What better figure to talk about this weekend than the original Kenner Han Solo. It’s the toy that launched a thousand (okay at least fifty) future tiny Hans. Speaking of tiny, the head on this toy holds a special place in Star Wars action figure collecting history, as its one of the first major running changes in the line. I don’t know if he has a proper moniker in hardcore collector circles, but I’ve always referred to him as Small Head Han.
My childhood Han was of the Big Head variety, and I was blissfully ignorant of this version until years later when I saw a friend’s version. As a kid, I didn’t really care about the difference, but as an adult collector, it fell into the category of I Have To Have It. The more diminutive noggin certainly looks more in scale with the early Kenner Star Wars sculpt style. While Han was a go-to figure for years, he was eventually supplanted in my play by the Bespin version, which quickly became my fave. Comparatively, the original Han seemed dainty just a few years after his release.
That’s not to say Han is a bad figure; he’s simply a product of his time. There’s no denying the lightning in a bottle that Kenner captured with Star Wars, and how the unlikely success changed the toy industry as much as Lucas’ film changed movies. For old guys like me, the original toys hold a special place of nostalgia, and while more detailed and film-accurate toys come and go, the Kenner figures will always be cool.