Hasbro Millennium Falcon
"The following is a guest review.
The review and photos
do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's
Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."
I wasn't going to buy one of these. I even avoided looking at it at
SDCC. Then L comes along, telling me how cool it is, and then I see it that
same day at Target...and now my son is getting one for Christmas.
*sigh* Now L can tell you why you should buy one too!
“You’ve never heard of the Millenium Falcon?” Movie reviewers sometimes feel as though a particular review is a bit superfluous, as the audience for something like The Dark Knight pretty much already knows whether or not it wants to see the movie and doesn’t need some critic’s opinion to help them make up their mind. That’s probably the case with Hasbro’s new Millenium Falcon (the “BMF”) – fans already know if they want this, they know if they can afford it, and they know whether they can store it. That said, I’ll see if I can point out things that aren’t getting as much attention.
With an item like this, packaging is more utilitarian than glamorous. You can’t see the toy inside. And more, once you assemble the Falcon (attaching the front mandibles), you cannot take it apart again, and it won’t fit back in the box. That’s right, the box is actually SMALLER than the final product. This is, in every possible way, not a box for MIB collectors. Why the four stars for something that lacks the panache of the window-boxed mini-diorama, then? Two reasons. First, because it does its job, protecting its precious cargo. The inside has two massive foam trays much like you’d see with a piece of electronic equipment, which come to think of it, this is. Plus, there are holes punched into the side to make it possible to grip and carry, a nod to the weary consumer that was much appreciated at midnight madness. This means the box is easier to carry than it might have been, and the toy inside is safe, safe, safe. Both good points. Second, because it does a good job of showing off the toy. The back clearly highlights a lot of the play features, the sound chip abilities, and so forth. You don’t get to see the toy, or even part of it, in person – but you do get a strong indication of what you’re buying. The packaging shows off the features, keeps the toy safe, and has helpful handles for you. Great packaging.
Was there ever any doubt? The original Falcon design showed a clear decision to focus on the outside of the ship. The interior pretty much looked like the inversion of the exterior, with a dejarik table, training remote, and gun port stuck in to make it fun. Nothing was, to put it mildly, aiming for screen accuracy. The new ship fixes 90% of that. We’ve not only got the same basic areas from the original mold covered (the gunport, the dejarik table, the training remote, the smuggling compartments, the cockpit), we now have them rendered extremely close to movie accurate. We have new areas, like the console where Han reveals his cynicism about the Force and brags about his escape from Tatooine. We’ve got the sick bay where Leia tends to Luke as they flee Bespin. We’ve got storage bins and new corridors. We’re still missing a few things – the so-called “Landovator” seen during Luke’s rescue from Cloud City, the area where Solo is working on the Falcon when they enter the asteroid field (“that was no laser blast, something hit us!”). They still haven’t given us direct access to the cockpit from the passenger area. But what we have is probably the best Millenium Falcon diorama we could have asked for. It represents what the actual movie showed more closely than any other playset Hasbro has ever released. The sheer quantity of movie scenes that can be recreated inside and around the Falcon is breathtaking. Not only does everything look right, the size gives everyone room to breathe. Sure, if you want Ben training Luke while R2 and 3PO play dejarik with Chewbacca and Solo watches from the sidelines, it’s going to be awfully crowded. It won’t look right. But try putting Solo and Chewie in the cockpit, with Leia standing behind them barking orders, or Luke whining questions. That’s right, I said STANDING behind them. There’s a ton of room here.
The size, in fact, is what strikes most people first, and I would have mentioned it sooner except what really impresses me about this sculpt is the attention to detail in preserving what the ship looked like on screen. The size is impressive, though, and I’m particularly impressed that it doesn’t feel like the tail wagging the dog – they didn’t make this ship big just because they could, they did it because it was the only way to cram in all the fun STUFF they wanted to have inside. As a consequence of giving us the best-looking, most complete rendition of the Falcon possible, they had to push the envelope on size. They gave us something enormous. And they packed it, inside and out, with fanatical attention to detail, to reproducing the model as closely as possible.
