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Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Review of Princess Leia Sixth Scale Action Figure
Star Wars - A New Hope Exclusive

Hot Toys
Date Published: 2016-05-02
Written By: Michael Crawford
Overall Average Rating: 3.5 out of 4

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Star Wars Princess Leia sixth scale action figure by Hot TOys

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Introduction

When Hot Toys took over the majority of the Star Wars licensing for sixth scale action figures, fans were concerned their focus would be on the new films, and the classics might get lost in the shuffle. Instead, Hot Toys wisely took the time before the release of A Force Awakens to announce and put up for pre-order the most critical members of A New Hope, including Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett (not yet shipped, but they have shipped their 1/4 scale version)...and of course, Princess Leia. I suppose you could argue for a C-3PO and R2-D2, but I'd argue back that we already have more than one great example from other companies, and I'd rather have Hot Toys focus on some others that have had less than acceptable past releases.

Leia, in her original white dress and honey bun hair-do, just started shipping here in the U.S. She's something unusual - she's on the reasonable side when it comes to price, running just $205 at full retail.  There are actually two versions, a regular and an exclusive, and I'll be looking at the exclusive release tonight. However, since the exclusive only includes one extra item (and a fairly lame one at that), the review will largely apply to either release.

Click on the image below for a Life Size version
Star Wars Princess Leia sixth scale action figure by Hot TOys

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Packaging - ***
Nothing particularly special to write home about, but it's all collector friendly and continues the shoebox tradition. I'm prefer the Sideshow wrap around fifth panel boxes with the magnetic closures, but it is what it is.  She has all her accessories in the one interior plastic tray, and the extra protective packing materials (like the plastic booties and gloves) are easy enough to remove.

Star Wars Princess Leia sixth scale action figure by Hot TOys

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Sculpting - ***1/2
Regular readers know how I look at human portraits in larger scales and the features I consider important (I use the same factors for smaller scales, but some slack gets cut for the difficulties inherent in smaller sizes), and this time will be no different. I consider three key aspects - realism, life-like, and accuracy.

The realism is, as expected, off the charts. I think a lot of this has to do with how clean and sharp the eyes and eyebrows are, where you're attention is first drawn. First impressions mean everything, and her eyes make a terrific first impression.

But the hair is also a big factor. They could have gone with a rooted hair, but since the style is short, and since they are so good at finely detailing every strand, going the sculpted route was a smart choice. The paint application along the hair line is another good reason, but more on that in the next category. More appropriate to this category is the sculpt of the hairline, which has a subtle unevenness to it that provides another level of realism.

So there's no doubt she's realistic, but is she Carrie Fisher as Leia? I used three stills to make my determination - this one talking to Vader, this one getting ready for a fight, and this one from just a moment later. Based on these, along with my own personal memories, I'd say that this is an excellent likeness, and extremely accurate. You can make a few minor nits - the nose is just a hair too pointed, the buns just a smidge too big (although they altered in size, as you'd expect, over the course of the movie and from scene to scene), but in hand, she's every bit as beautiful as the young Ms. Fisher.

And then there comes the sticky wicket - life-like. This is often the toughest quality to capture, and signifies the difference, at least to me, between copying real life and creating art. You can make a really accurate, really realistic mannequin, but it's still quite obviously a mannequin. There's no life in the expression or in the eyes to set it apart.  And too often, at least lately, I feel Hot Toys has been guilty of that.

With this figure, the situation is better than some, but not quite at the level of their very best work. It's damn close, and I almost went the full four stars. But I really wanted to see just a little more life in the eyes and expression, nothing extreme but something there to give it that extra edge.

Leia is obviously sixth scale, and she stands about 10 1/2" tall, just about right when paired with characters like Han and Vader.

Star Wars Princess Leia sixth scale action figure by Hot TOys

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Paint - ****
I have no doubt that someone is going to complain about her skin tone. It's one of the most common whines about Hot Toys paint - "the skin tone is always wrong!!!" - and one I rarely share. And no, I don't think her skin tone is too dark this time.

