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SWIV: A New Hope
by yo go re

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

Chewbacca is Han Solo's copilot on the Millennium Falcon. The powerful Wookiee is a courageous fighter, skilled mechanic and loyal friend who joins the fight to save the galaxy.

Hasbro's done a totally shite job with these Star Wars Black Series figures. Not in terms of design or construction, because those are always excellent. No, the problem is distribution. Judging by the shelves in the stores, Hasbro hasn't released any new figures since Han Solo and Greedo, back in 2013. Two bloody years ago! Every week I go to the store, and every week there's nothing new. Nothing. Han Greedo Leia. Han Greedo Leia. Han Greedo Leia. It seemed like it was time to just call it a day and liquidate that portion of the collection, and then, just chilling on the pegs in a distant Walmart, were some new releases. And like that, I was hooked all over again.

Chewbacca was inspired by George Lucas' dog Indiana, who used to sit in the passenger seat of his car. That's why he's got a big black nose like a puppy, and his name is based on the Russian word for "dog," собака. He looks a little cross-eyed on this toy, but if you look closely at the movies, that's not really a mistake. A human in a mask this thick is always going to look like that.

The original Chewbacca suit was made of yak and rabbit hair, knitted into a mohair base. It was made by makeup supervisor Stuart Freeborn, who also made the proto-humans for Stanley Kubrick's 2001. This figure stands nearly 7¾" tall, so there's plenty of room for Hasbro's uncredited sculptor(s?) to create intricate locks of fur cascading all the way down his body, from the slicked-back area over his eyebrows and head, all the way down to the big bushy flares at his ankles. The only bits that aren't covered in fur are his palms and his feet.

The paint can really vary from figure to figure. Chewie isn't a flat brown, he's got darker shading, and that shading can be inaccurately applied. Judging by the movie costume, the dark areas should be on his forehead, shoulders and upper arms, and the thighs. Black Series Chewbacca gets that right, but the colors tend to end abruptly at the joints, rather than fading naturally. On mine, for instance, his right legs has a fade, but his left doesn't. It really draws attention to itself.

Chewie's articulation is good. He has swivel/hinge/swivel ankles, which gives them a rocker's range of motion but still allows to the feet to turn; the knees bend and turn, and there are swivels cut through the thigh just below the line of his crotch-fur. His wrists, elbows, and shoulders are all swivel/hinges, and his hips appear to be balljointed. His head definitely is, and then there are two more joints in the torso: a waist that is absolutely a balljoint, and a torso that seems to just be a swivel? Odd. The fur falls over most of the joints, but doesn't really impede their movement to any great degree. All the strands are fairly flexible, so they just bend out of the way.

He's armed with his bowcaster, which is done in two pieces: the "bow" part, and the "caster" part. In other words, a bit that looks basically like a long skinny gun with three sights on top, and a piece that plugs across the front to make it look vaguely like a crossbow. It's a weird weapon. He's also got his bandolier/satchel thing slung across his chest, so you can remove it if you just want a big brown Bigfoot figure.

Chewbacca is a fun figure - you've almost got to get him, if only to keep Han company. But for cryin' out loud, Hasbro, do a better job with distribution! Buy back the leftover Series 2 figures if you have to, just get some new damn toys into stores so we can frickin' buy them!

-- 06/27/15

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