Sideshow Star Wars
Tatooine Smuggler Han Solo

Sideshow Collectibles Tatooine Smuggler Han Solo action figure

It was the role that truly introduced Harrison Ford to the world - Han Solo. It wasn't his defining role (that was Indiana Jones of course), but it lifted him to a household name and boosted his acting from job to career.

There have been hundreds of action figures and statues of Han over the years, and yet I'm not sure there's ever been a perfect one. There's an ineffable quality about Solo/Ford's likeness that seems impossible for sculptors to capture. Many have tried, most have failed, and a few have come *this* close.

The latest attempt is from Sideshow with their Tatooine Smuggler Han Solo. They already gave us a Bespin version in sixth scale, and a ANH version in the Premium Format line. Generally, Sideshow has avoided giving us a Premium Format figure and a sixth scale figure in the same outfit, particularly with the main Star Wars characters, but the clamoring for a ANH 12" version of Han was just too loud to ignore.

He comes in the usual exclusive and regular versions, with 1977 of the exclusive produced (cute, huh?) and 3000 of the regular. I'm covering the exclusive, but I'll point out where there's a difference.

Packaging - ****
Sideshow does their usual bang up job. Completely collector friendly, no twisties, good use of graphics and text, magnetic closures...what more could you ask for? I'm sure I could find some nits to pick if I really wanted to, but the reality is that these are some of the very nicest packages currently on the market. I'm really looking forward to what they do with Indiana Jones, considering how well they've done with Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

Sideshow Collectibles Tatooine Smuggler Han Solo action figure  

Sideshow Collectibles Tatooine Smuggler Han Solo action figure
Sideshow Collectibles Tatooine Smuggler Han Solo action figure
Sideshow Collectibles Tatooine Smuggler Han Solo action figure
Sideshow Collectibles Tatooine Smuggler Han Solo action figure accessories
Sideshow Collectibles Tatooine Smuggler Han Solo action figure
Sideshow Collectibles Tatooine Smuggler Han Solo action figureSideshow Collectibles Tatooine Smuggler Han Solo action figure
Sideshow Collectibles Tatooine Smuggler Han Solo action figure  

Sculpting - ***1/2
I think that lurking in here is a very good sculpt. Not the best Harrison Ford sculpt we've ever seen, but certainly an improvement over both the PF version and the Bespin figure from Sideshow. Unfortunately, the production paint is still making it tough for us to see that sculpt - more on that in the next section.

Usually, the toughest sculpts to capture are the prettiest people. You know the types, the ones who's facial proportions all match that magical Golden Ratio. In the reality of basic mathematics, these people are all very much alike (for example, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston look startlingly similar), but the human eye is still able to pull out the smallest details that make them unique. For the sculptor though, this gets more and more difficult.

That is one of a couple main reasons why certain actors and actresses are so very hard to capture - they're just too damn pretty. Their faces lack the 'personality' (weird noses, funny eyes, odd mouths) that make it easy for the sculptor to distinguish them. Oddly enough, this shouldn't be an issue for Han Solo.

Not that Harrison Ford was ugly, but he did have plenty of personality in his face. The shape of his face, along with his crooked nose and ever present slightly wry grin should make it easy for him to be translated, or so you would think. Not so, and in fact he's one of the toughest likenesses out there.

All of that is the long winded way of saying that this time around is another close-but-no-cigar shot. It is an improvement over the Bespin Han, and it is recognizable as Solo, but this isn't going to be the be all end all version. In the right light at the right angle, he looks quite good, but at other angles and in less flattering light, he looks like a Solo cosplayer.

Originally when I graded this category, straight out of the box, it was ***. But the more I played around with him and posed him, the better I liked the sculpt. Along with the paint, I think the gangly body is throwing off his overall look, hurting what is underneath a much better sculpt. I'd love to see this head repainted, popped on a TrueType body.

