LANDO CALRISSIAN (1997)
When it first dawned on me that I should do a Black History Month theme this month the first figure I thought to review was Lando Calrissian. I put it off for a few days because I didn’t feeling like dragging out my bin of Star Wars toys but today is the day.
Lando is definitely one my favorite black characters in pop culture. He first appeared in the second Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back, in 1980 and returned for the final instalment of the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi, in 1983. I saw all 3 Star Wars movies in the theatre somehow. I’m not sure if this was commonplace but I believe my local theatre re-released the original in the lead up to Empire’s release. I don’t remember the trips to the theatre because I was like 2 or 3 years old at the time but I know it happened because my brother Doug and I spoke of it often. He’s 2 years older than me so his memories from those days are a bit better than my own. My point is that I’ve been a fan of Lando Calrissian for longer than I can even remember.
The actor who portrayed Lando was Billy Dee Williams. He was fantastic in that role and I bet he’d have been stellar in most any role but I have seen him do little else. I can recall small roles in the first Batman movie and the Ladies’ Man and more recently I saw him play himself in an episode of Modern Family but thats about it. For that reason it’s very hard for me to look at Billy Dee and not see Lando Calrissian. Mr. Williams came to my little town of Halifax a while back as a guest panellist at our local sci-fi/comic convention, Hal-Con. I talked a bit about the convention in my review of Snake Mountain which I picked up on the sales floor that year. I wish I could tell you that Billy Dee was as smooth a talker as Lando with a bunch of great behind the scenes stories from the set but Billy seemed a little slow. If you happened to catch him on Dancing With the Stars then you know what I’m talking about. The moderator really had to pull answers out of him. Mind you, he was about 75 years old at the time so we have to cut him some slack. Though at one point he did allude to hooking up with Princess Leia which was kind of funny.
When I planned to write about a Lando figure I thought I would either review him in his iconic blue shirt and cape from Empire or his Skiff Guard disguise from Jedi. But as I was digging through my Star Wars bin trying to find those two I came across this figure. I forgot all about this one. This is Lando in an outfit he wore while hanging out at the rebel base and then attacking the Deathstar in Return of the Jedi.
It’s not as instantly recognizable as the other outfits but it’s pretty cool. This is Lando after he was made a General in the Rebel Alliance so the whole outfit is just classier than his Empire garb. He still has a spiffy cape but its less “pimpy” than the blue one.
As for the figure itself, it’s fine for what it is. I’m not a big fan of the “Power of the Force” figures of the late 90s in general. They were more screen accurate than the vintage 80s toys but they still didn’t look great and in retrospect they don’t even have the fun “camp” factor of the originals. This figure has 6 points of articulation (hips, shoulders, waist, and head) which is one more than the vintage figures (they didn’t swivel at the waist). I really wish that Hasbro had given these guys some knee and elbow joints seeing as they had pulled it off with G.I. Joes 2 decades earlier. Maybe the limited articulation was meant as an homage to the originals but to me it just seemed cheap and lazy. His torso is too thick and his legs are a bit short but not horribly so.
The thing I like least about this figure is the wide stance. I’m not a fan of pre-posed figures. I’d prefer the figure have enough articulation for me to pose him however I choose but if you’re gonna make him rigid than at least put him in a neutral position. Hasbro really got carried away with the action poses when they were making figures for the prequels and that’s a big reason I lost interest in collecting them.
On the plus side the sculpt is pretty good (proportion issues aside). I like that they sculpted so many wrinkles into his pants and jacket and the face sculpt is quite a good likeness to Billy Dee. I also like the paint job. The colors look good together and there are some nice painted details such as the badge on his chest and the bracelet on his wrist.
For accessories Lando has a flexible rubber cape and a blaster which I did not feel like hunting for. This figure is totally fine as a child’s plaything but as a collector I’d like something more. 6 out of 10.