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Princess Leia in Boushh Disguise

SWVI: Return of the Jedi
by Artemis

Since I reviewed the original Boushh figure for OAFE back in 1983 (if you're wondering why we don't time-travel for reviews any more, it's because plutonium prices are even worse than toys nowadays), I thought it'd be fitting to take a look at Hasbro's latest effort of the self-same bounty hunter/disguised princess, and see what a difference 27 years makes.

Princess Leia disguises herself as a bounty hunter named Boushh. Her ruse is part of an elaborate plan to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt. The crime lord is displaying the carbonite-frozen body of Solo in his palace on Tatooine. The rescue is successful, and she releases Han from his frozen state.

This is one of two of the current crop of Star Wars figures I've got - the ones with battle cards or whatever - and the other, Aurra Sing, also has that weird short-sentence structure to her bio. Maybe they're aiming at the young'uns (the card would suggest so) and leaving us grizzled veterans with the retro-chic original packaging line. In any case, I've always wondered just what Luke's "elaborate plan" was. Obviously Team Rebellion had put a lot of effort into the preliminary stages, with people slipped into Jabba's palace through various means, but was being dropped on the Rancor part of it? The sarlacc pit? Leia's improv assassination? That G4TV girl's alleged wardrobe malfunction? I'm just curious at what point exactly the elaborate plan turned into "What the hell, we've got half of Rebel High Command in Jabba's court, let's just wing it from here."

Anyway, the toy - anything from the Original Trilogy will have had its own weight in action figures by now, so what we're looking at is more a matter of refinement and improvement. Right off the bat they've made one big change to the next-most-recent Leia/Boushh figure I have - she's tiny. At just 3¼" to the top of her helmet, she's much more in keeping with Carrie Fisher's pixieish stature than earlier efforts (a trend which has been in evidence over several recent Leias). All the necessary sculpted detail is still packed into Boushh's slight form, with mostly cast-in-colour parts providing the palette, aside from painted minor details like the techy clasp to the neck armour, and whatever all those gizmos on the bandolier are. The sandy robes look a touch plain in just their single tone, but at this scale, and broken up by the other costume areas as the robes are, it's no big deal.

With Boushh's body size reduced, the helmet - which still has to leave room for an actual head inside - winds up rather larger, relatively speaking, than it has been on more imposing Boushhes (if that's the proper plural). It's also much darker than on earlier figures - the dark grey metal looks a good match to me, but so far as I can judge (allowing for the dim lighting in Jabba's throne room) the body of the helmet goes too far into the dull greenish-brown area, with not enough orange in the mix. On its own merits it certainly looks more realistic than a bright orange one, but there's a middle ground that could've been struck - especially given that Star Wars, for all its "dirty, lived-in galaxy" feel, isn't short on bold colours in general.

Beneath her helmet, Leia's likeness is present, but not as strong as other figures have managed. Compared to the newest Slave Leia, her features aren't quite as defined - perhaps a product of casting, rather than the original design - and her skin is much paler. Maybe part of her dancing girl makeover was being stuck in a tanning booth. On the intentional side of how she looks, her eyes are painted to be looking up, as if her head is tilted forward, rather than straight ahead on the Slave Leia I'm comparing her to, and the different hairstyle - strands falling either side of her face, not pulled tightly back in her slave-girl ponytail - makes her jaw look narrower and sharper. Thanks to the hair's paint being slightly off, it also gives her the impression of having mutton-chops - check when you buy in that regard, I picked the better of two, and there was a distinct difference.

Speaking of her hair, she's got a short ponytail as well, which is sculpted to sit to one side of the tanks on her back, and sticks out the back of Boushh's helmet. I honestly can't recall whether that was the case in the movie, but none of the other Boushh figures I have - including the big Sideshow one - have it. The back of the helmet is sculpted wide on that side of the head to accommodate it, which looks a bit odd, too.

