A very special thanks to Rebelscum. Yakface, Banthaskull. and Cool Toy Review for their archives which assisted in this review.
Echo Base Han was reviewed here
Harrison Ford has played two of the most iconic characters in motion picture history. Most actors would give anything to have just one of those characters on their resume. It's ironic when you consider he was never the first choice for either role and the interwebs are loaded with stories of how both Han Solo and Indiana Jones were nearly played by other actors. In playing those parts he has had the honor of having his likeness on a myriad of action figures. I would dare say that Harrison Ford has had his likeness on more 1:18th scale figures than any other actor. I didn't try to do a count on this but it's a safe bet to say if he isn't the top person, he has to be close.
Of course this title only comes with two characters. Only Christopher Lloyd has more characters in 1:18th scale (check out Kevin Lentz's 3 & 3/4 Archive for more info on this). But there is no denying there have been a TON of Han Solo and Indiana Jones action figures over the many years the two have been in existence. What is presented here barely, and I mean barely, scratches the surface, especially on the Han Solo front.
I have split this into two parts to be able to cover all of Harrison Ford's figures in my collection, the first being Han Solo.
When I saw Star Wars in 1977 (Yeah, 1977) I very, very vividly remember when Han shot Greedo my Mom saying "He's not a good man." Of course keep in mind I was 6, Mom's talk differently to 6 year olds. At the end of everything though Han proved he was a good guy, sure he liked money but he also made sure Luke could destroy the Death Star, that had to count for something. I continued reading Star Wars adventures in the Marvel Star Wars comic, a comic I enjoyed for it's time at least. It did a pretty good job of expanding the Star Wars universe as we knew it, even though each time a movie came out they had to kind of readjust the comic, it still was loaded with great stories.
I really think that the lack of Han-like character was one of the major components missing from the Star Wars prequels. I am not sure how you could have that type of rouge in the setting presented, he still was a huge absence in that story.
I do have the original Han Solo figure, but I will also admit that he is in HORRIBLE shape. I really only keep him around because he was the original in my collection. He has awful paint wear, his feet were chewed by my dog, he is just a terrible looking sample. Still he is one of the oldest figures in my collection but in just too bad of shape to show here.
When Empire Strikes Back finally hit, I was ecstatic and couldn't wait for it to hit. Someone told me Han died in the film, I personally think they heard about Han being frozen and took it to be him being killed, but who can say for certain now. One thing that gave the "death" story a bit of credence was the next figure (because I was told he was frozen to death).
So when I was watching Empire Strikes Back, I was waiting for the whole Hoth sequence for Han to freeze to death. When it didn't happen it was a good thing my friend wasn't there cause I probably would have cussed him out (yeah and I was 9 at that point, so you know I was mad). Anyway I figured it out when Han got to Bespin and (SPOILER ALERT) was frozen in carbonite.
For whatever reason, Han was produced with a Karate chop kind of hand. It was years later I noticed most of the vintage Han's had this and I always thought it was funny. Han never showed any kind of martial arts prowess and I don't think it was one of those decisions that was done on purpose at the time, I could be wrong though.
The thing that made this figure stand out was the different colors he had from everyone else though, almost everyone on Hoth had white or brown, where as Han had blue. I am glad he did as it made the character seem more of an individual and was a very marking thing for him.
Of course this isn't my only vintage Han figure:
What I find hard about reviewing vintage figures is that the impose is to compare them to today's standards and that just isn't fair. There was no way at the time Kenner could have pulled off what Hasbro can do today and that isn't a statement towards Hasbro's skills but a statement to the realities of the times. A Microman like body wouldn't have been cost effective at the time the Star Wars line first hit (it was a few years later Micronaughts which were based on Microman would hit here in the United States, but by then it was too late). I have sometimes heard arguments Kenner should have improved the line, but I prefer to think that they were attempting to keep the line compatible with itself. But there were improvements as the Bespin Han does prove.
While the head sculpt still isn't the best, it is a vast improvement over the first attempt at Han. Of course Han comes with that Karate Chop hand as well LOL. The colors are not exact but do reflect Han's outfit in the movie as well. There is a bit more detail than on the original Han which shows that some improvements were made in the ESB line.
Again if taken by today's standards this wouldn't be a great figure, but it was 1980 when this figure hit the toy shelves. The more articulated designs of other lines were just hitting at that point and Star Wars had made a standard. The problem with that standard was the fact that even Hasbro refused to break that standard until fairly recently, but finally they did which gives a quantum leap in both design and articulation, of course this is 30 years later too.
