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Vintage Saga Collection
Han Solo
(in Trench Coat)

The concept of Hasbro revisiting the “vintage line”, recreating its packaging, and delivering the ultimate in quality figures is something people weren’t all psyched to read about when they saw the accompanying price tag. To make matters worse, 2004’s “VOTC” line delivered mixed results in quality with each wave having at least one figure being less than what you’d expect at a minimum price of $9.99.

Still though, this reviewer was overall pleased with the VOTC line, and besides the prices paid, the figures that were good were pretty great. So I for one was pretty excited when the rumors spread around that the line would be resurrected in 2006 for the new Saga Collection, even with a hefty price tag.

And that leads us nicely into our first review for the “Vintage Saga Collection”, or as it’s become known the VTSC. The first one to take a look at is one of the more controversial of the bunch, Han Solo (In Trench Coat). The figure’s controversial because he’s the ultimate figure in the great “cloth vs. plastic” debate for accessories. Does cloth look right on coats and capes in this scale? Should cloth get preference over plastic for poseability? These are the questions collectors debate and waste time over. Han Endor is probably the most arguable figure for either point of view since his accessory isn’t a small piece like a “skirt” extension or a cape accessory, but rather it’s a full costume-changing accessory with detail and design.

So, that brings us to today’s review. Read on and enjoy all of Han’s super duper articulated goodness, and the rest of the ups and downs there are to enjoy with these ultimate action figures.

PROS

-Sculpt: While sculpt isn’t something that falls short on even basic figures, the VTSC/VOTC lines seemed to have even a little extra effort to bring the figure to life from the Hasbro sculptors. All the details of Han’s costume in Return of the Jedi are here, and when compared to his A New Hope figure from the VOTC line, you can see the character’s “age” progression over the years between films. It’s quite unique actually.

Solo’s costume is typical of what he wore in all 3 of the classic films. The pants have an extra bit of detail to them like the sharp creases ironed into them in the front, and looking a little more “uniform” like rather than something a scruffy nerfherder may wear. There’s light texturing throughout the pants’ sculpt, and the yellow broken stripe down the outside seams are textured and a nice contrast to the overall texture of the pants.

Solo’s torso/shirt is an interesting design. I’ve noted some complaints about a “barrel” shape to Solo’s torso, but if you watch ROTJ closely, and more to the point if you watch Han Solo closely, you’ll note that Harrison Ford had put on some pounds… Quite a few pounds of bulk actually. He’s not heavy, but he’s definitely a much thicker built man by 1983 than he was in 1977. Hasbro sculptors took note of that, and Han hangs out over his belt a little bit, and his body’s just overall a bit bigger than his VOTC counterpart. The look is realistic. Some may not like the ball/socket articulation of the torso on Han, and how it creates a visible line, but for this reviewer’s tastes I don’t really mind it that much.

Solo’s headsculpt is a nice, aged Harrison Ford - it’s neutral in its expression, has nice texturing to his hair, and covers the figure’s neck articulation well. The other detail of note then is the figure’s separately sculpted belt/holster. The belt is accurate to Han’s gunslinger holster from ROTJ which featured clip pockets sculpted on it, as well as rivets buckles, a safety strap for his pistol on the holster, and a droid caller on his opposite hip. All the detail is there that you should expect out of a figure that costs you over $10.

-Paint Aps/Deco: Paint applications can be hit and miss on any action figure irregardless of the price. VTSC you should maybe get a higher level of quality control than average, but that’s probably not always the case. With Han though, I was pretty happy with the paint aps that I got on my sample.

The hair and eyes are painted nicely for instance, with the hair having a darker layer with a lighter wash over top to highlight the detailed sculpt of his wavy locks. The eyes are 3-layered, which is a common and realistic style Hasbro uses to paint eyes on most of its figures these days. There is a white eyeball, a brown iris, and a black pupil. They also used a black line across the top to highlight the eyelid even, which is a nice extra touch and gives Han a little look of “concentration”.

Han’s pants feature a yellow “broken stripe” that runs up the seams, and is nice and evenly painted. His belt features a silver double-pin buckle (the belt for his pants that is), while his separately sculpted gunslinger’s belt is a shiny leathery brown color, with silver highlights on the buckles, rivets, and droid caller details. Beyond these details, Han has nice shiny black jackboots.

All the paint applications on my sample are even and I have no bleeding onto other areas of the figure. I do have a complaint about the paint on the figure’s neck however, as it clearly isn’t a match for the molded plastic coloring to his hands and head. More on that in the “Cons” area though.

