‘Star Wars’ Collectibles & Toys Review: Hasbro Star Wars The Black Series Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary Figure)

Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) in her “Kenner” cardback packaging. For the 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, Hasbro’s Star Wars The Black Series is releasing a wave of its new 6-inch scale figures in replicas of the 1980 Kenner Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back collection’s packaging. Photo Credit: Hasbro. (C) Hasbro, Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

Leia Organa: Warrior-Princess!

In April 2020, Hasbro, Inc. of Pawtucket (Rhode Island) released a wave of new 6-inch action figures from its Star Wars The Black Series line inspired by director Irvin Kershner’s 1980 film Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Based on various heroes, villains, sidekicks, and robots seen in the second installment of the original Star Wars Trilogy, these figures included Luke Skywalker (Bespin), Yoda, Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) AT-AT Driver, Imperial Probe Droid, Han Solo (Bespin), and Rebel Soldier (Hoth), just to name a few.

Princess Leia Organa, who was played in six of the nine Skywalker Saga films by the late Carrie Fisher, is one of the Original Trilogy’s “Big Three” Rebel heroes, along with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford). She’s also an iconic figure, not just in the context of the Star Wars franchise but in modern cinema.

When she was introduced in Star Wars (1977), Leia was a Princess who may have been in distress but wasn’t a shrinking flower waiting for a stalwart hero to come to her rescue. Right from the start, she stood up to Darth Vader even after being captured by his 501st Legion stormtroopers and attempted to bluff her way out of a nasty situation aboard her captured Rebel blockade runner. She withstood a torture session with an IT-0 interrogation droid. She even stayed focused on her mission to deliver the stolen Death Star plans after the Empire destroyed her home planet of Alderaan.

As such, Leia became the prototype of many female action heroes, including Ellen Ripley from the first four Alien films to Sarah Connor of the long-running Terminator series. And as played by the irrepressible Carrie Fisher, she was as fast with a quip – especially in arguments with Han Solo – as she was with a blaster.

Naturally, she became a fan favorite, and action figures based on her character were part of everyone’s Star Wars collection, starting with the original Kenner Princess Leia Organa figure from 1978.

“We all had Princess Leia action figures in our collections!” In 2010. Gentle Giant released a large-scale replica of the original Kenner action figure from 1978. Photo Credit: Entertainment Earth

The Figure

Promotional image of Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary Action Figure. Photo Credit: Hasbro. (C) 2020 Hasbro, Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA (HOTH)

After the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance relocated to Hoth, where Princess Leia remained a key figure in the fight for freedom. -Hasbro promotional blurb, Star Wars The Black Series Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Action Figure

Three years after the Battle of Yavin, Princess Leia Organa is still on the front lines of the Rebel Alliance’s war against the oppressive Galactic Empire. Now she’s one of the Alliance’s senior commanders in charge of Echo Base on the ice world of Hoth, the latest in a series of outposts used by the Rebels since the Empire overran the Massassi Outpost on Yavin Four.

On Hoth, Leia has traded in her Alderaanian gown for an insulated jumpsuit more suitable for the freezing temperatures of Hoth. She wears her hair in Nordic-style on-duty braids, and on her heated Rebel-issue vest, she bears a command officer’s rank insignia. And to commemorate her lost home planet, her two-piece jumpsuit is white, a reminder that she is still a warrior-princess from Alderaan.

A 1983 Kenner Star Wars; Return of the Jedi cardback reissue of the 1980 Princess Leia Organa (Hoth Outfit) figure. Photo Credit: WorthPoint.

Star Wars The Black Series Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) Toy Action Figure

Recall intense moments with this Star Wars The Black Series 40TH anniversary 6-inch scale Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) action figure that includes 3 accessories, and features premium deco across multiple points of articulation. – -Hasbro promotional blurb, Star Wars The Black Series Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Action Figure

The 2020 Star Wars The Black Series version of Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) is a 6-inch scale action figure inspired by Kenner’s original 1980 figure from the original Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back product line. However, unlike Hasbro’s Star Wars “RETRO” collection (which features 3.75-inch action figures made from molds that are identical to those used by Kenner Toys in its Hong Kong factories between 1978 and 1985), the figure is designed to more closely resemble Carrie Fisher’s feisty combat leader, not the original toy.

The first thing one notices – other than the larger figure and cardback packaging – is how detailed Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) looks, especially in comparison to the original 1980 figure.

Obviously, advances in toy design and manufacture play an inevitable role in making modern Star Wars figures more realistic than their Kenner Toys ancestors; computer aided design/computer aided manufacturing methods have, since the 1990s, steadily improved the look and authenticity of Hasbro’s action figures, especially when it comes to those that are based on human characters such as Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia.

Whereas the 1980 Princess Leia Organa (Hoth Outfit) had a generic look (I sometimes refer to it as the “Fisher-Price” look, although thankfully Kenner gave the figure’s face a neutral expression instead of a permanent smile) and inaccurately rendered Leia’s vest in a dark tan color to differentiate it from the rest of her light beige/off-white jumpsuit, the Star Wars The Black Series Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) action figure has more fidelity to the on-screen Rebel leader’s physical features and John Mollo-designed costume.

