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Steve Rogers

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Welcome to the Marvel universe, home to characters like WEAPON X The Wolverine; the INCREDIBLE Hulk; the AMAZING Spider-Man; the MIGHTY Thor; the UNCANNY X-Men; the INVINCIBLE Iron Man... and "Steve."

Salute the super soldier... the unstoppable Steve Rogers!

There's just something unimpressive about a superhero who uses his real name, especially when it's as mundane as this. Of course, technically he wasn't a superhero at the time this figure represents. In the wake of Secret Invasion, SHIELD was shut down and Norman Osborn's HAMMER took its place. When it became apparent that Norman was totally whackadoo crazy, he was retired and the recently resurrected Steve Rogers was made America's new top cop (he also went from being a captain to a commander, though that was just a new job title, not a real advancement in rank). So really, him being identified as "Steve Rogers" makes sense: after all, it's not like the first guy used a codename when he held the job.

Steve has foregone his Captain America uniform, since someone else was using the title at the time. He's wearing a dark suit with red stripes down the outside of the legs, a white star in a circle on the center of his chest and white stripes around the chest and back. It's actually reminiscent of Jack Kirby's Fighting American, so at least he has a consistent pedigree. Some of the costume details have been omitted: the white stripes are meant to meet on the outside of the shoulders, but that was probably dropped because there is no way to reliably make the paint look good when it's applied over a joint like that. There should also be some thin white lines lower on the arms, but again, the joints would have made them just look messy. These issues get a pass, mainly because this isn't a very iconic costume and in a few years nobody is going to remember the particulars of it.

The body is reused, but not from a very recognizable source: between the knees and the wrists, this was originally Face-Off Punisher. It's a good choice, being fairly muscular, but not as skintight as a usual superhero costume. He gets new hands, for his fingerless gloves, and new shins with those weird not-boot things he wears. There are straps around his shoulders, and a free-floating belt with a silver buckle. The legwarmers have a sculpt that matches the comic art, but the design was weird to begin with.

The figure gets a new head, of course. It doesn't look at all like any of the previous ML Captain America heads, sadly. Some fans have compared him to Steve McQueen, and you can sort of see that (particularly in the shape of the nose), but in general this is just a generically handsome(ish) blonde guy with a short haircut and a stern look.

There is one problem with the figure, and that's his size. He stands 6⅝" tall, which translates to, say, 6'7", 6'8" in real life. Steve's official height is 6'2", so the toy is half an inch bigger than it should be. Usually that's not a major issue, but when you've got people complaining that Iron Man is "way too short" (less than ¼" under the right size) next to Steve, it's a problem. It's not like it's a feature of the mold, either: the two previous figures that share this body were a quarter inch shorter, so the height has to be coming from his new shins. Hasbro could have easily shortened those and made Steve the right size (or at least closer to the right size) without losing any of the articulation.

He has three accessories: two silver pistols and his shield. Did he ever use the shield while he was in this costume? No, not really, but it's a Captain America toy, so coming with a shield makes sense. There's also a variant available, which paints his blues darker and his browns lighter, and comes with a translucent shield. Now, the energy shield is something he used with this costume, so really the variant is a better choice than the normal one. Plus, the same shield will be included with Series 2's Cap, so why not get one that looks different now, rather than having two that look the same later? Also, it would be nice if he had somewhere to store the guns, other than his hands.

He also includes two pieces for the Marvel Legends Series 1 Build-A-Figure, Terrax. He gets the groin and hips, plus the skirt to cover them. Interestingly, the pegs where the legs will eventually attach are drastically different sizes, so there's no mistaking which leg goes on which side. We've seen similar efforts before, but never this big a difference.

We've gotten this far into the new ML without ever mentioning the packaging. The new design is very nice, and quite eye-catching on the shelves. It's got a few similarities to the old Hasbro packaging, what with the big headshot in the upper lefthand corner, and smaller pieces of art down the right side. The differences are that the new cards are more squared off than before, and the art down the side is of other characters in the series, not comic appearances of whoever's in the blister. The art is all drawn by Ed McGuinness, who's also in charge of the Marvel Universe packaging right now, making for a nice unified look across the lines.

Steve Rogers may be suffering from a slight case of gigantism, but that's no reason to skip him. It's only half an inch of extra plastic, which is hardly enough to be a deal-breaker, and what are the odds there will ever be another Commander Steve Rogers toy? If you've got the chance, get the variant version, but even the standard is a nice "Heroic Age" representation.

-- 03/19/12

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