-Articulation: What can I say? You get the ultimate articulation with Han, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Han Solo (In Trench Coat) is also the most versatile Han Solo ever made as far as poseability goes. The figure features the best Hasbro can throw at us really, short of ball/socket hip joints.

Han Solo features articulation at:
- 2 ball/socket shoulder joints
- 2 ball/socket elbow joints
- 2 standard wrist joints
- 2 standard hip joints
- 2 ball/socket knee joints
- 2 ball/socket ankle joints
- 1 ball/socket torso joint
- 1 ball/socket neck joint

That’s a whopping total of 14 points of articulation, and most of those are ball/socket joints giving a massive range of motion to this action figure. If Hasbro was making a line as heavily articulated as this all the time, you’d be talking to one happy camper.

Some fans will undoubtedly dislike the figure’s ball/socket torso joint however. The joint is pretty easily visible unfortunately, and is a little distracting to the eye. I personally prefer articulation over aesthetics, though I think at times it can be overkill. I love that my Han has that style of torso joint though for really nice action poses on Endor, or even allowing him to sort of “lean forward” while sitting around the Endor Rebel Briefing scene. At the same time, I know that joint is going to be disliked by many when a regular swiveling waist joint would’ve probably made most people content. That said, I’m pretty happy to have the super poseability, and its looks aren’t wavering my opinion at this point.

Enjoy folks, this is the best Han Solo ever made in my opinion, and if we get something even close to this in the future I think we’ll be lucky. It’s a fun figure to pose and play with, as I’ve had posed in every Endor pose I can think of that Han actually did in the movies. Han can do it all, and with a cloth coat he can be posed in either outfit quite well, so we’re in luck.

Without his pistol holster on, if you wanted a second and didn’t mind hacking the holster off, you’d even have a really great Sarlacc Pit Battle Han Solo figure to pose. Since Hasbro’s basic figure from that battle wasn’t too poseable, that’s a nice choice for those of us wanting articulated figures.

-Accessories: While the VOTC line didn’t always come packing the most accessories with their figures, the VTSC line seems to make up for that a little bit. Han Solo may be the best example overall really since even his pistol belt can be removed if you’re willing to work at it.

Han Solo comes with a number of plastic and cloth gear. His coat is cloth, and sewn perfectly to the figure. While the argument will rage on as to which is ultimately “better” for figures (cloth vs. plastic) on various forums, the way I look at it is that these are toys and meant to be played with. I like the cloth coat a lot for that. It’s well sewn, it fits the figure about as well as you could possibly expect, and its camouflage “paintjob” or whatever it is, is really realistic to the look of the film coat. It looks simply like light brown spray-paint blotches on the fabric, and it’s incredibly accurate by my eyes. Add to that WORKING little hand pockets on the outside, and what can I say? This is an amazing piece of fabric Hasbro put together here. Kudos to them!

Han comes with two definite separate accessories, and I won’t count the pistol belt since it’s technically stuck to the figure, but again you could remove it if you really wanted to do so. Han does come with a vest and pistol though, both intended to be removed if you feel like it.

The vest is nice, thin, fits the figure well, and features a lot of varying detail sculpted into it. There’s light texturing sculpted into it, there are even stitching lines sculpted into the outlines of the front pockets on the vest as well, and they look really nice when examined up close. The vest has the ridge/pocket things on the back as well, which were pretty noticeable in the film and seemed unique to his Endor vest.

Han’s other accessory then is his blaster pistol. The pistol isn’t accurate to what Han ran with on Endor in the film and a couple people have already noted that. The gun he has is a reused sculpt of the 25th Anniversary 2-pack Han Solo figure’s pistol (or Cantina Han’s), which is more akin to his pistol from the original Star Wars. Still though, the pistol is painted silver on the muzzle which is a nice effort on Hasbro’s part, and I won’t fault them for not including the proper pistol he had in ROTJ. If you really want one, the 2002 Saga Endor Han is a cheapity cheap buy, and he has the right pistol to steal, plus some bombs.

The coat makes the man, err figure in this case. The other stuff is just gravy really, but all things that the figure should come with in my opinion. The coat though is everything a fan of softgoods accessories could want. Now what would Endor Leia and Luke look like in this style? Hmmm, I wonder.

