Yodasnews Review: Princess Leia Organa (Hoth Outfit)
Vintage Collection (2010) – The Empire Strikes Back
Review and Photography by Jeffrey A. Gouse (SithLord0498)
Review Date: July 6, 2010
How do we quantify just how much time this is? The Cold War passed the torch to a frightening new age of terrorism. The Internet and other exponential advancements in telecommunications have shrunk the world down into a very small community. Let’s be honest: the past thirty years have ushered in an uncertain new world for many of us.
So it is perhaps with a twisted sense of irony that we can also quantify thirty years as a significant anniversary for the darkest entry in the Original Trilogy—The Empire Strikes Back. Considering the rampaging marketing vehicle that Star Wars has become, it should come as little surprise that 2010 stands to be a record year for Empire-centric merchandise.
On the mass market front, Hasbro joined the celebration by revisiting their “Vintage Collection” specialty line. This will mark the fourth time the toy company has delved into such nostalgic territory, and one can expect 2013 to see a similar Jedi-centric assortment for that film’s thirtieth anniversary. While lauded as a popular line with collectors, prior Vintage assortments—particularly the five figure “Vintage Saga Collection” wave—have seen their fair share of pegwarmers. This is no doubt due in part to the premium $10 MSRP of the figures. Still, these collections have yielded quite a few high quality figures, ones that often became THE definitive renditions of their character/costume counterparts.
Today’s review spotlights one such standout entry in this latest Vintage Collection: Princess Leia Organa in her Hoth outfit. Being both a fan-favorite look for the Princess and a figure in desperate need of an overhaul, Hasbro’s attempt hits many more marks than it misses.
Without further ado, here is Yodasnews’ in-depth examination of “Hoth Leia”.
PORTRAIT: Excellent (Bordering on Above Average)
In our review of Hasbro’s “be all, end all” Slave Girl Leia figure, we touched on the character’s checkered hit-or-miss history with regards to her portraits. Fortunately, this figure falls on the highest end of the “hit” spectrum because this is the closest Hasbro has ever come to capturing Carrie Fisher’s likeness in a plastic action figure. Yet the reasons why can be a tad elusive because they lurk in the subtleties of the sculpting.
First, there is the stern and somber expression which captures emotions matching those Fisher displayed for much of Empire’s dire circumstances. Second, Carrie Fisher has rather wide eyes, and the sculpting imitates this recognizable feature to some extent. Additionally, the shape of the nose looks very much like Fisher’s nose. In fact, the only lacking facial feature is that the face is too full, which becomes apparent when compared against publicity stills. With regards to the figure’s hair, Hasbro clearly paid a significant amount of attention to the intricacies of the braiding.
On the paint application side, Hasbro did excellent yet minimal work, which is very appropriate in this case. The hairline—a common stumbling block with action figures—has been applied with machine-like precision. The color though is too dark to be considered screen accurate. Hasbro did attempt to add definition via a brown paint wash on the back of Leia’s head, but it is so imperceptible that it’s ineffective. It is also a surprising change from the prototype shown at Toy Fair earlier this year, which had a dominant brown wash. The eyebrows are just as precise as the hairline, and the eyes are evenly spaced, both of which go a long way toward enhancing the aesthetics. The figure’s lips are a deep rich red in an attempt to emulate Fisher’s lips during the Hoth scenes—although the color is a touch too deep.
BODY / OUTFIT: Above Average
After spending time reviewing figures from Hasbro’s Iron Man 2 line where Iron Monger is a smidge taller than Iron Man, it is refreshing to return to an action figure line where the relative scales between characters are respected. This is an area in which Hasbro has consistently excelled since they adopted it as standard practice in the Star Wars line. Carrie Fisher is very petite (5’1” according to her IMDb.com profile). In turn, Leia is a very small figure, which becomes very apparently when placed next to figures such as Chewbacca or Darth Vader.
Before examining Hasbro’s rendition of the costume, there is one more aspect of the body that needs to be addressed. The ball joint at the top of the neck post has been left unpainted, which normally means nothing. In this case, though, it is aesthetically disruptive because the white plastic is very visible when the head is repositioned.
Now we get to the figure’s greatest strength—the Hoth snowsuit.
For something as seemingly simple as a padded jumpsuit and jacket, Hasbro filled their product with a wealth of detail by strictly adhering to and emulating the stitching and material variations in the filming costume. The jacket is dominated by wide and evenly-spaced cross-hatching and minimal creases, successfully simulating a heavier material resistant to changes in shape. Conversely, the jumpsuit is a crumpled mess—and that’s a very good thing. As this part of the costume was made from a more flexible material, Hasbro made the same distinction by sculpting innumerable shallow lines. The patches on the thighs and arms are properly raised and less creased, indicating a shift back toward rigidity.
The sculpting team clearly did their homework, and the knowledge they gleaned truly shines through in the finished product. In fact, there are only two mild deficits. One deals with the wide center seam and the corresponding seams flanking on her sides. The filming costume’s seams are clearly raised and stand out against the rest of the jumpsuit while those on the figure require close scrutiny. The second will be addressed shortly.
Hasbro also did a terrific job on the paint applications. Every normally visible part of the outfit has a tan paint wash, Hasbro’s attempt at simulating the stains inherent in putting white clothing in a snowy environment. For those who may think the company went overboard, just think about how quick that pristine snow gets filthy when you’re shoveling your driveway in mid-January. The variations in the paint wash’s concentrations are realistically distributed with the jacket getting the heaviest tainting and the thighs coming in a close second. The chest area of Leia’s jumpsuit gets the least because it’s shielded by the jacket.
