Updated with Part II: Kitbash Potential in Post 17 below.

For my previous Star Wars sixth-scale review, see HERE.

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Introduction
Hot Toys is apparently determined to milk its Star Wars license for all it's got, reprising different (often slightly different) versions of the same characters over an over, and bringing us renditions of their on-screen appearance from various insignificant or indeed deleted scenes (case in point, sandstorm Luke). This is not quite the same thing with their Bespin Leia, but this is the third (fourth if you count what I consider the non-canonical Sequel Trilogy) iteration of her character produced by Hot Toys (and there is another on its way) while many others still await their first rendition, and it depicts a relatively unimportant, if distinctive appearance of the character in The Empire Strikes Back. I've always had a thing for this look, and I have to confess I was seduced by the serene beauty of the product in the promotional images; so I bought it after having decided that I would not... And it turned out to be more or less as I expected, given previous experience: not bad at all, but not overwhelmingly great either.

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Packaging - 3/4 stars
I don't expect to be wowed by the packaging, so this is not terribly important to me, as long as it is practical and safe. And this is, conforming to the traditional boxing standard of (post Rogue One) Star Wars sixth-scale action figures by Hot Toys. We get a rectangular box in two shades of black with a fine photo of the product, and a cigar band with the character's name and "inset" photo running along the bottom of the lid. Inside is a nice (but in my opinion unnecessary) title card with a color image of the product, and below it a clear plastic trey with its clear plastic lid, within which the figure and its "accessories" are cradled safely. Beneath that, there is a cardboard card with the backdrop piece attached through a couple of clear plastic tabs. Everything is collector-friendly and safe. I would have preferred foam, but that would have been a departure from precedent (they did provide foam for their Deluxe Indiana Jones figure, and possibly others I don't know or forget).

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Sculpting - 4/4 stars
As usual, Hot Toys does top of the line work, and even their failures are usually more successful than the alternatives. Leia's face is sculpted with great attention to fine details (look at the hair strands and braids), and there are no technical imperfections; the seam line of the mold is perhaps just a little too apparent, while technically handled correctly. The figure stands about 10.5 inches (26.7 cm) tall, which is just a little too tall for a sixth-scale version of actress Carrie Fisher.

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Paint - 4/4 stars
Hot Toys' paint application tends to be fairly flawless, and this set is no exception even if, apart from the head, there is little room for complexity. The eyes are clear and glossy, the lips appropriately so, the skin has subtle variation making it appear realistic, the shoes are given an appropriate slightly metallic color, in short everything appears to be good. I don't know whether it is lighting or professional photography (or editing), but I get the feeling that the promotional images were just a bit more attractive than the product we get; then again, I like it better in hand than in my own photos.

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Articulation - 4/4 stars
It used to be that Hot Toys bodies were held up as an example of near perfect action figure articulation. Yet, it seems like in recent years every time we have reviewed a Hot Toys set, we have been writing something along the lines of "the underlying body has all the articulation that you might want, but the outfit restricts it significantly in several places." For once this is not the case, and Leia can pose with virtually unhindered freedom ... in an outfit in which we see her do remarkably little onscreen. She can (be posed to) walk, sit, cross her legs, do splits!, and raise her hands up in the air like she don't care. The joints are just the right combination of tight and loose to allow all this and to make it possible to stand the figure in most of these poses. This is excellent; and this is how it should be every time for this price and from this company.

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Accessories - 2/4 stars
As so often in recent reviews, this is where Hot Toys products often come up short. There is nothing here I would really call an accessory proper. Admittedly, we do not see Leia in this apparel handling, wielding, using anything at all, so Hot Toys has a perfect excuse to not provide any accessories. For this price, however (more on that later), they ought to. Leia comes with two sets of interchangeable hands (these are spare parts, not accessories), a pair of extra wrist pegs (likewise), an action figure base/stand, and a backdrop display. They certainly could have given us a gun for the grip hand (Kenner and Hasbro did), or a glass or anything film-related. The action figure stand and base are standard Death Star (?) floor type that we have seen with so many other figures; there is a printed card with what is apparently Cloud City flooring on it that you can put on top of the base, securing it in place by inserting the stand part. The backdrop is by far the most impressive and specific "accessory." It is a rectangular plastic-covered styrofoam piece with an indented section at the bottom that is lined with magnets that allow it to attach to the back of the base (and I do like this solution). The surface that remains showing is molded to look like a textured Art-Deco wall panel from Cloud City. Even if I don't care for the look (though it is screen accurate), this is a great idea. But like other such backdrops, it is far too narrow to be useful. I know the idea is that it covers only as much ground as the base, and then you can put your fancy Hot Toys figures together side by side, etc., but the effect is underwhelming. For what it is worth, they could have fitted a wider backdrop without changing the dimensions of the set's box. I almost forgot... there is also the now usual but unnecessary (at least with this set) instruction leaflet (not shown).

