Princess, Diplomat, and Rebel Fighter
On April 21, 2017, Hasbro, Inc. of Pawtucket, RI released Princess Leia Organa (Star Wars 40th Anniversary), one of an initial series of 12 Star Wars The Black Series 6-inch scale action figures sold in “Kenner” branded packaging based on the original 1978 cardbacks used for Kenner Toys’ 3.75-inch scale “micro-action figures”). Designed and marketed to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of writer-director George Lucas’s original Star Wars (aka Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), this initial wave included:
- Luke Skywalker
- Han Solo
- Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi
- Artoo Detoo
- See Threepio
- Sand People (Tusken Raider)
- Death Squad Commander
- Darth Vader (with 40th Anniversary Legacy Display Stand)
In most cases, the 40th Anniversary figures were repackaged versions of existing Star Wars The Black Series figures from 2016, and at least one (Death Squad Commander) used Kenner’s original product name from 1978 instead of the more canonical Death Star Trooper. Princess Leia Organa, however, was a revised version Star Wars The Black Series #30; the 40th Anniversary figure uses the same body and includes the fabric replica of Leia’s hooded Alderaanian Senatorial gown, her small sporting blaster, and the E-11 Imperial blaster she uses aboard the Death Star when she escapes from that Imperial battle station with help from Luke, Han, Chewie, Artoo Detoo and See Threepio. However, Hasbro was not happy with the sculpt of the head on Princess Leia Organa (#30), so the Kenner cardback figure features a new-and-improved head with features that more closely resemble the late Carrie Fisher as she appeared in the 1977 Star Wars film.
What’s in the Package?
Kids and fans alike can imagine the biggest battles and missions in the Star Wars saga with figures from The Black Series! With exquisite features and decoration, this series embodies the quality and realism that Star Wars devotees love. Celebrate 40 incredible years of Star Wars action and adventure with vintage Star Wars figures, featuring classic design and packaging. – Manufacturer’s product description, Princess Leia Organa (Star Wars 40th Anniversary figure)
The 2017 figure – as I mentioned earlier – is a slightly different version of 2016’s Star Wars The Black Series Princess Leia Organa (#30). Slightly smaller than, say, Luke Skywalker or Han Solo at 5.25 inches in height (Carrie Fisher was also not as tall as either Harrison Ford or Mark Hamill), the figure represents the Senator/Princess from Alderaan as she appears throughout much of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The figure is clad in a replica of Leia’s white gown, which is the traditional outfit worn by members of Alderaan’s Royal Family. Based on the Academy Award-winning costume design by John Mollo, Leia’s hooded gown is made out of fabric and fastened to the figure by a symbolic belt worn by Alderaan’s royalty. She also wears white travel boots. In addition, the new-and-improved head on Princess Leia Organa (Star Wars 40th Anniversary) features the character’s iconic “cinnamon buns” braids, which George Lucas borrowed from the practical and “out-of-the-way” braids worn by female fighters during the Mexican Revolution of the early 20th Century.
Princess Leia Organa
In Star Wars, Leia was a tough-as-nails idealist and Rebel cell leader who, although she was in distress, could hold her own against formidable foes. She stood up to both Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader even though she was their prisoner after Vader’s 501st Legion captured her consular ship – the Tantive IV – above the desert world of Tatooine. She somehow managed to keep herself together after the Empire destroyed her home world of Alderaan as a demonstration of the Death Star’s – and the Empire’s – power. And she confidently took over her own rescue aboard the Death Star from the eager-but-inexperienced Luke Skywalker and the cocky Han Solo after the two guys nearly bungled the attempt to break out from the battle station’s detention center. Naturally, most of Kenner/Hasbro’s Star Wars figures have usually included a weapon of some sort.
Accordingly, the Star Wars The Black Series Princess Leia Organa (Star Wars 40th Anniversary) figure comes with:
- Sporting Blaster
- E-11 Imperial-issue blaster
The first weapon is a small, thin-looking laser pistol that resembles the weapon she uses for self-defense aboard the Tantive IV when it’s boarded by Imperial troops searching for the stolen Death Star plans. The original 1978 3.75-inch figure that Princess Leia Organa (Star Wars 40th Anniversary) pays homage to featured a primitive (and smaller) version of this sporting blaster, as did most of Kenner’s action figure variants based on Leia, including Leia Organa (Hoth Outfit) and Leia Organa (Bespin Outfit) from the 1980 Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back collection.
The E-11 Imperial blaster included with Princess Leia Organa (Star Wars 40th Anniversary) allows collectors to pose the figure to recreate scenes set during her rescue attempt by Han and Luke aboard the Death Star. This accessory was not included with the original 1978 3.75-inch figure. However, when Kenner was a Hasbro subsidiary in the mid-1990s, its Power of the Force 2 Princess Leia Organa 3.75-inch figure from A New Hope came with a more detailed version of Leia’s sporting blaster pistol and the E-11 blaster rifle. The Leia figure in Hasbro’s 25th Anniversary Swing to Freedom mini-diorama accurately equips the Rebel Princess with the E-11 blaster.