It is on the tanned side, rather than the pasty white side.  I suspect one of the reasons that Hot Toys gives all their figures a bit more color is to create that life-like, realistic appearance. It's much, much harder to do with too light (or too dark) of a skin tone, and something like this, with some very minor freckling to add texture and depth, looks much more like a human that simply smooth, lightly dyed plastic. When skin tones get lighter, they tend to look more like dolls, and I know Hot Toys is doing everything they can to avoid that.

The best work is on the eyes and eyebrows, which I mentioned earlier.  The paint supports the spooky realism here, and gives her natural catch lights and just the right amount of eye makeup.

Speaking of makeup, the lips are just about perfect as well. The lipstick does come down slightly lower on one side of the lower lip than the other, but you'll have to be as picky as me to even notice.

I also mentioned the hairline earlier, and it's worth mentioning again.  The soft transition from skin to hair, particularly at the top of her forehead, is really, really impressive. Her part in the center is impressive as well, because that same subtle transition occurs between scalp and hair.  It's completely appropriate with a character with a tight hair style like this, but it would have been far easier for them to simply paint it all brown. In fact, I don't remember ever getting such a realistic part in the hair as this before - I went back and looked at some other recent short haired characters like Maria Hill and didn't see anything like it - but perhaps it's simply that this is the first character they've done where it was clearly necessary. Either way, it's these small, critical features that create such a realistic appearance with a Hot Toys figure, and it's what still sets them apart from other companies in the market.

Star Wars Princess Leia sixth scale action figure by Hot TOys

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Articulation - ***1/2
The underlying TrueType body works great, and the hands swap easily - but not too easily!  The ball jointed neck works well, and you can get fluid, smooth poses without too much effort.

I did have two minor issues. I'm not digging the overall look of the neck, where the thick rubber skin covers the ball post and gives her a slightly odd look in any pose where the head is turned. This is exacerbated by the second issue - the head doesn't fit down far enough over the neck. The post is largely covered by the skin, and the head tends to pop off when you are working with it.

However, these are minor nits, and unlikely to cause much trouble.  The bigger issue in general is the tighter skirt, which can hinder the legs a bit and restrict a few poses, but even this is something most people will be able to work around, thanks to the short slits on the sides.

One other articulation point worth calling out is the hood.  There's a thin wire running along the outer edge, which will make it easier to pose her with the hood up, particularly if you're going for the look when she was talking with R2.

Star Wars Princess Leia sixth scale action figure by Hot TOys

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Accessories - ***
The regular release includes 5 hands in total - a relaxed grip set, a gun holding set, and an additional gripping left for supporting the gun.  There's a couple extra wrist pegs as well, but you shouldn't have any need, as the hands swap pretty easily.

Leia also comes with two weapons. She has the smaller blaster pistol and the larger blaster rifle.  Both look terrific, and I really like the paint work on the smaller pistol. They've mixed different finishes of black to add detail, and it looks great. The larger rifle looks pretty much as you'd expect - we've seen this weapon a few times now - and the folding stock works as usual.

Both releases also have a small display base that looks like a floor grate, with a crotch support post. Nothing surprising here, since this has been the standard base for the OT Star Wars figures. Her name plate is included, but can be removed.

That's it for the regular release, but considering that you can get this figure for under $200 (and these accessories make perfect sense for the character), I'm good with that.  The exclusive includes one more extra: a cardboard backdrop.

This backdrop folds out, and is supposed to look like she is standing in a hall with a couple other halls leading off to the sides. I'm a big fan of dioramas, but not of these sort of folded cardboard pieces. We know Hot Toys can do much better - remember the Enter the Dragon Bruce Lee? That's how you do cardboard backdrops - and this is one time where the exclusive edition really isn't worth the extra $10 - $15 you'll pay.

