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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Project: Captain America

Ever since I opened up Ultimates #1 and saw the fantastic images of Captain America leading the charge in a battle during WWII I've wanted to make a model of him.  He's been my all-time favorite Marvel superhero and really needed to add him to my Weird War II collection.  My first plan was to use some Marvel Heroclix figures, however the samples that were available were pretty much of the original depiction of him but with some terrible sculpts.

The sculpt was terrible and just no use to me.  No the body was just so ridiculously out of proportion.  I questioned if the sculpter had ever seen a human being. 

Later when Wizkids released their Ultimates line I was really hoping for an improved version that was much closer to the Ultimates version depicted in the book.  The good news was the figure released was a significant improvement, but it was the modern version of the Ultimates Captain America.  Overall it was probably usable and I could make him look more WWII by adding a helmet and a Thompson submachine gun and helmet.  However I liked the double breasted shirt depicted in the comic, so I was holding out for a WWII version from Wizkids.

Then it was finally released and I couldn't help buf fall over laughing.  Although having the WWII style costume complete with helmet, double breasted shirt, ammo pouches, army boots with gaiters and even the original shield.  However this was one of the most laughable and disapointing Clix figure I had ever seen.  First of all the head is so poorly sculpted it looks like a cartoon parody.  In fact the first thing I thought was "It's Henchman #24 wearing a lame Captain America Halloween costume and holding a .......not a Thompson SMG, but an undersized toy version of an AK-47???".  Not only does the helmet look undersized, like a an adult wearing a children's toy helmet, but didn't even look like a WWII vintage US Army issue helmet.  I think the original style shield was the only thing that could be useful.

Well in the meantime I picked up Marvel Heroscape from Hasbro and it had one of the best Captain America figures I've ever seen.  Static but heroic pose but far better sculpt in terms of details than any that Wizkids had put out.  However, he was the classic comic depiction complete with the scalemail costume.  Despite that I wanted to use this figure as the basis of my project.  I started to gather the other parts I needed.  Helmet and ammo pouches from a 1/48 Tamiya US Army figure set.  I find these Tamiya figure sets have lots of good bitz to use for 28mm figure conversion and are pretty reasonably priced.  I could probably use the Thompson SMG from the kit as well but I found that the plastic weapons may be accurately scaled they just looked too small and thin.  Furthermore too flimsey for any gaming use.  I instead ordered some pewter ones from Hasslefree Miniatures.  After all the necessary bitz were collected, I had them boxed and then lost.

Then the movie finally came out and boy was I not dissapointed, loved it!  I loved the way the costume evolved through the movie and looked functional yet kept the appearance.  So I've had renewed interest in trying to complete this project but I couldn't find the box of parts I had put away.  Then a few weeks ago during some cleaning in my workshop over the Christmas break I found the box!  Just in time too, as I was back in a Weird War II kick again. 

So after my WWII Japanese and US Marines were done, Cap was put next into the que.  Furthermore I had a really cool Red Skull that came in the Marvel Heroscape set and picked up a decent looking Bucky from Marvel Heroclix as well.

The Red Skull, looked a bit cartoonishly proportioned by overall I really liked the look of him.  He had character and I think the paintjob really detracted from him (those huge gobs of paint in the eye sockets really don't do the figure justice in the photos).  Holding the pair of Lugers and the trenchcoat reminded me of a really cool picture of him which also seemed to inspire the looks for the movie.

Bucky was pretty much the classic Bucky complete with double breasted shirt I wanted on Cap as well.  However I was pretty much committed to the scalemail version, as the movie used his costume as sort of body armor (ala the Batman movies) I figured the scalemail would make some sort of ballistic protection.

