MILLENNIUM FALCON 2004 Edition
Original Trilogy Collection Vehicles
Item No.: No. 85234
Includes: Rocket, floorboard, landing struts, ramp, console, and so on
Action Feature: Firing Rockets, lights, sounds, and a dozen or so other things
Availability: Summer 2004
Appearances: Anything with Han Solo in it
Column Notes: It's vehicle week! This week, we focus on the hardware created for our action figures, which gets too little attention. From giant space freighters to tiny bikes, there's quite a large variety of vehicles to be had, and we look at seven random examples over the next week.
Bio: Make the jump to hyperspace with the coolest starship of all time! The Millennium Falcon has flown in the biggest battles and most exciting adventures the galaxy has ever known. Take control of this legendary ship to combat Darth Vader's TIE Fighter, help defeat the Empire and fight alongside the heroes of the Rebellion! The power of the Force is in your hands! (Taken from the toy's box.)
Image: Adam Pawlus' TV tray.
Commentary: Han Solo's Millennium Falcon was a cobbled together, ramshackle ship which incorporated parts and pieces of numerous gadgets over the years to function. This toy is very much the same way. Hasbro took the original 1978 chassis and made a number of modifications to improve it over the 1995 release, which, admittedly, was pretty weak given you could barely fit the figures in the cockpit. This ship's main action feature is a firing rocket between the front mandibles. It's a little awkward, but it fires a good distance and it actually works. While it doesn't win any awards for integration, it's totally functional and you'll never be left wondering if it's in there and loaded or not. Kudos to Hasbro for giving a firing weapon a shot on this giant fit, and I'm very pleased that it basically works well.
The most obvious change to the vehicle's exterior was in its engines. The 1978 and 1995 releases were merely stickers, this release actually has a light-up engine with several sound effects. They're very bright blue, which looks wonderful. As upgrades go, this is significant, and arguably the best new feature on the ship. Fans of lights will find a set of them on the front mandibles of the ship, which essentially act as headlights and are another fine feature on this fun toy. The other significant new feature was a retooled cockpit, but it still sucks. It's tiny, and while it can fit some of the larger figures like the recent taller Chewbaccas, it's still a tight fit and almost too tight to matter. It shows Hasbro realized there was a problem and made an attempt to fix it, but the end result was more or less a waste. Hasbro almost would have been better off just sealing it shut and using it to store batteries. So far, the only really great cockpit was the original 1978 one, because it and the figures which were to sit in it were engineered to be compatible. As far as I can tell, nobody really spent a lot of time play-testing the modern vehicles with modern figures. Or if they did, well, they weren't exactly big on doing it well. The most important thing you can do with a vehicle is to make sure that it works well with your action figures-- if it doesn't, making it scale to the figures is almost unnecessary. I never really had a problem with any toy line's vehicles not being compatible with figures until modern Star Wars in 1995-- I just thought it was a given they would fit. I guess I was wrong.
Thankfully, the interior was pretty sweet. The features inside the back, once you lift off the back half, are as follows: non-removable Dejarik table, lowering ramp, rotating gunner station, and smuggling compartment. The smuggling compartment is basically the same as the original, which is to say, not especially deep. It's great for storing extra weapons so you won't lose them, but it's not really large enough to cram multiple figures inside.
The fact that you can't remove the Dejarik table makes it tricky to fit figures in there, especially all the pre-knee-joint figures that were available alongside this vehicle. It isn't a ship designed for exacting displays, and it's really tough to make figures fit around the table or in the gunner station. Part of this is the fact that the figures themselves were not engineered with sitting down in mind these days, and really haven't been since the 1998 line. They can stand around just fine, but even then, the ceiling is pretty low. The toy's overall feel is one of a bygone era-- which is probably the point-- and is no doubt one of the reasons fans expectations for a new one are now sky-high and, most likely, unmeetable.
Collector's Notes: The ship was clearanced out in some markets in 2004, which is a shame as it's a solid design and an important ship which fans of all ages should be able to pick up. The fact that a new Falcon is expected in just a few months is great news, hopefully it will be available for a while and won't be another flash-in-the-pan like this release. This version of the ship commands a decent price these days-- $100 or more if it's sealed-- and it has one of the best boxes ever designed for a Hasbro ship. I expect it to drop like a rock the second the new one comes out, the modern line has proven the market to be painfully unforgiving of "obsolete" vehicles.
Day 732: May 7, 2008