A few comments about some of the complaints floating around online: the landing gear come off easily if you slide it along the floor, and the cockpit doesn’t lock shut. Neither of these bother me. The cockpit is only going to flop open if you fly this thing around, and frankly it’s too heavy to get a lot of that. Keep your old Falcon if you want that. And the landing gear seem deliberately designed to snap out rather than break if you put too much pressure on them, which is why they can fall off if you slide the toy on a surface. The toy itself is so freaking heavy, they either had to make landing gear that could not be removed, or make ones that fall off at the slightest pressure rather than break under the weight. I’m glad they went with the latter. Both of these complaints stem from the desire to move this thing around, though, so to be fair, I should flag something. The design of the toy really does encourage leaving it still on a table and playing around and in it, not flying it around. And since it’s a ship, and is meant to fly around… well, that could bug ya. (When I was a kid, I used to fly my Falcon around the house, weaving in and out of open doorways, moving it sideways like it did to escape the jaws of the space slug, evading imaginary TIE’s…. so I recognize that the difficulties of doing that with the new ship are legit… but not enough to take away even half a star)
I went back and forth about giving this thing four stars, but in the end... Both inside and out the ship has all the colors it is supposed to have, very few elements are left lacking in painted detail, and there’s no slop. So why not four stars? Well, it could be a bit more weathered. The 1995 reissue of the original mold had a slightly more “beaten up” look to it, and this one feels a bit “clean” by comparison. They did give us exhaust scorches on the back, they did give us blast marks, they did bang it up a LITTLE. And at this price point, with something this big, it’s hard to imagine them going further. But I have to be honest here, and I think the paint is just shy of perfect. It’s just not quite a four star paint job.
I’ll mention the stickers here, as well, though I’m not sure how to evaluate them. There are a ton of stickers, 29 I believe, and they are all well done. They aren’t photographs or cartoons, but the sort of hybrid image that’s essentially realistic but not quite a photo. They’re easy to apply, and the spaces for them are somewhat forgiving – you want to be careful, but they haven’t made it impossible to get these things on. They do a good job of spicing up the interior, without dominating. I used to love applying stickers to new toys when I was a kid, so I’m glad they included these, but with today’s focus on “realism” in detail and paint, I’m glad they aren’t using the stickers to do all the work for them.
No “articulation” on a toy like this, but there are a heckuva lot of features. I’m going to divide them up, to make it easier to talk about them.
Non-electronic features: ****
There are two kinds of non-electronic features – areas for play, and non-electronic stuff you can do like launching missiles and opening hatches. In both, this ship excels. For basic “areas of play” there tons of places to explore. There’s the sick bay, the gun port, the boarding ramp, the cockpit, the storage area in the back, the dejarik table, the training area, the smuggling compartments, and the mini-fighter. That’s not counting the exterior of the ship as a place to crawl around, make repairs, get into fights, and so on. That’s just unique environments where figures can interact with the ship, just places for stuff to happen. It’s a large list. Then there are the ways you can interact with it – a remote knob turns the radar dish and simultaneously moves the training remote around. Another knob moves the gun on top of the ship, along with the seat inside. A switch lowers the boarding ramp, which glides slowly into position (though you have to close the ramp manually). The cockpit opens, the smuggling compartments open, the storage bay in the back has opening doors. You can manually pull down the “few surprises” laser cannon used to repel Snowtroopers and swivel it. Missiles fire from that cannon, the top cannon, the front of the ship, and the mini-fighter. Speaking of which, you can manually open its docking bay to retrieve the fighter, which has an opening cockpit and manually retractable guns (those are in addition to its firing missile). Having said all that…I THINK I’ve listed it all. There are that many things to DO with this ship. That’s not counting removing and replacing the hull covers (two pieces) to access the interior in the first place. Or removing the landing gear (they don’t retract, sorry – the weight of this thing would make that a dicey prospect) to simulate flight mode.
I’m a big fan of non-electronic interactive toys, and a particular fan of the basic “diorama” approach, where figures simply have an environment to interact with rather than a toy that is nothing much more than a bunch of buttons that play noises. I have one of those – it’s my DVD player. When a toy like this comes along and gives me this much to do without batteries, I’m very happy.
