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Review : Star Wars Black Series, Chewbacca & C-3PO, The Empire Strikes Back


One of the final releases of 2019 was a new set of original trilogy characters from arguably one of their most iconic scenes. Taken from The Empire Strikes Back, this set gives us Chewbacca and C-3PO and the ability - just like the old Kenner toys - to disassemble Threepio and sling him in a netted bag over Chewbacca's shoulders. The set is exclusive to Amazon.


Buy from Amazon US at this link, the item will ship to UK with import tax calculated into price by Amazon. Shipping takes around 10-days usually (paid link)

Packaging 4/5


This two pack comes in an extended box that is the same height and depth as a standard figure, but is around 5cm wider. The design remains consistent with the phase 3 packaging. The side spine is red, but without a number as this is an exclusive release. The front of the box includes a Gregory Titus artwork of Chewie looking back over his shoulder at C-3PO. The name plate for the set is simply Chewbacca and C-3PO.


There is an odd red line down the darker side spine, right on the edge. I assumed at first it was where the box joined, but this side is all one piece and the red line t is part of the printing. This has never (as far as I know) appeared on a single figure release so it's appearance now is a mystery.


As we turn the box round fully the Titus artwork from the front is repeated on the back and to the side of this is some text that confirms the setting as The Empire Strikes back - without necessarily mentioning the film.


"Encountering a Stormtrooper in Cloud City, C-3PO was blasted at point blank range and his limbs were scattered. Chewbacca gathered the parts of the protocol droid and partially reassembled them"



When you open the box you will find the standard red card insert, and into this the main figure inner tray. This time the tray is in two parts, with a smaller tray holding C-3PO and the net bag.


Also watch out for a small leaflet (not the safety one) that comes with the set. Using a similar design to the instructions in the vehicle and centrepiece sets, this folded paper insert has a diagram of the figures on the front and on the back some guidance on taking Threepio apart and how the back goes onto Chewie.


While it is not in depth enough to stop people getting frustrated (wait a bit, you will see) it is good to see features of the figures properly highlighted. As I said recently with the Threepio and Babu Frik releases - how many people will miss the temperature eye feature and removable head panel as neither are highlighted anywhere in or on the box?



Paint & Sculpt 4/5

Chewbacca (3/5) and C-3PO (4/5)


Starting with Chewbacca, and the figure includes a brand new sculpted head piece - making it different from the previous three releases of the character. This is probably the nicest head sculpt for Chewbacca to date and there may be some level of face print in the eyes at least which seem more detailed and natural than the previous Chewie figures.


The body remains as used originally in 2014 and in all the Chewbacca's since. The fur sculpt is good, but the variation of the paint job is still to severe in places and not blended well - upper arms and upper legs look totally different to the lower parts of these limbs with a stark line in between and not a gradual blend.


The bandoleer and bag go back to the 2015 release and are painted well with neat silver colouring on the panels around the strap.



On arrival C-3PO is in his disassembled state. To achieve this Hasbro have made new parts for his arm and legs to reflect the missing limbs. For the arms we have two plug in stumps of wires. These are cast in black with coloured wires individually painted. These two parts go right into the sockets and click into place.


The legs are tackled slightly differently. The break of joint is done at the thigh swivel and the two rubbery sleeves have been sculpted to slide over and hide the peg beneath. Each sleeve is different and again is cast in black with painted wiring.



If you remove these stump parts, you can assemble Threepio in full working order. Arms lock in well, while thighs are a bit tougher to set due to the bigger joint.

Threepio, like Chewbacca, uses parts from his original release back in 2016 - but also like Chewbacca he has some upgrades. The first is his height. Like the Babu Frik Threepio, released around the same time, this version uses the longer thigh pieces from 4-LOM and laterly 0-0-0. This makes him a touch taller than the original model.


The tummy wiring piece has gone back to the Original Trilogy layout first used in 2016 and is different to the part used on the Sequal figures.


While this is meant to be a dirty and battered Threepio, the gold is more metallic than the original release and is a shade darker. This makes the figure more defined. The weathering is a bit hit and miss and is the usual spray of brown - applied mainly on the head and chest and one of the legs.


This is now the definitive Original Trilogy C-3PO and if you can resist breaking him up and putting him in Chewie's backpack he will work in a lot of other Original Trilogy displays.