But before I get to that there is of course the POTF line, while I do not have the figures from that line now I did own some of them for a while. The details of them were vastly superior to the vintage line as toy technology had advanced quite well in 20 years. However the weak point was Hasbro held onto that lack of articulation standard. This does become very important because there were fans who didn't want articulation. Articulation hurt the figures forms with lines and gaps that shouldn't exist according to some. What ended up happening though was new technology and designs that gave us figures with articulation that had fewer lines and gaps in them, and thus gave us some GREAT figures. The first of which I would like to view is Hoth Han Solo.
Some people are just catching this figure in the Saga Legends line, but the figure (or at least the base of the figure) has been around since 2007 in the VTAC Line. The line was the first attempt by Hasbro to give articulated figures for the Star Wars line. It was a fun line but a bit overpriced for the time (it also came on vintage style cards).
This specific figure was a repaint with a new hood from the Hoth Recon Patrol pack. A funny thing I noticed right away was the figure had the closed hand of the vintage version, but on the opposite hand. The figure also appeared in the Wal-Mart Exclusive Droid Factory set with a similar paint job. It also has appeared in the Saga Legends line as well.
What needs to be said, this is a great figure for Han in Hoth gear. He has his view finder as an accessory and really looks much closer to Harrison Ford than most earlier attempts. I would have to give this "must buy" status for anyone who loves Star Wars. I really have a hard time finding a problem with this figure.
But not all Han Solo's bear Harrison Ford's likeness
This is of course the version of Han based on Concept Art by Ralph McQuarrie. What was problematic about the Concept Figures was the fact that they came about when Hasbro was finally changing the articulation of Star Wars figures. Thus, a set of all the concept figures will have a differing level of articulation. This can be problematic for a completist to say the least. Still the figure has it's merits.
I will say of all the concept figures, this is probably my least favorite. In many ways it reminds me of the old Flash Gordon comics (Which I am sure is purposeful, but still detracts from the figure as well as the original art). In addition, the obvious Flash Gordon influence kind of makes the figure seem less than what he could be. Unlike other concept figures like Darth Vader or Chewbacca, the look is a throwback rather than a step forward. That still isn't trying to say he is a bad figure, but defiantly less than some of the others. Still that has to be blamed on the art designs more than the figure. With the figure a major detraction is the leg stance. The stance is wide, I suppose to allow that almost cliché hero stance. Still it kind of ends up limiting the figure slightly more than it should.
This is a figure that is good if you want all the Concept Figures. He also comes with a Lightsaber (not pictured, sorry) that shows some of the original ideas made the sabers less unique than they ended up being. Thankfully that rarity ended up being a huge facet of the original trilogy. I am not sure the story of Star Wars would be so enduring if everyone had a lightsaber.
Moving on to one of the lesser of the Han Solo Figures:
I got this figure just for the torture rack, but the figure itself is pretty bad. The lack of holster shows the flaw of the narrow hips and waist on this mold. In addition the figure is of Han in his Bespin outfit, an outfit fans have begged for in this level of articulation (to which we are finally getting it soon).
While the face is intended to be in pain, it ends up looking nothing like Harrison Ford. In fact, there are moments I keep thinking it looks more like Mark Hamel. But both the face, the afore mentioned obvious narrow hips, and other obvious flaws make this figure almost unusable. There was a thought at the time for me to make a custom from this figure for Bespin Han. I dumped the idea due to the untucked shirt (sure I could switch out arms and such, but I also expected a respectable Bespin Han much sooner than we are receiving it now).
End of the day, the only reason to have this figure is for the torture rack he comes with. That dio piece is pretty cool to have even though finding a use for it is a bit hard since it is so recognizable. Still I plan to use it in Dr. Mindbender's laboratory someday.
Now on to a Deleted Han.
Like torture rack Han, the obvious flaws of the mold become apparent without a holster to cover them. While this one does have a belt, it doesn't do a great job hiding the flaws of the mold. However, this figure gets major props for being from the deleted Sandstorm scene of Return of the Jedi. This figure comes from the first wave of the Legacy line which consisted of many of the figures involved in the deleted scene and also was in the same wave as the infamous over packed pegwarmer of 2008: Yarna. This figure ended up being a bit difficult to find however as I only saw it twice, the day of release and a month later. Of course Yarna was packed in the next ten cases (joking btw) which accounted for her being everywhere later in the year. Still I like this and the other "Sandstorm" figures just for being a bit unique after so long into the Star Wars line. That's not an easy thing to do and keep the line interesting.
But up next is my two favorite Han's of all.