There is a problem though: Hasbro completely neglected applying the paint wash to Leia’s back. The phenomenal sculpting found on the jumpsuit is absent as well. This was the aforementioned second deficit. Yes, the jacket does completely cover up this part of the figure, so it’s a non-issue for most people. However, the jacket is not difficult to remove, and there are bound to be collectors out there who would like to display the figure sans-jacket. Those consumers will find themselves saddled with an awkward looking figure.
While the lack of detail on Leia’s back is an annoyance, it’s ultimately a minor hiccup. A more prevalent and frustrating set of painting flaws center on Leia’s rank badge, and there are many flaws. The filming costume’s badge is recessed into the jacket material—not raised above as it is on the figure. The silver paint not only bleeds onto the tan-white jacket but also extends into the outer border of the badge where it should not be. While on the subject of said silver paint, it should be noted that the filming costume’s badge is not even silver at all! It’s a blue-gray mix. Additionally, the color pattern on the four blocks lining the top is: blue, orange, blue, red. The pattern on the figure: red, silver, red, silver—grossly inaccurate and sloppily painted as well.
These comments may seem nitpicky and over-the-top, but they are easily noticeable to other collectors. Case in point: a fellow collector who has a Hoth Leia focus collection independently pointed out these errors in casual conversation.
The only positive thing here is that the badge is a small element in the midst of the figure’s greatest strengths.
Hasbro scores slightly better marks with their work on Leia’s footwear. Their exceptional cloth simulations continues here with a pair of boots that look like heavy leather encased in a wrapping of more vinyl-like leather. The color is definitely off though as the real boots are clearly blue-gray. Oddly enough, this is an element Hasbro got correct on their first modern Hoth Leia (Power of the Force 2 circa 1998).
Ultimately, the outfit still deserves its “above average” rating based on the strength of Hasbro’s stellar replication of the snowsuit’s various textures as well as their impressive simulation of dirty snow stains (for lack of a better description).
ARTICULATION: Above Average
Sporting twelve points of articulation, Hoth Leia comes close to attaining excellence but falls just short because ankle articulation is absent. It is definitely possible to put this figure in a wide variety of poses, but articulated ankles would have provided better stability and balance which is important for achieving more dynamic free-standing poses.
The rhyme and reason behind Hasbro’s articulation decisions remains a conundrum. Leia is a major core character in the Original Trilogy, and this is a long-awaited update to an iconic and fan-favorite version of the character. Yet she gets slighted in articulation whereas the generic AT-AT Commander (available in the same Vintage assortment) gets the ankle articulation, bringing it up to 14 joints. Aesthetics can not possibly be a factor either as the boots’ design actually helps accommodate and conceal the hinge. Hers are very similar to Bespin Luke’s boots, and Hasbro had no difficulty there.
Lastly, the ball jointed head moves very freely due to the socket being nearly too big for the neck post. Thankfully, the head does not fall off easily. Also, it has a…unique advantage. You can cock the head in such an unnatural direction that you can easily create a “ZOMBIE LEIA” pose!
ACCESSORIES: Excellent (Bordering on Above Average)
Continuing in the Vintage Collection’s tradition of minimal accessories (a definite tip of the hat to the bare-bones Kenner figures), Hoth Leia comes with a single accessory: a DH-17 blaster pistol a.k.a. the “Rebel Fleet Trooper blaster”. While Leia never used this weapon on-screen, Hasbro did not make an error. Promotional images from The Empire Strikes Back clearly show Carrie Fisher holding the DH-17.
As for the accessory itself, the weapon’s size relative to Leia’ petite frame looks accurate. The finer details may not be accurate, but the major components and iconic features such as the silver bullet-like barrel are all faithfully rendered and make this gun easily recognizable. And accurate or not, those finer details are extremely detailed and clearly sculpted.
All in all, it’s a dang fine accessory!
The reason for the conditional “Excellent” rating is that Hasbro could have included something more appropriate and substantial with the figure such as the oxygen mask she wore in “the cave”.
OVERALL RATING: Above Average (Bordering on Excellent)
Final judgment on this figure really needs to be considered relative to its success or failure as an effective update to a long-neglected figure. Weighed on that scale, the new Vintage Collection Princess Leia Organa (Hoth Outfit) figure is a resounding success. Judged on its own merits, the figure only loses a little ground. The blatantly shoddy work on the rank badge hangs like an anchor around Leia’s neck, but thankfully, the strength of the overall sculpting and the snowsuit’s paint applications are more than enough to buy this figure.
So it’s clearly a must-buy figure, yes?
That depends on how much the $9.99 MSRP matters to you. Personally, it is the opinion of this reviewer that the premium MSRP attached to the Vintage Collection is too high for what consumers get. The card front is essentially a reprint of an existing card, and the layout on the back has remained relatively the same throughout the four Vintage Collections. The amount of plastic used for the bubble is minimal. Based on that, it doesn’t seem likely that the packaging increased costs more than a figure in the basic line would. Accessories are minimal, and there is nothing premium about the figure itself—as good as it may be.
In the end, consumers are paying this premium price for nostalgic reasons and because it’s regarded as a premium line. However, this is also the price we as collectors will have to pay if we want this exceptional remake of Hoth Leia. Yes, a lower price would be fairer, but, since such a blessing is doubtful, consumers will need to bite the bullet and slap down a ten at the checkout counter.