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Outfit - 3/4 stars
The outfit/appearance recreated in this set is probably the one I liked best, although I do not consider it as iconic as the white-dress-and-hair-buns of A New Hope. It is a strange combination of complex and simple, and was apparently inspired by a variety of traditional Indian dress, with a long-sleeved tunic worn over pants and with an open sleeveless cloak with a quilted yoke at its top. (For once the Hot Toys pants are not too tight and allow for the excellent articulation mentioned above.) I said I like it, though to be honest I do not actually find it very exciting... maybe it was Leia's hair I actually liked? Anyway, Hot Toys did a very good job recreating the outfit, but not a perfect one. The quilted yoke has more pronounced bends here than onscreen, and it should have been worn more open at the neck (the promotional images for the set have it right, but because it is sewn onto the tunic, you cannot correct this by just futzing with it). Looking at set photos from the film, it looks as if the tunic for the action figure was made just a little short -- or it may have something to do with the disparity between Carrie Fisher's height and body type and the sixth-scale version. The bottom of the cloak has a thin metal wire running though it, helping to keep the pleats in place (not very successfully if you look higher up, but then again they were not supposed to be actual pleats). Theoretically, you could adjust this for posing, but without a wire running down the side edges, it is not very easy to make effective use of it (to be honest I didn't really try, as I didn't want to compromise the pleating further). While the wire is generally a good idea, it does get in the way of the cloak draping naturally (of course the cloth might not drape very well in this scale anyway). The intricate embroidery design on the cloak appears to be accurately reproduced but ironed-on (no, I did not really expect them to embroider it). It does appear more vivid and starkly apparent and contrasting with the background of the garment than it does in the film, which does reduce the realism a bit.

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Fun Factor - 2/4
I'm divided on this one; this is not a particularly fun Leia in the film, and the absence of other specifically Empire Strikes Back iterations of the characters from the Hot Toys line (Vader, Luke, and Boba Fett don't really count in relation to this set) doesn't help; neither does the absence of any real, if imaginative accessories. That said, with a bit of patience (will they give us a better, Empire Han down the line?) and/or creativity you could get this Leia figure its playmates, create come scenes (the excellent articulation helps), and even manage some kitbashing (more on that in a follow up). Ultimately, you know what comes with this set and can make a reasonably accurate guess as to its appeal and possibilities.

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Value - 1/4 stars
Retailing at about $204 (USD), this is noticeably less expensive than many other Hot Toys sets these days. Apparently Hot Toys has taken note of the limitations of the set and priced it accordingly -- within the framework of the prices it has worked so hard to inflate over the last several years. But is the price really justifiable? Hard to tell. But there are reasons to think it might have been lower: yet another rendition of a character already produced, and a less iconic or relevant one; a probable partial recycling of a head sculpt; a recycling and more limited choice of hand sculpts; the complete absence of any real accessory; the recycling of the action figure base and stand (with just a printed card offered as a more specific option); the absence of natural relevant counterparts in the line of figures limiting the fun factor... and so on. Yes, there is the elaborately decorated outfit -- but the pattern is printed and ironed on, and the wire is ultimately a questionable choice; yes, there is the nice backdrop -- but it is narrow, limited, and styrofoam (which is actually impressive, in a way). Although the set is perfectly good for what it is, it could have been so much better -- or it could have featured another, unproduced, perhaps more exciting iteration or character.

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Things to watch out for
Nothing I can think of beyond the usual basic precautions (is this because they simply didn't include enough to be careful about?). Smile

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Overall - 2.8/4 stars
Like I suggested before, I knew what I was getting, so this was not really disappointing to me. There is a lot here was done right, in fact better than usual, and there were also some things that could have been done better. It is a nicely done set, but certainly not a perfect or very exciting one. I suppose its appeal would depend on a collector's interest in completeness, the character, the actress, or the specific look and setting. But I also imagine that, faced with Hot Toys pricing in general, the casual collector would reserve his or her money for things that they really want or need, and this is one of the more marginal and more limited options out there, so it might suffer by comparison with others.

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Where to buy?
(some of these might still be on Preorder)

Alter Ego Comics for $204
Big Bad Toy Store for $205
Cotswold Collectibles for $200
Timewalker Toys for $204

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I hope this has been useful. As always, what do you think?

#starwars #empirestrikesback #esb #bespin #leia #cloudcity #hottoys #productreview #female #scifi #fantasy