For those just noticing the new level of articulation in the Star Wars line, it might shock some to find out this figure actually came out in 2004. Really minus the hips his articulation rivals many figures out on the market now. His hips are still the T-Crotch design, but the rest of the figure is pretty well put together and moveable. While not the best likeness in the universe, the face sculpt is much closer to Harrison Ford than many we have seen before.
The articulation cannot be overstated here, forearms, elbows, shoulders, ankles ect all give a pretty great range of motion for a Star Wars figure. He has very few flaws and most of those can be looked over in many cases. Hasbro keeps getting a ton of mileage out of this figure. I have no idea the exact number of times it's been reused but it is a great deal. Still it's a great mold and has a ton of merit. To me this is almost the ultimate Han Solo
But there is one I think that is slightly better:
In Return of the Jedi, Han wore the cool coat on Endor. This figure from 2006 nearly captures that look perfectly. The hair is painted slightly lighter on this figure when compared to the VTOC which I kind of prefer. In addition, the vest under the jacket is removable. But one thing helps this figure too. If you are industrious enough to track down one of the "Princess Leia Collection" Bespin Han's and steal his jacket, you can use it on this one as a passable Han in Bespin outfit. Of course that won't matter after the Bespin Han comes out in the next wave, but it's fun to have that option.
This Han has just as much articulation as the VTOC Han. Another fun thing is I actually got this Han on clearance. Somehow this one got looked over by fans, I suppose because the base is the VTOC Han (Legs and head at least) which had come out two years before, but I can't say for certain. Still I think it's one of those figures that often gets overlooked by collectors but is a really great representation of Han Solo.
Now this is where this review gets a bit daunting, cause it feels like we should be done, but in actuality we are at the half way mark. The reason being is because Harrison Ford also is Indiana Jones.
This review was originally supposed to be just Indy but Greg on Banthaskull forums suggested I do Harrison Ford with Han as well, and I admit I liked the idea. So with that here we are.
So what can I say about Indy besides the fact I love Indy. Honestly, I have thought of Indy being played by Tom Seleck who was supposed to get the role first and I just don't see him having the same level of magic as Harrison Ford. Just something in Ford's delivery really sells Indy as a character to me, I just don't think Tom Seleck would have the same level of delivery. Also I really don't like the thought of Indy being played by someone else, while I try not to lock actors into certain roles I just don't think someone else would capture Indy the way Harrison Ford does.
I of course first saw Indy in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but one of the things that cemented Indy to me was the old Marvel Comics series. While the series was very short it was pretty cool and highly under rated in my opinion. Indy has long been a favorite of mine, so in 2008 I got excited, but before I get to that line (and it's failings) I must talk about the original Kenner line.
While I missed much of the Kenner Indy line I did manage to get Indiana Jones. It would appear that Kenner was trying to make the Indy line semi-compatible with the Star Wars line, which explains the lack of articulation. The only reason the knees receive the extra articulation is for Indy to ride the horse, but the whole line had this as well and I don't think there was any real explanation for this. My suspicion is the whole line had knee articulation for the sake of uniformity and Indy had to be able to ride the horse. That's just a guess though.
One of the best features of the figure is the string whip, with the spring in the shoulder the figure can "crack the whip." The same spring is intended to be used with the holster as well to draw his gun. I still have the whip but not the gun. I do have to say the whip comes out pretty strong and if you hit yourself with it you will feel it, but probably won't cause any permanent damage.
As motioned with other vintage figures, he is cool for the time, but not perfect. By this point toys had gotten a bit better. O-Ring designs had hit in the form of Dukes of Hazzard and Black Hole so articulation shouldn't have been as limited, but some toylines did still cling to the non-articulation model (Tron, Clash of the Titans, ect) so it kind of falls between the two.
The same can be said for German Disguise Indy. 1982 is also the same year GI Joe hit the pegs and the articulation is night and day when compared to the old Indy line. One of my greatest wishes back then was that Indy (and subsequently Star Wars as well) would have a similar level of articulation. Even back in those days I liked the lines interacting.
Still Indy is a cool figure even with that in mind. He also has a spring in his shoulder for the rocket launcher (which BTW looks nothing like what was used in the film). Should the Indy line have been better, maybe, was it still good for it's time, yes.
in 2008, nearly 26 years after the first toyline in support of Raiders of the Lost Ark we got another Indy line with updated figures. The figures were cool but unfortunately Hasbro over packed Indy in this line. This clearly lead to the line be cancelled prematurely, although some fans argue this point. What cemented it with me was walking into my local Wal-Mart with a wall of Indy figs and they all being Mutt Williams, RPG, Raiders and Crystal Skull Indy. I will always maintain that if handled differently the line could have lasted a few years, instead the line fizzled out after a 7 or 8 months with the last wave being nearly impossible to find at the time.