The hand sculpts work fine of course, although the oversized hands are getting as annoying as the Buck body. The extra gloved hands are better proportioned, and they all hold the accessories well and swap easily. They used a softer rubber, which works much better with the accessories.

Paint - ***
I don't think it's so much the sculpt as the paint that's throwing him off a bit. It's not a terrible paint job by any stretch of the imagination, but it doesn't quite have that feel of the best work that we're currently seeing on the market right now.

The skin tone is consistent, the eyes are clean and straight (painted catch lights present for those interested), and the lip details is quite well done. The hairline is clean and sharp, and there's certainly no slop. The sculpted gloves on the alternate hands are also painted well, and they matched the skin tone (which is slightly tan) between the hands and face well.

So why the lower score? There's a lifelike quality that the very best paint work on the market today has that's lacking here. It's not something obvious, or purely technical, or just about quality, but more about 'art'. That makes it difficult to describe but easy to see.

Articulation - **1/2
Sorry to say, but the Buck body is long past it's retirement age. This is even more obvious at the higher price point that Sideshow is charging these days. While all the joints are here that you'd expect, none of them work as well as the similar bodies from Hot Toys, Takara or Medicom.

On the plus side, we know we are getting a new body from Sideshow this year, and we've already seen a preview with the new short body they used for the Lord of the Rings Hobbits. It's going to be in SS' best interest to get that body out there asap, because buyers might be wary with higher prices for lines like RAH G.I. Joe until they see the proof.

Accessories - ***1/2
One of Han's strength's is the nice variety of well done accessories, particularly the blasters. Sideshow has upped their game on Star Wars weapons lately, and Han has not one but three (if you have the exclusive) different blasters.

First there's the Stormtrooper blaster. Like the previous releases, this has the cool folding stock. It looks extremely good and fits easily in his hands.

Then there's the "hanger bay" blaster, the most commonly recognized version. Again, the sculpt is extremely accurate and very detailed, with a solid paint application to support it. He looks great with this gun in his hand, and the soft rubber gripping hands work very well with the various blasters.

Finally, for those that bought the exclusive, so named since he used it to fire first and kill Greedo. This blaster is very similar to the Hangar Bay version of course, but it is slightly smaller, with a different barrel and scope. The differences are very minor though, and I suspect most people are not going to be particularly concerned if they don't get the exclusive.

I'm counting his holster/belt as an accessory, although some folks may count it as part of the Outfit. Whichever category gets it, gets the benefit of its nice design. I did have to carefully work with it to stretch it out enough to allow either blaster to fit deep enough inside. That's a common problem for those of us with big blasters.

The strap is held in place with a magnet, like other recent holsters, and that works well. The tie down strap is a much thicker and sturdier leather this time, and is unlikely to have the breakage issues I saw with the Bespin Luke holster. The tie down is a little baggy around his leg, but I bet it would look great on a slightly less skinny body.

He has a droid caller as well, which can be fitted on his belt, and a 'beverage'. Now we just need Sideshow to do a Greedo so they can sit down and share a cold one together.

As with many of the Star Wars figures, Han comes with an extra set of hands. His are sculpted with the gloves (not just painted, but sculpted), which is a nice touch even if we didn't see him wear them a whole lot in the movie. And of course, there's the usual display stand. He stays upright on his own just fine without it, but for those that like them, it's a nice addition.

Outfit - ***1/2
The outfit consists of the shirt, best, pants and boots. There's also a belt for his pants, separate from the one that holds up his holster.

The boots are nice, although we've seen them before. They have the high gloss finish to give them that leather look, and they come up to just below the knee, just about right. The pants are something we've seen before too, just not in this color. The white shirt looks good, and is made from a sort of stretchy material, just like the screen version. The sleeves are long enough to hid the jointed wrists, and both the shirt and pants are tailored in a way to make them look as good as possible on the underlying body.

The small belt that holds up his pants isn't exactly screen accurate in it's style, but only the most hard core fans are likely to notice that small detail.