Aside from those blasted peg hips (which have been improved to multi-axis on figures here and there, but a line-wide joint upgrade still seems to elude us), Star Wars sets the bar pretty high for articulation, even compared to larger figures, and... well, for some reason, Boushh lowers it back down again. Most of the joints are there as usual: balljointed neck, swivel/pin shoulders, swivel wrists, swivel waist, peg hips, swivel/pin knees. You'll notice I've skipped two areas: one is that there are no ankle joints, which is a mite baffling, since the boot design would suit Star Wars's usual swivel/pin ankles just fine. The other area is the elbows, which are tilted swivels. The hell? Tilted swivels are just a pain at the best of times, and moreover, the big flared robe-sleeves on the upper arm would be perfect housings for a proper swivel/pin joint. I do wonder if perhaps some joints are being omitted for economy's sake - the Aurra figure also lacks ankles, but confusingly, she has full swivel/pin elbows, on bare arms at that, and a three-axis sternum balljoint in place of a swivel waist. It seems to suggest whoever designed this Leia just unaccountably got hit with the moron stick here.

She makes up for it in accessories, albeit not entirely on her own merits. Besides the removable helmet, she has everything else Boushh needs to be Boushh: the long, bulky force pike and a thermal detonator. The former fits into the right hand, while the left has a recess for a peg on the bottom of the detonator - as it happens though, the peg is longer than it needs to be, and since the recess is set into the palm it's not very deep; the detonator doesn't so much rest in the hand's grip as float between its fingertips. Five seconds and a Swiss Army knife will fix it, but until then any effort to make her arms rest at her sides will wind up looking like a Donkey Kong impression.

As advertised on the packaging, she also has "secret weapons" - secret because they're hidden behind one of the card inserts, not because of anything inherent to the figure or weapons themselves. In fact it's more or less the Miscellaneous Blasters set that has been packaged with figures before - six guns, all unpainted black, ranging from a pistol up to a colossal elephant gun type thing. For the detail-obsessed, they are, from shortest to longest: a Scout Trooper Blaster Pistol (titchy pistol), a DC-15S (long-barrelled pistol), an E-5 (chunky blaster), a medium rifle with strap I can't find in Wookieepedia (maybe they nicked it from G.I. Joe), a DC-15A (long rifle with chunky barrel), and the insane elephant gun, which I also couldn't find. They're a guns-of-all-eras assortment, with the Return of the Jedi pistol mixing it with Clone Wars DCs, and while I can see they could come in handy for a collection in general, they don't do much for Boushh specifically, since she's got nowhere to hold all of them, or even most of them.

The final accessory is the base, and this is more elaborate than usual. As well as the usual Star Wars logo and techy aesthetic, the base has a slot allowing the figure's "Galactic Battle card" to be stuck into it, facing backwards so young armchair generals can face their mix-and-match legions off across the table and still be able to see their stats. Each card has six stats - Force ability, battle skills, intelligence, mechanical skill, leadership, and luck (clearly Obi-Wan didn't know what he was talking about) - and the figure also comes with a six-sided die printed with the symbols for the stats. Face off two figures, roll the die, see who wins - simple. In an effort to make it less simple, Hasbro have added "power boost" bonuses to each card, with a value to be added to the appropriate skill if it's the one the die picks - or to put it another way, the scores are wrong, and the corrections are printed right there on the card. I'm not sure what this is supposed to achieve, unless the target audience is so young they can't do basic arithmetic - presumably the idea is to make players "learn" their troops' strengths, rather than having the final values in plain sight, but it seems a pretty dumb way to do it.

Leia's scores, by the way - power boosts included - are Force 14, Battle 9, Intelligence 16, Mechanical 13, Leadership 21, Luck 8. Would've pegged her as a better fighter than mechanic myself, but the other scores seem vaguely plausible, if you assume Force is "sensitivity" rather than "ability to crush enemy's spine by glaring." I just did a best-of-five test round, and Leia butchered Aurra Sing 4 to 1. Luckily for collectors (and Aurra), the bases work perfectly well sans card.

There's really nothing to complain about with this figure, except those goddamn joints - the missing ankles would be forgivable as a minor goof in an otherwise fine effort, but the tilted swivel elbows are just not up to the standard Star Wars figures have set for themselves these past couple of years. Despite performing well in every other area, that one misstep means there's no way you can call this the definitive Boushh figure in the 3¾" line, in the way other recent figures have basically been everything their characters could possibly be as action figures. Hopefully that "final" Boushh will get made one day, but this ain't it.

-- 09/04/10

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