Friday, April 6, 2012

Marvel's Hydra Soldier Dark Threat

First off, if you haven't seen Captain America: The First Avenger yet, I recommend it. It's a really well done comic book movie and doesn't take itself so seriously that it looks goofy instead like some movies with the Marvel name on them (looking at you, X-Men.)

When the movie tie in merchandise from Hasbro first started hitting shelves, I scoffed at a Hydra soldier with giant arm guns in the Deluxe Mission Pack line and thought it a clear example of over the top toy designs that would never actually be in the movie itself (for examples, see any Batman movie toyline from Returns on.) Call me embarrassed when not only was that soldier in the movie, he was pretty bad-ass before being soundly beaten. Twelve bucks was a bit more than I wanted to pay for him when he was new at retail, but that's where patience and T.J. Maxx pay off...

I'm guessing there was some sort of legal issue with just calling this figure "Hydra Heavy Trooper" or something along those lines, but man is that an unwieldy name. From now on, I'm just going to refer to him as Dark Threat. Overall, I'm pretty impressed; He's G.I. Joe sized but slightly bulkier (intentionally, he's bulkier than Cap from the same line) and would look right at home among your Cobra soldiers. Actually, with the fairly generic, semi-futuristic uniform and armor, I could see him fitting into a few different universes, you could just as easily have this guy running alongside your Clone Troopers.

Dark Threat's helmet is nicely detailed with layers that look like overlapping armor and padding and visored goggles that look like they're hinged to flip up. The mouth plate resembles a rebreather or compact gas mask and has a series of smaller plates and vents that link it to the helmet. On the sides of the helmet are tiny red circles with even tinier black Hydra emblems printed on them. Unfortunately, due to their size and the somewhat uneven application of paint, you can barely tell what the symbols are.

The body armor is made of soft, rubbery plastic and can be removed after unsnapping the waist belt and contorting Dark Threat a bit. The armor is composed of shoulder pads, a chest plate and a back plate with a small turbine and canisters attached to it held together with web gear-like straps. There are wide, silver belts that resemble ammo belts sculpted into the armor, appearing to run from the turbine up through the shoulder pads then continuing down the actual arms of the figure. I assume these are power cables or literal ammo belts from the Cosmic Cube powered backpack to the giant arm cannons. I'm forced to mention sloppy paint work again though, as the left shoulder pad's silver spray for the ammo belt section is a bit off and covers a portion of the armor instead, leaving a piece of the belt plain green.

The majority of his uniform beneath the armor is a slightly blueish green with a lot of black straps cinching sections tight or appearing to hold pieces of his clothing in place. Interestingly, he has another, smaller sculpted back pack beneath his armor which looks like it could be a standard kit or perhaps an oddly placed parachute.

Here he is using his giant guns and their first projectile type; flame thrower! The guns fit snugly over his hands and probably won't fall off unless you enjoy literally throwing your toys around the room. The missiles fly a good distance and the triggers are tight so you won't have to worry about accidentally blinding yourself just moving Dark Threat around a shelf. The flame effect missiles are very nicely done; cast in translucent yellow plastic and given an orange spray at the ends, they start as thin jets that widen into rough crescents and have a lot of twisting flame detail molded into them.

The second type of missiles are translucent blue plastic and are meant to represent the Cosmic Cube powered weaponry Hydra uses in the movie. These missiles don't look as cool as the flames partially because they are a lot longer but only have detail sculpted about halfway down their lengths and partially because he just looks like he's firing high pressure bursts of mouth wash at foes.

Articulation is fairly decent, though you'll be disappointed if you're expecting him to be on par with recent Star Wars and G.I. Joe. figures. He has eleven points of articulation including those joints that aren't really ball joints but allow the same range of motion in his shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. His head feels like it's on a ball joint, but the range of motion is so limited, it might as well just be a cut joint and his upper thighs have that weird swivel cut Hasbro has been using on Cap/Iron Man/Avengers figures recently. No waist, wrists or ankles, which is somewhat disappointing but I suppose they have to cut corners somewhere. Due to him not having a bicep swivel, you won't get him holding a rifle with two hands anytime soon, but since his weapons don't require that, I'm fine with it.

You would think with those giant guns and even bigger missiles, he would have balance issues but surprisingly, this is not the case. The oversized weapons and his pretty wide feet allow him to stand unassisted in quite a few menacing poses and his feet have peg holes which are compatible with the stands from the current Marvel Universe 3.5 inch figures if you should have problems with him still.
In the end, I'm quite pleased with Dark Threat. Due to the few sloppy paint sections and somewhat limited articulation, I wouldn't have dropped twelve dollars on him when he was new, but for seven bucks (and getting Midnight Raid Cap for free due to cashier error!), he's definitely worth it. I would highly recommend him if you can grab one for a decent price and are a fan of Captain America, Marvel or just armored troopers in general.

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