a 3¾" figure can go for $8.99, the 12"ers just priced themselves right out of the market. But with the "Gigantic Battles" series, Hasbro has found a way to get some reuse out of their molds, while still creating characters that will fit in an existing collection: it was easy to ignore Icons if you didn't buy 12" toys, but as a super-sized character in the Marvel Universe line? That's harder to avoid.

The Skrull seems (loosely) patterned on one that appeared in Ms. Marvel #29 - at least, that's as close a parallel as we can find so far. Who knows - a lot of Super-Skrulls showed up in a lot of books, so maybe there's one closer to this figure. The head is a new sculpt, obviously, and it seems to have been designed to look like the work of Gabrielle Dell'Otto. You may not recognize the name, but you're sure to recognize the art: remember those Skrull masks Marvel handed out at SDCC? The cover of Secret Invasion #5? That's him. And that's clearly what this figure represents.

Skrull Giant-Man stands 12" tall, as expected, and moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees and ankles. The shoulders and hips are ridiculously stiff, but even when forcing the bastards to move, nothing broke. [Yeah, there's a reason toy fans love Hasbro --ed.] The hips are the kind where the swivel joint points up toward the torso, rather than horizontally into the crotch - always a small disappointment. His boots, gloves, belt, collar and the triangle on his forehead are metallic blue, and the red of his costume has a dark wash that makes it look very nice. The black panels on his elbows and knees aren't anything from an existing Giant-Man costume, but they're cool.

These Gigantic Battles sets pair one massive 12" figure with one normal 4" figure, and in this case, that smaller guy is Captain America. Not Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes.

Captain America has always stood for truth, justice and the American way. Picking up where the fallen Steve Rogers left off, James Buchanan Barnes now carries the legacy of Captain America into a new era. Drawing from his experience as both Bucky and the Soviet's Winter Soldier, this new Captain America won't hesitate to do what needs to be done in order to safeguard American life and libery - proving his worthiness to carry the shield of a legend.

Yes, after Cap was killed at the end of Civil War, Bucky stepped up to fill the role, thereby making him only the second sidekick to ever fulfill the promise and take over for his mentor (after Wally West and before Dick Grayson). This isn't the first "Bucky Cap" figure - that honor goes to the Marvel Select version. It's also not the first Bucky Cap toy to be available at a mass retailer, thanks to TRU's new Minimate-friendly policies. But hey, he hasn't been seen in the Marvel Universe line yet, so that's something!

The body is the same used for Daredevil, with a new pair of boots - they're not the same ones that came with any of the previous MU Captains America, at any rate. His uniform is mostly black, because Alex Ross just recycled his proposed Spider-Man movie costume and took Cap back to his early "infringing on The Shield" roots. His metallic blue is lighter than the shade used on Skrull Giant-Man. One bad feature, though? His gloves only come up to the wrists, but the sculpt reaches nearly to his elbows. Really? They couldn't change his forearms?

Captain America's head is oversized and poorly proportioned - actually, it's a lot like the Marvel Select version in that regard. His skin is dark, which surely does nothing to help him ditch the "Captain Puerto Rico" label he picked up based on his costume design. The figure tops out justover 4" tall, and moves via balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, swivel/hinge torso, balljointed hips, double-hinged knees and swivel-hinge ankles.

Cap's accessories include the requisite shield - same that came with the other Cap - plus Bucky's additions to the costume, a knife and a gun. Both of those fit in his utility belt (reused from MU Union Jack), and the shield can either clip on his wrist, or be strapped to his back. Nothing groundbreaking, but all appropriate.

Harking back to Marvel Legends' glory days, the Gigantic Battles sets each come with a reprint comicbook. This set includes Secret Invasion #6, which definitely doesn't feature Skrull Giant-Man (there are a few giants in a crowd scene, but no more in line with this figure than the one in Ms. Marvel was), but is the turning point of the series, as the heroes rally for the inevitable underdog comeback. And it does have Captain America, who meets Thor for the first time, so there's that.

You have to admit, using the 12" Icons bodies to create in-scale Marvel Universe toys is a bit of a genius move on Hasbro's part: from our perspective, it gets us some big characters we'd otherwise never see made; from their perspective, it gets a little more mileage out of the steel tools, adding value to an existing investment. And the great thing about size-changing characters is that you can use them for whatever scale you prefer. You like Marvel Select? Skrull Giant-Man is hovering at 10'3". Marvel Legends? He's 12'. As a Marvel Universe figure, he's 18' tall. Into Minimates? He's 24' high. Hell, put him in the middle of your HeroClix and he's as big as a five-story building. And hey, if you really liked the ML Icons, he's just chilling at average height - Skrull Giant-Man is a figure that will work in any Marvel Collection, and unlike the other figure in this Gigantic Battles series, he's never had a toy of any sort before. This is a good set, well worth adding to your Marvel Universe.

-- 11/16/09

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