Few action figures trigger sense memories for me more than the subject of this installment of Fitz’s Toy Chest.
Welcome back guys, this time around we’re going to take a look at one of the coolest, yet curiously inaccurate figures in the Kenner Empire Strikes Back collection. Straight from the frozen halls of Echo Base, my first ever ESB figure, Han Solo in Hoth Gear.
Acquisition Year: 1980
Acquired via: Purchase (Venture)
Years In Possession: 40
The summer of 1980 was filled with Star Wars memories. For some reason this Han Solo figure has always been a key to accessing many of those memories. I can feel the humidity outside, smell cut grass and rain in the air.
These memories are all fragments, but the clearest one is of a stormy day spent visiting a nursery center with my mom, grandma, aunt and cousins. It was common for this group to spend several days a week together going shopping or to the zoo. We would all crowd into our station wagon, the cousins in the back seat or the “back back” of the car (i.e. the cargo space between the back seat and hatchback, which was totally safe).
On this day, I can remember being in the back of the station wagon with my cousin who had already scored 2 of the new Empire figures. He had the rebel hoth commander (which we would always consider to be Luke until they finally made a Luke Hoth figure much later), and Han Solo in his Hoth gear.
I can still see us huddled in the backseat in the gravel parking lot of the nursery, the adults having bought some kind of flowers or another. It suddenly got really dark, like night time dark as black clouds rolled in and we had to shelter in the car waiting for one of the usual tornado/hail producing severe thunderstorms we have at least every other week here in the midwest.
I was scared shitless (I’ve always had a fear of bad storms, it’s only been less of a problem in recent years thanks to many pharmaceuticals). I focused all my attention on that Han figure. He was like my guide through a bad acid trip. The more I focused on him the less I heard the crazy thunder and hail beating down on the car.
Finally it was safe enough to drive home, but I will never forget those intense minutes, and the piece of sculpted plastic that kept me from having a meltdown.
I eventually got my own Han Solo in his blue parka. Yes, blue. It was blue in the movie right? Kinda looked blue to me. Except Harrison Ford’s actual costume parka was not blue at all. It was actually brown. I lived my entire life believing the lie that his Hoth coat was dark blue in Empire Strikes Back. It wasn’t until I got the Star Wars costume book a few years back and saw the real garment used in the film that I realized it was brown.
Apparently there was a color timing issue with the original theatrical prints that made the coat look blue. It even fooled Kenner, obviously. It wasn’t until later modern r-releases where the problem was cleaned up. Even then it’s really hard for me to tell it’s not blue (and no I’m not colorblind). I felt like such a moron for never knowing that.
As you can see my Han has considerable paint wear. This is most likely from playing with him in the snow. Unlike Snow Job, I actually did get to use the Hoth figures outside in snow banks during the winter of 80/81. The paint wear on his legs is probably from having him “ride” the Kenner Tauntaun, which meant sticking the figure hip deep into a to tight trap door on the Tauntaun’s back. You would scrape a figure’s legs across the edge of the opening every time you inserted or removed the rider.
Another thing about my particular Han figure is that this is another member of the Broken Neck club in my collection. Not sure how it happened but one day his head came right off. It’s been super glued in place ever since.
I’m not sure if this is an official “feature” or not, but something I always liked about this figure was that you could pop his DL-44 blaster’s ammo clip into the molded holster loop on his hip and have him carry his weapon that way. Pretty cool.
I’m surprised and a little sad about how poorly the color on his face has aged. It’s turned quite yellow and jaundiced looking over the years.
Over all I really loved this figure and it’s probably just behind the Bespin Han in terms of my favorite Kenner interpretation of the character (but it’s a dead heat, Bespin Han was always just more versatile in different play scenarios).
Well, that’s enough oversharing for this week, I hope you enjoyed the baring of my soul. Come back next time for another dose of (probably at least mildly) toxic plastic playthings.
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