Premium Format Han Solo

Sideshow Toys broke new ground with their Premium Format line. Best described originally as a 'mixed media' format, it has become a clothed statue, with predominately resin body designed not to look realistic nekkid, but to look realistic clothed.

They've picked up two block buster licenses for this format - Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. We've already gotten our first Star Wars figure in the form of Luke Skywalker last summer, but the first LOTR character (Lurtz) is still a ways off.

The second character from the Lucas Universe is now out: Harrison Ford as Han Solo. Perhaps only Vader has been more anticipated in the series so far, and while their were some issues with Luke, most folks were willing to overlook them with high hopes for this release.

There are two versions of course, a Sideshow exclusive with Solo standing on the Yavin staircase base, and wearing the slightly different shirt and Yavin Medal from the ceremony. This was one of the few times I actually preferred the regular edition over the exclusive, and so tonight's review covers the standard Han.

These were sold out long ago at the Sideshow site - the edition size on the exclusive was 250, and on the regular edition 2500 - but you can pick him up at the retailers I have listed below.

Packaging -  ***
The outer box for Han isn't quite as nice as the PF Jason was. It's fairly non-license specific, and shows a shot of the statue on most sides. When it comes to 'pop', it doesn't have too much.

However, with a statue like this, the numero uno priority is keeping that thing safe and sound. And this box excels at that. Inside is dense foam, cut to fit Han perfectly. Not only that, but he's packed in such a way that you will easily be able to put him back safely for any periods where you may need to store him, without fear that he'll break.

Sculpt - ***
There has been much discussion on this head sculpt. While I have several issues with it, all of which I'll get into, it is NOT a bad sculpt. In fact, I'm willing to say it's the best we've gotten so far - much, much better than anything from Kotobukiya, Hasbro or even Gentle Giant. It's still a ways from perfect, there's no doubt about that, but it IS the sculpt we saw with the prototype. The paint (which I'll discuss further in the next section) is what is really causing most issues.

Keep in mind that this is a tremendously young Harrison Ford, at least compared with the Shar-pei he's become recently. The trademark scar is there, the small mole on the chin, even the crooked nose, all look just as you'd expect.

The paint has taken away some of the detail from the unpainted prototype. He is smoother, and slightly less defined because of it. Again however, he was a lot smoother back then to begin with.

But as I said, there are some issues. First up, the head is slightly oversized. Some have noted that the arms and chest are a little too thin, which is also true. If only the head were slightly large, or the arms and chest slightly thin, it would be much less noticeable, but the two work against each other to further exaggerate the discrepancy in scale.

Another scale issue is with the fingers. It appears as though they started out sculpting Greedo's hands and changed their minds. The fingers are extremely long, and out of proportion to the rest of the body.

The head sculpt is good, but also has some minor flaws. These are most noticeable in profile, where the shape of the nose is clearly incorrect, and the chin not nearly as strong as it should be. From the front view, neither of these issues are as evident.

Still, the sculpt on this figure does not deserve the lambasting it's been receiving. Seeing the rest of this figure - the pose, the quality of the clothing, the attention to detail - makes me very hopeful for Vader, who's likeness will be far easier to capture.

Also worth mentioning here is the overall pose. Since the majority of this figure is unmovable, the selected pose was critical. They managed to pick the classic look for Han, capturing his relaxed but cocky nature.

Paint - ***
With my complaints above about the paint, you'd think it would end up with a lower score, but it's not that bad. I do think it is predominately the cause for most of the complaints at this point though.

The application of any paint over a sculpt automatically means *some* level of the original detail is lost. Paint has thickness, and that thickness will fill in detail. Here, the paint has softened up the sculpt a little more in some areas, like the texture of the skin, and brought out some details too much, like the eyebrows.

The quality of the actual application is solid though, with very little slop. The eyes are bright and clean, focused together, and the hair line is neat and even. They've used some cross hatching on the sides to make the hair line a little less articifial, and there's a good consistency in the skin tones. I'm most impressed with the lips, which have been given both a slightly different shade and a slightly different finish than the face. The slightly glossy appearance and different color look realistic, but not drag queen.

The hair is also more brown than it appears in photos. The best representation I have is in the photo of his back, where you can clearly see that it's brown. Dark brown yes, but brown nonetheless. In person it is much more clear and appears more accurate.

The bushy eyebrows are too well done. Ford never had this obvious or defined of eyebrows, and this hurts the overall appearance more than you'd think. Couple that with the softening of the sculpt, and you have most of your problems.

