Updated: Jan 12
Review : Han Solo and Tauntaun Star Wars Black Series (Hasbro) Wave/Series : Deluxe Release 2015 (Phase 2) Released : Summer 2015
Price : £39.99 - £44.99
Following the original Deluxe releases of Jabba the Hutt and the Speeder Bike, Hasbro moved on to a Hoth theme for 2015 releasing Luke and Wampa and the set we are looking at here, the Han Solo and Tauntaun.
This set created a lot of noise when announced, but kind of whimpered in stores. Particularly in the UK, very few retailers picked this up with many still stocked with the 2014 Deluxe figures, particularly Jabba. The other issue was the decision to pack this with a Speeder Bike initially in a 3 piece case. It was then tweaked with Wampa replacing the Speeder. This would have also unsettled some retailers who had already had to deep discount Speeders to clear their shelves for new stock. I personally saw this on shelves twice - once in Toys R Us, and once in an independent. This has led to a bit of a demand for these sets and as I write this review the secondary market price is starting to creep upwards.
Han and Tauntaun arrives in the phase 2 blue line box. The packaging is 12" across and 9" high and sits about 5" deep. The front of the box is a full window to display the figure, and this window wraps over to the top of the box. In the top right of the window is a cut in image of Han in that grey lined art that is used on all Black Series releases. Down the bottom on the pane is the Star Wars Black Logo, the box set name in electric blue and the usual Hasbro logo and age rating. Both sides of the box are flat black. Round the back is another grey line illustration of Han on Tauntaun and on top of this is a short paragraph about the scene in Empire and that famous quote "And I thought they smelt bad on the outside"
Out of the box and Han and his ride are locked into the usual inner perspex tray. To the side of Han are a couple of accessories, which we will cover later.
Let's look at Han first, and he stands at 6 1/2 high - his height bolstered by the hood of his coat. Facial sculpt is a good likeness for Han, but other than eyes and eyebrows there is no paint applications to bring out that likeness - not even the lips are painted and there is no attempt at all to weather Han to look as though he is out in the snow and freezing. The head sits inside the hood, which is then a separate piece which can be pulled off thanks to a slit in the rear. Underneath Han's head is made up of a wrapped scarf around either side and a Rebel officer hat on top. These are sculpted with a quilted texture, and considering in the main this is hidden you wonder why? Paint wise, the hat and scarf are a flat beige colour,
Down to the coat and that is nicely done with a quilted shoulder section, and then paneled parts with the associated rank insignia on the chest and various pockets and pouches on the chest and the shoulders. The coat is coloured blue, which is in itself controversial. But in the spirit of remembering the Han 3.75" Kenner figure of my youth it isn't something that bothers me. What does sadly bother me is that coat has absolutely no paint detail outside of the insignia. With all the detail in the coat a darker wash would have been nice - and more so some snow effects to weather him.
The arms end with a wrist length glove, and this is two tone in colour with a darker brown on the wrist and a lighter hand colour - sadly there is some sloppy brown paint that has been caught on the paler glove. And yet in direct contrast the back of the glove on the left hand has a panel built in which is neatly painted in yellow without a hint of bleeding into the surrounding area. The same belt we saw on the original New Hope (orange line) Han is used again here, with brown leather and silver buckle. The legs are a flat grey colour (again no weathering) and include the quilted design on the knees. The boots are done with the strapping picked out in a lighter colour.
There is no doubt Han is a nice looking figure, but it is a good sculpt held back by poor paint. Most of the paint is neat enough, but it is too flat and too clean and needs some extra work to bring out the beauty.
Articulation has to be spot on with a figure that rides an animal or bike of some kind - and we will see how Han fairs a little later. For now let's look at the various points of articulation. Han starts off with a ball jointed head which thanks to the separate hood piece can move around quite a bit. The shoulders are ball jointed and move around quite easily. The elbows are a single joint and then rotate on the same joint. The hands then rotate by means of a joint where the glove ends. There is no chest joint - which is unusual for a "riding" character. It does however have a waist swivel, and this is achieved by keeping the coat as two pieces, the lower section a more rubbery material. The belt however doesn't quite hide this joint as planned, but the figure does rotate his torso quite a bit to each side.
