LEGO Marvel What If...? 76201 Captain Carter and the Hydra Stomper – Multiversal mayhem![Review]

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been branching out lately…into the various branches of the Multiverse. These alternate realities feature familiar heroes and villains reimagined around the idea of “What if…” something in the past had happened just a bit differently. We’re getting a whole show about it on Disney+, but more importantly, we’re also getting a bunch of great LEGO sets based on that show.  The 343 piece Marvel What If…? 76201 Captain Carter & The Hydra Stomper will be available from the LEGO Shop Online August 1st for US $29.99 | CAN $39.99 | UK £27.99].  Come along as we take a close look at this set and see if this is a timeline worth visiting purchasing!

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

The box and contents

First, a quick introduction to the reality featured in this set, as best we can infer from the trailer. Instead of the events of Captain America: The First Avenger happening as we saw them, it’s Peggy Carter who ends up with a dose of the Super Soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers.  She becomes Captain Carter, while Steve suits up in a suit of mech armor designed (presumably) by Tony Stark’s father, Howard. The Red Skull still seems to be the central baddie of the episode, based on his appearance here holding the Tesseract.

The What If…? LEGO theme box art is a variation on the 2021 Marvel-style LEGO packaging. The right corner is taken up with a comic-book version of the Watcher Uatu, while smaller LEGO-ized Marvel scenes are shown in greyscale on the left. The center of the box is focused on the set contents, in this case showing the Hydra Stomper to good effect.  Captain Carter and the Red Skull are clearly visible. Less obvious is Steve Rogers, who can just be seen peeking out from inside the mech.  All three minifigures are shown along the bottom edge, though.

The back of the box shows the post-battle results – The Skull has been crushed and Captain Carter is carting off the cube.  There’s also an inset shot showing off the stud shooters built into the Stomper’s arm. Uatu has been converted to LEGO form on the right. He still looks grumpy, though. Maybe it’s because LEGO arms don’t usually bend like that.

Inside the box are three numbered part bags, a 72 page instruction booklet and a small sticker sheet.

The parts

There’s nothing particularly special about the sticker sheet. There are several fairly simple designs that will give the Hydra Stomper a bit of surface detail.

More interesting are two parts currently unique to this set. The first is a Minecraft minifigure head cast in transparent light blue as the Tesseract. The second is a printed bit of Hero Factory shoulder armor with the Hydra Stomper’s face on it. Fair to say that piece is likely to remain exclusive to this set.

The build

There’s nothing too exciting or challenging about the Hydra Stomper’s build. It uses Knight’s Kingdom-era ball joints and click-hinges for the shoulders and hips. The first stickers go on the front, one of which is the Captain America shield logo that somehow will survive into this alternate reality. (Or maybe it doesn’t. The deco on the armor in the trailer is very different and has “standard US army” plain white stars.) From the back, the build shows some nice staggered layering but is otherwise pretty plain at this stage.

The Hydra Stomper appears to be powered by something akin to the ARC reactor that Tony Stark would later develop. In a cool twist not hinted at by the box art, the power core is a 1×2 glow-in-the-dark plate! We’ve seen some great glow-in-the-dark features recently in Monkie Kid 80028 The Bone Demon, so we know that play feature is in LEGO’s wheelhouse for 2021. Seeing it here was an unexpected treat, though. By placing a transparent light blue tile over the glowing plate you get a really nice diffused effect.

The Stomper’s legs are a build that is pretty similar to the other LEGO mechs that we’ve seen. The ball joints and hinges at the ankle and hip do allow for a good range of motion and a variety of poses.

The helmet/face of the Stomper clips to the back of the mech with some robot arms. The connection between the shoulder armor mask and the rest of the head was kind of interesting and might be useful to builders looking to use similar parts.

The arms have integrated stud shooters, a pretty common play feature. The use of stickers here does add some visual interest that keeps things from looking too plain.

The final bits of build are these back-mounted jet packs. There’s also a round 2×2 boat tile provided to hold extra studs for the stud shooters. LEGO doesn’t normally provide that sort of accessory, so this might also be something that shows up in the show.

