Okay, somebody at Hasbro was having some fun with this guy. HYDRA is one of the main terrorist armies in the Marvel Universe. Even so, to describe HYDRA in the descriptive copy on the package card as a "ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world"... -- okay, class, where have we all heard THAT one before!? I can pretty well guarantee that that particular line wouldn't've made it onto the package if Marvel Legends was still being produced by Toy Biz. And Hasbro better be careful. I hear Cobra Commander likes lawsuits, and most of his lawyers are Crimson Guards...
In any case, the HYDRA Soldier is an interesting addition to the Marvel Legends line from several aspects. He pretty much marks the first figure in the entirety of the line that qualifies as an "Army-Builder", assuming you can find enough of them. Technically, Toy Biz was at one point planning a Marvel Legends assortment that never materialized that would've been a sort of "generic bad guy" assortment that would've included a HYDRA Soldier as well as other "bad guy army" types from the Marvel Universe.
HYDRA is arguably the most powerful terrorist organization in the Marvel Universe. Granted, they're not quite the threat they used to be. When you start throwing in super-villains, Civil Wars, alien invasions, radical mutant groups -- a bunch of guys who dress funny and carry guns just don't quite stack up. The most recent appearance of anything HYDRA - related wasn't even all that serious. As one might expect, it took place within the pages of Cable/Deadpool, which had been dominated by Deadpool since the apparent demise of Cable (although now Cable has his own title again and Deadpool lost his, so -- the merc-with-a-mouth just can't catch a break).
In this story, Deadpool's long-time techno-geek buddy Weasel had infiltrated a HYDRA cel. Deadpool went in to rescue him. Wolverine showed up to kill him. Neither one of them realized that Weasel had entered the HYDRA group to build a device that would've sent every HYDRA agent on Earth into some sort of interdimensional limbo. Chaos ensued and that particular idea was basically spoiled.
Along the way, we met a HYDRA soldier who went by the name of Bob. Deadpool took him on as a sort of hostage/sidekick, and Bob became part of the investigative agency for which Deadpool was working, and Bob ended up tagging along on some of Deadpool's post-Cable team-ups with the likes of Dr. Strange, the Fantastic Four, Brother Voodoo, and several others, having to put up with everything from time travel to zombies in the process. Most of these issues presented a recap of previous events under the auspices of "Bob's Blog". In other words, precisely the sort of peculiar humor that Deadpool has best been known for.
But it was not always so with HYDRA, and I can pretty well guarantee that the HYDRA Soldier figure being offered by Hasbro's Marvel Legends series is NOT Bob. This entry presents an excellent history for this dangerous organization...
HYDRA first appeared in 1965, and for years was the main threat being battled by Nick Fury and the forces of SHIELD. A somewhat revised origin, but the one that is currently considered canon, is a long, tumultuous and convoluted one, spanning the decades from the end of the Second World War up to the present day, tied directly to surviving fugitive members of governments of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
Shortly upon joining the original HYDRA, Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker seized control of the organization from its Japanese founders and slowly steered it towards the goal of conquering Earth. That campaign brought him into conflict with Charles Xavier and the future Magneto among others (presented in a flashback issue of Uncanny X-Men), and once HYDRA became more brazenly public in its operations, eventually led to the creation of the original agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D. specifically to counter HYDRA's threat to world security. Nick Fury was appointed as executive director.
This decision, after several HYDRA campaigns including the creation of the Overkill Horn (designed to detonate all nuclear explosives worldwide), and the bio-engineered "Death-Spore" Bomb, led directly to Von Strucker's first death at the hands of Fury and several deceived HYDRA operatives. In the wake of von Strucker's first death, the surviving elements of HYDRA broke into factions that each adopted its own reorganized modus operandi. Several of these factions developed "super-agents" that would occasionally break away in turn to become freelance operatives, or, in some rarer cases, superheroes such as the first Spider-Woman. Von Strucker was eventually revived and reunited several of the HYDRA factions under his leadership to renew his campaign against S.H.I.E.L.D. and humanity for several more years.
HYDRA later planned an all out attack on the United States by smuggling missiles into New York for use in a planned bio-weapon assault on the Ogallala Aquifer. They formed a distraction through using a team that had the duplicated powers of several Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America and former Avengers Thor and Hawkeye) but were inevitably foiled by Spider-Man and the other New Avengers.
HYDRA continues to operate today, although its fractious nature keeps it from being a truly massive threat. The organization is divided into various localized groups, most of which doubtless regard themselves as the true HYDRA. There has been at least one HYDRA civil war, and a portion of the organization was even headed up by an alien Skrull for a time, until Captain America discovered the deception.
Their most recent notable efforts -- Deadpool notwithstanding -- involved an attempted infiltration of the reorganized Avengers. Avengers' member Spider-Woman had been working for HYDRA under the orders of Nick Fury, by now former director of S.H.I.E.L.D. following the events of Secret War, whom she was still loyal to. HYDRA revealed that they knew of her betrayal and wanted her to replace Viper as their current leader, for she was unstable. Spider-Woman refused their offer.
Other notable "super-villains" that have been involved with HYDRA, or run various divisions at one point or another, have included Kingpin, Red Skull, The Fixer, Chameleon, Bullseye, Grim Reaper, and others. You'd think they'd have fared better.
Despite the name's capitalization per Marvel's official spelling, the name is not an acronym but rather a reference to the mythical Hydra beast. The organization's motto references the myth of the Hydra, proclaiming that if a head is cut off, two more will take its place, proclaiming their resilience and growing strength in the face of resistance -- something that hasn't exactly panned out as well as expected over the years. Their official emblem is a skull with multiple tentacles wending out from underneath.
