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Princess Leia & Han Solo: Back In Black (Series)

SW-Black-Series-3-featThe Force Awakens’ star-crossed lovers join the Wal-Mart exclusive 3.75″ Black Series, along with the First Order’s Captain Phasma.

Wal-Mart chose to celebrate May the 4th Day this year in the best way possible– by releasing a new wave of Star Wars figures.  The latest additions to the 3.75″ Black Series include three all new, highly detailed and super-poseable figures, each appearing in this collection for the first time.  Captain Phasma is a dramatic improvement over the previously released, 5 point of articulation version, but it’s Han Solo and Princess Leia, both based on their older, Force Awakens looks, that are the most interesting new releases.

Until now, the Force Awakens Black Series has included figure who have a direct analog in the basic line, but both Han and Leia get unique looks this time out.  Solo is decked out in the cold weather jacket he wore during the raid on Starkiller base, while Leia is wearing her blue dress seen at the end of the movie.  It’s cool that Hasbro opted for this alternate look for Solo, although the choice of this rather niche look over Han’s classic style would probably be a little frustrating for those who aren’t into the 5 POA figures.  Still, there’s a complete sculpt resting under this heavy coat, which makes me think we’ll see a standard Black Series Solo sooner than later.  Han’s sculpt is good, with a lot of detail worked into the jacket (including a nicely layered scarf that rests underneath the collar, and despite the bulk of his outfit his articulation features a solid range of motion.

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The Harrison Ford portrait is actually great, but it suffers from some shortcomings due to the paint work.  Han’s eyes are painted too big, giving him a sort of cartoony look, and his light brown hair misses the mark in comparison to Solo’s grey hair seen on screen.  It’s an easy fix, but the lack of grey on both this and the 6″ Solo is definitely puzzling.  Was the Hasbro team trying to spare Ford’s feelings?  Or was this a translation problem with the factory?  I’d love to find out.

Speaking of puzzling, while it’s beyond great to have a modern Leia in the Star Wars line (FINALLY!), it’s strange that Hasbro chose Leia’s blue dress, an outfit she wears for only a single scene in the movie.  I would have preferred Leia’s Resistance General uniform personally, but the figure we get is good enough that I’ll be patient and hope Hasbro still tackles General Leia in the future.  It’s also strange that Hasbro would choose to articulate this version of Leia, considering the design of her dress doesn’t exactly lend itself to action poses.  I can’t help but think this version of the Resistance leader would have been fine as a 5 POA figure, instead of the Black Series format.

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Leia sports a soft goods gown with a rubber overlay, which adds a nice sense of dimension to the figure.  There’s some great little details on this figure, including Leia’s ring and her intricate hairstyle, and like Han, the portrait of Carrie Fisher is on point.  Leia’s paint apps are overall better than Solo, which lets Fisher’s likeness come through more effectively, although her eyebrows are slightly too long, extending too far toward the bridge of her nose.  I’m going to try to erase a millimeter from each with nail polish, and I’m confident the end result will be one of the best actor liknesses we’ve seen on a Star Wars toy.

Rounding out the new assortment is Captain Phasma, who remains one of the coolest character designs in The Force Awakens, even if she didn’t have much to do.  Half the appeal of Star Wars is cool looking characters, though, so I’m totally okay with her getting the Black Series treatment.  Phasma is a big step up from her 5 POA figure, with a more screen accurate sculpt and better proportions in the size of her helmet and her overall height.  The additional articulation is a big help in allowing Phasma to strike a number of poses with her blaster, although there’s an odd flourish sculpted into her cape that limits some natural posing options. She’s still not chrome plated, but this Phasma is much shinier than both the 5 POA and 6″ Black Series figure, making this the closest to screen accurate toy we’ve seen from Hasbro, hands down.

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While there’s a few odd choices in terms of these latest figures, Han, Leia and Phasma still remain some of the best small scale Black Series toys I’ve seen in quite some time. They look great, benefit from the increased articulation of this format, and feel like welcome additions to the overall Force Awakens collection… especially Leia.  It’s also awesome that two of the three figures in this set are women, and factoring in the re-packed Rey also in this case, that’s a refreshingly large percentage of female characters in a single wave of Star Wars figures.

There’s a lot to love about Hasbro’s latest Star Wars Black Series figures… in fact that only thing that really inhibits them is their status as Wal-Mart exclusives.  The retail giant has always been notoriously inconsistent with their releases, even when they’re exclusive, and unfortunately the Black Series is no exception.  Han, Leia and Phasma are all worth the hunt, don’t get me wrong.  But since it’s Wal-Mart we’re dealing with, they won’t be the easiest figures to find.

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