Accessories 2/5


There is no Bowcaster for Chewbacca. Keeping the set authentic to the Escape from Cloud City scenes, Chewbacca gets an E-11 Stormtrooper blaster as his only weapon. Surprisingly this fits snugly into Chewbacca's right hand and the trigger finger even slots in place. These are not new hand sculpts either, they are the same as the other releases.


The gun, as used on numerous other figures to date, is cast in black and has only one solitary paint app with a silver panel down one side.


While I appreciate Chewbacca didn't have a Bowcaster in this scene, it might have been nice to include one as his signature weapon - make this more of a general Original Trilogy release and help collectors who may have missed out on the first (OT) Chewbacca to use this set as a catch up



Accessory two is the net bag. And this thing is a mess! It has no real definition as a back and is a net tied loosely on and around an elasticated black strip. Edges are freyed and section of it are open - not sure if that is deliberate or mine has ripped or come apart?


Those instructions look simple enough, but boy trying to get Threepio's torso into the bag is horrific. The net works as a net should and snags all the parts - and considering the base of Threepio's thighs are now big wiring messes the frustration is real.


Thankfully others on the world wide web have a solution and that is to turn the bag inside out - place the figure on top and the fold the bag back out. The video I used on Youtube was this one from Mike Kaess - thanks Mike.


With Threepio in the bag the next step is to get the elasticated strap over Chewie's head and let it slide up under the fur of his neck. With the torso and net stable on Chewbacca's back you can then insert the other body parts. I watched some of the Empire scenes to try and configure my set and found Threepio's right arm is in situ when he is in the net bag. One leg and the other arm sit behind him and the final leg to the front and side.


I don't remember the Kenner version being this hard work!



Articulation 3/5

Chewbacca (3/5) and C-3PO (3/5)


Chewbacca has a total of 16 points of articulation. Like all previous Chewies, his bulk does make posing quite restrictive. The head is jointed, but pretty much fixed. the legs too are held back by the fur sculpt - this time around the waist and not helped by those the single joint knees - leaving wider stances the only options


Head : ball joint

Body : torso ball joint

Arms : ball joint shoulder, single rotating elbow, wrist pivot

Legs : ball joint hip, thigh swivel, single rotating knee, ankle pivot


The arms are pretty mobile, and he can even hold the E-11 in a two handed firing pose.


Threepio also comes in with 16 points of articulation when he is fully assembled. As he uses the newer Protocol body he does get the updated elbows with the piston bend. These still don't bend overly far, but the added movement does help in some of those Threepio arm gestures.

Head : ball joint pivot neck

Body : torso ball joint

Arms : rotating pivot shoulder with rotating shoulder cup, piston elbow bend, wrist pivot

Legs : ball joint hips, single knee joint, ankle rockers


Threepio stands pretty well and for the first time I have managed to pose a Threepio with a feet together pose, which is much more accurate for the way Anthony Daniels carries the character on screen when walking or standing.



The set comes to life when the two figures are combined into the classic Bespin Escape setup. While frustrating to get to this stage, this is a set that is more than the sum of its parts.



Summary


This set does give us the best (to date) C-3PO and Chewbacca from the Original Trilogy and is further enhanced by ability to disassemble Threepio and throw him on Chewbacca's shoulders. The execution of this is hard work and a better engineered solution - or clearer guidance in the instructions were needed.


The set does have other issues with Chewbacca's articulation dated and the fur painting still suffering from harsh changes of colour. But it also improves on the older figures with the taller Protocol Droid body and jointed arms for Threepio and a new head sculpt for Chewbacca.



It's issue, at time of writing, is availability. It is an Amazon Exclusive, but only sold via Amazon US at the moment. So while the £40 price tag is fine for a two figure set, the custom charges and delivery cost bring this up closer to £60. If Amazon are going to do exclusives like this, they should be available worldwide - as happened with Palpatine and thrones.


I snagged this when Amazon US had an offer on, and paid around £46 delivered which I am happy with. Worth keeping a watch on the price as it can fluctuate.


I score the Chewbacca and C-3PO Amazon Exclusive a 3 out of 5.




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action figures, reviews, review, articulation, star wars, black series, the empire strikes back, hasbro, chewbacca, C-3po, threepio, droids, wookiee, bespin, cloud city, escape

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