Promotional photo of Star Wars The Black Series Princess Leia Organa (Hoth), If it were not for the visible points of articulation on Leia’s arms, one could swear that the vest and jumpsuit were made out of real fabric instead of plastic. Photo Credit: Hasbro. (C) 2020 Hasbro, Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

PREMIUM ARTICULATION AND DETAILING

Star Wars fans and collectors can display this highly poseable (4 fully articulated limbs) figure, featuring premium deco, in their action figure and vehicle collection. -Hasbro promotional blurb, Star Wars The Black Series Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Action Figure

Another significant difference between the two figures is the number of points of articulation (POAs) they have. In the context of toy manufacturing, POAs are analogous to joints in the human body, such as the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and so on. The more POAs a figure has, the more lifelike the poses can be.

Kenner micro-action figures from 1978 to 1985 usually have only five POAs. They are:

  • One in the neck area (to turn the figure’s head from side to side.
  • Two in the shoulders (to have the figure “aim” a blaster or brandish a lightsaber in “action poses”) or make the figure look like the character is driving/flying a vehicle
  • Two in the hips (to place the figure in a sitting position in a vehicle)

Some figures, such as R2-D2. only had three POAs; Chewbacca only had four because his head and torso were sculpted as a single piece and thus had no neck swivel point.

Kenner tried hard to make its figures as good-looking and “playable” as possible, so it sculpted some of the figures in such a way that the limbs had natural-looking “bends” at the knees and elbows, but most of the characters (Rebels, Imperials, or “neutrals”) could only hold their blasters in one-handed (and straight-armed) grips.

Photo Credit: Hasbro. (C) 2020 Hasbro, Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

Due to the larger size of her action figure, Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) from Hasbro’s Star Wars The Black Series has at least 13 points of articulation. They are:

  • One for the neck
  • Two for her shoulders
  • Two for her elbows
  • Two for her wrists
  • Two for her hips
  • Two for her knees
  • Two for her ankles

The advantage of having so many POAs in a figure is that one can pose it in more closer-to-life realistic ways. This is especially true if you’re a hobbyist who creates Star Wars dioramas for fun (and to display your action figures).

I’m not skilled enough to create a Star Wars diorama. But other fans and collectors are! And, let’s face it, there’s no way you can create a realistic one with the original Kenner figures.

In addition, the 2020 figure of Leia in her Rebel-issue cold weather “Hoth gear” benefits from a more realistic sculpt and paint job that gives her a more “that looks like Carrie Fisher!” aspect than the more primitive original Kenner figure ever could.

Another salient feature – made possible by the figure’s larger size and Hasbro’s practice of including more accessories – is the versatility of the 2020 Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) figure. Now, instead of just wielding a small slender blaster pistol (an accessory that all of Kenner’s Princess Leia-based action figures were equipped with), the Star Wars The Black Series figure comes with the following items:

  • A Rebel-issued Blas Tech DH-17 blaster
  • Welding goggles
  • A welder
  • Thermal vest

(The welding equipment comes in handy if you plan to create a diorama based on the scene in Empire where Han and Leia share their first kiss.)

My Take

Overall, Star Wars The Black Series Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) is an outstanding figure in Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Backs 40th Anniversary Collection. It’s not exactly a new figure; it was originally released as a regular Star Wars: The Black Series figure in that line’s standard red-and-black packaging in 2018 with the same set of accessories. The only “new” feature is the 1980-style Kenner cardback, which features that brand’s blue-and-white logo, as well as the silver-and-red Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back logo used for Kenner’s 1980-1982 Star Wars line of licensed toys and games.

(Hasbro has done this before: three years ago, to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the original 1977 Star Wars, it re-released a number of its Star Wars The Black Series figures in packaging that resembled the first “12 cardbacks” for the first dozen figures. I couldn’t get all 12 of the in “Kenner” cardbacks for my 40th Anniversary Legacy Display Stand, but other collectors told me which regular Star Wars The Black Series figures I should buy to round out the set.)

Promotional photo of the 2017 Star Wars: The Black Series 40th Anniversary Legacy Display Stand. Photo Credit: Hasbro. (C) 2017 Hasbro, Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

My figure closely resembles the one in Hasbro’s promotional images. There are minor differences, though. My Princess Leia Organa (Hoth)‘s boots are a darker shade of gray than the ones you see here. But in almost every respect, what you see in the illustrations here is what you’ll get if you decide to buy this figure.

Photo Credit: Hasbro. (C) 2020 Hasbro, Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

If you’re a longtime Star Wars action figure collector – especially of the Star Wars The Black Series figures – chances are that you have one of these Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) figures from 2018. So if you already own the one from ’18, here’s my recommendation: unless you are a completist with deep pockets or simply want this figure for the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary collectible cardback, you might want to pass on this one.

However, if you’re like me – a sometime collector who has limited resources and not a heckuva lot of space for either storage or display of these figures, you might want to get your hands on one before the 40th Anniversary editions from 2020 become scarce and you have to pony up more than the MSRP of $19.99 from resellers online or local comic book stores. Princess Leia Organa (Hoth) is a nicely rendered replica of a character who has been a fan favorite for 43 years, and the packaging adds a bit of nostalgia, especially for adults who grew up with the original Kenner Star Wars figures.

As always, I hope you enjoyed reading this review as much as I enjoyed putting it together. And until next time, May the Force be with you.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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