‘Star Wars’ Collectibles & Toys Review: Hasbro Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Bespin) (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary Figure)

Photo Credit; Hasbro

Han Solo: Scoundrel, Pirate, Rebel

On April 28, Hasbro released its Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary collection of action figures and other collectibles from its ongoing Star Wars The Black Series line. Meant to commemorate the Ruby Anniversary of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, this wave of 6-inch scale action figures features heroes, villains, and robots seen in director Irvin Kershner’s 1980 movie – including Luke Skywalker (Bespin), Yoda, Rebel Soldier (Hoth), AT-AT Driver, and Princess Leia Organa (Hoth).

Along with Mark Hamill’s Luke and Carrie Fisher’s Leia, Harrison Ford’s dashing-but-cynical Han Solo is one of the original Star Wars Trilogy’s Big Three Heroes of the Rebellion. He’s also among the most popular characters, appearing in five of the nine Skywalker Saga films and the only one to be featured in a standalone Anthology film – Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Created by writer-director George Lucas to be the older, more cynical foil to the idealistic and naïve Luke Skywalker, Han Solo is the archetypical Rogue with a Heart of Gold. In Star Wars, he is introduced as a skilled but reckless pilot-for-hire who accepts Obi-Wan Kenobi’s charter for a quick hop to Alderaan in exchange for 17,000 credits. And when that gig morphs into the rescue of a captive Princess from the Empire’s first Death Star, he insists that he’s “not in this for your revolution, and I’m not in this for you. I’m in it for the money.” In fact, Lucas wrote the last act of Star Wars in such a way that viewers in 1977 thought that Han might fly off to Tatooine and pay off Jabba the Hutt instead of helping the Rebellion destroy the Death Star at the Battle of Yavin.

“What good’s a reward if you ain’t around to use it?”

Of course, Han does come back to help Luke – urged on, no doubt, by his Wookiee copilot Chewbacca. His last-minute intervention during the Yavin battle makes it possible for Luke Skywalker to make “the shot heard across the galaxy” and destroy the Death Star. Like Casablanca’s Rick Blaine, inside Han’s shell of cynicism, bravado, and mercenary instincts lies a long-denied core of decency and courage. And, despite his claims to the contrary, Han is in it for the Rebellion and Princess Leia by the time the Rebels establish a new secret base on the ice world of Hoth.  

Since Kenner introduced its Star Wars “micro-action figures” in 1978, Han, like Luke, Leia, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and the droid duo of R2-D2 and C-3PO, has been a fan favorite – and action figures bearing the Corellian smuggler-turned-Rebel have been part of every collector’s stash for over 42 years.

Photo of a 2010 Gentle Giant 12-inch scale replica – in Kenner branded cardback – of the original “Big Head” Han Solo figure from 1978. Photo Credit: Ebay seller Jersey Shore Toy Show.

The Figure

This reissue of Star Wars The Black Series #70 Han Solo Bespin from 2016 is repackaged in a “Kenner” branded cardback. Photo Credit: Hasbro. (C) 2020 Hasbro, Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Bespin) Toy Action Figure

Recall intense moments with this Star Wars The Black Series 40TH anniversary 6-inch Han Solo action figure that includes Han’s signature blaster accessory, and features premium deco across multiple points of articulation.– Hasbro publicity blurb, Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Bespin) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Action Figure  

The original 2018 Han Solo (Bespin) in its Star Wars The Black Series branded packaging. Photo Credit: Hasbro. (C) 2018 Hasbro, Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

Originally released in 2018 as the 70th Star Wars The Black Series 6-inch scaled action figure, Han Solo (Bespin) is a re-imagined and upscaled reboot of the original Kenner action figure from the 1980-1982 Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back line. However, unlike Hasbro’s Retro 3.75-inch action figure of the same name and somewhat similar cardback design, this Han Solo (Bespin) is not made from molds that are nearly identical to those used in the early Kenner Toys era. Star Wars The Black Series figures are designed and sculpted to look as closely as possible as the Star Wars characters they represent; Han Solo (Bespin)  bears a striking resemblance to Harrison Ford’s Han as he appeared in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back.

The Original Solo: A mint condition 1980 Han Solo (Bespin Outfit) figure from Kenner’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back collection. It doesn’t look a lot like Harrison Ford, but this is what my generation of Star Wars fans had available 40 years ago. Photo Credit: eBay via WorthPoint.com.

This level of verisimilitude exists thanks to advances in design and manufacturing tools in the toy industry. Computer aided design/computer aided manufacture (CAD/CAM tools and improved molds, combined with other techniques have – over the years – have improved the look of Hasbro’s Star Wars figures, adding fine detailing that gives them a more life-like appearance, especially when it comes to those that are based on human characters such as Princess Leia Organa, Lando Calrissian, or Han Solo.

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

Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Bespin) Toy Action Figure

Recall intense moments with this Star Wars The Black Series 40TH anniversary 6-inch Han Solo action figure that includes Han’s signature blaster accessory, and features premium deco across multiple points of articulation.– Hasbro publicity blurb, Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Bespin) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Action Figure  

“Never tell me the odds!” Promotional photo of Star Wars: THe Black Series Han Solo (Bespin). Photo Credit: Hasbro. (C) 2020 Hasbro, Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

Originally released in 2016 as the 70th Star Wars The Black Series 6-inch scaled action figure, Han Solo (Bespin) is a re-imagined and upscaled reboot of the original Kenner action figure from the 1980-1982 Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back line. However, unlike Hasbro’s Retro 3.75-inch action figure of the same name and somewhat similar cardback design, this Han Solo (Bespin) is not made from molds that are nearly identical to those used in the early Kenner Toys era. Star Wars The Black Series figures are designed and sculpted to look as closely as possible as the Star Wars characters they represent; Han Solo (Bespin)  bears a striking resemblance to Harrison Ford’s Han as he appeared in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back.

