Welcome to our review of the Marvel Legends Red Skull from Captain America, The First Avengers. This 6 inch version of Red Skull was released in 2018 as part of the "First Ten Years" celebration for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While he was a single figure release, he had additional parts included to convert the figure into a Hydra Solider.
The "First Ten Years" packaging steered away from the usual scooped Marvel Legend boxes to a more conventional rectangular box. The base colouring remained black with a red border around the figure window. To the top left sits the "Ten Years" logo, with the Legends logo to the opposite side.
The character name, Red Skull, is included at the base of the window within the red trim. There is no mention of the parts for the Hydra Soldier which are also included. Next to the character name is a movie specific symbol, in this instance it is Captain America's shield. The movie log then finishes the box front to the bottom right.
The right spine o the box carries images in panels from the first 10 years of the MCU and a repeat of the movie logo. These images build into a larger panel if you collect all the sets and line them up side by side.
On the opposite spine is a red data panel containing some background info for the 2011 Captain America : The First Avenger movie.
"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."
This side panel also includes the numbering for this set. Each of the 2018 sets are numbered based on the date of the movie they represent. Red Skull is set number 2. This numbering is repeated on the back of the box. Here we have more specific text about Red Skull himself alongside an image that replicates the movie poster.
"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"
Once opened and the contents slid out, you can see that Red Skull sits in an impressive inner cardboard tray that also carries black and white images from the various MCU movies.
Red Skull then sits in the centre of an inner plastic tray with the various heads and parts assembled around him. There are no twist ties, with the parts held in by the shaping of the tray.
Paint & Sculpt 4/5
The likeness on the head sculpt for Red Skull is impressive, capturing the look and the sneer of Red Skull on a glossy blood red skull. The eyes are a little basic considering what we've seen recently with face print technology - but considering their location set deep back in the sockets they are at least lined up and neatly painted.
Hasbro have made the decision to put Red Skull in his Hydra uniform without his long coat, which I feel was a more iconic look for him. The decision to put the long coat version then in the SDCC exclusive set for £50 was a real kicker, and I hope this version can be released at a later stage.
The uniform we do get is cast in olive grey with neat red pin striping throughout. The buttons on the tunic are painted bronze, although the colour of the buttons seems to change from the top 3 to the final one on the lower part of the torso which looks a touch off.
On the left arm is an embossed Hydra logo that is also painted very well. A less defined Hydra logo is sculpted on the belt buckle which is painted silver. The trouser are in the same grey as the tunic, but the piping here is black only. The jack boots are glossy black as they should be.
The figure is designed so the head can be swapped out to create Hydra soldiers - another reason perhaps why the long coat look was not used in this set. Like all Hasbro figures with swap out heads the maneuver is smooth and the heads pop in and out with relative ease and remain secure and poseable once located on the neck peg.
We have three Hydra heads to choose from starting with a helmeted version with exposed nose and mouth. The shape of the head & helmet is good and the lenses well coloured with a red tinge. The face is left a little unfinished with only a base skin tone colour and no definition to the lips.
Helmet two is a fully enclosed mask with silver trim and gloss black lenses across the eye pieces. The third head seems to be the same helmet with the mouth and nose piece now removed. Again the exposed skin is a basic colour with now colouring to the lips.
I have spent a lot of time looking at stills of the Hydra Soldiers in Captain America and all three head options are accurate to the movie to a degree. The first is seen also wearing the dress uniform and wielding a weapon. The other two are more heavy duty troopers and they should ideally be in a more combat armour type of uniform.
In order to change the look of your Hydra troops from the basic dress uniform, the first accessory you get is this chest piece. It is easiest to apply while the figure is headless so you can position around the shoulders and then close the clasp at the waist.
The vest is cast in rubbery plastic and has silver detailing added to the shoulder panels and the belt buckle.
While it does indeed change the look of the base uniform, it still doesn't quite sit right on the dress uniform and there are some odd parts like you end up seeing two visible silver Hydra belt buckles.
The Hydra Soldier is also armed and comes with a Tesseract powered weapon and an alternative right hand with which to hold it.
The gun itself is quite basic with limited detail and is warped in places. It is cast in black plastic with silver parts added.
It can be posed in one or two handed posing and does enhance the trooper further. It is a little longer than what we see on screen which does throw the look a little.
Red Skull comes in with a full 19 points of articulation, starting with that ball jointed head which rotates with all four head options as well as being able to look up and down by a few notches.
The torso has both a ball joint and a waist swivel which on the face of it should make the torso very mobile for crouching and leaning. In reality the joints are a bit too close together and the lean back and forth is minimal.
Arms are ball jointed at the shoulder with full movement. There is a bicep swivel and a double jointed elbow for full control of the weapon or general posing. We also have a pivot wrist which adds to the arm positioning options.
Legs are ball jointed at the hips behind the lower part of the tunic. Under this is a thigh swivel and then double jointed knees. That means Red Skull can kneel, not that he'd kneel to anyone, as well as supporting further action stances for the Hydra soldier.
The legs end with ankle rockers that are tight and secure and Red Skull is easy to stand and pose.
I was delighted to get a Red Skull in my Legends collection, some 8 years after the movie release. However, I do feel a little short changed by the whole thing. Firstly this is not what I'd class as the iconic look for Red Skull and would have liked to see this release be the long coat version we ended up getting as an excessively priced SDCC 2018 exclusive.
Secondly I feel the Hydra Soldiers are a little half-hearted. I know I am getting a little hung up here with what are essentially bonus parts, but as a big fan of the WW2 Captain America scenes I'd have loved the Hydra figure to be done full justice as a single release in the right uniform - or even in a 2-pack like the comic book versions.
That all being said, this is a swell sculpted figure with good articulation and neat painting. Considering the retail price was the same as any single figure and the bonus parts you get he is easily worth a 4 out of 5 score - and I'd hope now the basics are there we could see further use of this figure and parts for future Captain America product.
Read on if you want to look at some hacks for those spare Hydra heads....
With three spare heads at your disposal when you purchase this figure - fans have been looking for cheaper options to build up the Hydra forces.
One popular solution is to use the Star Wars Black Series Finn figure from The Last Jedi. The First Order uniform is very similar to the Nazi style uniforms used by Hydra - and the Finn figure remains relatively cheap as an option.
Even though they are both made by Hasbro, the first issue is the neck joint which is too small for the Legends heads - leading to loose and floppy heads. There is also a disparity in skin colouring. These can both be resolved with some appropriate filling and painting.
Aside from the head problem, the figure does work as a stand in Hydra soldier. The vest piece fits, although it does clash a little with the holster that Finn wear on his belt.
Another idea that I wanted to explore was to use up the massive amounts of Peg Warming Kylo Ren figures in the UK at the moment. The Kylo uniform is similarly militaristic and perhaps more of a combat uniform than a dress uniform.
Like the Finn figure the neck ball joint is smaller, leading to floppy head. The neck skin tone is a better match on this one.
The Kylo figure looks better with the vest piece installed and the Kylo hands will hold the Hydra weapons well enough.
In the end this is all about personal choice and for me neither figure base did the job. Finn in the end is too short when posed with Red Skull or other Legends. Kylo is better in the height department but a bit skinny.
I have also seen people use the Death Star Trooper from the Black Series which I did consider, but with this body you will need to paint or cover the Imperial symbol.