Even though it really has not been all that long since I bought my first Star Wars Black Series figure on the convention floor of the San Diego Comic Con, the wait for this wave has felt like forever. Well, being the “next thing” type of community that we are, seeing Han, Greedo, and Leia (I already had Boba Fett) being prepped for series two had me all kinds of excited for the second series, even though I had not even gotten all of the first series. We have already brought you a couple of features for this series from Matt K and snowman, but now we have a little tag team effort ready to go for our full review features. I am kicking it off with PRINCESS LEIA (SLAVE OUTFIT), but Benty, Pabs, and canonball will be along later with looks at the other figures from the wave. Let’s get this party started!
“Come on, we gotta get out of here”
I am pretty sure that, now that DCUC is all but done, the Black Series is my favorite toy line going right now after Masters of the Universe Classics. As a general rule, I am just not a big fan of the 1:18 scale (it DOES work well for some properties though, like The Outer Space Men), so I have never really had a Star Wars action figure collection, even though I have always wanted one. So being able to get characters like Han Solo for the first time in my preferred scale is a pretty big deal to me. Princess Leia is an absolutely essential character to the mythos, so getting a version of her out in the early waves is important, even though the “slave outfit” probably was not the iteration that most expected to be up first for her.
If I had to bet prior to series two being revealed, I would have thought for sure that Leia in her “A New Hope” white dress outfit would have been the first Leia released. The “side buns” are so iconic and it’s the look that I see in my mind’s eye when I picture Leia. However, there is no denying the popularity of the slave outfit within pop culture, and with Jabba the Hut on the rumor lists for next year, this version is starting to make a lot of sense, and really, this one would have certainly been my second pick for a Leia figure.
This is the first female figure in the Black Series, so this figure was going to come with its own set of challenges (why do toy companies struggle with the ladies so much?), but even though they only showed prototypes of this series back in July, I think most of the community had made up its mind that this figure was going to be the weakest one in the wave when stacked up against Han, Greedo, and Fett, and in the interest of full disclosure, everyone was pretty much right-on with that assertion. The good news is that I don’t dislike this figure as much as I thought I would, and there are certainly some redeeming qualities about it. Plus, I have a little feature at the end of the article that will help her become a pretty decent figure overall.
I think the most distracting thing about this figure is that the good parts are actually really good, while the bad parts are, well, not really good at all. I think the sculpt is really nice. I mean, it is obviously there and Gentle Giant did a great job as usual in capturing the likeness of a person that has never really been successfully translated into plastic before. Leia’s head sculpt is pretty spot on (the darned paint is what makes it less successful), and all of the costume details are present on a body that is very appropriate for the character. Carrie Fisher was awfully skinny back in ’82-’83, but the figure isn’t a “plank,” and the form retains some curves in the hips and bust.
I really like Leia’s accessories as well, and they are appropriate for the version of the character. She comes with the staff and “axe” thing that she gets ahold of on Jabba’s barge, and both are very successfully captured. Leia can hold both of them convincingly as well, so when accessories look good and can be properly wielded, I count that as a win.
Princess Leia is certainly not without her faults though, and they range from “slightly annoying” to “pretty bad” in terms of execution. So while I am not the biggest fan of R2-D2 from the first assortment, I think Leia is the weakest figure in the line thus far, which is a shame because when you have a version of a character that is this iconic, you really want it to be perfect.
While I don’t want this review to be completely negative because, as I said, I don’t think this figure is terrible, I do want to mention the things that are just not successful. Starting with the “slightly annoying” end of the spectrum, the figure is too short. Yes, Fisher is not at all tall, but I think the figure is about half an inch too small. She SHOULD be noticeably shorter than just about anyone else, but I think it was taken too far. She doesn’t look too bad when standing next to Luke, but I think she should only be about a head shorter than Han. As it stands, she is about a head and a half shorter. It is not a huge deal to me, especially since she will be laying on her side in my collection, but I hope Hasbro skews just a bit taller for future Leias.
My next bugger comes with the articulation. Now, I think the articulation scheme is pretty spot-on and she can be posed in just about any configuration you could want, but some of it is not executed as well as it could be. First and foremost are the “elbros,” and while I have come to terms with the fact that they are not going away, Leia’s are just ugly. The pieces do not flow together well, so it looks like she has fat rolls sitting on the top of her elbows. It just doesn’t look good and hope they are taking note of that. I am also not a huge fan of the “one way hinge” wrists. Leia has one wrist that moves side to side and one that moves up and down. I know they did this so she could hold the staves, but if they would have made them ball-jointed with the hinge, she could have had full functionality in both wrists. The latter is not a bothersome as the former for me, but still something I count as “could be improved.”
