Thursday, 19 March 2015

Hot Toys MMS 242 - Captain America Stealth S.T.R.I.K.E. Suit Version.



Confidence... thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.
- Winston Churchill

Dr. Abraham Erskine: No, it is not the exams I'm interested in. It's the five tries. But you didn't answer my question. Do you want to kill Nazis?
Steve Rogers: Is this a test?
Dr. Abraham Erskine: Yes.
Steve Rogers: I don't want to kill anyone. I don't like bullies. I don't care where they are from.

Col. Chester Phillips: General Patton has said, "Wars are fought with weapons but they are won by men." We are going to win this war, because we have the best men. And because they're gonna get better. Much better. The Strategic Scientific Reserve is an allied effort made up with the best minds of the free world. Our goal is to create the best army in history. But every army starts with one man. At the end of this week, we will chose that man. He'll be the first of a new breed of super soldiers.

Col. Chester Phillips: You're not really thinking about picking Rogers are you?
Dr. Abraham Erskine: I am more than just thinking about it. It is a clear choice.
Col. Chester Phillips: When you brought a modicum asthmatic onto my army base I let it slide. I thought what the hell, maybe he could be useful to you, like a gerbil. Never thought you'd pick him up. Stick a needle in that kid's arm, it's going to go right through him. Look at that. He's making me cry.
Dr. Abraham Erskine: I am looking for qualities beyond the physical.

Dr. Abraham Erskine: So when he has found my formula and what it can do, he cannot resist. Schmidt must become that superior man.
Steve Rogers: Did it make him stronger?
Dr. Abraham Erskine: Ja. But it has other effects. The serum wasn't ready. But more important, the man. The serum amplifies everything that is inside. So, good becomes great. Bad becomes worse. This is why you were chosen. Because a strong man who has known power all his life, will lose respect for that power. But a weak man knows the values of strength. And knows compassion. Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing. That you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier. But a good man.

Steve Rogers: This is my uniform? Where is the one I worn?
Col. Nick Fury: At the Smithsonian. Star spangled banner  pattern isn't exactly "in" for 21st century. Practicality in battle is definitely out. Snipers could spot you from the moon. We've done some upgrades and modifications. Durability, stealth anti-detection coating. The shield couldn't be replicated due to shortage of vibranium even though Stark said he could reproduce it. Well, he said a lot of things but he delivers. You've to stick to the existing one for now. A bit of discolouration but short of a true adamantium, nothing in existence could penetrate it, be it the Asgardian's molecular bond breaking hammer or that jolly green giant's earth shattering, Tsar Bomba strength punch.
Steve Rogers: What about the "A" then?
Col. Nick Fury: Disco.'re the Captain after all. The Captain. A lot of people looks up upon you. Hell, even me when I was a young pup wet behind the ears. Movies and songs were made about you. A living legend. Motivation, hope and inspiration to rise up in the face of adversity. I think that "A", and let's not forget the star, would represents exactly that. With a little bit of retro thing thrown in. You know how much those trading cards Coulson bid and bought for? These are different times Captain. A lot of bad things had happened, some of it due to our own mistakes, but it is going to get worse. A lot worse. Maybe a little old school symbols  and values are just what we needed right now.*
*own addition.
A (mis) interpretation:

Name: Steve Rogers.
Age: 92 years old (as of 2010).
Codename: Captain America.
Designation: Weapon I.
Affiliation: U.S. Army - The Howling Commandos (former); 1st Special Service Force "The Devil's Brigade (former); S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) - The Avengers Initiative (current), S.T.R.I.K.E. (Special Tactical Reserve for International Key Emergencies) - Team Delta (current).
Abilities: Artificially enhanced physiology; high intelligence; master hand to hand combatant; slowed aging; fast healing; master strategist and tactician; leadership skill, expert marksmanship; weapons expert.
Std. armaments: vibranium shield x 1; carbon nanotube reinforced Kevlar/Nomex hybrid combat suit x 1; various weaponries.