Star Wars Princess Leia sixth scale action figure by Hot TOys

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Outfit - ***
My only real disappointment with the figure overall is in the outfit. The tailoring isn't quite what I was hoping for.

The dress is made from a thin material, and underneath is a second, short dress.  This shorter dress is kept in place in front with a couple plastic ties around her thighs, but it still tends to pooch up the front of the outer dress, giving her wide hips and a baby bump. Messing with it can reduce the effect, and I'm betting a water treatment will help as well, but it's still odd to have any issues with an outfit this simple right out of the box.  I would expect them to get the tailoring and fit spot on with something this basic.

The large hood has the aforementioned wire, but getting it to lay flat on the back is a bit of a trick as well.  The belt fits nicely and looks good however, and adjusting it will help with the look of the dress.

The best aspect of the outfit is the soft boots, which look great and hinder the ankle articulation very, very little.

Star Wars Princess Leia sixth scale action figure by Hot TOys

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Fun Factor - ***1/2
Thanks to the largely unencumbered articulation, you'll have plenty of fun posing this figure.  She's also very sturdy, so you won't spend half your time worried about breaking something or damaging the outfit.  Pair her with Han, Luke, Vader, and Chewie, and the opportunities are endless.

Star Wars Princess Leia sixth scale action figure by Hot TOys

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Value - **1/2
This is the first time in awhile that I've given a Hot Toys figure an average value score, which means it will not effect my Overall assessment up or down. The reason for this is pretty simple - Leia is much more in line at a price of $205. In fact, you can find the regular release for $10 cheaper than that at one of my sponsors, and now you're talking. You still aren't getting any great steal, but you won't feel nearly as bad paying $195 for her, versus $220 or more for someone like Scarlet Witch.

Star Wars Princess Leia sixth scale action figure by Hot TOys

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Things to Watch Out For -
Not a thing. She's sturdy, and the various parts and accessories are not likely to break or come apart under normal conditions.

Star Wars Princess Leia sixth scale action figure by Hot TOys

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Overall - ***1/2
I'm betting Leia ends up very high on my list of Best Female Figures at the end of the year. I can already guarantee she'll beat out Black Widow - I'm pretty much Black Widowed out - and while I like the look of the new Scarlet Witch, she'd really have to step it up to overtake Leia on my list. I suspect the real contenders will come from other companies, like Star Ace with their older Hermione.

Still, Leia had a couple issues that held her back from a perfect score.  The exclusive has the rather lame backdrop that's driving cost, and both releases have some minor issues with the fit and tailoring of the outfit. They aren't major issues, but they are still enough for me to hold her back from a perfect Overall score.

If you're a fan of the OT, you don't want to pass her up.  You can pair her with any other character on your shelf - she'll make an excellent display partner with Vader, Han, Luke, R2, the possibilities are endless. While I certainly hope we get some additional variations on this character, including the ultimate slave version to go with the old Sideshow Jabba set up, you don't want to pass up this best, most iconic look.

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ****
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ***
Outfit - ***
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***1/2

Star Wars Princess Leia sixth scale action figure by Hot TOys

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Where to Buy 
Online options include these site sponsors:

- has her for just $195.

- has her at $205.

- if you want this exclusive version with the cardboard background, you'll need to get on the wait list at Sideshow, where it is also $205.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
I just recently looked at Hot Toys' FO Snowtroopers, Kylo Ren, as well as the First Order Stormtrooper. Other Hot Toys Star Wars figures include the recent Darth Vader, C-3PO, Tatooine Luke Skywalker, Luke in his Stormtrooper Disguise, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Han and Chewbacca from ANH. If you'd like a bit more of a regular Stormtrooper, they've done him as well, along with a Blackhole version. Sidseshow has helped out this year with the Original Trilogy, with their Hoth Han, Hoth Luke, Tauntaun, Speederbike, and Scout Trooper.

And don't forget that Sideshow also did their own sixth scale version of Princess Leia back in the day.

You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

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This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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