HYDRA's most notable "spin-off" group was the formation of the Marvel Universe's second most notable terrorist organization, A.I.M., which stands for Advanced Idea Mechanics. I'm just as glad we got a HYDRA Soldier as an action figure, because A.I.M.'s personnel really dress funny. They wear ill-fitting yellow jumpsuits and huge, flat-topped cylindrical helmets with screens around their faces. They look like a bunch of beekeepers in hazmat uniforms.
As to the HYDRA Soldier figure -- well, he's better dressed than that, I'll say that much for him. But it's still a pretty odd-looking uniform. It's little wonder that the "spun out of Nazi Germany" part of HYDRA's origin was something that was added later on, because trying to visualize the HYDRA uniform as coming out of anything originating from Nazi Germany is more than a bit of a stretch.
The typical HYDRA uniform, as pictured by this figure, is a dark green uniform, not skin-tight like typical super-hero costumes (although at times HYDRA agents have been dressed thus -- probably splinter groups that place a greater emphasis on physical fitness), but more of a pseudo-military uniform consisting of a long shirt, almost a tunic, trousers, gloves, and boots. The primary color of the uniform is dark green. The gloves and boots are a lighter green.
HYDRA agents wear a dark green hood-like mask over their heads -- pretty much the only viable comparison to your average mask-wearing super-being -- that only exposes the lower part of their face. Their eyes are covered by presumablyprotective yellow lenses in the mask, that bulge out slightly.
The uniform also has a series of yellow straps across the chest which form something resembling a large letter "H". This HYDRA soldier also has a yellow equipment belt, that included a holster, ammunition, and several pouches in the back.
Overall, Hasbro has done an excellent job with this figure. Then again, we're talking about the company that has produced various forms of G.I. Joe for over 40 years, and has also tackled Star Wars, which itself has no shortage of fantasy military types, everything from Clone Troopers and Stormtroopers to various Rebel troopers. If you want a company that knows how to do soldiers, both realistic and into the world of fantasy, then Hasbro is certainly the logical choice.
And indeed, this is certainly reflected in the overall detailing of the HYDRA Soldier. Moving away from the cape-and-tights standard of most Marvel Legends figures, Hasbro unquestionably called on its experience in the realm of soldier-type figures for the HYDRA Soldier. Various seams are sculpted into the uniform at appropriate places, and their is detailed stitching on the yellow harness straps. The equipment belt is very nicely sculpted and detailed, and well-painted, as well. There are clasps and additional details on the gloves and boots, and the boots, despite their odd light green color, have the definite look of combat boots.
I was pleased that the painted details came out as well as they did. Mostly, this involved spraying yellow over dark green. Spraying a lighter color over a darker color can often be problematic in painting. The paint will either run, or will need to be sprayed on so heavily that the detail underneath it will be obscured. Fortunately, neither case occurred with the HYDRA Soldier. He is neatly painted, and the detailing is readily visible.
If I have one minor complaint about the figure, it's that the large holster sculpted to his right side does not actually function as a holster. It would be nice if it could have actually contained the pistol that is one of the HYDRA Soldier's accessories. But this is a minor point.
Regarding his accessories, the pistol is a very nicely-made item, and the HYDRA Soldier also comes with a rifle, with the HYDRA logo on the stock. There is also a smaller, painted-the-same-color-as-the-grip HYDRA logo on either side of the pistol. At least I THINK it's a HYDRA insignia. The insignia is fairly complex, and at barely 1/10" in diameter, it's a little hard to tell for certain.
I am not a firearms expert, so I don't know if either the rifle or the pistol are based on any actual existing models. They either are, in which case I am sure Hasbro paid good attention to accuracy, or they are made-up models, and manage to look nicely realistic without being based on actual real-world weaponry. Once again, I am sure that Hasbro's many decades of expertise in creating weapons for both G.I. Joe and Star Wars came into play here.
The HYDRA Soldier is of course very well articulated, as one would expect from a Marvel Legends figure. He is poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, knees, and ankles, often with mutliple points of movement at each area. It's worth mentioning that the mid-torso articulation, something which often sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb on some figures, is reasonably well concealed on this guy, by placing the edges of it right along the edges of the yellow harness straps.
Additionally, while one might expect the tunic, which hangs down over the top of the legs, to be a hindrance to articulation, it is not as much of one as one might think. I was able to move the HYDRA Soldier's legs to almost a full 90-degree sitting position. The plastic used for the lower part of the tunic, while not thin, was made flexible enough to allow for a good range of movement. Here's something a couple of other toy companies could learn from (and yeah, I'm thinking of that Yellow Cheetah Ranger from Power Rangers Jungle Fury...)
There are technically two versions of the HYDRA Soldier out there, depending on which headsculpt you get. One version, the one I purchased, has a facial expression that could best be described as a nasty scowl. The other one has a wide-open yelling mouth. I've seen that one and decided to pass. I had enough of that when Toy Biz did it too often to their 9" Famous Covers line. I don't need to see it in Hasbro's Marvel Legends.
I'm honestly not sure how many people are likely to "army-build" this guy. The line is not as extensively distributed as Star Wars, and it's more expensive per figure than either Star Wars or G.I. Joe. However, it's certainly POSSIBLE to army-build some HYDRA Soldiers, and there's no question that it's a cool and impressive figure, that certainly works well as a "Soldier" type of figure. If he were shorter, or Clone Troopers and Cobra Troopers were taller, he'd work very nicely right alongside them. At about 6-1/2" in height, he's a bit too big for either of those other lines, but it's a cool thought.
However, at the very least, if you're any sort of Marvel fan and/or Marvel Legends collector, you will certainly want to bring at least ONE HYDRA Soldier into your collection. It's an extremely cool and very well made figure, and the MARVEL LEGENDS HYDRA SOLDIER definitely has my very enthusiastic recommendation!