The vest looks terrific, and fits extremely well. The entire ensemble shows off the careful stitching and choice of high quality materials, and while it's not a particularly complicated (or entirely unique) outfit, they've done an nice job from top to bottom.

Fun Factor - **1/2
The figure is a reasonable facsimile to a toy, but the Buck body holds it back a bit here too. Let's face it though - you aren't going to buy this for little Billy to toss off the swing set.

Value - **
The figure - both exclusive and regular - runs $65 from Sideshow. This is part of the move toward higher prices, but the figures don't quite match up yet. Once we get the new body and Sideshow gets a consistent handle on their paint ops, folks are going to feel a lot better about the $60 - $80 range.

Things to Watch Out For - 
I'd take a little care with the belt/holster, if for no other reason than I've had issues in the past. This one looks pretty sturdy, but in Sideshow's attempts at making them more and more realistic, the holsters have also gotten easier to break. Since you'll have to force the blaster in there the first couple times to stretch it out, there's all kind of potential for problems.

Overall - ***
I waffled around a bit on this one. When I first pulled him out of the box, he was definitely a three star figure. After having just reviewed the exceptional Cannibal Jack Sparrow, there was no way the appearance and posability of the old Sideshow body was going to allow him anything better.

But then as I shot him, posed him, and looked at the head sculpt, accessories and outfit more carefully, he really started to grow on me. It was *almost* enough to bump the score up a half star...but not quite. As enamored as I became, there was till the reality of the old body and the new price.

Still, you won't be disappointed with this figure. He's the best Solo we've gotten from Sideshow, and let's not even talk about the largely awful versions we got from Hasbro. A little futzing here with a body swap could result in a very nice New Hope Han.

Speaking of a body swap, I certainly hope that the number one priority when Sideshow was designing the new body was to make it backwards compatible with the heads and hands of the older figures. If they do that, and give us a high quality, highly poseable new frame, they'll be able to sell thousands of nekkid bodies to the current owners of their figures for upgrades. It'll be like Sideshow 2.0!

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

Where to Buy -
You have several options:

- of course, the exclusive is only available through Sideshow, and it's on a wait list. The regular is also wait listed there now. Both run $65.

- Dark Shadow has the regular for $58.50.

- Alter Ego Comics has the regular for $58.49.

- Fireside Collectibles don't have this version, but they have the Bespin version for $44.50.

- Things From Another World don't have this version either, but they do have a 'nick and dent' pieces of the Bespin version (box has some damage) for just $32.50!

- CornerStoreComics also has him for $58.49.

- for the UK shoppers, Forbidden Planet has him for 32.99 GBP.

- and if you're searching ebay, try MyAuctionLinks.

Related Links -
I've covered plenty of Star Wars sixth scale figures:

- Sideshow has had a strong year with Commander Praji, the exceptional Palpatine/Sidous and ANH Obi-Wan, and the not quite so exceptional Ilum Padme.

- in the sixth scale line, I've also reviewed Leia and Bespin Luke, the Holo-chess set, Sideshow's Asajj, a terrific figure, Yavin Luke, the Endor Troops, Jabba the Hutt and his throne, Bib Fortuna, Jedi Luke, Darth Maul, Obi-Wan, Bespin Han Solo, regular Anakin Skywalker and Kit Fisto.

- I also have guest reviews of the SDCC Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu, and Qui-Gon Jinn.

- in the premium format line, I've reviewed Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Han Solo.

If you'd like to check out some of the 12" Star Wars offerings from Medicom, hit these links:

- my review of Darth Maul, the 501st Clone Trooper, Jango Fett, the Sandtrooper and  Boba Fett.

- guest reviews of the VCD Yoda and Boba Fett.

- guest reviews of the ROTS Vader, Jedi Luke, and this very Trooper.

- and my review of their first release Darth Vader, the regular Stormtrooper, and Clonetrooper and Blackhole Trooper.

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Sideshow Collectibles Tatooine Smuggler Han Solo action figure

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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