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

Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Carbonite) Review

Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Carbonite) (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary) Figure

HAN SOLO (CARBONITE): Before attempting to trap Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader tested the carbon-freezing process on Han Solo. The smuggler survived and was later freed by Princess Leia in Jabba the Hutt’s palace. – Hasbro product description for Han Solo (Carbonite)

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

In early September, Hasbro, Inc. released Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Carbonite) as one of its offerings in this year’s 40th Anniversary commemoration of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Based on the iconic movie prop of a flash-frozen Han Solo encased in the fictional material known as “carbonite,” Han Solo (Carbonite) is a six-inch scale displayable collectible that comes with a 1980s-style cardback package with the Kenner logo and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back collection livery.

Jabba’s “Favorite Wall Decoration”

Han in Carbonite

Trapped in a plot to ensnare his friend Luke Skywalker, Han Solo is taken to the industrial bowels of Cloud City and flash-frozen in carbonite to test the process meant to immobilize Luke. Carbon freezing is a way of bonding condensed Tibanna gas for transport, but can be used to keep life forms in suspended animation when the painful process of freezing does not kill them. – David West Reynolds, Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary, 2008 Edition

The Han Solo (Carbonite) figure includes a transparent stand, which is visible at the bottom of this Hasbro promotional image. Photo Credit: Hasbro via Amazon. (C) 2020 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Carbonite) is an interesting addition to Hasbro’s long-running collection of six-inch scale action figures, vehicles, and other collectibles. It isn’t an upscaled version of an actual cardback figure from Kenner’s original 1977-1985 Star Wars collection; the frozen Corellian smuggler-turned-Rebel was never sold as a 3.75-inch scale action figure in its own right until the 1990s, and only as a Power of the Force 2 set that included a “frozen in carbonite” slab hollowed out in the reverse side to hold a “thawed out” Han Solo figure.

A 1980s commercial (circa 1981 or 1982) showcasing various figures and vehicles from Kenner’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back collection. The Slave I is seen briefly, as is the original Han in Carbonite accessory.

Kenner did make a 3.75-inch Han-in-carbonite for its 1980s Star Wars collection, but only as an accessory for its Slave I vehicle. So, like Luke Skywalker (Snowspeeder) and Artoo-detoo (R2-D2) (Dagobah), this Amazon exclusive release is a “faux” replica of a character variant figure that was never released in Kenner’s 1980-1972 Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back collection.[1]

What’s in the Package?

Photo Credit: Hasbro via Amazon. (C) 2020 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

VINTAGE-INSPIRED PACKAGING: Star Wars The Black Series Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40TH Anniversary 6-inch-scale classic Star Wars figures feature packaging with original Kenner branding. – Hasbro product description for Han Solo (Carbonite)

The Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Carbonite) (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary) collectible – I don’t really consider this an “action figure,” though it is categorized as such – consists of:

  • Kenner-branded cardback packaging, with the familiar blue-and-white company logo on the lower right corner of the obverse side and the red-and-silver livery used between 1980 and 1982 for Kenner’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back collection. On the upper-left hand corner of the cardback, a stylized silver-black 40th Anniversary: The Empire Strikes Back logo features the silhouettes of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader dueling on Cloud City. The main illustration is a still from one of the two films in which Han Solo (Carbonite) is seen. From the way the figure is lit, I am going to guess that the still is from Return of the Jedi
  • Han Solo (Carbonite) figure
  • A plastic stand to support Han Solo (Carbonite) in several positions, including a “floating” horizontal

And that is pretty much it. As Yoda might say, “Only a frozen Solo this is. No more, no less.”

You can see the display stand a bit better in this promo shot from Hasbro. Photo Credit: Hasbro via Amazon. (C) 2020 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

PREMIUM DETAILING: Star Wars fans and collectors can display this Han Solo (Carbonite) figure, featuring premium deco, in their action figure and vehicle collection. – Hasbro product description for Han Solo (Carbonite)

Of course, this does not mean that Han Solo (Carbonite) (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary) is not a nice addition to Hasbro’s Star Wars The Black Series collection. As a specimen of what Hasbro touts as “premium deco,” this six-inch scale figure is a nicely-sculpted rendering of a frozen Han Solo, “alive, and in perfect hibernation” and stuck – for the moment, anyway – in a pose that suggests Han was “iced” whilst he was resisting the freezing process.

Like the movie prop it replicates, Han Solo (Carbonite) consists of a rectangular slab of the simulated carbonite frame, rendered in a mostly monochromatic silver-gray. I would say the color is similar to the Navy’s “battleship gray,” but maybe a bit darker and slightly more metallic to suggest an exotic alloy that exists only in a galaxy far, far away.

