2006 is here, and so is a new line of toys. Not that Iím totally done with the Revenge of the Sith line either, Iíve got a couple more items in the pipeline yet from last year, but I have just started to find a smattering of the new Saga Collection figures and thought that Iíd get my freshest thoughts started on where Hasbroís seemingly taking us with this new unified line.
Gone are the prequel figures, at least for now, and here are the ďPit of Carkoon WaveĒ as itís being called. Iím taking a bit of time to take a look at the new Han Solo in Carbonite figure in particular. What went right? What went wrong? And what just fell in between? Thereís a little bit of everything, and unfortunately thereís a start of a possible downward trend in quality as I see the line, and Han may be a sign of these negatives to come. Of course, I have to say something right? Right.
Still though, Han shows signs of great things to come in the line as Iím a big fan of Hasbro resculpting a lot of the original modern figures. Han as he appeared in Jabbaís Palace really was in need of a do-over, so Iím all about figures like this when they do crop up in the line and I was ecstatic to see this figure on rumor lists a while back. The outcome just left me wanting something more out of a (now with a price increase) $6 - $7-ish figure. Read on, and discover what I mean.
-Sculpt: Hands down, this figure is a tremendous example of what Hasbroís talented artists are able to produce when they want to. Sculpt isnít something Iím often unhappy with, and when I am miffed at something itís usually a single aspect of a sculpt like the face or whatnot. I tend to be lenient with likenesses though, as I can imagine theyíre quite tough to capture in exacting detail. Fortunately that isnít a problem with this Han Solo, as Harrison Fordís likeness is spot-on by my estimation, and it rivals the AT-ST Han Solo from the OTC line which, till now, was my favorite.
The outfit, where Hasbro is often likely to exceed in sculpting, really stands out as some sharp quality work. Hanís pants are covered in wrinkles, folds, and texturing to make the fabric pop. His yellow stripe down the seams of his pant-legs are even sculpted to be raised up and sort of ribbed or quilted looking. Thereís a fly sculpted into the pants even, as a nice little detail.
Hanís boots and belt are really nicely done. The belt, for instance, has a double-buckle, and thereís holes sculpted in two rows all along the belt accordingly. Itís little details like this that I think sometimes we overlook and that we really should appreciate. Not that we donít deserve them, they just are easy to forget that someone took the time to do this little accurate detailing. Hanís boots have these sharp creases sculpted into them at the ankles too, and really look like theyíre slipped over a foot/ankle and bending where appropriate. Again, this is lots of little details.
Soloís shirt is again very nicely done with plenty of folds sculpted in for realism. There is also a subtle texturing in the shirt to give the appearance of a finer quality material than Soloís pants are. Guess he likes the finer things in life as far as his space duds go. A neat thing the sculptor did with sculpting Soloís torso was that he took the time to add Harrison Fordís bigger build too. Thereís definitely a little bit of a gut there. Not much, but just enough to let you know heís not some buff superhero looking figure either, and just an average guy. The way the shirt blouses out over his belt a little bit though really stands out as a nice touch of realism, and this is a fantastic figure. Customizing fodder shall abound from this one folks.
Like I said, the face sculpt is greatÖ Itís got a dumbfounded look to it though that is maybe a little specific, maybe not. Itís very accurate, but not as neutral as I think should have been used. Han didnít look confused ALL the time, just really more when he first came out of carbonite. At the end of the day itís not bad at all though, and with the right eye painting the head really could look quite neutral. My figureís seemingly looking upward though which I think is throwing my opinion off some.
-Paint Aps/Deco: The paint applications on my Han Solo are a mishmash of quality. Iím overall happy though, so Iím listing it as a pro and wonít be picking little individual applications out later. Nothing about it bothers me terribly there are just a few things that stand out as flaws brought about by this being a mass-produced toy and not a custom job.
I like the addition of the sand on the shirt and some on the pants. Han got the stains on him from when he fell from the carbonite block mostly I think. Iím not sure if heís still sporting the stains on the skiff, but I think he was. If he wasnít, it sort of almost makes one want a clean version too but at this point the mud/sand stains are pretty cool to me, and theyíre seemingly applied nicely and without going overboard. It looks accurate to me.
My Soloís eyes are in this odd upward stare as I noted above, and itís throwing off my opinion of the face sculpt being a little specific I think. The eyes are painted nicely though it seems, with even pupils on a cleanly applied white eyeball and a lid across the top to close them just slightly. My sampleís got even eyes, even if they are looking upward, so thatís good, and doesnít appear to be misapplied at all. Soloís hair is also nicely applied with a dark brown base and a lighter brown wash on the raised parts of the hairís sculpt. This 2-tone paint application is nice in that it sets off the detail of the sculpt, and makes the hair look much more realistic than a straight single color paintjob.
Soloís belt and boots are simple flat black, but around the belt I noticed that Hasbro took the time to paint every belt loop brown to match his pants. Thatís cool of them, and looks nice. They also painted the silver of the buckle, and that helps to highlight the work put into the beltís sculpt details.
