Shadows of the Empire and Power of the Force vehicle pack-in
Item No.: No. 69565
Includes: Slave I vehicle
Action Feature: n/a
Availability: Summer 1996
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back
Bio: Han Solo was a Human smuggler from the manufacturing planet Corellia who achieved galactic fame as a member of the Rebel Alliance and later the New Republic. (Stolen from Wookieepedia.)
Image: Adam Pawlus' photo area.
Commentary: What's an accessory? What's a figure? As we get down to the end of the column-- because there are a finite number of figures-- we have to ask these tough questions. I've viewed this Han Solo in Carbonite as an accessory for many reasons, not the least of which is "that's what it's called on the box." This accessory is a repaint (with new stickers) of a pack-in which came out during the original release of The Empire Strikes Back, and if you decide he is in fact a figure this would probably the the only "figure" released in the modern line with no tooling changes. The 1997 EV-9D9 and 1996 IG-88 certainly seem inspired by their vintage counterparts, and the 1995 Classic 4-pack figures are new tooling created from the original figures, but Han here seems to be pretty much the same other than color.
The Carbonite costumes are one of those weird things that, due to a continuity error in the film itself, we've been treated to all sorts of incorrect interpretations over the years. Not only has the color frequently been wrong, but so has the sculpt. This version is pretty close, with a greyish/silver color which is a smidgen too dark and very soft sculpted details because the level of realism we enjoy today is actually a pretty recent development. (Seriously, compare 2012 Snaggletooth to the 1998 Takeel and prepare to have your mind blown.) As a toy, this is a flawed piece but it more or less does the trick-- I suppose you could lean it or tape it against the wall, and it can lay flat in a vehicle's cargo bay. It also can be carried around by Stormtroopers or Bespin Guards, but it doesn't "float" quite like in the movie, sadly.
It's really hard to put my finger on the quality that makes a mid- to late-1990s Kenner toy what it is, but there's a distinctive feel that transcends the sculpting or deco. Maybe it's a smell that's shaving a year off of my life. This is an item of its era, it feels a little too clean and is sturdy, but not so sturdy where it won't snap if you put too much pressure on it. BY no means the definitive Han Solo Carbonite Block, it was one of two blocks put out in the summer of 1996 as part of the Shadows of the Empire and Power of the Force lines. The other version had the superior sculpt, but this one had stickers which improved its deco. It would be silly of me to laud this as the best-ever version, but it does work well in displays and you can cram it into the Jabba's Palace diorama nicely. The frozen gas sculpting looks good, Han's pose trying to claw out works out nicely, and his shirt is technically incorrect-- note the flap around his neck. While Harrison Ford wore a shirt like that on-screen, the block itself was sculpted with his white shirt from the original Star Wars, creating a goof that a lot of fans never notice until they start collecting the merchandise.
Collector's Notes: The original Slave I vehicle from 1996 was a reworked version of the 1980 ship, and was repackaged in a green box in 1997. You should have no problems securing the entire ship (with block) for under $30, possibly for as little as $10. If you like trading cards, be sure to get the package variation that boasts a WideVision promo card inside. (Because if you lived in the 1990s, you remember the last hurrah of trading cards-- Kenner packed in a few Topps cards around 1997 and then never mentioned them again.)
Day 1,864: August 6, 2012