1944. Steve Rogers manually override the controls of the Horten H.XIX "Valkyrie" flying wing superfortress. Its payload is a nuclear bomb with a blast yield equivalent to 500 kilotons. An automatic timer is ticking away. Attempt to stop the timer has failed. Johann Schmidt, more infamously known as the Red Skull, and founder and overall commander of HYDRA, the clandestine extremist splinter group of the SS, lays on the floor, bleeding and dying. He gives out a final mocking laughter at Rogers before giving out his last breath. Seeing there is no way out, Rogers steers the craft towards the Artic. Before that, he bids farewell to Peggy Carter, the British agent of the SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve) of whom both have a mutual love affection for each other though not openly expressed and confess. A massive detonation occurred mid-air over the icy wasteland. London, New York and other global major cities and its populations are saved from a nuclear holocaust. Rogers is declared deceased at the age of 26 years old and with him, the original formula of the late eugenicist, Dr. Abraham Erskine, whose real identity is Dr. Joseph Reinstein, which creates the world's first successful genetically enhanced super soldier is lost forever. Rogers, a former sickly and skinny young kid from Brooklyn born in 1918, is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by the President, received on his behalf by Col. Chester Phillips as Rogers has no next of kin since the death of his parents in his teens. A year later, World War Two comes an to end, marking the beginning of the Cold War.
2004. A Russian oil exploration team discovers a circular object with faded red, blue and white motif. Eighteen hours after they reported their findings, a group of researchers from S.H.I.E.L.D. arrive on the site and cordon off the area. Beneath thirty metres of ice, they find Rogers, whom is still alive due to his superhuman physiology which keeps him in a natural cryogenic, induced coma-like hibernating sleep. Rogers hasn't aged a single second from the time he bailed out of the aircraft and hit the ground moment before the atomic detonation. Rogers is brought to an undisclosed S.H.I.E.L.D. facility in New York to revive him. A week later, he awakes from his 60 years sleep. Suffering from temporary amnesia, Rogers only remembers that he has a date with Carter should the siege on the Red Skull's primary HYDRA base at Norway is successful. He looks around the room. The radio is on, broadcasting the World Series final between Yankees and Dodgers. Yet, his intuition tells him something is not right. The broadcast was from 1941, and he heard it before. Rogers flee from the room, which is an anachronistic mock up set of a 1940s hospital room. Out in the street, he is shocked to see a different world. The people, buildings, cars and the city itself. Several cars surround him. A man walks up to him and reassures him that it is alright, introducing himself as Col. Nick Fury, the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., an espionage, law-enforcement, and counter-terrorism agency established during the Cold War by Col. Chester Phillips, Peggy Carter and Howard Stark from SSR after it was shut down. Rogers is briefed about what had happened back at the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarter, The Triskelion, at Washington D.C. on Theodore Roosevelt Island. The man out of time, as he is sometimes referred, struggles to adjust to the modern world. Rogers read up as much information as he could, inquires about Peggy and have an emotional re-union with her, by then a frail elderly woman, occasionally confine to the bed due to old age ailment. Peggy, married with grandchildren, finally finds closure knowing Rogers is still alive. She advises Rogers to adapt to the new world and move on with his life but stay true to whom he is and what he is meant for. She passes away two months later with Rogers by her side, with families and friends at the funeral. As he mourns her passing, the last person from his era to talk to him, Rogers questions whether his slow aging is a curse or a gift. He later forms a close friendship with Peggy's granddaughter, Sharon or Agent 13, a fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. operative.
2010. The stealth aircraft flies silently across the airspace of an Eastern Europe country. Steve Rogers sits quietly, deep in his own thoughts. He recalls what the late Dr. Abraham Erskine said to him the night before the experiment which changes him forever. Not to be a perfect soldier. But a good man. 'Twenty seconds, Captain,' said the co-pilot. 'The entire area is rigged. It's gonna be hot down there,' he adds. 'I'll do the best I can,' replied Rogers and puts on his helmet. He pushes the button. The ramp opens. 'You've got 15 minutes with the camo-signal on and then we're outta here, with or without you,' said the co-pilot. 'U2. Joshua Tree. 1987. Nice song,' muttered Rogers. 'What? Yo Cap! Don't forget the Falcon flight pack!' said the pilot. 'Not necessary, son' and Rogers jumps out from 30,000 feet in the air. Since he joined S.H.I.E.L.D., Rogers has steadily embark on numerous covert operation involving rescue missions and neutralising hostile forces with 100% success rate under the S.T.R.I.K.E. sub-division force. He doesn't question his orders yet he couldn't help but feel conflicted. Rogers is a soldier and field commander, not a spy, nor assassin. He had been at odds with Fury when Rogers questions the objective of certain missions. The intricate, interwoven complexity of the world of espionage and political, vested interest makes him want to bail out sometimes. Rogers wishes it could be much straightforward and easier. From a certain perspective, Nick Fury is right, of whom Rogers reports directly to. These are times of which there is no clear cut black and white moral absolutism. Fighting the Nazis, you would know which sides you're on. These new breed of opponents are different. They are so deeply embedded, your neighbour might not be who you think he or she is. Eyes are constantly watching everyone. There are sensitive grey areas to consider before an action could be taken. And you wouldn't know where the allegiance truly lies upon. Everyone seems to have an interest or stake in everything. Particularly when HYDRA has been active all along, secretly