This weekend, everyone’s favorite re-animated World War II super-soldier returns in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, from Marvel Studios. (PLEASE NOTE: THIS OPENING MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.) Having seen a preview of the movie, I won’t give too much away, but suffice it to say, it’s a good time, precisely because the captain faces conflicts that aren’t just fisticuffs. At a certain point, both he—and the other Marvel Comics-based heroes who appear—must decide whether to turn on their own government. Admittedly, it’s not that difficult a choice, since saying no means a terrorist organization descended from the Nazis gets the power to kill millions with the push of a button. But a moral quandary is, nevertheless, a moral quandary, and gives the movie a kind of complexity that isn’t always found in summer blockbusters. (END SPOILERS.)
It also results in a character that kids of all ages can—and should—aspire to become more like. (Did I mention that Captain America also learns to trust his friends? This film’s full of valuable lessons for young ones!) To that end, Hasbro has released an impressive line of Captain America: The Winter Soldier toys and accessories that allow for all kinds of pretend play. Since not every movie protagonist is a fit role model for kids, having found one with product support from the toy industry, I feel it is this column’s responsibility to highlight said product as much as possible. Cap, you’re welcome.
One way to become more like Captain America is to wear a uniform similar to his. The Super Soldier Gear Battle Helmet, for kids ages 5 and up, looks a lot like the character’s trademark face protector, right down to the white “A” at the center of the forehead. However, it has a few tricks that even the movie version doesn’t (not yet, anyway), such as a projectile rocket launcher that connects to three different points on the helmet.
Speaking of trademark items, no Captain America toy line would be complete without a version of his legendary shield. While Captain America’s Stealthfire Shield, for kids ages 5 and up, may not return to the sender’s hand when thrown, but it does fire up to four Nerf N-Strike Elite darts, thanks to hidden launchers that pop up from underneath the shield’s star. Anyone who sees Captain America: The Winter Soldier will quickly get the impression that cool-looking tech is an integral part of the characters’ super-hero-ing world—I mean, who doesn’t want a Falcon suit? On a purely aesthetic level, the Super Soldier Gear Battle Helmet and Stealthfire Shield definitely look like they belong alongside the film characters’ other gadgets.
At one point during the film, Captain America drives a motorcycle one-on-one against a hostile airship. I won’t give away what happens, suffice it to say that considering one is heavily armed and airborne while the other isn’t, the results are fairly impressive. With the new Shield Blast Motorcycle, kids are able to relive that inspiring, David versus Goliath-type battle; or at the very least, they can enjoy vehicle play in which the motorcycle rider’s wearing a helmet. Once again, I point to Captain America being a good role model! The Shield Blast Motorcycle comes with three shields, although these are less for safety than launching at bad guys.
Finally, kids can re-enact their favorite Captain America-related scenes with Hasbro action figures. For example, there’s new 6-inch Captain America: The Winter Soldier figures for the Infinite Series Legends line. Of the six new figures, I’ve only had a chance to see Captain America so far, but it’s an impressive figure; not only is he highly poseable and detailed, but he comes with swappable hands and head. This way, kids can have the good captain appear without a mask, or interact with other action figures using something besides a clenched fist.
There’s also a new line of six 3.75-inch Captain America: The Winter Soldier action figures featuring the likenesses of Captain America, The Winter Soldier, the Falcon, and more. Along with multiple points of articulation, these figures have accessories that can fire rockets. The projectile weapons can also be attached to the aforementioned Super Soldier Gear Battle Helmet, allowing for an interesting flexibility within Hasbro’s line.
It seems like every superhero movie has a tie-in figure that can talk and move, and now Captain America: The Winter Soldier has one, too. The Storm Shield Captain America figure boasts sound effects; spoken phrases, like “Follow me!”; even a shield-throwing movement. You have to hand it to Cap: For a guy who’s 90-plus years old, he manages to stay at the cutting edge of toy tech. All action figures are for kids ages 4 and up.
For more commentary from Phil, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!