Articulation - *
These aren't articulated figures - they're statues. Therefore, this score will have little to do with the overall appraisal. That being said, Han does have some wire armature in his arms, particularly at the elbow and shoulder. This is really only there to allow you to get both hands in the classic pose, one on the handle of his blaster, one hooked in his belt.

The right arm was no problem, and you should be able to get it posed easily. The left hand took some more work though, because I didn't want it to put too much constant pressure outward on the belt. Over time, I'm concerned that this will pull the belt from the clothing. It took some time, and I recommend that you be very patient and methodical in working with the arm, but you can get it in a pose that has the thumb hooked behind the buckle, but not pulling too hard in a forward or downward direction.

Outfit - ****
Easily my favorite part of this figure - along with the pose - is the outfit. Here we see Sideshow quality at it's best.

The shirt and vest fit perfectly, largely due to the smart move of making the bodies look good WITH clothes on, and not trying to make them look realistic without. The clothing is extremely well tailored, and hangs very naturally. Hey, he even has an ass, something missing on most white m..., er, clothed figures.

The stitching is top notch as well, and really shines when you check out the red stitched patterns down the side of each pant leg. The beauty of quarter scale is that you can get clothing to look 'in scale', as long as you go with thin, high quality material. That's what Sideshow has done.

The boots are an interesting combination of materials that works pretty well. Just looking at them, you won't realize that there are two materials here - the lower boot that would be over the foot is sculpted resin, while the shank over the leg is very hard pleather. The reason you don't notice this is that the texture and finish both match, so until you actually feel the material, it's not obvious.

Mine does have a small issue on the right inside boot, where the pleather doesn't fit quite as tightly to the lower resin foot as I'd like in one small area, but it's a fairly minor nit, and I only noticed after very careful inspection.

The leather belt looks fantastic, and fits even better. The buckles and clips on the belt are all real metal, and the large buckle up front is held to the leather belt with metal rivets as well. It's a very realistic and sturdy construction, and the belt is glued firmly to the pants to maintain a constant appearance.

The blaster is removable, and sports an excellent sculpt and paint ops. It is resin though, as is the small 'canister' on the left side of his belt, so both of these can be broken if dropped on a hard floor. You could probably get him to hold his blaster in an upright position, but I didn't want to mess with the arm that much.

One of the very coolest features on this figure is the snap for the holster. Does your wife own a Brighton purse? I bought one for my wife for our anniversary, and the coolest thing about those purses is that the 'snaps' include strong magnets. Imagine my surprise to see that the holster snap on Solo was the same style design!

There is no actual snap, but two very tiny magnets that are nonetheless quite strong. The holster flap stays tightly shut, but is quite easy and safe to open to remove the blaster. Kudos on this inventive touch!

Value - **
I paid $250, not a small amount of scratch. Now, I feel much better about this purchase than say, the $200 I spent on the Gentle Giant Speederbike, but I still feel it's about $50 overpriced. If you can pick him up for around $200 or so, you can add another half star. Pick this guy up under $150, and you're getting a complete steal.

Things to watch out for - 
There's not too much, but you should take care positioning the arms. The armature seems pretty sturdy, but be patient nonetheless. Also, keep in mind that both the blaster and the canister are removable, so the could conceivable fall off the figure when handling it. I didn't have any problem, since both are held in quite tightly, but it's worth remembering - better safe than sorry.

Overall -  ***
After spending $250 on this guy, I'm not enthusiastically leaping up and down. He's a solid figure, with a fantastic outfit, and good sculpting harmed somewhat by paint. If you're a big Star wars fan (or looking for a good home theater type decoration) and can pick him up for around $200, I recommend it. I'm glad I went with this version and not the exclusive, as neither the base or the medal warrant the extra money.

Sculpting human likenesses is a tough gig, and Sideshow did as good or better job here than any other company. That leads me to believe that the work on Vader will be extremely good, and if they put the attention to detail into his costume that we got here, I'll be a very happy camper. 

Packaging - ***
Sculpt -  ***
Paint - ***
Articulation - *
Outfit - ****
Value - **
Overall -  ***

Where to Buy -
I bought mine directly from Sideshow, but you can also pick it up online:

- Fireside Collectibles still has their pre-order page up for $210. That's $40 less than I paid, which is a pretty decent deal.

- I didn't see it listed on Andrew's Toyz, but considering how much Star Wars merchandise they sell, it's worth giving them a call.

Related Links:
I've reviewed a number of the Premium Format figures including:

- the Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, Frankenstein, Jason, and Vampyre (Nosferatu).

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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