sowing their own twisted objectives. Trust is no longer something you take for granted. And he is no longer alone. There are others the likes of him, enhanced from blood samples extract taken from him prior to the suspended animation in the Artic. But there are missing puzzles to the entirety of the formula. Some become outright sociopaths, others learnt of Erskine incomplete formula and experimented upon themselves and test subjects, becoming what is known as meta-humans. But the basis of the formula still holds true; it is the nature of a person that determines the outcome. Nevertheless the implication is serious and results in an ongoing debate with highly polarised opinion regarding the proliferation of these super-powered humans with extraordinary abilities. He has been ordered to take down some of these rogue meta-humans, some much to his reluctance. Others S.H.I.E.L.D. succeed in recruiting them, such as Natalia Romanova. After the Battle of New York, Fury is tasked to form a second Avengers Initiative clandestine immediate response team, commandeered by Rogers once more to keep rogue meta-humans and other threats in check. But just when trusts are gained, they borne the burden of the Ultron Incident, and the trusts become paranoia once more. There are talks of implementing legislature requiring revelation of all catalogued meta-humans identities and activities, and means to control them. From the Battle of New York Rogers learnt that mankind is not alone in this universe. And if Peter Quill, the  self-styled Star Lord, a member of the galaxy roaming mercenaries known as The Guardians and the Asgardian champion, Thor were right, there are greater threats out there, with powers to wipe out Earth and its entire inhabitants. Maybe this would unify humankind towards a singular goal instead of inflicting atrocities upon each other.
Rogers splashes into the water without a sound. And he takes 10 minutes to neutralise the 50 hostage takers within the school and releases the 300 captives with zero casualties. 
Steve Rogers is the most successful test subject of the Weapon Programme. His genetically enhanced five senses, physical strengths, endurance, stamina, speed and reflexes, coupled with the newly learnt and mastered martial art, made Rogers one the most formidable meta-humans in existence. Although Rogers is officially catalogued with near superhuman physiology, since his revival from cryogenic suspended animation and sleep has advanced his current physiology to that of a  superhuman level within his absolute control. His heightened intellectual capacity allows him to have polymath-like ability, capable of learning complex and complicated subjects above the normal learning rate. It also enables him to process multiple information quickly and perform multi-tasking with ease. His analytical, tactical and strategic mastery are without comparison, allowing him to mathematically deduce with accuracy his opponent next moves three steps ahead as well as tactically respond rapidly to any changes. With a natural leadership skills, Rogers possesses natural oratory skill capable of making others listen to him, inspiring loyalty and motivating them. Members of the Avengers Initiative carry out his orders without any question and with surety, including those whom are considered stubborn and uncontrollable. Rogers' current superhuman metabolism rate and immune system protect him virtually from any forms of diseases and poisons, and allows him to heal simultaneously from any wounds. This also slows down his aging process tremendously. His mastery in using the vibranium shield as both defensive and offensive melee weapon is at its peak. The shield composition protects Rogers by deflecting any form of projectile or reflecting any energy based weaponries. But for the all the abilities he possesses, Rogers is still a man. He is not immortal nor invulnerable. Bullets doesn't bounce off him. Not omnipotent nor omnipresent. Yet Rogers doesn't feel jaded but accept it with positivity. Atrocities are being committed at every hours around the world but as man he is committed to do his best in all assignments and saves as many lives as possible. Rogers believe in progress, not perfection. And more importantly, he would not compromising his absolute faith in morality, righteousness and conscience, helping those in needs and defend the weak from the oppressors, whoever or whatever they are. While his staunch principle and moral code sometimes put him at odds against Fury, both men ultimately works toward the same goal, albeit with different methods.
I used to have Hot Toys Captain America: The First Avenger version but has since sold it off. But like the case of the recently acquired Black Widow from the CA:Winter Soldier movie version, I just like this version from the sequel. Cap's uniform is sometimes too "bright" for me personally. In comics, its ok but if in, say, Nolan-verse sort of setting, of which I kind of lean towards in term of design and personal preference, I would love a more tone-down look. Which is why I decided to get this version. The movie is great, particularly the action sequence of which instead of being subjected to blurry, fast editing "what is going on" combat, I watched with excitement the fighting scenes. Now this figure is great, no QC issue but it is very statuesque due to the design of the uniform. There is almost zero, okay, limited articulation. No power pose for this one. The shield is, well, a shield and made of die-cast. I noted that the blue tone on the helmet and the chin strap have different colouration from the uniform. This is not the case when I re-check the box art. That is something I guess Hot Toys overlook. Comes with minimal accessories, just like Black Widow. There would be more versions to come since Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have been announced until 2019 (Thanos, not the recent announced one, but with Infinity Gaunlet?), I guess right now I am planning to assemble my own version of The Avengers, a more darker, gritty version. I am thinking about getting the Winter Soldier as well but maybe Wolverine first. Yeah, he is from another studio but he fits in, and maybe even Spidey, the Sam Raimi version of course which I have in hand from years ago but those tights would sure stands out.

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