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Ultimate Captain America & Nick Fury

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

It seems that Marvel Legends, as a line, is finally coming to an end. There's only one more BAF series planned, and Hasbro's focus seems to be shifting to the 3¾" Marvel Universe line. It's had a pretty good run, but that doesn't mean there aren't still new characters to be made.

No one would call Captain America and Ultimates Director Nick Fury friends. That they are men of a similar mindset, however, is without question. Both are soldiers, through and through, willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish their mission. Their methods are distinct and complimentary. Fury is a savvy political operator, trafficking in the secrets that support power. He manipulates media and government in an effort of create a reality in which America is dominant and safe from the super-powered threats growing around the world. Captain America, on the other hand, is a man of action, used to shouting his orders over the thunder of an artillery barrage, rather than whispering them in back rooms. He prefers to effect change in the real world through a direct application of force to the subtle machinations of diplomacy.

Back in Series 8 of their Marvel Legends, ToyBiz released a version of Ultimate Captain America. They also announced a "WWII variant," which turned out to be a rather half-hearted effort to create a 616 version of Cap - it wasn't at all what people had in mind. What they were expecting was, well, this.

Unlike the "real" version, Ultimate Captain America didn't wear a superhero costume while he was fighting in World War II. Yes, the PR flacks gave him a fancy outfit that would look good on the newsreels, but it wasn't chainmail and pirate boots. He wore a standard uniform, dyed blue with red and white stripes around the midsection and a big white star in the center of the chest. His boots and gloves are brown, and his canvas leggings (worn to provide ankle support and keep foreign matter out of the boots) are olive drab. Completing the ensemble is a blue helmet with a large "A" painted on the front.

The sculpted details are quite nice. His uniform has a slight texture all over, though it looks more like leather than wool - the material actually used on American service uniforms of the era. He does seem to be wearing a red sweater under his coat, however, since we can see it peeking out at the cuffs and collar. Though there aren't any shadows or highlights, the paint is good, so the figure is looking pretty sharp.

Cap has a removable combat harness, his old-fashioned shield, and a surprisingly accurate Thompson M1A1 submachine gun with a straight magazine, rather than the drum most people associate with a Tommy gun. There's also a gray pistol, which looks too modern to belong to a WWII soldier, but is actually an M1911A, which was used as far back as World War I, so no problems there. The details on the shield are sculpted in, and the straps on the back are solid, molded pieces. The entire shield is slightly warped, but it still looks fine.

The figure's helmet can be removed, to reveal the leather cap he wears beneath. It and the goggles come from the first volume of The Ultimates, where Cap was getting ready to parachute out of a plane, so it's possible they were just a situational accoutrement, rather than a World War II version of a superhero's mask. If you don't like it, there's also an unmasked head showing off Steve Rogers' short-cropped blonde hair.

We get excellent articulation, with that wonderful cross of ToyBiz and Hasbro joints. It means you can have Captain America kicking all kinds of Nazi ass. There is one problem, though: the figure's size. The ML8 Ultimate Cap stood 6½" tall. This is the same guy, so he should be the same size, right? Nope, he's an even 6". Yes, 6' was very tall in the '40s, but this is a superhero; he needs to be larger than life, especially since we already have an established standard for him.

Ultimate Captain America has already had an action figure - January 8, 2003, in the Marvel Select line - but this is a two-pack, so it still offers something new. Specifically, Nick Fury. Samuel L. Jackson version, not David Hasselhoff. When Nick Fury first appeared in the Ultimate Marvel Universe (Earth-1610, by the way), he didn't look like Mr. Bad Emeffer - hell, he didn't even look black! Fury first stepped out of the shadows in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #5, and later appeared in a few issues of Ultimate X-Men, but he didn't look like Sam Jackson until he was redesigned by Bryan Hitch for Ultimates #1. However, that's the familiar version, so that's what we get here.

Fury is ready for a fight - which might mean he's just going out to the store to buy some smokes. Paranoia is what keeps spies alive, after all. He's wearing a black trenchcoat with the SHIELD emblem on the left sleeve and the collar turned up high. He has a ribbed black shirt, and his pants are the sort of mustardy color the military loves so much. His ensemble is completed by combat boots, fingerless gloves and a holster strapped to his right thigh.

The sculpt is detailed, but not overdone. His coat not only has a different texture than his shirt, but it also wrinkles differently, a cue that it's a different kind of material. His pants bunch up where they're tucked into his footgear, and he has distinct bootlaces. Like Captain America, he's wearing web gear, but it's of a much more modern style. Makes sense, huh?

Although Marvel has Samuel L. Jackson's premission to use his likeness as Nick Fury in their comics, that apparently doesn't extend to action figures. Oh, this is a bald black guy with a goatee, an eyepatch and some scars, but it's not SLJ. The sculpt is good, no doubt, with some particularly impressive work for the beard. The right side of his mouth is odd, however - the way his lip droops down, it almost seems as if he was intended to come with a (removable?) cigar that didn't make it to the final product.

Fury's strapped with a matched pair of German HK USP .45s, which can both be holstered: one on his leg, the other on his chest. He also has a Bulgarian AR-M9F assault rifle with an UBGL-M6 grenade launcher attached. He's just as articulated as Captain America, but he can't really put his arms straight down at his sides. Compounding Cap's noticable shortness, Fury stands 6⅝" tall - by comparison, Samuel L. Jackson is 6'2" in real life, so really, it would have been better if the two figures' heights were reversed. Fury looks gargantuan.

Despite the size issues, this is still a good set. Hasbro's only released one clunker so far in their series of two-packs, and that's the repacked Mr. Fantastic/way too small Thing pairing. Both these toys are new molds, and Fury's a new character, period. And yes, we've had several Ultimate Captains America before, but never one that matches this. If you're a Marvel Legends fan, this "Ultimate" set has a lot to offer.

-- 01/12/09

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