The two little flaws I took note of were that the stripes on Soloís pants go off onto the pant legs slightly, but itís nothing major really and theyíre at least straight and donít stray all over the figureís legs. The other point was that my figureís neck paint is a slight shade different than the plastic color of the head, so the neck and head are just slightly different looking in their skin tone. Nothing huge, barely noticeable, but it did catch my eye.
-Accessories: Hanís accessories are generally plentiful really, especially coming off the ďfinal 12Ē of the ROTS line where a couple figures came with a stand and that was itÖ plus they were figures you already had! That sucked, so maybe Iím just a little too slap happy to get a figure that comes with something more than a stand.
That said, Solo does come with a stand, and an all new sculpt skiff guard pike, and of course you get the holographic mini-figure that nobody really gave two craps about as well. The real gem youíre coming out with though is a new frozen Han Solo in his block of carbonite, and itís made to look as though itís thawing which is a new concept. I like the pike, the stands are sort of cool looking, and I like the mini-figures they come with on one hand, but on the other hand if theyíre partly to blame for a cost increase, or a cost cutting measure with any figure, then I wish Hasbro would drop the gimmicks for quality.
Soloís pike is the one he uses to first send Fett off to his ambiguous fate, and later to save his buddy Lando. The weapon appears to be all-new, and thatís a plus unto itself, plus itís accurate so thatís cool too. Itís cast in a metallic grey and has a single spot painted a gunmetal grey color as I guess a handle. Itís different, and it had a little extra effort to it with the paint, so I like it. It is, however, a tad flimsy, falling prey to Hasbroís use of cheap plastic with accessories.
The Carbonite block is really a treat, and while itís slightly small (compare it with the figure, the figure is a half a head taller or so), itís still a nicely sculpted and bulky piece with some decoration to it. The block is actually 2 pieces, and the main block actually is cast in clear plastic, and painted a metallic grey color on the outside. The interior portion, which is the actual imprint of Solo in the carbonite, is a separately cast piece in translucent red plastic that is then painted silver except on the upper portions of Soloís body. The center is then glued into the clear ďbaseĒ portion of the carbonite block. It seems to me that Hasbro actually made this item with the intention that fans WOULD light the back of the carbonite block up in their dioramas somehow, or that perhaps they were planning to do it themselves at one point?
Either way, the carbonite block accessory is itself almost a figure since itís pre-thaw Solo, and the sculpt is incredibly realistic looking. Itís very cool, hefty, and should provide customizers with a great means to really add something special to their Jabbaís Palace dioramas. If I happen to get a 2nd one of these figures open, I plan to light the block and make it a specific piece for my palace set-up. An enterprising individual could even light up the panels on the sides as well.
Solo also comes with what appears to be a standard duo weíll see in 2006. The mini-holographic figure, randomly packed of course, and a stand embossed with the title of the film the figure is from, and small silver lettering naming the character specifically. I like these accessories, but at the same time I could live without one, the other, or even both. The holographic figures are a neat idea, however I noticed most are in an action posed sculpt which doesnít even make them particularly grand for use in dioramas. The holographic minis are definitely sculpted nice and crisp though, and embossed with an Imperial or Rebel logo on the bottom, so theyíre neat, I just hope that neither the minis nor the stands are taking something away from the action figures themselves on some level.
-Packaging: The Saga Collection packaging for each figure is an interesting mix of styles. You can definitely see some elements of the ROTS line mixed with elements of the OTC line, and that makes for a unique package on the shelves. I really enjoy the black cardback with silver lettering, and I hope itís something Hasbro is willing to stick with for a long time to come.
I also highly enjoy the unique backgrounds for each figure. Pulling an element from the OTC line, the new Saga Collection packaging uses a film shot that pertains to each unique character, and really individualizes the figures. This is drool-worthy for the carded collector and it makes even the die-hard openers want a figure here and there to keep carded just because of how special the backgrounds are.
The bubble is a little closer to the ROTS line in its overall size and shape, but should lend itself more to staying mint for the carded guys. Thereís also an insert depicting the specific character and the characterís name, packaged into the bottom of the package just as the Revenge of the Sith figures had. The insert features the bold blocky silver lettering of the Saga, and lets fans know that this is the universal collection of figures encompassing the entire Star Wars universe.
Thereís a lot to like with this packaging so I hope it stays as the standard for a while. I would say that The Saga Collection and Original Trilogy Collection will go down as some of the most liked packaging by collectors for quite some time if Hasbro gives it a while, and this is coming from a guy that rips almost everything off its card at some point or another.
-Articulation: My biggest complaint about Han is a complaint Iíve had from the start of the modern line, and one that Iíd let up on some during the ROTS line as Hasbro was really seemingly turning things around with the line through most of 2005. I speak of course of articulation.
