Yodasnews Review: Concept Han Solo (McQuarrie Signature Series)
Review and Photography by Jeffrey A. Gouse (SithLord0498)
Review Date: January 25, 2008
Ah, it feels good to be back!!!
It has been quite some time since we all huddled around the computer with our refreshing cups of Aunt Beru’s famous blue milk and dissected some Star Wars collectibles. I’ve spent these past few months on sabbatical wherein I spent many hours and sleepless nights studying various schools of thought on quantitative analysis, production processes of Asian toy factories, and volumes of reference materials spanning the past thirty years of Star Wars. Why? So that I can bring you, my fellow Yodasnews readers, the best reviews possible!!!
Hmmm…not buying that, are you?
OK, you got me. I bought a 360 Elite with Xbox Live back in November, and I’ve finally managed to pry my sorry butt off of Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 long enough to see daylight again. Throw in an HD satellite, a blossoming Blu-Ray library, and two part-time jobs into that mix, and it’s no surprise I haven’t been writing as much. Please accept my apologies for the long vacation.
But we’re in 2008 now, and it’s the start of a new year’s worth of product reviews. This year, expect to see product reviews that will branch out beyond the traditional action figures and Sideshow 1/6 scale line. This will (hopefully) be a year of variety in this section.
Alas, the start of a new year does mean wrapping up the loose ends of the previous year, so let’s get to it. Today, we will look at the penultimate entry in 2007’s McQuarrie Signature Series: Concept Han Solo.
Don’t worry…my review of the McQuarrie Rebel Trooper is coming up soon, so there will be reviews for every McQuarrie concept figure in our archives.
PORTRAIT: Excellent (Bordering on Above Average)
While the Hasbro team neglected to fully adhere to the leaner, more elongated head found in the concept art, the portrait clearly stays true to the source material by looking just like George Lucas.
Yep. That’s right. One look at either the figure or concept art will unequivocally show the inspiration for McQuarrie’s renderings of Han Solo. In essence, Concept Han is our fourth George Lucas action figure from Hasbro (Jorg Sacul, the Lucas Stormtrooper, and Baron Papanoida being the first three).
Bearing that in mind, the portrait is of exceptional quality. The standout component here is the fullness and three-dimensionality of Solo’s hair. Large tufts sweep in multiple directions as natural hair would, and the multi-tonal paint applications complement this illusion by providing definition and additional depth to the sculpting. Solo’s beard and moustache, while not as detailed as the hair, are cleanly painted and add to the quality of the piece. The eyes are painted straight with no distracting laziness in either one, and the creases and bone structure resemble the source material—if not quite as slender. Oddly enough, the neck adheres closer to the leaner look in the painting, which makes the profile view look awkward to some degree. Lastly, the overall facial expression works very well. It is determined, stern, heroic, and battle weary all in one. It is a difficult feat to accomplish, but Hasbro’s sculpting team managed to pull it off in this case.
The only real shortcoming here is the paint used for the skin tones because the skin has a purplish hue to it. In fact, “ashen” would be a better description. However, this may be primarily an optical illusion due to the overwhelming amount of purple in the costume.
Overall, though, this is the best of the human portraits in the McQuarrie concept series as well as the best “Lucas” portrait thus far.
As with the portrait, the execution of Concept Solo’s uniform is undoubtedly the best of the entire McQuarrie Signature Series. In fact, it ranks in the upper percentile of costume sculpting for the modern Hasbro era in general. Kneepads, pouches, harnesses, ammo clips…all have been diligently rendered, and one can almost imagine the sculptors treated each piece as its own final product. The majority of the sculpting is very shallow and subtle, which imparts a wide variety of texture to the outfit. Additionally, both of these facets lend greater authenticity to the piece. The paint is cleanly applied, and this is most noticeable in the silver buckles (of which there are plenty). The boots and gloves have realistically sculpted creases and wrinkles and convey the illusion of flesh and bone inside them. The belt is also well done in terms of sculpting and painting, and the clip for the lightsaber hilt is highly effective and secure.
Words and pictures, quite honestly, cannot convey the stellar work Hasbro achieved on this uniform.