Recall moments of intense battle with this Star Wars Black Series 40th Anniversary 5.25-inch Princess Leia Organa figure that includes character-inspired accessories and features premium deco across multiple points of articulation. – Manufacturer’s product description, Princess Leia Organa (Star Wars 40th Anniversary figure)
Like most Star Wars The Black Series figures, Princess Leia Organa (Star Wars 40th Anniversary) has multiple points of articulation (POAs) that allow for more realistic action poses than Kenner’s 1978 “micro-action figure” based on Carrie Fisher’s iconic sassy and self-reliant character. Where the ’78 3.75-inch scale Kenner Princess Leia Organa only had five basic POAs, the 2017 5.25-inch figure has at least 12. Most of these are hidden – thankfully – by Leia’s fabric-based hooded gown, but they do make the figure look more life-like when you are trying to pose the figure. (The original Kenner version was cool – for its day – but you could only pose it in stiff-looking stances that didn’t look realistic enough, especially if you were a teenaged collector who liked to display the figure on collector’s stands or on the Death Star Action Playset.) This figure can even hold an Imperial-issue E-11 blaster in a two-handed grip; her 1978 forebear could only wield her small blaster pistol in one hand, and in a stiff, almost straight-armed stance at that.
Although I’ve been collecting Star Wars action figures since I was given Kenner’s Landspeeder vehicle and two micro-action figures for my 15th birthday back in 1978, most of my collection consists of the 3.75-inch scale micro-action figures and their associated vehicles and “action playsets” from Kenner’s original 1978-1985 collection and the later Star Wars product lines (Power of the Force 2, Star Wars: Episode I, The Power of the Force, and Star Wars Saga). Life changes, the rising costs of collecting (due more to inflation than any other factor), and a limited amount of space for both storage and display have caused me to cut back on this hobby, especially over the past 15 years. In fact, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiered in December 2015, I figured that I’d only buy the home media version of the movie when it came out in early 2016, as well as the novelization and the soundtrack
However, that changed when a friend started giving me some of Hasbro’s Star Wars The Black Series 6-inch figures as either Christmas or birthday presents, starting in the 2017 Christmas season. Not many, because my friend was aware that I don’t have much space to put a lot of Star Wars stuff in, either in the way of shelves (floating or otherwise) or storage space. (Coincidentally, the first Star Wars The Black Series vehicle in the 6-inch scale category I received that year is the Landspeeder with Luke Skywalker, which is a callback to how my collection started 42 years ago!)
I probably wouldn’t have acquired Princess Leia Organa or any of the other figures I mentioned earlier had I not been given the Hasbro Star Wars The Black Series Darth Vader 40th Anniversary Figure (With Legacy Display Stand) in December of 2017. My friend happened to get one of the last ones she saw at a local store (Target, I think it was), not realizing (perhaps) that it would have a ripple effect on my collection.
After all, Darth Vader 40th Anniversary Figure (With Legacy Display Stand) is a cool collectible in its own right, but if I opened it and put it on a display shelf in my study/man cave, it would look…incomplete without the other 11 figures in the first wave of Star Wars The Black Series 40th Anniversary collectibles.
In what perhaps was my biggest – and most expensive – one-time purchase of figures in my many years as a collector, I spent close to $300.00 at Amazon when I ordered Princess Leia Organa (Star Wars 40th Anniversary) and 10 others. Most of them were available from Amazon LLC at or just a bit above the manufacturer’s suggested retail price and came in the Kenner-branded cardbacks. However, some of the “Kenner” branded figures, such as Chewbacca, Stormtrooper, Tusken Raider, and See Threepio were only available through third-party sellers who were asking $50 or more per figure. So I had to get the “regular” Star Wars The Black Series figures for those characters at more reasonable prices.
I am happy with my Star Wars The Black Series Princess Leia Organa (Star Wars 40th Anniversary figure, partly because I like the nostalgia-inducing “Kenner” branding and the 1978-style cardback packaging that, with the exception of a few minor details, looks exactly like the original micro-action figure’s 1970s-era 12 Cardback, down to the still photo of Leia in the Massassi Rebel HQ on Yavin Four on the front cover.
The main reason why I enjoy this figure – in spite of the expense it incurred on me – is that the figure looks good. The sculpt – especially the much improved head on this version of Princess Leia Organa is impressively well-done, and while the figure’s facial features don’t make it a ringer for a 19-year-old Carrie Fisher, they come close enough. And, of course, the figure comes with not one but two blasters, just like the ones Leia wields in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
Happily, I am having a floating shelf installed in my study for my 40th Anniversary Legacy Stand, and I’ll be able to unbox Princess Leia Organa (Star Wars 40th Anniversary) along with the other heroes, villains, and sidekicks that I bought almost three years ago to go with the Star Wars The Black Series Darth Vader figure I received on Christmas 2017. Those 12 figures sure will look good as a displayed collectible.