Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 1,746: Han Solo

HAN SOLO First Modern Release
Power of the Force Collection
Item No.:
Asst. 69570 No. 69577
Number: n/a
Manufacturer: Kenner
Includes: Blaster, Heavy Assault Rifle
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99
Availability: July/August 1995
Appearances: Star Wars

Bio: Han Solo's extarordinary piloting skills, blaster-handling and daring have earned him the reputation as a top smuggler, Solo also owes much of his success to his ship, the stock freighter Millennium Falcon, which he won from associate Lando Calrissian in a cutthroat game of sabacc. The Falcon is widely regarded as one of the fastest ships in the galaxy thanks to the mechanical skills of Chewbacca, Solo's Wookiee companion. The team's services are sought after even by powerful crime lords like Jabba the Hutt, who put a bounty out on Solo after he jettisoned a cargo of Jabba's spice in an effort to flee an Imperial patrol. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' old kitchen.

Commentary: When Kenner relaunched Star Wars in 1995, the line was a mixed bag-- some elements made them better toys, and in some respects, they weren't very good. Han Solo was in the middle as one of the first figures packed at 3 per case, which was a mixed blessing. His muscular appearance resulted in numerous "Has he been working out on a Solo-flex? Hahaha!" comments which has basically changed my opinion from Star Wars humor being potentially funny to wanting to punch some people in the throat. Yeah, he's beefy, this was in the style of numerous figures of the day. His face is unquestionably Han Solo-esque, but it doesn't look much like Harrison Ford. Up until this figure, most of my action figures I more or less enjoyed without question-- they were fun, they could stand or sit or hold their guns and were basically a good time.

Han Solo had problems. While I do miss the simpler construction, I don't miss the wonky pose or the gravity-unfriendly design. You see, the figure can't stand on his own-- this was a surprisingly common problem with a few of the 1995 releases, you couldn't get Han to stand upright without a display stand (and in 1995, there were none) or unless you kicked out his left foot so that his heel was on the ground and his feet were pointed in the air. Since he was released beyond the advent of separate holsters, he was designed to sit well, but the sculpt prevented him from fitting easily into the Millennium Falcon. His arms and legs weren't friendly to sharing the space with Chewbacca-- he could git by himself, but he did hog a little bit of the co-pilot's seating area.

While some of the early figures were good playthings, Han Solo left a lot to be desired. As a carded figure and an artifact from his day, he's not bad. I mean, all the Han elements are here from the off-white shirt to the black vest to the blue pants with red stripes. Kenner improved on some elements from the old days, like adding a waist joint and giving him a then-impressive sixth point of articulation, but I doubt fans today would be very interested in him. His trademark blaster has difficulty being gripped in his right hand, and his secondary gun really doesn't add much to the figure. It's a nice bonus in the sense that a bonus is nice, but I can't say it brought a lot of fun to the table. I wouldn't suggest running out and getting him if you want a strong toy, but if you've got a few bucks I would suggest getting the version from the Classic 4-Pack or the real deal from 1978. Subsequent Han figures were better, and I would only suggest buying this one if you're a fan of the style of the mid-1990s. And have a spare display stand.

Collector's Notes: The 1995 figures were so insanely hot when they debuted it's tough to remember just how many people stashed them away. I met people who bought a set or two to keep carded, and even some people who bought sixteen in hopes that, some day, these would be good to have around. Oddly, there are toys from this era which have jumped up to crazy prices, but they aren't Star Wars. The figure sells for $1 or so usually, but I would place its actual market value at slightly less. It's not a comment on the quality or durability of the product, but more or less the fact that there may be more of these preserved in perfect condition than the very first issue of Spawn.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 1,746: February 22, 2012

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