Electronic features: ***
In which case, maybe I’m being a little hard on the electronic features, not being a huge fan of them. I have to say, though, I believe I’m being objective here. The electronic features aren’t quite the home-run the other features are. There are two kinds of electronic features: sounds and lights. The sounds are themselves divided into dialogue and non-dialogue. Each is triggered by different switches, which prompt a combination of sound and light.
The lights include headlights on the mandibles, the engine itself (which has two settings: it bursts with an extra bit of white light when the ship gets a boost of speed), lights in the cockpit, lights to illuminate the boarding ramp area, and the dejarik table. All are excellent, though my personal favorites are the last three. The cockpit lights look fantastic, the dejarik table is great (especially since the translucent figures appear to glow when plugged into it) and the illumination of the area where the boarding ramp lowers is a fantastic touch. The lights are mostly bright enough to be visible in moderate light, though the engine doesn’t seem bright enough to me.
The non-dialogue sounds are various engine noises (the burst of speed; the flooded “fail” noise of the ship not starting, which is triggered randomly when you start it up; various cruising sounds) and gunfire, the sound of the fighter bay opening and closing and the sound of the fighter itself docking, plus the lightsaber and training remote noises. They’re all pretty effective. The dialogue includes the following lines (I won’t include the bits about which buttons trigger which lines, and short pressing and long pressing buttons – it’s dull to read, and it’s included with the instructions anyway):
“She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.”; “Chewie, get us out of here!”; “What’s that flashing?”; “We’re losing the deflector shield”; “Go strap yourselves in, I’m going to make the jump to light speed.”; “You’re all clear, kid!”
“Let’s blow this thing and go home!”; “Great shot, kid, that was one in a million.”; “Come on, come on! Switch over! And let’s hope we don’t have a burnout.”; “Hold them off. Angle the deflector shields while I charge up the main guns.”; “OK, stay sharp!”; “Don’t worry, she’ll hold together.”; “Got him! I got him!”; “Great kid! Don’t get cocky…”; “That’s it! We did it!”; “It’s not wise to upset a wookie.”; “I suggest a new strategy, R2: let the wookie win.”; “With the blast shield down, I can’t even see. How am I supposed to fight?”; “You see? You can do it!”; “You’ve taken your first step into a larger world.”; “Artoo, come back at once! You don’t know how to fix the hyperdrive!”; “You did it!”; and, of course, various R2 beeps and Chewbacca growls.
I’m not crazy about the dialogue, partly because I don’t like toys that talk for me, but also because it’s very loud, and some of it feels a bit slow (Luke sounds drugged to me when he whines about that blast shield). Mainly, because I want the thing to do what the ship did, and the ship didn’t talk. If you really love this kind of thing, though, the sheer quantity of quotes included and their appropriateness to events on the Falcon are gonna probably make this a four star category for you. (though you might agree with me that it’s a bit loud)
Oh, and there’s an on/off switch, too, so you can preserve the battery power when you don’t feel like using the electronics.
The ship comes only with Han and Chewie, and decent versions of each. (There have been so many of these guys over the years, I will not try to identify them – but I will say they each have ball jointed shoulders and knees, Han has swivel elbows and a headset on and gloves, and his pistol fits into its holster) Now, on the one hand, it’s neat that they included figures for it. Sure, most of us have these guys already, but it’s neat not to have to dig them out of storage or remove them from your display. On the other hand, though, it would be neat to have STUFF for the Falcon, and there really are accessories that make sense for it, some of which we’ve never seen before. It feels wrong to complain about what this thing doesn’t include, it’s so impressive. But to be fair to this category, here’s a short list, off the top of my head, of already-produced accessories they could easily have given us: cargo boxes (some came with OTC Dagobah R2-D2), Imperial scanner (came with scanning technician figure), gas mask rebreathers (came with the Mynock Hunt cinema scene), service droid (came with Aunt Beru). That the ship comes with several storage compartments, one of which we’re told is for things like gas masks, it is almost like Hasbro is taunting us into recognizing their absence. (It should be noted, cynically, that Hasbro is releasing a battle pack later in the year which includes R2, Ben, 3PO, Luke, and the blast shield helmet, gas masks, cargo boxes, and Luke’s hand splint thing from the AOTC era Bespin Luke) Personally, though, I’m not really bugged by the lack of accessories – but I have to admit, this ship would be even cooler if they’d given us that stuff for it.
