So far in my three reviews of the Playskool Star Wars product (X-Wing Adventure, Stompin' Wampa and Fast Through the Forest), there has been one constant: that while the sets are incredibly cool, they are also remarkably difficult to find. Today's review is no different. Though I've seen most of the sets in stores - finally - there's still one that is the absolute king of rarity.
There's trouble on the Millennium Falcon! The faithful Han Solo is on a mission to rescue R2-D2, but first he has to make an emergency landing to repair the ship's engine. With the help of his trusty friend Chewbacca and C-3PO, Han gets the engine running, but before they can take off they encounter an evil Stormtrooper. Can our heroes Han, Chewbacca and C-3PO stop the Stormtrooper? The outcome is in your hands!
Millennium Falcon Adventure is currently the most expensive set in the series. The ship is, obviously, the largest vehicle yet produced, and there are four figures included: Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO and a Stormtrooper. As with all the sets, the figures have a cartoonish "super deformed" look to them.
There was a figure of Han included with the Stompin' Wampa set, but this is the first time we've gotten the scruffy-lookin' nerfherder in his familiar outfit - vest, boots and holster. That costume is a prime example of how Star Wars borrowed from popular culture: Han is the end product of countless gunslingers from old Western movies. Little Han stands just over 2" tall, but does not feature any articulation. He's got a smug look on his face and his blaster in his right hand.
Every mysterious gunfighter needed his requisite Mexican or Indian traveling companion, and Han had Chewbacca. The bandoleer and pouch add to the comparison, as does the fact that no one can understand his language except the hero. Of course, helpful animals often appear in myths and fairytales, symbolizing the power of the hero's instinctive nature. This Chewbacca is the most ornate figure offered yet by Playskool, with articulation at both hips and shoulders. He's 3" tall and comes with his bowcaster, which can be held in either hand or stored on his back. His fur is sculpted with plenty of detail, though it is rather disconcerting to see him smiling so.
We got a tiny, unarticulated R2-D2 with the X-Wing, and now we get his gold-plated life partner. C-3PO has no movement, but his sculpt is very nice. I'm not crazy about the vac-metallizing on his body, but then I never like that; it wears off too easily and leaves the toy looking cheap. Like his companion droid, 3PO does not move. His pose is cute, with his heels together and his back arched. Just as Anthony Daniels always looked as if he was in danger of falling over in the robot suit, this toy looks like it's trying to keep its balance. The large feet give him a stable base, though.
The Stormtroopers' uniform was designed to be
"spooky white space armor" with a twentieth-century touch; the little pod near the small of the back was a feature on WWII uniforms that contained equipment for the gas masks. This 2" Stormtrooper looks just like his full-sized counterparts, from the asymmetrical shin pads to the upside-down "polar bear in a bikini" helmet. The trooper's blaster is almost as big as his entire body, so it's a good thing that Imperial troops can't shoot straight - that thing would do some damage!
The Falcon stands 7" tall with the landing gear in place, and is about 10" across. Playskool has perfectly captured the look of the Millennium Falcon (assuming that the ship has smashed into a brick wall or something), packing the sculpt with detail right down to the exhaust ports. On top of the ship are moving cannons and a radar dish that rotates and pivots. The real beauty, though, is the paintjob.
One of the advantages that Star Wars had over its geeky cousin Star Trek was that the ships looked more realistic; they weren't gleaming hood ornaments, but rather showed evidence of their use. Star Wars ships were filthy, utilitarian things, covered in grime and scorch marks. Playskool could have given the Millennium Falcon a simple deco since this a toy intended for children, but they really stepped up to the plate, making the deformed ship as accurate as possible.
Some of the colorful detail is provided by stickers. A sheet of decals [boy, that takes me back! --ed.] is included for the afterburner, engine and doorways. Getting the long blue engine sticker in place properly can be a pain in the butt, and the pieces that go around the hyperdrive are easily torn. Still, they look nice once they're in place.
Some assembly is required: the satellite dish, guns and three legs need to be put in place. The legs, once plugged firmly in, cannot be removed easily, so if you want your Falcon to be permanently flying free in space, just store them away.
The interior of the Millennium Falcon is easily
accessible. The cockpit opens, though Chewie is the only figure designed to fit in the pilot's seat easily. There is quite a bit of detail in that cockpit, both on the inside of the glass and on the control board. There's a little seat in there, but it doesn't support the figures' squat stance in the same way that the Tauntaun or Speeder Bikes do. Chewbacca's leg joints let him sit in the seat, while Han just has to stand above it.
A small walkway connects the cockpit to the rest
of the ship, emptying next to the main gangplank. That entry plank lowers to the ground and looks precisely like what we see in the film, right down to the support struts that hold it in place. Pretty cool. It does pop out of joint easily - it's designed to do so to prevent breakage - but it also goes back on just as simply. The ramp is a bit too slanted for the figures to stand on safely and the doorway is too small for Chewbacca to fit through, but it's a good stylization of the real thing.
The main area of the interior is reached by folding up the back half of the roof - inside, the ship is just as detailed as it is outside. The designers even included the game table where Chewbacca and R2-D2 played holographic 3-D chess. The table is molded with two gamepieces - one metallic teal, one bronze - fighting for a space. The floor and walls are molded with detail, and there's even a spot to store Chewie's bowcaster when it's not on his back.
Insert three AA batteries and the ship will make several sounds: the guns fire as they move; the engines ignite and a few seconds' worth of the Star Wars theme plays; there are more "flying" sounds, and then the sound of a failed attempt to leap into hyperdrive. C-3PO informs us that "the hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon is damaged!"
To fix this, you must go into the ship. Portside, there's a fold-down panel that reveals the ship's engine. A flashing red light indicates the damaged engine. Using the hydrospanner (a rubber hose with a handle that Chewie can hold) to press the button in the center of the engine makes a loud grating sound and 3PO tells us that the hyperdrive is repaired. The drive fires up, R2 squeals and 3PO congratulates him as our heroes make a quick getaway to the tune of the themesong once again.
Pressing the red button in the center of the ship makes the characters "talk" - R2-D2 beeps, Chewbacca growls and C-3PO says (amazingly enough) "I am C-3PO." I guess Harrison Ford couldn't be bothered to provide a clip. Would a "never tell me the odds!" really have been so difficult? After about 30 seconds of not playing with the Falcon, R2 beeps loudly, trying to reclaim your attention. As soon as I was done writing about all these sound effects, the batteries came out.
Overall, the theme of the Playskool sets is "cute." The people, the beasts, the vehicles are all much more adorable than ever before. Unfortunately, Playskool seems to have done what no other Star Wars licensee has ever managed: underestimated the demand for their product. The sets are fairly difficult to find, between the folks buying them for their kids and folks buying them for themselves.
These are great toys, if you can find them; I had to resort to an online retailer to get mine, and still wouldn't have purchased it if not for a timely $10 gift certificate. I really wish Playskool would give us a Leia or Obi-Wan figure to help round out the Falcon's crew, but I guess they figure no little kid wants to play with a woman or an old man. Still, these sets are getting snapped up all over, for one simple reason: they really are great fun.