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Val

Star Wars Solo
by yo go re

Angry people love to call Rose Tico a "wasted" character. Those people are, of course, fools. If you want to see a real wasted character, look no further!

A no-nonsense and occasionally prickly woman who is a crack shot with a blaster rifle, Val may be the most even-headed and capable member of Tobias Beckett's ragtag crew of scoundrels.

You're right, she may be. She may also be clumsy, burdened by hay fever, unreliable, and constantly farting. We honestly have no way of knowing, because she kind of gets swept off the stage right away. The character was designed with that in mind, it must be said: the plan from the beginning was for Rio, Korso, and Val to get killed off in the first job, to clear the way for Han, Chewie, and Qi'ra to join the crew. We know she's dedicated to her man, because she's willing to sacrifice herself for even the chance that he'd be able to escape his debts to the Black Sun Crimson Dawn crime organization (well, that and the fact that she knew Dryden Vos would kill them anyway if the heist failed), but that still isn't exactly deep characterization.

Val was played by Thandie Newton, whose performance was so good it made screenwriter Jon Kasdan sorry the character had to be killed off. The Photo Real paint process means you'll have a terrific base for your Westworld or Mission Impossible II custom figures, though her hair (inspired by the style of civil rights activist Angela Davis) might stand out.

The natural afro isn't the character's only connection to historical black activism. According to the movie's art book, this costume was influenced by the turtlenecks and leather jackets worn by the Black Panthers. A bit more colorful here, though, thanks to the furry white stole around her neck and the translucent red tubes running along her arms. Since Vandor-1 is a snowy world, you can pretend those tubes (which go down into her tan gloves and connect to a small pack in the middle of her back) are some kind of personal heating device - not everybody can wear big furry Stormtrooper armor. Her brown climbing harness has a little skirt piece in the back, and a couple bright red sashes tied to it. She also has a pair of goggles, but those are just looped around her neck, not over her eyes.

Val's gun is larger than a pistol, but smaller than a rifle. Is there a space equivalent of a sawed off shotgun? She uses a grappling gun in this scene in the movie, but it's made from a bunch of stuff stuck onto this base model, not its own weapon; at that point, it would have been neat if Hasbro had given us those pieces so we could have both styles. Maybe that was the original plan? Otherwise it doesn't make a ton of sense that they'd choose the "plain" gun over the fancier one when it comes to including an accessory for her.

The figure has the standard Black Series articulation style, with swivel/hinged rocker ankles, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, balljointed chest, swivel/hinged wrists, elbows, and shoulders, swivel-ish neck, and a balljointed head. The tubes on her arms are soft enough that they flex out of the way as the joints move, but you probably shouldn't try twisting them too far - you don't want them to get stressed and break. The skirt and harness are flexible, too, But their mere existence is going to limit the legs a little bit. Just a little bit.

It's perhaps unfair of us to call Val a wasted character; she was created for a purpose, and she fulfilled it perfectly - it's just that that purpose was "get killed off quickly." Perhaps not the best arc ever, but one that was successful in its goals. And with a lesser actress in the role, it might have been utterly forgettable; getting mad that the actor's talent went to waste on a bit part is a reaction, and having a reaction is better than having no reaction (which is why YouTube doesn't care if you give a video thumbs up or thumbs down: it all counts as "engagement" to their algorithm). She may not have had much to do, but Hasbro still delivered as high a quality as they always do.

-- 06/30/19


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