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Red Skull

Captain America
by yo go re

Look, it's exactly the kind of political leader who would hesitate to say Nazis are bad:

Hydra leader Johann Schmidt creates Tesseract-powered weapons to destroy American cities, but doesn't anticipate interference from newly-dubbed hero, Captain America. In their first meeting, Schmidt removes his mask to reveal crimson skin, a signature hue that has earned him the name, "Red Skull."

The Marvel movies logo has been getting worse over time, from the classy "flipping" logo that the Fox films still use to the extravagant, overblown one the Phase Three movies were stuck behind. However, there's something nice about the way the MCU concept art used on the packaging for this Marvel Studios: The First 10 Years line - both on the sides and in grayscale on the tray behind the figure - does a decent job of recalling the logos.

Obsessed with the power of the Tesseract, Johann Schmidt teams up with Dr. Arnim Zola to create a super-charged arms force that will change the fate of World War II... and the world.

When the first Captain America movie came out, Hasbro was smack dab in the middle of their "forget six inches, four inches is the scale for us" phase, so the only properly sized toys we got from the movie were some Walmart exclusives - and even that little assortment only really had one new figure, which sure wasn't Red Skull. If you wanted the movie's villain, you had to go for the Marvel Select figure, and just be content with it being a full inch taller than anyone else. Kind of disappointing, no? But the point of this anniversary line is (mostly) to give us things Hasbro otherwise missed, so here at position #2 comes the evil Nazi we didn't get before.

One advantage to waiting this long to release Red Skull can be found in his red skull. So far, no Red Skull toy has accurately reproduced the movie look: the 4" movie figure was based on the makeup worn on set, before the CGI was added, and the Marvel Select figure was entirely the wrong shape. This one, coming seven years after the fact, has had plenty of time to see the completed work and base its sculpt on that.

One of Hasbro's SDCC exclusives this year was a movie Red Skull, but that one was wearing his trenchcoat, while this one has shed that overgarment and is just wearing a plainer Hydra uniform. "Plainer" being a relative term, obviously, since it comprises patent leather boots, stylish jhodpurs, and a button-up jacket with delicate seams and piping, and a Hydra logo sculpted on the left shoulder. Hydra didn't just recruit Nazi scientists and soldiers, they took the designers, as well! The uniform is a dark green, with a silver belt buckle, golden buttons, and thin red and black lines following the seams. The stripes on the arms don't quite line up on both sides of the joints, but that's an easy error to overlook.

The figure moves like any modern Marvel Legend, with joints at the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, waist, torso, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders, neck, and head. He includes an alternate left hand, giving you a choice of a "trigger finger" hand or one with a looser grip. And also a looser fit. That hand just kind of rattles around in the socket. The toy is armed with a Hydra assault rifle, which it really holds best with the two triggering hands - the loose hand is even too loose to hold the grip on the gun, so what is it for? And while we're asking questions, why doesn't this toy include the Cosmic Cube and a hand to hold it? That's disappointing.

The other accessories almost make up for it, though. We begin with a harness to go on the figure's torso. That's a weird
inclusion, isn't it? Red Skull never wore one of those, it was only used by the rank-and-file troops to take the place of the big H-logo seen on the comic uniforms. So why does this toy get one? Because the package also includes three alternate heads, each showing a different kind of Hydra Trooper: a plain version with red goggles, a slightly more advanced piece with black goggles and tubes running over the top of the head, and a pilot's mask that leaves no skin exposed. With this one purchase, you can create four different characters! Technically the soldiers would be wearing different jackets than Schmidt is, but four for one is still a good deal. Now watch a shortage happen as the armybuilders snap him up like they did Chameleon.

This is a good figure, with a great likeness, but there's some real weirdness here too. A hand that doesn't fit in the arm right and can't hold anything? No Tesseract? No Hugo Weaving head? Okay, that last one might be a rights issue, but it still would have been a cool inclusion.

-- 09/10/18

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