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REVIEW: STAR WARS LEGACY COLLECTION – HAN SOLO AND LUKE SKYWALKER AS STORMTROOPERS
By Thomas Wheeler

One of the more memorable sequences in the original Star Wars movie is when our noble heroes, recently ex-farmboy Luke Skywalker and the irascible Han Solo, find themselves trapped on the Millennium Falcon which has been dragged into one of the numerous cargo bays of the massive Imperial Death Star.

Needing to find a way out, not to mention rescue Princess Leia, the two decide that the best way to proceed through the gargantuan space station is to hide in plain sight. They overpower a couple of Imperial Stormtroopers and steal their uniforms.

It works – for a while. The Stormtroopers are fully-armored soldiers, and all pretty much look alike (I'm not going to get into the clone issue at this time, since it wasn't an issue at the time), or perhaps it should be better said, they all dress alike – in white armor with a black undersuit, and a helmet that covers the entire head (and if Luke's comment – not to mention a few filming mishaps – are any indication, severely restricts visibility).

This gets the two heroes as far as a control center, where they determine where the tractor beam control is (this job undertaken by Obi-Wan Kenobi), and where the Princess is being held prisoner. With their "captive", the Wookiee Chewbacca, they infiltrate the prison section, and seeing that their bluff is only getting them so far, promptly shoot up the place. Han makes a rather ad-libbed attempt at mollifying a supervisor on a comm unit while Luke tries to find the Princess.

Need it be said, things go downhill from there, as Imperial troopers storm the place, Princess Leia makes a sarcastic but not inaccurate observation about the tactical planning skills of Luke and Han, and the entire group ends up escaping the Imperial attack – by flinging themselves down a garbage chute.

Our intrepid group did, of course, escape from the trash compactor, as well as the creepy creature contained within that tried to make a lunch out of Luke (once again a good reason to be armored), and from there, ultimately made their way back to the Millennium Falcon and escape from the Death Star.

However, over the course of toy production, and wanting to get as many legitimate versions of the lead characters involved as possible, there have, of course, been several appearances over the years by Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper uniforms, including both 3-3/4" and 12" versions.

And recently, they have turned up once again! Given the nature of the figure design format for Star Wars these days, this wasn't especially difficult. Find a good Stormtrooper body design, and snap on a Luke and/or Han head, and give the figure a removable Stormtrooper helmet. Which is pretty much what's been done.

The figures were not sold as a set, but rather on individual cards. However, I am reviewing them together for reasons which will become clear. The two figures have been relatively scarce, which tells me that people either still regard these sequences in the movie as among their favorites, or they're looking to build their Stormtrooper armies and don't really care who's under the headgear.

Before I get into reviewing the figures themselves, I want to say a brief word about the package art. I generally don't comment much about packaging, but this deserves some mention. While the card design itself is relatively common to all figures, there is a bit of distinctive individual artwork on an insert within the outer plastic bubble. And somebody really knocked themselves out turning out really superb illustrations of these two characters. I thought they were photographs until I looked closer. They're not. Someone got hold of some photographs of Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill circa 1977, and really translated them into nice paintings in their Stormtrooper armor. Very impressive, and the artist should be commended.

Now, let's consider the figures. On the surface, they appear to be very nearly identical. Except for the heads, of course. The figures are basically "Super-Articulated" Stormtroopers with removable helmets that happen to have the heads of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. This, in and of itself, makes the m the most impressive 3-3/4" versions of these particular figures ever created.

The "Super-Articulated" Stormtrooper is just that – an Imperial Stormtrooper with as much articulation as possible. The figure is poseable at the head, arms, elbows (including a swivel), wrists, mid-torso, legs, knees (including a swivel), and ankles. Most of the articulation is worked into the armor design, so you can barely tell it's there. This is one of the reasons why I especially like to add Stormtroopers and Clone Troopers to my Star Wars collection. They just look so cool and move so well.

The top of the neck joint on these figures is a ball joint. Any agreeable head can be snapped to this. Sometimes it's a Stormtrooper helmet head. Sometimes it's the Jango/Clone head. Obviously in this case, the heads used are of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. I honestly don't know if these particular headsculpts have been used before. Whether they have or not, however, both are amazing sculpts, truly. They are both superb likenesses of the characters, and they both look appropriately heroic. That is, Han doesn't look too smarmy and Luke doesn't look too short. They're pretty much all business, as well they should be.

Now, here's where I want to get really comparative. Because what surprised me when I opened these two figures and stood them side to side, were the differences between the two of them.

The next portion of this review is going to sound really nit-picky. And that's not my intention. The observations I am going to make are not intended as criticisms against Hasbro. They are, quite simply, observations. Because you'd think these figures would be entirely identical, other than the heads. They have, it would seem, the same basic Stormtrooper body. But there ARE differences.

Precisely WHY there are differences, I don't know. Technically, the figures are part of the same assortment. Were they made from different molds? At different manufacturing facilities? On different deadlines? By different production teams? All of the above? I don't know. And I suspect the average kid, and a fair percentage of collectors, couldn't care less.

And I'm not saying that the differences make me any less pleased with either of these figures. I'm very pleased to have both of them, because – let me say this now – these figures are unquestionably the ultimate versions of "Han and Luke as Stormtroopers" ever created in the 3-3/4" scale, and I don't see them being surpassed anytime in the foreseeable future.