The finished model

The finished Hydra Stomper looks pretty good, but there are obvious differences between it and the early images from the What If…? trailer. The most obvious is the color scheme – the vibrant green here doesn’t match the more subdued army/olive green. Considering the wealth of sand green parts showing up this year, like in the 21327 Typewriter, I have to assume that the color choices were based on early concept art rather than part limitations. Due to the necessary lag between set design and release, it seems likely that LEGO only had access to very early concept art and had to do the best they could.

Another reason I don’t think they had the final version of the armor to work from is the design of the jet packs. In the trailer, we get a pretty cool glimpse of Captain Carter riding on the back of the Stomper as it flies through the sky – and she’s holding on to a grip point between the tanks. Adding a minifigure handhold to the back would have been an easy and cheap addition to the LEGO version, and its lack again suggests “they just didn’t know about it.”

But, looking at this set from a standpoint of “is it cool mech armor” I think I have to give it a moderate thumbs up. While there aren’t any obvious controls for Steve to interact with, the chest cockpit area works well and has a suitable cinematic “open” mode.

And, yeah, the choice to include that glow-in-the-dark element was just perfect. I still wonder why they didn’t call that out on the packaging.

The minifigures

This set comes with three exclusive minifigures: Captain Carter, Steve Rogers, and the Red Skull. It’s a good mix with a lot of play possibilities.

Captain Carter suffers from “this doesn’t match the trailer”-itis, as her suit here looks more like a variation of  Steve’s stealth suit from Captain America: Winter Soldier.  The trailer’s uniform has a lot more red in it, an altered design that I would have preferred to see. I mean, it’s possible we could get another Captain Carter figure down the road in a more series-accurate look. But I’m not holding my breath for it.

But this version of Captain Carter is still very awesome. Her new dual-sided torso print and shield are highly detailed and well rendered.  Her face first appeared as part of a Bellatrix Lestrange figure, but the dual expressions work well here, too.

In this universe, Steve Rogers never gets the super-soldier serum, so remains the “Skinny Steve” we are introduced to in First Avenger.  Sadly LEGO minifigures aren’t great about showing off the different shapes humans can be, so Steve looks more like his usual beefy self than is apt for this set. Still, it’s a good-looking flight suit with dual-sided torso printing.  The face print here is probably best known as a young Han Solo, and hasn’t appeared as a Steve Rogers face previously.

The back of the suit features a parachute – a small detail that I wonder will play a part in the episode.

The evil Red Skull comes equipped with a stud shooter and the Tesseract; a pretty potent combo. His face and torso first appeared in 76166: Avengers Tower Battle, and his leg print has been around since 2018. This is a new combination, though, so it counts as an exclusive version. Just not a great one.

The updated legs really do make this feel like a more elegant version of Red Skull than we’ve seen before, at least from the front. Unfortunately the suggestion of “he’s wearing a trench coat” falls apart quickly when you turn him around. That would have to be one funkily tailored jacket.

Conclusion and recommendation

I’ve been a big fan of What If…? comics since I was first introduced to them in the 1970s. Seeing them make the jump to television, and then into LEGO sets, has been a real treat for me. This set brings me a character – Captain Carter – who alone is worth the price of admission.  The Hydra Stomper mech is…okay. I’m not thrilled with the colors, but the build is very sturdy and well-articulated, and the glowing power source is a cool perk. The three exclusive minifigures help justify the $30 US price point at a 324 piece part count. This set should appeal immediately to both Marvel fans and mech builders, although people looking only for useful parts might want to wait for a sale. (Or just bring down the price yourself by reselling the Captain Carter figure; I have a feeling she’ll be in decent aftermarket demand.) I’m looking forwards to seeing what else turns up in the LEGO What If…? theme, but this is one set I recommend picking up regardless.

Marvel What If…? 76201 Captain Carter & The Hydra Stomper will be available from the LEGO Shop Online August 1st for US $29.99 | CAN $39.99 | UK £27.99]. It may also available via third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

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