With the Loki TV series finale finally introducing the multiverse into the mix, the Marvel Cinematic Universe – or should I say multiverse – will never be the same again. No longer bound by the sacred timeline, each and every possible scenario in time and space is now being played out in the infinite number of branched universes out there. This, inevitably, leads us Marvel fans to ask a very interesting question, What If..?
Set Number: 76201
Minifigures: Captain Carter, Steve Rogers, Red Skull
It’s a question that has been posed in the comic books over the years, and will now be played out in an upcoming Disney+ animated show. The What If..? series will explore the multiverse under the gaze of The Watcher, a being capable of seeing all realities – in laymen’s terms, he’s the Heimdall of the multiverse.
Ahead of the show’s premiere, LEGO has released two new sets based on the multiversal stories under a new What If..? sub-theme, Tony Stark’s Sakaarian Iron Man, and the one I’m here to review today, Captain Carter & The HYRDA Stomper.
The trailers have already teased some of the stories that fans will get to witness, with one of the most prominent being Captain Carter, a variant story which sees Agent Peggy Carter replace Steve Rogers as the Hydra-hunting shield-throwing super-soldier. The story has been confirmed as episode one of the show and Captain Carter is, apparently, a major player in the show – likely why one of the first LEGO sets released focuses on her story.
Featuring a stunning green mech, the first accurate MCU-inspired Red Skull, a non-super soldier Steve Rogers, and the Captain herself, this set definitely covers all of the big players in the story.
Before I jump in, however, I just want to remind you that this review has been published prior to the series release and any mentions of the show’s story is entirely speculative…anyway, let’s take a look.
The set comes with three fantastic minifigures, all unique to the set. Red Skull finally gets a design accurate MCU variant, we get a non-super soldier Steve Rogers, and the star of the show, Captain Carter. Having spoken to a few other AFOL’s on social media, it’s very clear that it’s the minifigure collection in this set that is the big draw for older collectors, that’s for sure, and I completely agree.
I’ve been a fan of on-screen Agent Carter since her debut in the MCU a decade ago in Captain America: The First Avenger and joyfully followed her post-war adventures in the two seasons of her solo show. Peggy Carter is a fantastic character in general and has deserved so much more limelight than the movies have allowed her. Now that’s about to change with Captain Carter front and centre on the promotional posters for What If..? and I cannot wait to see super-soldier Peggy in action.
The minifigure is a completely different design from the one coming in September as part of the LEGO Marvel Minifigures collection, with a more stealthy-looking suit printing here. Unlike the other version, which features a very dominant Union flag (it’s technically only called the Union Jack when at sea) on the chest. This Captain Carter features a minimalistic white outline only, replacing the simplified star design that Rogers wore on his stealth suit. The design features an impressively subtle array of armour plates in two-tone blue from neck to waist and a brown silver-buckled belt not dissimilar from Steve’s. Completing the front design is the gun-holster straps on either shoulder and the standard female character waist lines.
The gun-holster and belt continue on to the back of the torso with a surprisingly complex design for the back of a character which features the holster in a large cross with central silver buckle. The armour plating printing continues as well, beautifully covering the entire back. It’s clear from the design that a lot of inspiration has been taken from Captain America’s previous MCU outings, and the finished torso design is exquisite. Much like Roger’s Cap, Carter also features reddish browns hands, representing the large gloves she’s seen wearing in the show.
Sadly, we’re still yet to get a Cap with printed boots and even here we get plain blue legs with no printing whatsoever to talk about.
Moving up to the head, and as is standard now, two faces are printed, one with her signature smirk, the other battle-driven with clenched teeth. The character’s face is impressively detailed, the eyes feature eyelashes, and the mouth on both faces also has a lipstick outline – both fitting for the character based on the source material. The hair piece is fairly common, used in a slightly different shade to the one found on later variants of Wanda Maximoff.
The figure also features a Union flag style shield with minimal colouring and an awesome metallic look to it.
The hardest part for many Marvel fans when they watch What If..? will no doubt be coming to terms with Steve Rogers not being Captain America. Based on the trailer, the story will follow the movie up until the point where Steve’s about to be shut in the pod and something goes wrong, leading to Peggy jumping in and receiving the serum. If Steve never gets the serum, then my first question has to be, why doesn’t this minifigure have the short legs? After all, pre-serum Steve was a tiny man, and that would make a lot of sense. Sadly, however, we’ll have to wait until next week to get the answers to that.
I do like this version of Steve Rogers, in his pseudo-military outfit not too dissimilar from what we see his Howling Commandos wearing in the movie. His head and hair are the same as previous minifigure variants, which isn’t surprising. The outfit, however, is something new. Primarily olive US Army green in colour, it features an airman’s jumper and the buckles and straps of a parachute – despite minimal design, it’s clear Steve is wearing a flight jumpsuit, which makes perfect sense considering he’s the pilot of the Hulkbuster-esque HYDRA Stomper. This is, of course, confirmed when we take a look at the back of figure to find a parachute pack. Steve is very clearly just a standard soldier is this scenario, yes pilot to the stomper, but this isn’t the garb of a superhero, and yet it’s a great minifigure variant for the character and one that works well as a generic military guy, for extended play away from Marvel.