Throughout ROTS, Hasbro did fairly well given figures not always super articulation, but very close to it, and doing a good job of making sure that figures were poseable irregardless of how much you saw them physically do in the film. The Clone pilot had ball/socket knees though you never saw him use them. The Padme figure had knee joints, all the Collection 2 Jedi had knee joints, and even the Collection 2 Chancellor Palpatine had knee joints he could only use without his robe. It was greatÖ so what happened between last year and this year?
Han Solo has absolutely no knee joints, when it really is the only thing holding this figure back in quality articulation. Thatís a major disappointment, and it appears to be a flaw that many other figures in The Saga Collection are going to have that keeps them from figure greatness. When Hasbro made the Cantina Wave at the end of the OTC line, I really thought that was the perfect standard and I wished Hasbro would go back to that. Han deserves to have some knee joints since he was involved in quite a bit of ďactionĒ. Not much of an ďaction figureĒ without the articulation after all.
Han Solo features articulation at:
- 2 standard shoulder joints
- 2 angle-cut elbow joints
- 2 standard wrist joints
- 2 standard hip joints
- 1 ball/socket neck joint
- 1 standard waist joint
With 10 points of articulation, Han just simply falls short of greatness. Iím not opposed to the angle-cut elbows, or the lack of ball/socket shoulders, and of course I think ankle joints should only be reserved for the most super of articulation on any figure. I just wish Hasbro had given Han Solo the ball/socket knee joints. Itís amazing how something so specific can add so much to a toy, and when itís missing it can be the one flaw holding back a much higher opinion from fans.
Hasbro, if you read this, articulation makes toys funÖ Kids like it. Adult collectors like it. I canít see a good reason why there isnít a 12-points-of-articulation standard in the line. Hanís just missing the knee joints to meet the standard, and I truly do hope that the line gravitates towards the standard that I believe the Cantina Wave best exemplified.
-Price Hike: Star Wars figures have taken a jump in price at some retailers, and while we paid $5 - $6 for most of our ROTS figures throughout most of 2005, figures are up to $7 at most retailers with only Wal-Mart sticking to a $6 or less price point right now. Hopefully Hasbro and Retail will see the light that price increases in this day and age means that people may become more tight with their spending.
I know a price hike will affect my buying habits, and Iíll buy fewer extras of any figure I maybe wanted extras of. Iíll cut back on army building, custom fodder buying, and other areas that I otherwise maybe would have spent more freely. That $1 or $2 starts to add up over 60 or so figures though. Hopefully at least Target will adjust to compete with Wal-Mart in the near future, if nothing else, and we all maybe will have more to spend on more figures.
-A ďHibernation SicknessĒ Head?: More of a suggestion I think, but one Iím sure many people would have liked to have seen with this figure, especially with how well interchangeable parts has gone over as a feature in the line. Itís been used sparingly so far, but Hasbro could really step it up and use it more often I believe.
For Han Solo I think a minor gripe I can make is that it would really have been nice if weíd have gotten a Han with ďwetĒ slicked back hair as he looked just when he came out of the Carbonite Block. Iíd actually probably buy this figure all over again with that head, so maybe itís in Hasbroís best interests not to do that, but to me it would have been great to have had a 2nd head with Hanís squinty eyes, the wet slicked back hair, and such. Hopefully itís the type of feature Hasbro looks at in the future, as there are a lot of figures that just a change of heads would make them really unique and accurate to specific moments in the films.
So whatís my verdict? Well, itís even hard for me to say how much I like, and at the same time how much I dislike, this figure. I love how he looks, he is fantastic to set up with other figures from the Sarlacc battle, heís far superior to the original POTF2 figure, the cardboard Palace pack-in, and also that lame kitbashed figure we got in the one TRU battlepack not too long ago. The Han Carbonite figure was probably one of my top resculpts Iíve wanted to see done for a while now, so thatís great.
At the same time, I hate when a main character, involved in one of the best action sequences of the Classic Trilogy, and who really didnít have a lot of flashy articulation already, gets a cut on his articulation at the knees. Heís just not a poseable figure really because of that, and the days of static straight legs are gone in the action figure aisleÖ Hasbro has to get on the boat with practically every other toy company, and realize that how poseable a toy is can definitely factor into its appeal to all potential consumers. This past year I saw children first-hand return figures they couldnít pose. I believe their exact words were, ďthese suck, they donít moveĒ.
So yes, poseability is an issue with this line, and while I thought Hasbro made some strides forwards in 2005, they seem to be taking some big steps backwards in 2006. This Han Solo is testament to that problem. I enjoy the figure enough, but Iím not doing cartwheels over him either. The Carbonite Block is a cool accessory though, the pike is cool, the figureís sculpted beautifully, and he can be posed a little bitÖ But at the end of the day, I am also not as excited to ďposeĒ (letís face it, Iím playing with toys) this figure on my desk like I am to pose my VOTC Han Solo, or a number of other figures. The knee joints just kill it, and I know Hasbro could have delivered them.
I got my figure, heíll go to his proper spot in my display, but I doubt Iíll be pulling him down to mess with the Han Solo Carbonite figure again any time soon, and that just isnít much fun.