Hot Toys’ Princess Leia is a Jedi Knight in White Satin [Review]
Alright, you got me. Technically Leia Organa isn't a Jedi Knight. Maybe at one time that was her destiny, but that might be something I made up in the '90s. As we all know today, Leia Organa may have been incredibly Force-sensitive like her brother Luke Skywalker, but she never took to the Jedi training like he did. Leia stuck with the Rebellion for decades, maintaining her role as a leader in the galaxy's Resistance against the remaining Empire forces. Her path to becoming a general however started way back in the original Star Wars, where Leia used her diplomatic privileges to help the fledgling Rebel Alliance.
Since debuting in Star Wars in 1977, Leia Organa has become an icon that transcended the genre. While it took a few figures to get here, Hot Toys has finally seen fit to honor one of cinema's greatest heroes with a figure worthy of her status. The Star Wars: A New Hope Princess Leia may not be the hardened general we know her as today, but Hot Toys' latest figure manages to bring her to life in figure form so well, you can see the beginnings of the galaxy's greatest leader in every detail.
As Hot Toys works its way through the original trilogy, we're getting a lot of New Hope versions of the franchise's biggest characters. Arguably, Leai's diplomatic princess disguise is the most iconic from the franchise, so it's nice to see get the proper treatment. While other smaller-scale figures have done a mixed-media version of Leia before, the tailoring of mass market figures isn't quite up to snuff with what Hot Toys is capable of doing. To be fair, those other figures aren't also asking you to pay the premium for such a feature, so you make do. Still, Hot Toys clothing team has done a great job here with the minimalist fashion of Leia's wardrobe. Except for that hood.
In the film, Leia hardly uses the hood on her dress, but it's still necessary to include because Hot Toys prides itself on being screen accurate. Fans would also moan and complain if it wasn't part of the outfit. I just couldn't figure out how to get the damn thing to sit right. Granted, I probably wouldn't display Leia with the hood up anyway because I wouldn't want to cover any aspect of the head sculpt. But in working with it, I grew frustrated with the design elements. Leia's hood is not a closed hood, but rather a large draping that runs from shoulder to shoulder and isn't enclosed. Hot Toys included to small bits of wiring in there to better pose the hood in a realistic manner, but all they do is cause aggravation. All you want is for the cloth to sit on her head like a shawl of sorts, but the wiring makes everything to large and unnatural. It's best to just leave it all hanging behind her.
Besides, this head sculpt is terrific so there's no real reason to want to cover it up. Hot Toys has been rather hit or miss as of late, with some portraits coming out impeccably, while others only look like the intended actor if you squint real hard. That's been particularly true of the Star Wars line to this point, but the Carrie Fisher likeness on this Leia is spot on. It starts with those wide eyes and cheekbones, and were those even slightly off, the whole head would have been thrown off. The jaw line and forehead proportions are really close, and from nearly every angle this head sculpt looks just like Carrie Fisher did in 1977. Given that this figure has so little else going on in her costuming or accessorization, the entire figure would have been a disaster if the face was even off just slightly. If only this much care and attention was paid to the Han Solo, we might have gotten a figure that actually looked like Harrison Ford instead of the guy who plays Harrison Ford at the Star Wars Stunt Spectacular.
Like the other figures released to this point in the Star Wars line, Leia has sculpted hair as well. It's probably for the best as trying to create those buns with synthetic hair would have been a logistical nightmare. While you could probably do it once, expecting it to stay that way through production, packing and shipping, and then expecting collectors to be able to maintain such a trying hairdo would have been a bad idea. There's still some sharp detailing in there though, but the hair does feel a bit flat in the paint app. It's a minor gripe for an otherwise outstanding portrait.
Leia comes with both her DDC Defender and the E-11 Rifle she uses at various points in the film. The Defender is much more of a signature weapon, even though she barely gets to use it in A New Hope. Re-releasing her with the E-11, which has gotten its fair share of play in Hot Toys Star Wars line, is fine since she does use it in the movie, but it would have been nice to see her get some other items, like perhaps the disk with Death Star plans. This particular moment of time Hot Toys has captured doesn't afford a lot of leeway in that regard unfortunately. I'm sure when Bespin, Hoth, or even Medal Ceremony Leia arrive, they'll have a bit more to work with than Death Star Leia.
One thing the Sideshow Collectibles Exclusive version includes is a nice little cardboard backdrop, but that won't be part of the package for every figure. The diorama setting is based on the opening moments of A New Hope where Leia is hiding in the hallways of the Tantive IV, and even includes some moody, pre-rendered lighting and depth of focus effects. It's a little broad and bulky for displaying in any kind of cabinet, but it is a nice inclusion for people who were among the first to order the Leia when it went up for sale last summer.
Leia is the first female figure in Hot Toys' Star Wars line, and if her quality is any indication, the upcoming Rey and (I'm assuming) Jyn Erso, as well as variations on Leia, will be remarkable collectibles. The unevenness of Hot Toys' head sculpts may prove to be an issue again down the line, but with this Princess Leia figure, the company has gotten everything nearly perfect. I'm eager to see what Hot Toys can do with the different Leia's that were closer to the front lines, like Endor Leia or Boushh Leia, but this figure is definitely a frontrunner for the best Leia figure we've even gotten.
The Hot Toys Star Wars: A New Hope Princess Leia standard edition is available for pre-order at Sideshow Collectibles for $204.99. This figure was purchased for review.