Fun factor- ****
Seriously, do you even have to ask? There’s like a bajillion ways to play with this thing, and that’s not even counting picking it up and flying it around the room. Which, to be honest – good luck with that. This thing weighs a ton. (15 pounds, I believe – seriously). But between the launching missles, lights and sounds, opening hatches, moving guns and radar dish, deployable fighter craft, and all the ways figures can meet and fight in and on and under this toy… it probably is the most fun Star Wars toy ever. The funny thing is, while some fans object to the mini-fighter (it’s not canon, and it takes up space that could have been dedicated to something else), I feel like most kids are gonna have the most fun with THAT. I mean, recreating a chess game? Really? No, this mini-fighter makes noise when you launch it, and it can shoot a missile, and it’s small enough for a kid to fly it around the room, take it in the car or to the beach, send it on missions and treat the Falcon itself like a home base, like the USS Flagg or something like that. Mark my words, the mini-fighter may turn out to be what most kids consider the greatest part of this toy, and what gets the most attention. But even if not, there’s no way a kid who’s even slightly interested in Star Wars, or science fiction, or adventure, is going to find this toy dull. However, any kid who gets the opportunity to own one is spoiled rotten and will grow up to be impossible to please. There, I said it. (just kidding, folks!! Seeing if you’re paying attention!)
I know there are people who scoff at the $150 price tag, but it feels about right to me. The AT-AT and other versions of the Falcon, not to mention the large X-Wing and TIE ships, have all been between $40 and $80 or so, and this is easily twice that. I suppose it could have been $120 and still felt right, but frankly, I’m not going to quibble. It doesn’t feel overpriced, though it stands admittedly right on the line. The electronics drive the price up, if not because they have to then because they can. And even without that, this thing is huge, and everyone involved needs to make a ton off the gamble of taking up this much space at a time when the toy industry is waning. They need for this to do very well, and anyone who wants to see more of this sort of toy wants it to do very well also. I suppose there will be eventual discounts on this thing, and you’ll be able to grab it with a full component of crew at some point down the road – but for now, every penny feels well spent (esp. if you have a gift card or some other credit burning a hole in your wallet…)
Things to Watch Out For:
Well, it’s in a solid box. So, I suppose “things to watch out for” include: “Are you currently holding a big box that says ‘Millenium Falcon’ on it?” “Are you sure this is not the OLD version, that some store hasn’t unloaded yet?” “Are you sure you aren’t holding the Lego version?” and “Are the flaps still taped up, and if not, does it feel suspiciously light?”
Seriously, though, when you get hit home, check for two bags, one of which has landing gear, missiles, and laser cannons, and the other of which has smuggling compartment panels. Somewhere in there is the radar dish as well. Also check for the sticker sheet and the instruction booklet. The two front mandibles come separate, and the cover panels. If that’s all there, you’re good.
Also, advice I’ve seen on the boards: put in batteries and make sure the lights and sounds all work before putting on all the stickers. Missing parts can be sent to you – but if the electronics don’t work, you have to return it, and those stickers will have been a waste of time…
It isn’t perfect. There’s no Landovator, the sounds are almost exclusively from the first movie, the mini fighter is not canon, there aren’t any accessories. I don’t care. I doubt anyone really does. I think the only serious drawback with this toy is its size. Not only is it going to be hard to display, hard to store, and hard to afford, it is also so large that it’s kinda hard to play with, if by “play with” you mean “fly around the room.” It’s a space ship, after all, and kids may find it hard to accept that they can’t actually fly their new spaceship toy around. None of that matters. This is the Falcon. It’s closer than I ever expected to get to the perfect Star Wars toy. It’s practically an exact reproduction of some of the best parts of the best movies. It’s got just enough electronic extras to give it juice, but for the most part, it leaves well enough alone, recognizing that all we really need is a cool reproduction of what we fell in love with on the screen thirty years ago. She’s got it where it counts, kid.
Packaging - ****
Sculpt - ****
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***
Non-electronic features: ****
Electronic features: ***
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ****
Overall - ****
Where to Buy -
Your best bet is Target or Toys R Us right now.
from the collection of Lawrence Horsburgh.