Photo Credit: Hasbro via Amazon. (C) 2020 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

On the front of this slab, of course, is a bas relief sculpt of the iconic character played in five of the 11 live-action Star Wars films by Harrison Ford. In the flash-blasted carbonite matrix, you can see the outlines of Han’s tunic, spacer’s trousers and belt, and the tips of his boots, as well as Solo’s outstretched hands, pushing futilely against the carbonite, and his face, contorted in pain and anguish, captured at the moment of freezing.

On both sides of the “carbonite slab” with its bas relief of Solo in carbonite, we see eight display panels, four on each side. These replicate the following functional readouts:

  • Life system monitor
  • Carbonite flux monitor
  • Gas ratio monitor
  • Carbonite integrity monitor

I’m certain that the carbonite frame’s “thaw” button is on one of those panels, though you’d have to watch Return of the Jedi to see which one Princess Leia (disguised as the bounty hunter Boussh) presses to rescue her beloved scoundrel from Jabba’s palace on Tatooine.

“He’s alive and in perfect hibernation,” Photo Credit: Hasbro via Amazon. (C) 2020 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

My Take

Photo Credit: Hasbro via Amazon. (C) 2020 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

40TH ANNIVERSARY FIGURE: Celebrate 40 years of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back with this Han Solo (Carbonite) The Black Series action figure featuring 1980s-inspired design. –  Hasbro product description for Han Solo (Carbonite)

As I said earlier, even though Hasbro offers this – as an Amazon exclusive – as an action figure in its own right, I consider Han Solo (Carbonite) to be a glorified accessory that can be used, as Jabba the Hutt does, for decorative use or as part of a Star Wars diorama that recreates a scene from either The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi. It does not, unlike its Hasbro Star Wars: The Power of the Force 3.75-inch counterpart from the 1990s, include a “thawed out” Solo figure tucked away in the carbonite frame’s hollowed out reverse side. What you see is what you get, although if I know how Hasbro operates, I have no doubt that 2023 will see a Han Solo (Jabba’s Palace) figure offering from the Star Wars The Black Series (Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary) collection.

That having been said, Star Wars The Black Series Han Solo (Carbonite) is still a noteworthy addition to the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary lineup of figures and vehicles in the Star Wars The Black Series six-inch scale collection. I like how detailed it is, and as an older fan who started collecting the original Kenner micro-action figures in 1978, I appreciate the nostalgia-evoking packaging, even though the only Han Solo in carbonite product made during the original 1978-1985 run was a less detailed version in the 3.75-inch scale that came with Boba Fett’s ship, the Slave I.

I also like the stand that comes with Han Solo (Carbonite); it allows you to either prop up the figure at a slight incline in its “display mode” (as in Return of the Jedi), in a vertical pose (as seen right after Han is flash-frozen in Cloud City’s carbon-freeze chamber), or horizontally, as when it is on repulsorlift mode on its way to the Slave I’s cargo hold.

I am not sure if younger kids will really go for Han Solo (Carbonite). Looking back at how I remember my childhood, I might have asked for this had Star Wars been released in 1973-1975 (when I was between 10 and 12 years old), so older kids might like this if they see it advertised online.

I do know that adult collectors, including Yours Truly, are the real target audience of these 40th Anniversary Star Wars The Black Series collectibles; I doubt that fans of the younger Star Wars generation care whether Hasbro uses its own name brand or the old Kenner logo to sell the figures and vehicles based on the multi-media Star Wars franchise. I openly admit that seeing the familiar Kenner logo and 1980s-style livery on these oversized cardbacks was a huge factor in my decision to buy Han Solo (Carbonite).

Photo Credit: Hasbro via Amazon. (C) 2020 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

Well, that about wraps it up for this review of a new Star Wars The Black Series collectible. I had fun writing it, and I hope you will find it both enjoyable and informative.

Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and find joy in even the small things in life. And remember, the Force will be with you…always.  

[1] The closest Kenner equivalents to the 2020 Luke Skywalker (Snowspeeder) and R2-D2 (Dagobah) are the 1978 Luke Skywalker (X-Wing Pilot) and the 1981 R2-D2 (With Sensorscope) figures. The former depicted Luke in his Rebel Alliance flight suit and helmet; the Snowspeeder pilot gear doesn’t look that dissimilar (it features a slightly more padded flight suit for arctic environments, and the flight gloves/flying boots are gray rather than black). In those early years, Kenner did not manufacture too many “scene-specific” figure variants, so kids and adult collectors alike often used multiple Luke Skywalker (X-Wing Pilot) figures to stand in for other characters – such as Wedge Antilles or Dak Ralter –  who didn’t get their own figures until Hasbro bought Kenner in the 1990s and revived the dormant Star Wars toys line.  

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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