Review : Star Wars Black Series Han Solo in Carbonite, Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary (Amazon)
To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strike Back, Hasbro released a number of their 6 inch Black Series figures on Vintage era cards. As well as three main waves, a number of exclusives were released including this re-pack of the 2013 Han in Carbonite block which was sold exclusively via Amazon worldwide.
Han comes on a vintage era cardback, increased in size for the 6 inch series. It uses the same movie still as the original Kenner figure, but with an Empire Strikes Back logo. The original Kenner figure for Han in Carbonite wasn't released until 1985 on the POTF cards and the image looks to be taken from the Jabba's scene in Return of the Jedi. Hasbro have chosen to keep this image to invoke that nostalgia.
The card carries a foil Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary Logo top left and the Kenner logo is retained bottom right. The blister is extended vs normal for the larger size. For some reason the card doesn't stand too well, this may be down to the weight of the block or the shape of the blister.
Round the back we have the same card-back as Wave 1, this also plays homage to the original Kenner card backs with the checklist of figures on coloured panels. The cardback has 5 figures pictured from Wave 1, interestingly the other Amazon exclusive of Zuckuss and 4-LOM had a sixth panel inserted to the far left to show that particularly figure - this has not been replicated here.
There is no background text here, just a short piece of text, generic to all the Empire 40th Anniversary cards, giving some background to the collection.
"Commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back with figures from The Black Series, featuring classic design and packaging"
Paint & Sculpt 3/5
When you open the pack - and I suspect many will keep it sealed - you will find the Carbonite block itself along with a three part acrylic stand that I will come onto shortly. The block is a hard plastic, sculpted on all sides apart from the back which is smooth. The proportions of the block are good, the imprint of Han is actually taller than the Bespin Han - but not so much it looks odd.
The cast impression is excellent with a texture around the body with clear defined features on the face, which is a great likeness, as well as the outstretched hands and the feet. The front Carbonite section is cast in a metallic gunmetal plastic with some degree of silver dry brushing to bring out the highlighted areas.
The sides of the block are cast with various control panels and mechanisms. These are painted with subtle silver sections - and on the top right with the control panel, complete with green keypad and grey indicator screen.
This piece was of course first released in 2013 as part of the Black Series launch and as a San Diego exclusive alongside Boba Fett. There have been no changes for this do-over 7-years later, in fact the back of the block still carries the 2013 copywrite. Every paint app is matched well, with no obvious variants in shading or colour.
This re-release does of course put the block in reach of collectors who missed out in 2013, with the Boba Fett SDCC pack one of the higher end pieces on the secondary market in terms of price.
The stand piece is cleverly designed to perform two functions. If you assemble to two halves of the upright and then slot that into the oval base, you have a platform for Han in a vertical position - as seen as Boba Fett and the Stormtroopers wheel him through Cloud City to Slave-1.
There are no instructions included (there were in the SDCC 2013 release), so it may take some trial and error to line everything up. The Carbonite slab has two slots on the back and two notches on both the top and the base to line up with this horizontal configuration. This allows Han to be positioned head first at the base or feet first. The whole piece hovers nicely at the height you see in the movie.
If you leave the two uprights in place but slide off the Oval base, you are now left with an upright display base - as seen when Han comes out of the Freezing Chamber, and of course as seen in Jabba's palace. I always felt this position has too much of a backward lean, particularly for any Jabba's palace scene - but it does allow for Han to be a display piece in this orientation.
While Han in Carbonite is a great looking piece, both on its Vintage Card and unpacked and on display in either configuration, it is a static piece with no articulation and limited paint application. It retails in the UK at £16.99, just £3 less than a normal figure and I am not sure personally if it does enough to justify that price point.
The choice of Amazon as the exclusive retailer is also not great for fans. Amazon exclusives are usually worldwide, meaning there is no other option to purchase from and we are left to gamble on the condition of the figure on arrival which I have seen shipped in anything from a Jiffy Bag, folded Amazon cardboard sleeve with no packing to a full enclosed box.
Carbonite Han is an iconic part of Star Wars, and the 2020 re-release puts it somewhat back into the grasp of collectors. I would hope that for the 40th Anniversary of Return of the Jedi, Hasbro explore perhaps how to give us the Han figure with the block itself - as seen in 1985 with the Power of the Force release.
I score the 2020 Vintage Carded 40th Anniversary Han Solo in Carbonite a 3 out of 5.
About Me : As a child of the 70's and 80's I grew up in a golden age for action figures and in my youth bought and sold myself through collections of Star Wars, G.I. Joe (Action Force) and M.A.S.K. while also dabbling in He-Man, Transformers and Ghostbusters. Roll forward and I am now reliving that Youth with the action figures of today and am a collector and fan of the larger 6-8 inch figures from my favourite movie and TV licences - including the ones mentioned above, but also the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Who and the Aliens. I launched The Mephitsu Archives in 2015 with a view of creating a UK focused site or these figures where fans can pick up the latest action figure news, read reviews and get information on where to buy their figures and what is currently on store shelves. I hope I am delivering that to you guys...
action figures, reviews, review, articulation, star wars, black series, 40th anniversary, the empire strikes back, hasbro, kenner, han solo, carbonite