-Packaging: The packaging on the Vintage Saga Collection figures is probably the most ornate and eye-catching package for a Star Wars figure since the VOTC line. While the basic Saga Collection line that ships alongside the VTSC figures is nice, the VTSC definitely draws your attention as something special.

A downside to the dazzling packaging is the cost, which like other features I’ll touch on that shortly in the “Cons” portion, however it was a cost a lot of people were willing to bite for “ultimate” versions of various figures with the VOTC line, and they’ll do so again with the VTSC line I’m sure.

The packaging is a recreation of the original vintage Kenner action figure cardbacks from the 1970’s and 1980’s. If you were like me, and can recall these figures adorning your local toy store (Ah, Children’s Palace - the days when a trip to the toy store meant something), then you no doubt have a feeling of nostalgia, just as Hasbro intended. The old style cardbacks are nice to see on the pegs, and they really do catch the eye like no modern packaging has been able to.

While Hasbro went to great lengths to recreate the front of the packaging, the back of the packaging was a modern style displaying other figures from the line. The waves system used for the VOTC line is gone though, and all 5 VTSC figures are pictured on the cardback of any given figure in this wave. No more ESB/SW/ROTJ waves, at least not that anyone is aware of at this point, and not for these 5 figures shipping now.

Hasbro’s work to recreate the cardbacks was nicely done, and appreciated. This has so far been the only packaging I’ve wanted to save really. While the VOTC packaging was easy to save though, the VTSC figures are heat-sealed and prone to being basically mangled when trying to open them. If you have extra clamshells from the VOTC line lying about though, you’ll still be able to display your cards on a clamshell with your loose figure standing by it quite nicely.

Either way, the end result is some nicely displayed toy on the pegs, and that’s what really is helping to up much of the costs unfortunately. A full set of the 12 VOTC and the 5 new VTSC cardbacks looks really nice displayed amongst your figure collection though. It’s very eye-catching overall.

-Give-Away Promorion: Along with all these other fantastic features, Hasbro’s dusting off the old “give-away” gimmick with the VTSC figures. For the second time ever, a promotion for a George Lucas figure is taking place. This time, there is a catch to getting the figure that ties into the “Collect Them All!” mentality.

With the Luke Skywalker (X-Wing Pilot) figure there is a promotional slip. Each figure in the VTSC line then has a little tab you stick to the promotional slip from the Luke figure. You NEED each figure’s tab to mail it in, so you can’t just send 5 Biker Scouts or whatnot and get this figure. You must buy all 5 figures in the series, put their tabs on the slip, and mail the slip plus $4.95 s/h to Hasbro, and god knows when you’ll get a carded George Lucas in Stormtrooper Disguise figure, or “GeorgeTrooper”.

Really, when you think about it, it at least helps ease some of the cost incurred in buying figures that cost you upwards of $13 a piece. I know my first set of VTSC cost about that much actually, so getting a semi-free figure in the mail is a nice extra, even if the sculpt on said “free” figure is a somewhat bogus cop-out sculpt... and who honestly wanted a George Lucas in Stormtrooper disguise for that matter? That’s neither here nor there though.

CONS

-Skin Color Mismatch: Right out of the packaging I noticed a flaw on Han as I was taking the cloth coat off him and examining him up close for the first time. The thing that immediately caught my eyes was the apparent mismatch of colors between the molded plastic flesh of his head/hands, and Han’s painted flesh neck. The neck is noticeably lighter while Han’s face and hands are a bit darker.

Flaws like this aren’t terribly uncommon as it is tough for the paint to be matched exactly to the plastic colors used during the production process. I tend to forgive it for the most part, but on an almost $13 figure I have to point it out as an annoying flaw that just shouldn’t have happened. What can I say other than you get less leeway when you jack the price up this high Hasbro.

If little flaws like this are all there is to gripe about though, I’m not terribly worried. It’s still a great figure despite them.

-Back Torso Gap: The second gripe I had that really kind of caught my attention really was a large gap at Han’s back due to his torso articulation. The ball/socket joint is great to have on the figure without a doubt, and it adds to his poseability a lot, but when you take Han’s vest off you’ll notice a bit of a hole on his lower back where the pin for the ball/socket torso “moves”.

Other similarly styled articulation points on figures don’t have as noticeable of a gap, so this is more a mistake on the part of the sculptor than anything. I think that if the back of his upper torso been sculpted a little lower, it would be a much less noticeable flaw on an otherwise great figure. It’s the kind of mistake that should’ve been picked up in the design phase, but either it was and they simply ignored it and moved on with production, or they’re not very observant, or they thought nobody would have Han without his vest and coat on for their displays. Hard to say.

