- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 3, 2014

Diamond Select Toy’s miniaturizes the Captain America universe with its latest selection of blocky, articulated, ultra-configurable and collectible Minimates. This 54th series (that’s right, 54) offers two-pack selections of figures standing 2 inches tall. Each can be completely taken apart and parts swapped from any of the hundreds of Minimates available.

With an ode to more of the Marvel Comics’ universe than the latest film, the character pairing includes Baron Strucker and a Hydra Elite soldier, Fighting Chance Captain America and Robot Red Skull, Viper with a Hydra Elite Soldier and the evil co-star of the new movie, Winter Soldier, along with the first African-American superhero to ever grace mainstream comic book pages.

Figure profile (paraphrased from the box): Captain America’s sidekick Bucky was believed lost over the Atlantic during World War II, but his frozen body was found by a Soviet submarine. Brainwashed and given a robotic arm, he became the USSR’s greatest assassin, the Winter Soldier.

Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon, was once Captain America’s sidekick but it was the Black Panther who gave him his fantastic flying harness, and the Red Skull who gave him a mental bond with his falcon Redwing, as well as other birds.

Accessories: Both figures feature cylindrical heads with painted-on expressions, detailed costuming, removable hair, circular display bases and an average of 14 points of articulation.

Now, let’s break down the detail of the comic book stars as well as a few more of my favorites from the 54th series.

Winter Soldier – A silver arm with painted on Soviet star, 1980’s David Partridge hairdo, two pistols, a scoped rifle and holsters are just a few of the details and accessories that make this Minimate stand out.

Falcon — This version of Captain’s former partner wins the award for best of the 54th series thanks to translucent red wings, an extra-translucent base to simulate the hero in flight, his famed falcon (ready to attach to his arm) and paint detail that highlights a bright red costume and white mask.

Fighting Chance Captain America — Steve Rogers alias gets a shield sparkling with metallic paint, a pistol, a blond wig to replace his helmet and a ridiculously large green vest contraption that covers his torso and obscures most of his famed red, white and blue costume.

Robot Red Skull – Not seen since 2008 in comics, this odd Minimate tribute of Captain America’s definitive archenemy offers a silver body, periscope shaped noggin (with Red Skull mask to pop over), black shoulder pads and an extra hand wielding what appears to be the Cosmic Cube. I loved the Red Skull face painted on its chest, depicting the villain’s ethereal presence on a video screen.

Price: $9.99.

Read all about it: Despite the cool version of Winter Soldier, as well as the Robot Red Skull (issue No. 42 from 2008 Captain America), this collection mainly takes its cue from writer Mark Gruenwald’s work on the Captain America comic book series in the 1990s. Specifically, issues 425 to 437 tied to the Fighting Chance story line.

Grab the pair of trade paperbacks (Captain America: Fighting Chance — Denial; and Captain America: Fighting Chance — Acceptance, $19.99 each) and find out why the First Avenger found himself in need of that goofy vest.

What’s it worth: Diamond Select Toys delivers another solid selection of micro characters from a well-known comic book universe and well worth the $5 price tag for each.

Considering the wide range of licensed block characters now available, ranging from Ghostbusters along with Aliens, Star Trek and The Walking Dead, and the great care Art Asylum takes in producing them, Minimates are easily one of the more affordable, display-case-friendly collectibles out there for the pop-culture geek in the family.