I wanted a more functional look and wanted to incorporate more standard US Army issue gear to match up with the Ultimates comics and the movie.  First of all I had to get rid of the boots.  The boots had that comic style cuffs that really don't fit.  I wanted more of an army boot with gaiters.  However the Tamiya figures were just too slim to fit onto the muscular legs of Captain America.  Of all the figures I ended up using, it was that horrible clix figure of WWII Ultimates Captain America.  Cutting off the boots of both figures and then timming the Clix figure boots to go onto my Heroscape version to match the same length.  However I noticed that sculpter even had these boots at two significantly different lengths.  However there was enough material to trim both to the same length and match the lenght of the original boots.  One foot was bent as part of the dynamic pose.  By cutting a few slits in the ankle, I was able to bend the foot to the pose I needed.  Then filled the slits in with super glue and accelerant.

The Heroscape figure came with the shield on the right arm.  I wanted it on the left with the Thompson in the right.  Trimming off the shield was easy as it was simply glued on to the arm.  However the arm was molded with a feature to locate and hold the shield.  I ended up cutting the right forearm from the original Marvel Heroclix figure.  Turns out it was about the same size and had identically styled gloves.  This also allowed me to repose the arm in the position I wanted.  The shield easily glued onto the left arm.

The helmet required me to trim off the top of Cap's head.  However I found that fitting a Tamiya plastic helmet, it just looked too small with no detail and almost like a toy helmet.  Fortunately I found a DC Heroclix Easy Company Soldier that I was able to get a decent looking helmet that was much more proportionately sized.

I added some combat webbing using some green stuff.  Also cleaned up the seam for the boots.  The Ammo pouches, canteen, and hand grenades were from a combination of Tamiya parts and from Warlord Games Plastic British Commandos.  The new Warlord plastic figures are just fantastic with lots of extra bitz for customizing.

Overall, my version of Captain America sort of captures a lot of elements inspired from the classic comic, the Ultimates comic and the early movie version costume.  Cap was then mounted on Secret Weapons Trench Works themed 30 mm lipped base.  For added detail I included a downed sign from the Tamiya WWII Roadsign set.

The Red Skull on the other hand, really didn't need much conversion work as I was concerned.  So I just mounted him on another Trench base and added some German ammo cases and a sign.

Bucky proved to be a bit more of a problem.  Cap's costume looked a lot more functional now and Bucky just didn't seem to match up.  Rather than coverting the figure more, I decided to take the approach from the movie where Bucky simply work a standard US Army uniform.  Taking a figure from the Tamiya figure set I found the one running with a BAR a neat pose to use.  Furthermore, the slimmer stature of the Tamiya plastics seemed to keep the smaller boyish look when compared to Cap's super soldier physique.  First I cut off Bucky's head and transferred it to the body.  I decided no helmet as it would destroy any recognition of Bucky.  However I wanted something to make it look like he was wearing more than a standard US Army issue uniform.  I ended up transferring the gloves from the Clix figure.  Not only did this give him a bit of super hero flare but it matched up with Cap.  I trimmed off the Thompson SMG and glued in a pewter Hasslefree part.  I changed the pose of the arms, due to the available plastic arms I had to work with.  Rather than having the left hand cup the barrel of the Thompson, I made it look like Bucky is giving a thumbs up.  The pose reminds me of some comic covers and I can almost hear Bucky say "hey Cap, I just shot up a bunker full Nazis back there!"

I then finished off the figure with some canteens, ammo pouches and hand grenades from the Tamiya set.  Bucky is also mounted on a Secret Weapons Trench base and I added a sandbag from Itar's Workshop.

Now all the major conversion work is done.  These figures will be off to the primer table and be ready to paint.

Update 01/15/12 - Started work on painting Cap, Bucky and The Red Skull.  Gave them a light primer of flat black just to cover all the vinyl, plastic, pewter, and epoxy materials with a constent medium.  Unfortuantely I'm running into a cracking problem with my red paint again.  Will see about fixing that later this week.  Also you can see on my bench some progress on the Orions, Romulans and Kzinti.

Update 01/17/12 - More progress coming along on Cap, Bucky and The Red Skull.  Started working on the faces and costume details.  Also worked on painting all the Kzinti stripes.