The figure’s paint scheme takes a real hit because the face paint just isn’t very good at all, especially on this figure. I am taking this opportunity to tell Hasbro to let GENTLE GIANT handle the paint masters for these figures. The in-house work being done that can be successful at the 1:18 scale just does not work here. I have seen what Gentle Giant is capable of, and they understand this scale and what needs to be done in terms of paint to make it successful. “Hasbro eyes” are too simplistic and just about every figure in the line has had some issues from figure to figure in terms of the eyes. I know this is apparent in just about every line, but Leia really suffers. This figure has different sized irises and they are lopsided. It is really distracting in these large pictures, but it is also apparent in real life too at the normal scale. Also, there is a lot of paint slop on bleed that you can see up close. There is a spot on her nose that is hard to see at actual scale, but the bleed at the hair line is really apparent and I will need to correct it with some paint.
I want this to be a chance for Hasbro to learn from this figure, and to engage Gentle Giant all through production on these figures. The potential for them to be fantastic is there, they just need to work through some of the issues and treat these as a unique scale and not apply the same methods used at the smaller 1:18 scale. You just cannot get away with as much, especially with paint.
Finally, the cloth skirt. Oy, the cloth skirt is probably the weakest part of the entire figure. I am already predisposed to not like cloth at this scale, but it has been handled well in this line so far with Maul and Boba Fett. In fact, they have some of the best cloth I have seen used at this scale, but Leia’s skirt fails at just about every level. It does not look natural in terms of how it flows and hangs, and the sides of the skirt were fraying before I even took her out of the package. Plastic would have been much better here, and I say “bull pies” to those that would say that she would lose poseability. Just see below. I think cloth should ONLY be used on this line sparingly and only to preserve movement (like in Maul) when hidden under plastic, or if they can NAIL the look, like with Fett’s cape. Otherwise, it does not look good at 1:12, and I really hope we do not see any Jedi cloaks in cloth, Maul’s execution is perfect.
Oh, but there is a way to make my biggest beef a thing of the past with this figure. Industrial explains it all, and I will be doing this right away now that I have the parts needed, so check this out! Oh, and you can replace the chain with a more convincing version as well!
PRINCESS LEIA PLASTIC DRESS MODIFICATION!
As an added bonus, Fwoosh staffer and action figure extraordinaire Industrial gives us all the instruction needed to get rid of the cloth skirt and fashion up Leia with a nice plastic version. Take it away, Indy!
Here are the steps!1. Stuff you’ll need : Power of the Force monkey-face Slave Leia, Star Wars Black Series Slave Leia / x-acto knife / superglue / hot water
2. Slave Leia hot bath fun times
3. Get that skirt off!
4. Cut out the middle key section just above the decorative metallic areas.
6. Using the x-acto, shave some material from the insides of both skirt pieces (see awesome blurry pic)
7. Using the x-acto, shave down decorative metal parts on the front sides of the skirt pieces
8. cut a slot in the middle of both skirt pieces
So after this you’ll want to give 6-inch Slave Leia a quick hot bath so you can remove her lame fabric skirt and plastic metal belt. I was impatient so I didn’t let her soak long enough to get the keys of the metal belt totally unglued, instead I just pulled them out as far as I could then sliced in the middle of the peg that keys them into her crotch (leaving enough peg on the belt to still work as a key). Now slide the metal belt piece up so it’s out of the way. Put a little bit of glue on the crotch around the sides and bottom of the peg hole(s) and place the rubber skirt pieces so that the slots you’ve cut line up around the peg hole(s) leaving the holes exposed. Put some glue into the peg hole(s) and a little on the skirt pieces where you’ve shaved down the old decorative metallic portions, then just slide the metal belt and pegs back into place.
The idea with steps #’s 6 & 7 are to make the section of the plastic skirt that you are going to glue under the metallic belt nice and thin, don’t go overboard, though, because you want it to maintain enough integrity since that section is also what’s holding the whole thing on.
For the chain, I actually used a chunk of the chain that came with the McFarlane Walking Dead TV Michonne and zombies cut to the same length as the plastic one. I sliced the chain portion off the collar and cut a small slit on the underside of the collar that I glued the real chain into.
So, overall, I have to call Leia the weakest figure in the Black Series so far, and I hope that Hasbro will take the chance to improve things with future female figures. There are some things that you can do to improve her, like touching up the face paint and replacing the cloth, but she is still not in the same league with the rest of her series-mates. But that is the good news; the figures are only going to get better and better as our reviews continue this week. So, stay tuned and I cannot wait for series three and my bad-ass Jedi Master Kenobi!