This line does mark a huge turning point for me in a great many ways. It's kind of sad, but when the line ended I saw grown men making posts about laughing about the line being cancelled. Yes I kid you not. What they wrote was implying they were laughing out loud at people likening the line when it first hit. Bewilderment was the minor reactions to this. But the point is that it made me see that there really are "big little boys" in this collection community we all live in. If a product line isn't "brand ecchs" then not only will they not support it, but they will go out of their way to ridicule those who do (often behind closed doors). It's one thing to be a fanatic, it's entirely another to be an immature 30 something child who pokes at others with different interests. And no I am not joking about any of this.
What I am talking about goes deeper than just not likening a toyline. I can see the point of not liking one thing or another and fully support that as well as speaking out about it (I mean hell, it's the customer's money that may or may not be shoveled out for these products). It's entirely another to poke at fans of another line. Keeping the discussion to the figures seems to be the mature thing to do, but some cannot do that, which is worse is when they are two faced about it and won't say such things publicly instead hiding them. I mean really, ridiculing someone for liking Indiana Jones? I really wish I wasn't being serious about this too. It just made me realize how sad some people really are in this world. Ironically I see some of these same people saying "don't be negative about 'brand ecchs' cause it's not mature." Wow the hypocrisy of some people shocks me.
OK enough on that depressing subject. Another thing I will say towards the line is the fact that the downfall of Indy's line has had lasting effects for Hasbro. How often is it said with various lines "It's just like Indy, they are ruining it too." I think the massive mistakes and mishandlings of the line are still a PR nightmare for Hasbro and in some ways that might be deserved. The chants are changing with a focus on Iron Man's final waves now, but the point is that people remember a mistake much longer than a success and when an idea doesn't work (like over packing a figure well past the saturation point) it gets ugly on the PR front. Any doubt go to a message board and read some of the less than flattering comments to Thor and Captain America lines. No not all of them are unflattering, but there are quite a few who are repeating the same complaints of the Indy line all those years ago.
So now that I have brought you further down, let's look at Indy :-).
Basically this was the first Indy out of the gate along with the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ones. He also is the basic Indy most of the others are based on. While there is some variations for the most part they all start here.
My one knock is that he is a bit busy, the holster is oversized and the satchel gets in the way no matter how hard you try to move it. Still it would have been easy for Hasbro to go worse with this idea so it works on that level and truth is Indy has all this stuff so what can you do. Well some figures worked ways around it.
With the absence of the holster KOTCS Indy worked a bit better. However the lack of holster is also something that was kind of nifty, basically this is a no win scenario. With it the belt is too big and without it you lose a really cool feature. It's lose-lose no matter what direction you go in.
Still I do try to give the figure some props
for being the ONLY Indy with a removable hat. I really wish this feature
had been on Raiders Indy. I might have forgiven the holster problems with
the hat being removable. I have thought that since this figure was
literally everywhere (and in fact I have seen him to this day) that it often
gets less credit than it deserves for being a good figure. I can
understand why, I hate going to the store and seeing the same thing over, and
over, and over. Still it was and is a good figure for an older rendition
of Indiana Jones.
He also comes with a crystal skull but it is permanently part of his hand, in other words to get another character to hold the skull you have to take off the hand. This can be a bit problematic.
Of course one thing that should be mentioned just because it is the elephant on the couch, a major frustrating part of all the Indy's in the line is that there is very little deviation from the basic Indy model. While I will expand on my thoughts on this at the end of the reviews it is something I felt deserved to be mentioned somewhat early.
But the other KOTCS Indy is a bit confusing.
OK So Indy uses the RPG against the Jungle Cutter, yet he had his hat and jacket in that scene. So this must be for when the Russians had kidnapped him and brought him to Area 51, right? But wait he only had his hat off when he got pushed out of the car, and no RPG in site. So what the poop is going on here-HUH? I THINK this is either a deleted scene OR they decided to put out an extra jacketless Indy and just slapped the RPG with him. But wait, where's the hat-HUH-WHAT!?
So I figure if this wasn't a deleted scene where Indy somehow lost his hat, it was a FUBAR on Hasbro. But what makes that worse is the fact that Hasbro already had a perfectly good hat mold and didn't put it anywhere else. Still RPG Indy could "borrow" it.
So with that came the first of the single packs of Indy. Of course no Hasbro movie line would be complete without deluxe packs (heh, ever notice that). In Indy's case though, there was at least one that made perfect sense.
I actually really like this Indy, but I really wish he had come with the Staff of Ra and maybe some surveying equipment. As it is he came with the Ark, which is cool, but I felt he needed a bit more.
