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Han Solo (AT-ST Driver)

SWVI: Return of the Jedi
by yo go re

It's true that Star Wars toys are better now than they've ever been in the past. The best sculpts the best articulation... but not necessarily the best selection. Like we've said before, there are a lot of variations of the characters - real, honest, this-appeared-in-the-movie variations - that were done years ago and haven't even been hinted as an update.

Han leads a strike team to the moon of Endor, to destroy the shield generator protecting the second Death Star high in orbit. Han has to get inside the Imperial bunker to disable the generator. To do that, he commandeers the uniform of an AT-ST driver and pretends to be an Imperial trooper. His trick works, and the team successfully completes its mission.

This figure is only identified as "Han Solo" on the packaging, with no other modifiers. That seems kind of cheap. The bio up there makes it obvious that Han is disguised as an AT-ST driver, so why doesn't the package say any of that? Why is he just "Han Solo" and not "Han Solo in AT-ST Disguise" or "Han Solo (Imperial Driver)" or some other identification-friendly name? We settled on "AT-ST Driver" for the top of the page, just to make archive searches easier, but if you go looking to buy this one, know that he'll just be called Han Solo.

So. The AT-ST Driver uniform. It's basically a gray one-piece jumpsuit with black boots, gloves and a thick belt with a silver clasp. The Imperial symbol is printed in black on his left shoulder. The sculpt is fairly wrinkly, since the uniform is fitted for someone else. There are sculpted pockets on the upper arms, hips and the front of the thighs, and even little straps on the sides of the boots to help the wearer pull them on. The sculpt is five years old at this point, but it's still on par with the things we're getting today.

What isn't up to par, however, is the articulation. Han's got nothing but swivel joints, allowing him to move at the neck, shoulders, elbows, gloves, waist and hips. It's not much, but it was average for the time. The intended pose has the figure's left hand - sculpted holding a radio transmitter, naturally - right up in front of his face, but at least the swivels are cut in at such an angle that you can straighten it out. He does look great with it up, though. The right hand is molded to hold the included blaster.

Han's helmet is removable, giving you a look at the decent Harrison Ford likeness underneath. It's kind of sad that a Han Solo likeness from 2004 is so much better than any of the Indiana Jones likenesses from 2008, but then, that's why that line failed and this one is still rolling along. Han's hair is surprisingly poofy considering that it's been crammed under one of those brain buckets, but maybe the AT-ST Driver's helmets are roomier than average.

Han Solo (AT-ST Driver) was part of the Original Trilogy Collection, which is actually something we've somehow avoided reviewing before now. The packaging even won the 2004 ToY Award thanks to its clean design and the inclusion of a photo backdrop - in Han's case, the thick forests of Endor. It looks very nice for the MOC collectors, but is still easy to open and throw away for the rest of us.

The OTC figures also come with a clever display base. Rather than try to show a bit of specialized terrain, the base is a plain gret rectangle with a minimum of technological deailing on it. There are tabs on the left side and the back, and slots on the right side and the front - if you get a ton of these bases, you can fit them all together in one locked-down display. That's really nice, and I wish Hasbro were still doing that today.

A modern update of this costume would be great. It's an unusual choice for a toy, and is anything but common; a quick check of eBay revealed only one listing for the figure, and even loose he was going for more than I originally paid for this in the store. The next time Hasbro wants to put a Han Solo in one of their assortments, they should consider giving this version a go.

-- 08/09/09

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