Saturday, August 5, 2006

Figure of the Day: Day 91: Han Solo in Hoth Gear

HAN SOLO in Hoth Gear
Power of the Force Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 69570 No. 69587
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster Rifle, Blaster Pistol
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99
Availability: March 1996
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: In his history as a smuggler, Han Solo has been in a lot of hot spots. As a reluctant hero for the Rebel Alliance in the years following the destruction of the Death Star, he found himself in a cold spot...on the ice planet of Hoth, to be exact. Hiding out from the intergalactic crimelord jabba the Hutt, Han and his copilot, Chewbacca, had stayed with the Rebellion for several years, adventuring, piloting, smuggling, and ranking up an impressive rap sheet and bounty not only from Jabba, but also from the Empire. Following the evacuation of the Rebel base on the fourth moon of Yavin, Han helped the Alliance scout out new locations for their base, and helped establish Echo Base on Hoth.

The newly commissioned "Captain" Solo worked with his friend, Luke Skywalker, and others to scout the barren planet for life-forms. Riding the smelly, two-legged tauntauns, Han wore bundled, thermal clothing and protective gear to brave the harsh, icy winds. When Luke failed to return from a scouting mission, Han braved the elements at dusk, facing a high possibility of death. Although he lost his own tauntaun, Han did find Luke. Erecting an emergency shelter, Han managed to save both of their lives until Rebel search teams could find them the next morning. Shortly thereafter, the Empire launched an attack on Hoth. Han helped evacuate Echo Base, taking Princess Leia Organa and C-3PO with him and Chewbacca, aboard the Millennium Falcon. As he escaped into the stars, little did Han know that his future lay an Imperial trap on Bespin and a deeper cold in a carbonite prison than any he had ever felt on Hoth. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: Any new figure was cause for celebration in 1996, even a really odd duck like Han Solo in Hoth Gear. Upon his initial release, he was snapped up like crazy. And then Kenner remolded his hand, as the first release (pictured) could not hold a gun in both hands-- and fans snapped it up. Then fans stopped buying, as this figure didn't look a thing like the vintage figure and started the debate of what Han's costume was supposed to look like. As an early figure with six points of articulation, it didn't have much going for it and the hat-on-hood-down look was not one most fans were used to seeing. When asked about making a new figure with the hood up, Kenner said for quite some time that this one did poorly enough that they don't think they'd revisit it for a while. (Which turned out to be 1998, with the Han Solo Tauntaun.)

The figure itself really isn't all that bad. He isn't too beefy, his pose isn't too awkward, and he can sit down without too many problems. As a toy, it works. As a figure for the discriminating collector, in 2006, this is an easy figure to skip-- it really doesn't add much to the collection beyond being one more figure to collect. Other, later versions are largely better.

Collector's Notes: This is the figure that caused fans to hate core characters. Initially released at 2 per case, the figure shipped for a brief time and stopped selling fairly quick. Along with the first Dagobah Luke, the figure was a poor seller a couple of waves down the road and backed up on the shelves at numerous stores. Eventually, these two figures were the first that Hasbro (then Kenner) actually took back from the stores for a fate which, to this day, remains unknown. Han Hoth figures sat around for quite some time when they weren't picked up, and I personally saw them as recently as 2001 at a Kmart. (It may seem odd to remember, but seeing this figure so long after it was gone was even odder.) This was one of two "orange card" figures never rereleased on a "green card" later-- the other, of course, being Luke Dagobah.

Day 91: August 5, 2006

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