This level of verisimilitude exists thanks to advances in design and manufacturing tools in the toy industry. Computer aided design/computer aided manufacture (CAD/CAM tools and improved molds, combined with other techniques have – over the years – have improved the look of Hasbro’s Star Wars figures, adding fine detailing that gives them a more life-like appearance, especially when it comes to those that are based on human characters such as Princess Leia Organa, Lando Calrissian, or Han Solo.

Although it’s unfair to compare Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Bespin) to its Kenner “ancestor,” the first thing one notices (aside from the different size scale) is how more life-like the more modern figure looks. Kenner’s figures took the toy world by storm when they were belatedly introduced in 1978, and staked out a place in many Star Wars fans’ shelves and toy chests. (I ought to know, I was 15 when I began collecting them!)

40TH ANNIVERSARY FIGURE: Celebrate 40 years of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back with this Han Solo The Black Series action figure featuring 1980s-inspired design. – Hasbro publicity blurb, Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Bespin) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Action Figure  

Even though Kenner’s Han Solo (Bespin Outfit) from the 1981 wave of figures actually looked more heroic (or “heroic-like,” as Han might say) than other Han Solo figures, it still has its issues. Kenner finally got the character’s physical proportions right – there are no “Big Head/Little Head” variants at all of this 41st figure in the Kenner production line. However, the face is still fairly generic, and only its neutral facial expression saves it from looking like a perpetually smiling Fisher-Price toy.

Kenner tried to get the colors of Han’s “Bespin” outfit – he actually wears it throughout much of Empire except for a few scenes on snowy Hoth – correct, but his trousers are painted the same color as his spacer’s boots and gunbelt, and in the wrong shade of brown. The only detailing that prevents the lower half of Han Solo (Bespin Outfit) from looking monochromatic are Han’s belt buckle (rendered in white) and yellow piping on his trouser legs. The blue pilot’s jacket and white shirt look okay, all things considered.

Hasbro’s Han Solo (Bespin) corrects an error that Kenner made in accessorising the original figure back in 1981; Kenner’s Han Solo (Bespin Outfit) was armed, inexplicably, with a Rebel-issue Blas Tech DH-17 blaster instead of Han’s trusty and iconic DL-44 blaster pistol.

That error has been rectified, and although it’s the only accessory the figure is equipped with, it is sufficient for one of the fastest drawing gunslingers in that galaxy far, far away.

This Han Solo looks a lot more lifelike, don’t you think?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 publicity blurb, Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Bespin) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Action Figure  

A huge difference between the old and new Star Wars 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 and R5-D4, 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 attempted 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)

Hasbro’s Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Bespin) (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary Figure is not only larger than its 1980 precursor, but it also boasts 13 points of articulation. They are:

  • One for the neck
  • Two for Han’s shoulders
  • Two for his elbows
  • Two for his wrists
  • Two for his hips
  • Two for his knees
  • Two for his 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 collector who creates Star Wars dioramas for fun (and to display your action figures).

My Take

HAN SOLO (BESPIN): Pursued by the Empire, Han Solo and his friends sought refuge in Cloud City. Though he believed they were now safe, the Empire had arrived just before they did. – Hasbro publicity blurb, Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Bespin) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Action Figure  

As I said earlier, Han Solo (Bespin) is not a new figure; it’s a reissue of Star Wars The Black Series’ 70th figure, which hit stores in 2018 along with the very similar Han Solo (Exogorth Escape) figure which features a slightly more complex paint scheme, a set of hydrospanners, a breath mask, a DL-44 blaster, and two “switch out left hands,” including one with Han’s famous pointing finger gesture. Its only new feature is the 40th Anniversary Kenner branded cardback packaging, which has only a few minor details that are different from the original one from 1981.

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

Due to certain limits related to storage/display and budgetary considerations, I have not acquired as many Star Wars The Black Series action figures as I would like. Therefore, I only buy a handful per year, and when I do, I am selective about the ones I get.

Han Solo is one of my favorite characters in the Star Wars franchise; I have watched the six films in which his character has appeared (the original Star Wars trilogy, The Force Awakens, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and The Rise of Skywalker), countless times, and I’ll keep watching them, probably to the end of my days. So naturally, when I saw Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Bespin) 6-inch Scale Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40TH Anniversary Figure on pre-order at Amazon, I didn’t hesitate to order it.

I received my figure yesterday, and although the cardback packaging is a bit creased, I’m still happy with my purchase. Right now my Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Bespin) is propped up on a bookshelf just within an arm’s length, and it is so darned cool. The figure’s face has been sculpted and painted so accurately that if you look closely at it, you’ll see Harrison Ford’s famous chin scar.

Whether you are a long-time Star Wars action figure collector or new to the hobby, if you don’t already have the original Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Bespin) #70 figure, get this one before resellers snatch them all up for Hasbro’s MSRP of $19.99 and sell them on eBay or third-party stores at Amazon for inflated prices.

 Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Bespin) 6-inch Scale Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40TH Anniversary Figure 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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