Either way, it’s a bit of an eyesore on a pretty nice figure. It’s also another unfortunate strike against the ball/socket torso/waist articulation unfortunately.

-Loose Holster: This was a complaint of mine with the VOTC Han as well, but the holster on my Endor Han Solo is design in a similar way. On the figure’s thigh there is a safety strap sculpted where the holster would “tie” to the character’s thigh to keep it from moving while he walked/ran around. It’s the same on the VOTC Han Solo Cantina figure.

What Hasbro neglects to do is attach the holster to the thigh-strap, so the holster just sort of hovers there over the figure’s leg rather than moving with him. While I enjoy the separately sculpted pistol belt and holster, and they look great overall, the way the holster “floats” there and doesn’t move with the figure’s leg poses is a little annoying. It’s nothing major though, just a small oversight on the Hasbro designer’s part I think, and a little annoying to the eye when you have Han in certain poses.

-Retail Cost: Without a doubt, and probably the worst aspect of the VTSC line, is the cost that came with each figure. The figures in my first set cost me around $12 or so per figure, which isn’t the best price for buying multiples that’s for sure. They’re the kinds of figures you want more than one of too for certain.

Why the increased costs? It’s tough to say exactly. The packaging is more ornate and created by hand, that’s for certain. The clamshells over the cardbacks for instance, the chrome plated cardboard inserts, the cardbacks that are recreated by hand to be exact replicas of the original vintage figures (in the front), and the coffin-style blisters to mimic vintage looking packaging. These all come into play when factoring in costs.

The figures are ornate, and the use of cloth inevitably increases the cost a little as well. The poseability and whatnot is arguable though, and with the VTSC building on the VOTC line’s costs for packaging, you’d think that at some point the packaging would become a little less “special” financially and cost us less.

The real debate though is whether or not, packaging aside, these figures are “better” than basic figures or not. To me, after what we got in 2005’s ROTS line, I feel that Hasbro can deliver the VOTC/VTSC quality on basic cards for basic prices. Super articulation isn’t out of their grasp. Hasbro simply choose not to give it to us routinely in the basic line. The line deserves it though, no doubt.

For my money, the VTSC level of quality is nice, but I’d surely be putting more money into more figures if the basic line was on par with the Vintage remakes. Unfortunately Hasbro doesn’t seem to have that kind of plan in mind… At least not any time soon, so we’re stuck with $12 when we want decent toys.

OVERALL

Wow, certainly a long review for me and it’s late so I’m bushed. The end result though is that this Han Solo is certainly one of the more fun figures I’ve had on my desk in 2006 to mess with and review. The poseability is my favorite aspect, and I thoroughly enjoy putting Han in all his classic action poses from Return of the Jedi. The articulation alone warrants a favorable review from me. It’s simply a fun toy to have out of the package. It’s a bit frustrating then that the packaging is so tough to open, and really must be destroyed to get at the figure.

Beyond the articulation though, this is a fantastic figure for accessories. The blaster and vest alone are nice, but the fantastic soft goods coat is really a nice piece, and to this collector the ONLY way I want my Endor Han Solo is with a removable cloth coat. Molded plastic may look nice, but it’s not something Hasbro has proven to me that they can do and make a good toy with it too. This Han Solo though has all the makings of a great toy AND displays nice to me. If you hate cloth though, you’ll obviously disagree with that opinion.

Still though, there are flaws with Han some may loathe… The torso articulation, while I enjoy it a lot for its “fun factor”, I still cannot deny it’s not the prettiest articulation point on a figure that I’ve ever seen. It lets Han go in some cool poses you couldn’t do otherwise but for fans of looks over movement, it’s going to be a flaw, what with the noticeable joint seam, and the hole I noted in his back. If you leave the vest on him though, it’s barely noticeable at all.

My opinion is pretty obvious at this point though. I give this figure high marks in most every way. If I could buy him at $6, I’d have bought 6 of him easily. At $12 or so, I’ll have to cut back on extras unfortunately.

Hasbro has the ability to wow us with these figures, and I hope they translate this kind of quality to the basic line more often. It’s what the collectors ultimately want I believe, and let’s face it; articulation isn’t something that kids mind having either. Han Solo (In Trench Coat) is Hasbro at their finest in toy making, so my hat is off to them for another fine figure, high priced as it may be.

 

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