I'm sort of at odds with Bucky.  Right now he has the classic mask with the blank Little Orphan Annie eyes.  Not sure if to paint them more realistic or not (mask needs a bit more cleaning up too).
The other route is to go something completely different.  Rather than have that Robin-like mask, what about goggles?  Something that keeps the shape, hides the eyes with reflective silver lenses in the same shape.  That may require some rework of the face as I greenstuff some goggles into the eyesockets.

Update 01/22/12 - Went ahead with the comic book Bucky look for now.  Just not all that confident in my Greenstuff skills yet.  Besides I had all those Kzinti to finish up.  Mostly just finishing up the weapons, belts, buckles and other small details.  The Thompsons were done with Reaper Blackened Steel drybrushed over black and then using P3 Armorwash.  The wood parts were done with Reaper Mohogany Red with Citadel Delvan Mud glaze.

Mostly some final detailing and work on the bases.  The bases were Secret Weapons Trenchwork bases.  I added the roadsigns from a 1/48th Tamiya set.  The sandbag and ammo cases were some resin pieces I picked.  After applying the decals to the signs and ammo cases and giving them a coat of Dullcote, I stitched some bullet holes with a drill and splintered them up with an X-Acto knife.  I painted in the wood colors where the bullet holes nicks and scratches went.  Then drybrushed some Reaper Basic Dirt on them. Inkwashed and then another coat of Dullcote to finish them off.

I'll probably go back and redo Bucky's face with more of a google-like mask as I really don't think the comic book style blank eyes fits with the other figures.  Also I'm thinking of filling the crater at Cap's feet with some clear acryllic to make it look like a water filled crater.

Using the optional Super Hero construction rules for AE-WWII, found in the Over the Wire Issue 15, I made a stat card for Captain America.  I started with an American Airborne Officer and added the War Hero Template, then added the National Symbol (I mean he is Captain America).  Then in order to get an extra gear, which I needed the Shield, I had to take a hinderance.  So I selected Ideologically Pure (so he doesn't hang around scary occult stuff even if they're friendly).  So he's got Command and Inspiring which makes him pretty good in keeping your detachment in the fight and the High Drive is going to help ensure go good chance of keeping the Initiative each turn.  With a 3+ RC he's going to be nasty with the Tommygun.  The extra rules of being a Supreme and the Shield gives him an Armor 6 from the front which is pretty tough to hurt so he can lead the charge and break through enemy lines. 


  1. Cap is my all time fav Golden Age sup and I've been collingitn him for 30+ years! If you are looking for some metal stuff take a gander below. The minis are more Goden Age comic stuff then the movie but this is how they would have looked on the battfields at the time Captain America Comics was being printed for the boys over seas.
    Cap circa 1945
    Bucky circa 1945

    The below minis is heer Shull from What The>! Miniatures and makes great Red Skull.

    If you descide to go pewter let me know and I can tell ya how to get the Cap/Bucky set and heer Skull can be had at What The?!
    s web site.

    Glade to see a fellow Cap fan in the WWWII genera.


  2. Thanks for the compliments. The Cap and Bucky figures are pretty much what I wanted. I saw them mentioned several times on Lead Adventure but didn't know if they were available any more at the time. Overall great sculpts. Although I like the helmeted version of Cap the best for WWII, and never was crazy about the wings. I'd have ordered those at the time. However, I'm pretty well commited to the conversion work I've started now however.

    The Red Skull I've seen the green before and really like it. Overall the sculpt looks much better and captures the menacing evil of The Red Skull. I may end up buying that one if my painting doesn't improve the Heroscape figure.

  3. No problems, if you change your mind just let me know.

    Do like your green-work,

  4. Well Brian,

    I just placed an order for your Herr Totenkopf figure from What The? Miniatures. Although I like my repaint of the Marvel Heroscape figure, yours captures him much better. Also ordered some of the other stuff. The American Airborne Zombies are awesome and I can use some Luftfausts for AE-WWII with the new Basra 1946 rules.

  5. My order from What The? came in last night. I really like Herr Totenkopf, a much nicer Red Skull than the Heroscape one I repainted.