One of the greatest things to come out of What..If? is the return of Red Skull, Captain America’s greatest nemesis and he’s only appeared in one movie directly faced-off against him – I’m not counting the ghostly version in Infinity War and Endgame. Given his major lack of involvement in the MCU post-The First Avenger, it’s great to see the character returning to his World War II height of power to face off against Captain Carter. More importantly, however, this is technically the character’s MCU variant debut, and it’s wonderfully movie accurate. A set did release tied to the first Avengers movie release with him in, but that printing took much of it’s design inspiration from the comics.
Starting with the bright red head piece, the tone of which matches that previous variant, but with a newer, more sinister face printing. The skull like markings map out the cheekbones and forehead and surround the large glaring eyes, nose hole, and evil smirk. It’s a great look for Red Skull, but not the highlight of this minifigure.
As we move down to the all black torso and legs, the design print captures the long Hydra/Nazi coat worn by Shmidt in The First Avenger, with the torso, waist and legs lining up well. The coat print comes complete with the oversized lapel and gun-holster strap with silver buckle, as well as a subtle hint of red stripes down each side. One of the most exciting aspects of this design is the belt, which includes a large silver buckle embronzed with an impressively detailed HYDRA logo.
This wonderful design continues on to the back of the minifigure, but not to the same level, featuring an almost mirrored image of the front without the buckles. Red Skull also includes a brilliant one-piece Tesseract and standard stud-shooter.
The HYDRA Stomper
If Howard Stark built a Hulkbuster using 1940’s technology, this is exactly what I’d expect it to look like, and based on the trailers for the show, that’s pretty much what’s happened here. Though, this isn’t Veronica, this is a Hydra-stomping tank on legs.
When I first saw the reveal for this set, my first thought was “oh, come on, another Marvel mech set!”, but now I’ve built it, I love it.
At a similar size to the Age of Ultron Hulkbuster, the HYDRA Stomper will take the average builder about 30-45 mins to construct, depending on how good you are at applying stickers…because there’s twelve of them, and that’s quite a lot for a build of this size. Whilst I quite like the Captain America branding on the chest, I honestly don’t believe that the build would have suffered much from having a few less of the other 2×2 stickers used to add detail. This is, after all, a tank, most likely built by Howard Stark, he’d have appreciated sleekness. Thankfully, the large, very awesome head piece, is pre-printed just like it’s Marvel mech predecessors.
Stickers aside, there aren’t going to be too many surprises for anyone that has built one of the buster-style mechs that have released over the last five years, and yet this is far from a carbon copy of what came before. First of all, let’s take the colour, the last time I saw this much green in a build it included either Lex Luthor or Green Lantern, so this is a new colour on Marvel and whilst it isn’t quite the Army green we will see in the TV show, the three shades we get, combined with the dark grey pieces make this a really unique looking Marvel creation.
One of the other changes they’ve made in this design over the Hulkbusters’ is subtle, yet effective, a change to the mid-arm joint, swapping out the common ball connection with this Technics hinge. To look at, this might actually look like a weaker connection, but it adds a sturdiness and stiffness to the arms which actually benefit the whole model. Not only does it feel like it’s a better constructed piece, but the stiffer joint actually adds to the idea that this is a piece of technology from 80 years in the past.
Continuing that theme, and without the rocket technology of Iron Man at his disposal, this Stark invention has been fitted with massive rocket boosters on the back of the mech – it looks like something out of an early sci-fi B-movie, and that’s the point. Anyone that has spent time building a LEGO Star Wars X-Wing should be familiar with this build design as it is very similar to the boosters on the back of the rebellion’s finest. They look great and add to the 1940’s tech bulkiness of the HYDRA stomper.
The final surprise with this build comes from the small 2×1 chest piece, because much like the large circular one found on this year’s Iron Monger, it glows in the dark. It’s a nice touch, especially if your young LEGO Marvel fan is planning some night-time raids of HYDRA bases.
Other than that, however, it’s all fairly standard when it comes to Marvel mechs, there’s a stud-shooter on each hand, and four hinged fingers. Nothing too overly exciting.
When I originally saw this set I thought, “I do really want those minifigures, but why another Marvel mech set?”, it wasn’t the most positive first impression with regards to the HYDRA Stomper and I’ll be the first to admit that I only purchased this set for the minifigures, like I’m sure many others will. Yet, at some point during the stomper build, I fell in love with it, I saw it for what it is meant to be, a period tech mech, a tank on legs for the Second World War, somehow that change in context made the set worthwhile to me.
The subtle differences in the design, and the retro colour and look of certain aspects of the stomper really appealed to me as I completed the build – don’t just think of this as yet another Marvel mech.
Of course, the selling point is still very much the minifigure collection here, I mean, look at what you get for a just above pocket-money level price tag. Captain Carter, MCU Red Skull, and Soldier Steve, three uniquely brilliant minifigures that are wonderfully detailed in their designs. Yes, there’ll be another opportunity to get a Captain Carter in the upcoming Marvel Minifigures series, but this is a very different design from that one. If that one is the “Avengers” Captain Carter, then this design is The Winter Solder Captain Carter, less colour, more action.
Worth the price for the minifigures, the HYDRA Stomper is a worthwhile bonus.
The LEGO Marvel Studio’s What If – Captain Carter & the Hydra Stomper set is available now and the What If..? TV show begins on August 11th on Disney+.