REMOVABLE CAPE AND HARNESS: Excellent (Slightly bordering on Above Average)
Hasbro has certainly come a long way when it comes to capes. Gone are the days of the hard shell-like cloaks from the mid-1990s, and thank the Force for that one. Nowadays, the capes enjoy a respectable amount of attention with regards to their design and execution, and that means capes that successfully emulate the natural hang and flow of cloth despite being cast in hard plastic. Solo’s cape is no exception, and the creases and folds spread out and tuck under in all the right places. Granted, there is zero flexibility, but this cape is the perfect freeze-frame of a free-flowing garment.
The harness has been successfully rendered as well. The chest box bears just the right amount of weathering to emulate aged metal without becoming gratuitous. The straps and buckles are also realistically sculpted, but they are hindered by the one drawback to this element of the figure: the piece does not sit well on the figure’s shoulders. Rather than being molded more closely to the figure’s contours, the cape and harness sit high on the figure, so the straps and buckles are not flush with the belt. Additionally, it prevents the figure from resembling the form-fitting look seen in the concept art.
However, such elements are extremely difficult—if not impossible—to successfully execute in this particular medium at this particular scale. For the price, media, and target audiences, the cape and harness are close to being the best they can be.
Poseability is where the Concept Solo figure falls from its lofty perch. The first issue here is one that is sample-specific to the figure used in this review—although I’d be surprised if no one else has encountered such an issue. The shoulder joint on the right hand side was rendered virtually useless because the figure had plastic molded over half of the joint. Even after an admittedly sloppy job of cutting away as much of the excess plastic as possible, the right arm still cannot reach a complete “at-rest” pose, resulting in permanent angled and/or hooked arm poses. Again, keep in mind that chances are (hopefully) slim that you will experience the same issue.
What is not sample-specific is the wide leg stance used for Solo. When coupled with the curved sculpting on the feet and ankles, this figure is unable to achieve neutral standing poses, and the stability is weakened.
Beyond that, the remaining joints enjoy a healthy range of motion, and collectors can get some nice nuanced poses out of them. Alas, the leg stance limits consumers to poses found in the more dramatic, “charging-at-the-enemy” arena. Bottom line: not terrible but far from Hasbro’s better efforts.
CONCEPT LIGHTSABERS: Accuracy – Poor; Craftsmanship – Excellent
By this point, there is very little to be said about the lightsabers in the 3.75 scale figure line. In terms of faithfulness to the source material, these hilts are not the same design. Reference material is limited, but the saber on the cardback has an obviously different shape on the end of the hilt. However, the execution of the design Hasbro did provide is solid. The sculpting is clean and crisp, and both the hilt and blade are made from sturdy plastic with absolutely no trace of warping, which is a common problem with weapon accessories.
CONCEPT BLASTER PISTOL: Below Average
Once again, Hasbro’s design seems dissimilar to that portrayed by Ralph McQuarrie. Unlike the concept lightsabers, the concept blaster pistol also fails to achieve in terms of overall craftsmanship. The shape is very generic, and the details are very soft and give an overall blurry appearance to the blaster. Paint applications are non-existent with the blaster merely being molded in a single color plastic. This is clearly a lazy effort by Hasbro considering the attention to detail that other figures’ accessories have enjoyed. It is even more disappointing in this case because of all the intricate detail put into the overall appearance of the figure itself.
FUN FACTOR: Average
Long time readers of Yodasnews’ figure reviews will know that the “Fun Factor” score is heavily (if not entirely) correlated to the articulation and its execution, so it should come as little surprise that both are merely average. The forced dramatic leg stance means that the only way to pose this figure is in action poses, and that limits one’s imagination. Kids, however, will very likely enjoy this figure. It looks very heroic, and poseability doesn’t mean as much to them as it does to the older, more serious collector.
OVERALL RATING: Above Average
Hasbro failed to hit a grand slam here, but that should not detract collectors from adding this to their collection. Articulation issues notwithstanding, the sheer aesthetics of the McQuarrie Concept Han Solo figure make it a worthwhile purchase. It is easily the most detailed figure in the sub-line, and it looks very impressive amongst its peers. If you can find it, buy it. Simple as that.