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Ultimate Captain America

Marvel Universe
by yo go re

Last year at SDCC, Hasbro released two "WWII Captain America" figures - one solo carded, and one in an Invaders four-pack. This year they went back to the well one more time.

During the last days of World War II, Captain America disappeared. The man who had inspired America's troops in their drive across Europe simply vanished, never to be seen again. Unknown to the world, he lay frozen in the deep, cold waters of the North Atlantic, kept alive by his superhuman physiology. It would be decades before he was found and revived into a world he barely recognized. He is a man of the past, but he remains dedicated to the future of mankind - a future he sees in the shining promise of freedom for all people.

They really went overboard with the packaging. In addition to the normal Marvel Universe card (which has silver foil, thereby already making it more special than usual), the entire thing is sold in a cardboard sleve - a sleeve, incidentally, which is also foil-stamped, has a Comic-Con logo sticker, and is fully embossed. Considering that all this is just going into the garbage, it seems extravagant and wasteful. Just like last year, Joe Quesada provides the art, so at least the package looks nicer than this year's usual crop. Additionally, instead of the usual circular badge found on the left side of the blister, the inset is the shape of Cap's shield.

There's a line in the otherwise-crummy 1990 Captain America film about the woman (in-universe) who designed his costume: she was a great patriot, but "didn't know much about camouflage." Because after all, it's rather stupid that the army would dress their #1 weapon in garish, attention-grabbing colors. Yes, back in the day military leaders wore identifying clothing so their soldiers would know who to rally around in the midst of battle, but this was World War II: it's not like Patton and Eisenhower were still wearing large feathered hats. These days the story goes that the bright costume was part of a USO tour, and that he wore a normal uniform on undercover operations.

On the other hand, consider this: you're the military; you have one soldier who not only carries a shield, but is also the most statistically likely to survive any gunshots he should receive; now, do you want the enemy's bullets aimed at him, or at the one hit-point wonders who will one day go home and get historically fellated by Tom Brokaw?

This figure, unlike all the other WWII Caps in the MU line, is the Ultimate Comics version, so his uniform actually looks quite a bit like real military gear. As we so often make fun, this version isn't wearing chainmail and pirate boots. If you ignore the colors, he's got a completely average uniform: wool jacket and pants, canvas leggings over normal boots... if not for the star on his chest and the vertical stripes on his midsection, this could be any random soldier. The cloth has a certain texture to it, the buttons are sculpted differently depending on where on the clothes they are, and even the soles of his shoes have a realistic tread pattern. The star on his chest is a raised element, and the entire ensemble is topped by a brown utility belt, holster and harness.

Rather than a traditional superhero mask, Ultimate Steve Rogers conceals his identity with a brown leather cap that looks like what an aviator would wear. Of course, that's worn beneath a usual army helmet, though that's been painted blue with a bit white A on the forehead. The figure's colors are slightly muted, probably to give him an "old-timey" feel, but you could also chalk it up to him being covered in dust and dirt from battle.

Ultimate Captain America is a big figure - 4⅜" tall - so in theory he should tower over the other Marvel Universe figures, but since they always tend to run a bit large, any difference is hard to notice. Stand him next to some old GI Joes, though, and you'll see it easily. He has a balljointed head, hinged neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, balljointed torso, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel boot-tops, hinged ankles and swivel feet. The neck and ankles are particularly nice, making for one super-articulated soldier!

In addition to the removable helmet, Cap has his shield-shaped shield, and a black pistol. The shield is molded in red, then painted with blue and white on the front. Since when has his shield had blue stripes? It has a clip on the back for his wrist, and two elastic straps that can slip over his shoulders. He has the usual "paper accessories," but surprisingly, no display stand.

Last year's WWII Captain America figure - the black and white one - sold out fast, and this year's version followed suit. He's not quite as cool (since he's not frozen in a block of ice), but as an all-new sculpt, he's something new in your Marvel Universe collection.

-- 08/22/10

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