Toy Review: Hot Toys Winter Soldier STRIKE Suit Captain America
Originally scheduled to arrive last year, the Hot Toys Captain America: The Winter Soldier STRIKE Suit Captain America is a figure I've been waiting an extra-long time to obtain. I was more than willing to wait for a high-end reproduction of one of my favorite characters in one of my favorite costumes. Now that I've got this mini-Steve Rogers in my hands, I can say the wait was worth it --- for the most part.
As you might recall from your dozens of repeated viewings, the STRIKE suit is the uniform of choice for Captain America early in the film. It's based off the design from Ed Brubaker's and Dale Eaglesham's Steve Rogers: Super Soldier series, though Hot Toys makes the whole uniform a bit more military-inspired. It also looks approximately one million times better than his uniform from The Avengers. There are patches for SHIELD, Rogers' last name and the America flag in addition to the silver stripe detailing. The light armor padding is a nice touch, and the costume tailoring by Jan Wong is impeccable. I've seen a lot of Hot Toys figures with clothes, and while they all look good, this Captain America suit has so many intricate details that it's absolutely astounding they could be captured at such a small scale.
The suit isn't without its problems, however. As has become typical of the Marvel movie figures, the costuming makes it rather difficult to pose the figures in more than a small handful of positions. If you were hoping to raise Cap's arms higher than his shoulders, you're going to be disappointed. There's not much flexibility in the elbows or chest area either, though you can work his knee and ankle joints fairly easily. Additionally, some of the seams and stitching were coming apart before I even took the figure out of the box. I don't think it would have been asking too much for the figure have a little better quality control. I'm willing to deal with some problems for a good Captain America figure, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing. Fortunately for me, the trouble issues are beneath his armpits, so they don't detract from the immediate profile.
Another small quibble I have with the suit is the rubber accents. On the forearms and shins, Cap has some armor Hot Toys decided to replicate with a harder material. While it looks sharp at first glance, when you start messing with changing out hands or posing the figure, trouble arises. The shin guards aren't a problem, but towards the cuff, the rubber is already peeling off the arms from popping different hands on and off. Again, you can't tell when just casually looking, but when you take a closer inspection, the flaws stand out fairly obviously.
As far as accessories go, Captain America is a minimalist. He's got his shield, which has the same light blue hue as the one he used during the hostage rescue on the freighter, and he's got the magnetic cuff from the elevator fight. The shield is a wonderful piece of work, and is real metal. Some collectors have had issues with the shield paint jobs in the past, but mine appears to have been spared that indignity. A Cap without a proper shield is not a Cap at all. However, I can't wait for the new shield with the Age of Ultron Captain America since that one will finally do away with the flimsy and delicate straps, opting for actual handles instead. Captain America may have no problem wrapping his hands around those straps in real life, but in action figure form, they are way more trouble than they are worth. After finally situating the shield on his left arm, I can assure you, I will never attempt to take it off again. The magnetic cuff fits well enough over his wrist, but it's a bit of a throwaway accessory, and adds little to the overall aesthetic.
There are a multitude of hands included with Captain America, all of which are sculpted wonderfully, and have some nice detail. You get two shield grip hands, two fists, two open palms, two pinching grips, and one pointing hand. The pinching grips were meant to allow you to pose Cap in that pose John Cassaday made so popular a few years back, but the costume prevents you from bringing the arms close enough to approximate that look. Also, the hands aren't gripped tightly enough, and the shield slides right out almost every time. The point would be a terrific addition if you could raise Cap's arm enough to not have him merely pointing at someone's waist. Still, there are enough hands here that you can personalize your Cap fairly easily.
When it all comes down to it though, if the head sculpt isn't up to par, the rest of the figure may as well not even exist. Sculpted by Yulli and Yong Kyum. Kim, the helmeted Chris Evans head looks fairly on point. I can't speak to the unmasked Steve Rogers included in the box set, but this version is definitely a very strong likeness. It could be argued that capturing Evans' face with most of his face being covered is actually more difficult than the straight portrait, but the resemblance is there, even all the way down to the ears and light stubble. The texturing on the helmet and the wear on the chin strap do add some depth to the piece, and really help bring that authentic look to life. If there is one gripe, it's that the paint team forgot the mole on his left cheek, but it's not a dealbreaker in the least.
Hot Toys has been improving its figures over the past few years, particularly the Marvel-based entries. STRIKE Suit Captain America has some issues, to be sure, but overall the figure is one of the most impressively detailed the company has created. Like the Winter Soldier version of the Black Widow, what could have been a very basic figure is elevated by the attention to detail and finesse applied to the sculpt and costume. Still, for more than $200, it would have been appreciated to have a figure that wasn't a little bit flawed right out of the box. Perhaps the AOU Cap will address the problems (the suit is almost the same, after all), but as it stands, this Captain America is a welcome addition, warts and all.
This figure was purchased for review. The Hot Toys Captain America: The Winter Soldier STRIKE Suit Captain America is available at Sideshow Collectibles for $219.99.