Friday, September 14, 2012

Aging Warps The Carbon-Freezing Chamber Playset, Though It Is Still Very Cool!

The Good: Fun, Generally good playability, Easy to assemble, Well-molded, Excellent collectible value
The Bad: Play function ages somewhat poorly.
The Basics: The Power Of The Jedi Collection Carbon-Freezing Chamber playset is a very cool Star Wars toy that comes out of the box near-perfect, but does not hold up over time as well as one might hope.

One of the advantages of waiting and reviewing products years later is that flaws do not come out in the initial appearance or play function can be revealed as time goes by. In the case of the fan club exclusive Carbon-Freezing Chamber playset from Hasbro, there are a few issues with the primary play function that never were issues before. The playset, which has not been upgraded or remolded since 2000 when it originally was manufactured and while it does not precisely match the detail standards of the current line of toys, outside the play functions that have aged poorly, this still holds up for current play and display experiences.

The Carbon-Freezing Chamber is part of a key scene in The Empire Strikes Back (reviewed here!) where Han Solo is frozen in carbonite. The scene sets up the rest of the heroes escaping from Cloud City.

While the Carbon-Freezing Chamber may have only been seen briefly in The Empire Strikes Back, it is an iconic sequence in cinema history and a reasonable one for Kenner to create merchandise around. The 2000 Hasbro Carbon-Freezing Chamber toy is a huge step up from the early-‘80’s Star Wars playset and is intended for the 3.75” scale toy line!


The Carbon-Freezing Chamber playset is a multi-level playset that is essentially a lower control station and an upper platform. The platform is embellished with a gun turret that was not in the film, but otherwise is a remarkably true receation of the set from the film. Hasbro did a great job of recreating the grated floor of the chamber, even if it is monotonally colored.

Measuring 13” long by 9" wide by 10 1/2” tall, the Carbon-Freezing Chamber playset is molded with a very solid base. Around the bottom of the playset are controls accented with red dots for the lights there and a curved orange piece that represents the lit fixture at the base of the chamber. The upper portion has stairs, so technically it is a three-level playset. The base has a fold-out control station and a detention center that may hold a single (thin) figure.

The Power Of The Jedi Carbon-Freezing Chamber playset is colored without the need for decals. The monitors are blue, but do not feature any detailing to indicate they are panels. The molded-on features that control and make the carbon freeze chamber (in context) functional are appropriately colored silver and gray to contrast with the otherwise standard dark gray framework of the Carbon-Freezing Chamber. Clearly, Hasbro put a lot of effort into making the Carbon-Freezing Chamber and it looks very good.


The Carbon-Freezing Chamber comes with three accessories: a Bespin Guard, the missile-launching gun and the Carbonite accessories. Bespin Guard figure is a pretty standard, Caucasian, guard figure. The 4” Bespin Guard is exceptionally basic. While it is molded with a slightly buffer version than one might expect (it almost looks like the upper portion was recast and the arms were not!), it actually has the wrists appropriately maroon. Hasbro did accent the top with gold trim as a silkscreened element (that looks good). The Bespin Guard’s hat is molded on and, ironically, it appears to have been manufactured in 1996 and never released before being used as an exclusive in this set.

The missile launcher is one of the weaker spring-loaded missile launchers. The launcher fires the 3 3/16” gray and red plastic missile two feet at best. Because the playset is so small, this is pretty pathetic.

The Carbonite accessory is actually a neat idea that enhances the overall playability of this playset. The 2 ½” wide by 4 ½” tall by ¾” thick plastic frame is like a door frame. The back is solid, the sides are molded, but not colored to look like a carbon-freeze block. The front panel is made of silver-gray elastic fabric. This provides a three-dimensional molding of the character trapped in the block. Unfortunately, the fabric does not age exceptionally well; it loses much of the elasticity. As a result, now (after years of use) it does not as vividly press into the figure when a figure is trapped in the Carbonite box.


The Carbon-Freezing Chamber is remarkably fun, despite its age. The main play function is the Carbon-Freezing function. When the Carbonite block is properly loaded into the bottom of the chamber, loaded down, with the back opened, the Carbon-Freezing Chamber is pretty fun. There is a foot piece that connects to the lever-activated trapdoor. Lowering a figure on the trapdoor to the bottom of the playset and then twisting the lever at the bottom pushes the figure into the carbonite block! Unfortunately, with age, the pieces – which need to fit pretty precisely for this to work – warp and do not actually allow this function to work ideally.

There is a back jail, which only fits a smaller figure.

As well, there is gun turret, but it does not shoot the missile with enough strength to knock over a figure!

The control tower on the Carbon-Freeze Chamber's platform rotates, as they did when Darth Vader was using the Force to toss items at Luke Skywalker during their fight. This is a cool playability aspect. There are no foot pegs for any of the action figures, including the Bespin Guard figure that comes with the playset.


The Carbon-Freezing Chamber was an exclusive originally offered through the Star Wars fan club. Obviously, no longer available from there, it is now rising in price. Still worthwhile for contemporary play and display purposes, the Carbon-Freezing Chamber is a decent investment when one can find it cheap.


The Carbon-Freezing Chamber is an essential one for Star Wars fans, but it has not aged well. It’s good, but one might hope for a newer one still. Until then, this is a good, not great, playset.

For other Star Wars playset and vehicle reviews, please check out my takes on:
Power Of The Force Hoth Battle Playset
Power Of The Force Detention Block Playset
Vintage Collection AT-AT Imperial Walker


For other Star Wars toy reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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