So this is a great Indy for vacationing in the Middle East but not much else. Still if you have bought any other Indy's this one wins major props for being a legitimate different version of Indy. Plus he has the Ark which is cool.
The next one also wins props for being different, of course that is because he was not played by Harrison Ford.
I will say up front that when I watch The Last Crusade, I still feel like River Phoenix is past the 20 year mark and is thus too old to be in scouts, still it's what was filmed so the figure tries to look as much like River as possible.
As weird as it is, in Last Crusade Indy tossed snakes around like they were nothing. He also picked up the whip for the first time as well. One of the figures I thought Hasbro could have easily done for this line (if it went any further) was the character referred to as "Fedora" who gives Indy his hat after Indy works so hard to get the cross home. Simple repaint of Indy with a different head. Didn't happen but I would have liked to have seen it (plus he was highly likely as originally Hasbro said in Q&A's they were committed to 2 waves for each Indy film and then seeing what might transpire).
Having Young Indy is kind of fun but he is a bit unusable, especially with Indy around. He is a cool figure though and very worth tracking down.
Next up another deluxe figure.
There really isn't a great deal of difference with this figure and the Raiders version besides the fact his legs are wider (to accommodate the horse-wow that sounded bad) and the lack of holster. Still I suppose that just the horse would have been a bit of a let down (even though Kenner did get away with it). Still I think something like a Sallah with a fez hat might have helped to give the line more variety.
The hands appear to only be painted rather than new ones, there seems to be little difference between the molds of this and the other Indy's. At least with new hands he would have felt a bit different from the rest. It's a bit aggravating when you look back on it, but the horse he comes with was pretty cool.
Overall, if you want the horse, more than likely you are getting this as well so may as well get used to him. At least there is some different paint and he was made for the horse (wow, really bad sounding again).
Now the hardest of the Indy's to find, well at least for a while.
I am convinced that George Lucas was obsessed with Harrison Ford's chest. In American Graphitti he had a slightly opened shirt, In Star Wars, Han's shirt was a bit more open, In Raiders the shirt was pretty open, and by Temple of Doom the shirt was finally off. See clear evidence that George Lucas's career was just a ruse for getting Harrison Ford's shirt off. OK maybe not.
Still this figure gets major props, first I love battle damaged figures and this one fits that bill perfectly. The head sculpt and paint are slightly better than previous attempts (so much so Hasbro is apparently reusing the head for the Indy pack in SDCC this summer). He needs no working holster as he loses the gun at the beginning of the film. Another cool add on is the satchel is a bit different and opens to reveal the stones, however they are not removable (sadly).
Even though I really love this figure, there is a huge part of me that wishes the rumored club Obi-Wan wave had made it out in order to get Indy in the tux. It was one of the very few times Indy had a real costume change and we would have had an Indy that was ready for evening wear, however instead we get this:
Hey, he's got a tie. And pretty much that is his major difference from the other Indy's. He is cool and accurate to the film though. He also has the same gun that came with the Germans but unfortunately he cannot hold it as well as those figures. Often it falls right out of his hands (which might be not that inaccurate if you remember Last Crusade).
So what more is there to say, this Indy is a lot like many of the others and really that is the other major failing of the Indy line. I can't help but believe that if they had spread the Indy's out a bit more (I mean no law said that two Indy's per wave HAD to be the norm), a few more characters had been added (Donovan, ect), and some other looks for Indy (Club Obi-Wan, German Disguise Indy as is coming with the SDCC Set, maybe SS disguise Indy, Classroom Indy) the line would have probably lasted longer and would have given more revenue to Hasbro. I am not suggesting the Indy line could have been as big as Star Wars, but I think at least a year and a half to two years would have been very reachable for this line if more imagination had been applied.
But even more I think the long term damage the Indy line did to Hasbro's reputation to many customers was even worse. The line DID sell and had plenty of support but not even the strongest fan base can support a mismanaged line. But what is surprising is to see that the model for this line is still being used in relation to most movie lines. Actually it was also used in almost all the Hasbro lines until recently (Which hopefully will help solve some lingering problems with lines like GI Joe and Marvel Universe, but hard to say yet). Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America are seeing similar patterns as Indy and in hindsight it's kind of easy to see what will transpire with those 4th waves (as it did with Iron Man 2 comic and concept waves) but nothing can stop a model that people refuse to acknowledge is a failure. Maybe after repeated frustrations, some one will look back and say "Gee, why didn't we fix this with Indy."
So that wraps up the Many faces of Harrison Ford, for now at least. Next time the clawed mutant Wolverine gets a look over. Until then-choose wisely