The legs start with hip articulation, and thanks to that flexi-skirt of the coat they look like they can get into a riding position well enough. Beneath the hip is a thigh swivel and then double-jointed knees. The figure ends with ankle rockers in the feet. All of this means Han stands really well, and can pose pretty well too in firing stances or action poses.
Han comes with three accessories. The first, the blaster, fits easily into the right hand and when not in use it goes into the holster and can be secured by an over-strap. The second piece is the binoculars that Han uses on Hoth. These are a hard plastic and sculpted to hang from Han's shoulder. I don't think these hang well enough as designed, and I would have actually liked to have seen a soft flexible strap and the ability to put these into Han's hands so you can pose him scanning the horizon.
The final piece are the eye glasses that Han wears when riding. Putting these on is a chore sadly. You have to remove the hood first off and then ease the glasses over the peak of the cap. Once in place the hood goes back on, but this ultimately means that the hood more often than not pushes the glasses down as it goes on leaving them round his chin. Slimmer fingers will have a better chance. Once you do position the glasses successfully, they aren't a great look as they are clearly over-sized and don't sit naturally. Considering all the various design bits to achieve all of this, surely two heads would have been easier?
OK, over to the Tauntaun. And the first thing I noticed was how light he was when I picked him up. I kind of thought he would be a heavier "chunk" of plastic, but actually feels very hollow. It's not dog chew-toy level, and the figure is solid enough, but it lacks the weight I was expecting. Hold on to that point, it is important later.
Tauntaun stands 9 1/2" high at his tallest stance. And like Han he is really well sculpted. The fur is pretty well done, as are the horns. The claws on hands and feet are a bit soft, but this is more likely a safety requirement. The whole thing looks to be made up of two parts and their is a visible joint down the chest of the Tauntaun. A couple of straps are sculpted into the main body of the Tauntaun, but the rest is a separate piece. The saddle and all its baggage is excellent, packed with pockets and blankets and ending in a pair of silver stirrups. As seems to be a theme now, the Tauntaun sculpt is let down by the paint. Again, its not bad or messy - it just doesn't go far enough to bring out the detail or make the Tauntaun look like it has just trudged through the Hoth wastelands.
The frustration is that the horns are brilliantly done, so it isn't a case of not having the ability to paint and add depth to a figure - its a choice not to. Many have also pointed out that the Tauntaun looks to be wearing lipstick, and indeed the lips are a tad too dark but it doesn't look as bad as it could. Around the head there is also some paint apps to darken and redden the eye sockets and to bring out the bumps across the head.
Articulation on the Tauntaun is about 7POA. The head is jointed and can look to either side. The front arms and the legs feel like they are on a peg so simply rotate inside the hollow body. To support the legs, the ankles are then on a pivot joint, and this helps the Tauntaun keep its feet flat to the floor. All of this means you can vary the look of the figure to a degree, and there should be some range of posing for the Tauntaun either as stood still leant right back, or with head forward and tail raised as though running. And here is the kicker, and where the weight comes in. No matter how I tackle getting the Tauntaun to stand, he is top heavy and only stands unaided with the tail on the floor - so in the resting back stood position. The stability is worsened still when Han is added as he adds more weight up front and causes more unsteadiness. With Han riding the Tauntaun just about stays upright, but the pose is hardly dynamic and you will need some aids to get a better look. I am not a designer or engineer, but I think adding a tiny bit of weight inside the tail would have resolved all this?
Han sits reasonably well on the Tauntaun, but like the Biker Scout before him his rear end doesn't really come close to touching the seat. You will need to rotate the hands to have Han hold the reigns, and that works really well. Unlike the feet which don't seem to want to go into the stirrups at all, let alone allow you to plug the foot into the peg hole within the stirrup.
Don't take all this as negative, as with a bit of patience you can get some awesome looking poses out of this set - it just seems to want to do everything to stop you. Well maybe not split the belly open and shove Luke inside.
Han & Tauntaun is a great deluxe release, and fits in well with the corresponding Luke and Wampa. He and the Tauntaun are really well sculpted and neatly painted. They lack any detail on the paint to bring out that fine sculpt, and there is no attempt at all to weather the set to the Hoth landscape they are seen in. The binoculars could have been better, and the glasses/hood mechanism should have been swapped out for an alternative head.
The set has more positives than negatives, but is far from perfect, and I score it 3 out of 5.