But the minute differences between the two do make for a rather interesting study into the fine details of toy making, and I would like to point them out.

One criticism that I have tended to have about toys in general in recent years – not just Star Wars and not just Hasbro, although Star Wars seems to have suffered from it more than some lines – is the unfortunate habit of certain details being painted by hand, rather than through a paint stencil mask.

Now, a Stormtrooper doesn't have a lot of painted details. Mostly it's just the black undersuit underneath the white armor. But I've gotten pretty good at spotting the difference between spray-painted and hand-painted. On both figures, the elbows, hips, and knees are hand-painted. On Luke, the inside of the upper arms, gloves, and soles of the boots are spray-painted. On Han, all of these details are hand-painted. In a curious reversal, on Luke, the area around the neck is hand-painted. On Han, it's spray-painted. Weirdest of all is the fact that on Luke, an area on the upper torso between the chest and back armor, clearly intended as the undersuit, has been spray painted black. On Han, this area hasn't been painted at all (easily remedied for those with sufficient talent, black paint, and a brush).

On both figures, the area around the hips are hand-painted, and I don't think I've seen a Stormtrooper or Clone Trooper yet where it wasn't. Don't know what it is about that particular area that they can't make a decent stencil for it. Now, in fairness, the hand-painted details on both figures are done very neatly. I've certainly seen vastly worse on this and other toy lines. I still don't think it's the most advisable practice in the world of toy making, but in this case, the end results are not at all unsatisfactory, with the only real "glitch" in my opinion being the unpainted sides on Han.

Then there's the one detail area that really does show, and this is with regard to the helmets. The painted detail on both helmets is all spray-painted. However, there are differences. The small areas of gray detail are neater and more "covering of the necessary area" on Han's helmet than on Luke's. Then we come to the one HUGE difference between the two. The eye-pieces on Han Solo's helmet, the lenses, are very neatly painted within their designated "borders". The black paint on the lenses for Luke's helmet go all the way up to the black stripe that runs across the base of the "forehead" of the helmet! It's really a rather striking visible difference.

In this case, Han's helmet comes across a lot better than Luke's. It's probably possible to tend to Luke's with a bit of very carefully applied white paint. But it is a surprise, and once again, I wish I knew more about how these two figures were manufactured, to be so largely identical, but to have such an apparent difference in how they were painted. This is not the result of sloppy hand painting, either. As best as I can determine, this could only have resulted from two different sets of paint stencils for essentially the same piece. If that's an accurate speculation, I think that's rather odd.

But, the figures do come out of the same set of molds, head notwithstanding, right? Well – maybe not. At least not entirely. While this may not be the case for every figure, Han Solo's legs stand just a little further apart than Luke's. Both figures stand well, and both figures pose well, so this isn't a negative commend in any sense, merely an observation. One further observation, if you really want to get nit-picky, is this. Both figures have "(C) 2005 LFL" (For LucasFilm Ltd) stamped on the back of their upper left leg. But if you want to give yourself a bit of eyestrain, those letters are smaller on Luke's leg than they are on Han's. The only way that could happen is if they came from different molds.

Additionally, note the ridges on the backs of the lower arms. Han's are slightly neater and straighter, than Luke's.

There's one other thing worth mentioning. The back of their belts has this little cylindrical object attached to it. On Luke's belt, it's been glued on. On Han's, it hasn't been – and I recommend the application of a few drops of glue that will work on soft plastic at the earliest opportunity. This is a very small, little white piece of plastic that can be very easily lost.

So, what's all this got to do with anything? Well, perhaps not all that much. And I'm not trying to be critical, or point out minute flaws for the sake of being nit-picky. I just think it's interesting to observe two largely identical figures, ostensibly part of the same assortment, presumably manufactured at the same time, that n evertheless manage to have so many differences to someone who – okay, yeah, I can be nit-picky. But it's still, to me, a somewhat interesting study of toy manufacturing. I do think some matters should be addressed and perhaps revised. But that was not the point of the observations I have made.

However, lest anyone think I'm trying to be negative here, let me endeavor to conclude on a positive note. The heads of these figures are remarkable. Apart from being superb likenesses of the characters, they have been painted with phenomenal precision and detail. The eyes have the whites, colored irises (brown for Han, blue for Luke), black pupils, and a line over the top to represent eyelashes. The eyebrows and hair on both figures has been very neatly painted, and not by hand with a brush, either. These have been spray painted. And they really look great.

So what's my final word? Set aside the mysterious differences. These are two very cool figures. The scenes of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker disguising themselves as Imperial Stormtroopers are classics in the first Star Wars movie, and it's little wonder that previous versions, and these versions, of our two iconic heroes have been as popular as they have. And as I said earlier, these are easily the best versions ever as such.

I won't say they're easy to find. I didn't even find them in the same store (what difference that might have made as to their differences I'm not even going to speculate). But they're certainly worth it. These are two cool Star Wars figures, of two of the most popular characters, in very notable costumes. The STAR WARS LEGACY COLLECTION figures of HAN SOLO and LUKE SKYWALKER in STORMTROOPER ARMOR both definitely have my enthusiastic recommendation!