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The Belt of a Gunslinger - Exploring Han Solo's Iconic Look

"Look, Your Worshipfulness, let's get one thing straight. I take orders from just one person: me."

Take a look at almost any Han Solo action figure you have. 

It's fine, I'll wait. OK. Good. Now consider the things that make it look like "Han Solo." If it's an original '78 Kenner figure there's not much to go on. Likeness? OK. Vest, boots, check and check. Belt rig? Wow, that really looks like his belt. In fact for an early action figure that's soft on detail, it's one of the elements that the sculptor, and painter made fairly accurately. From that first action figure to the latest hyper detailed statues, Han Solo's right handed belt rig is one thing that all of them get right.

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Han Solo's large hexagonal belt buckle is one of the most recognizable aspects of his traditional uniform. Worn front and center in five of the six films Han Solo appears in - it's one of the defining traits of his look. For 1977's STAR WARS, costume designer John Mollo created a style for Han Solo that recalled the gunslingers of the Spaghetti Western genre. He wore an old shirt & vest with a pair of military striped pants, and riding boots. But, what really anchored the design was this particular piratical cowboy's gun belt. Carl Schmidt of Bapty & Co Ltd. crafted it alongside Roger Christian who, as Star Wars' set decorator - had been tasked with creating Han Solo's DL-44 Blaster along with all the other weapons needed for the film. That belt and buckle design became iconic, and has been worn in that configuration for nearly all of Han Solo’s appearances over the years.

Part of what goes into developing a successful costume, particularly for high adventure, superheroic, or science fiction stories is crafting something that can be dynamic when framed on screen. Han Solo's costume consists of mostly dark pieces broken up by his shirt and gunbelt with the belt's buckle acting as a kind of focal point and image break. Think of it like Batman's yellow utility belt, an artist's tool to add something visually dynamic to break up a silhouette & catch the eye. Han Solo's belt buckle acts exactly in that fashion on screen, and in real life.

I tend to wear my Han Solo buckle a lot. I paired it with my (very old, heavy, well worn) favorite belt, and it gets the occasional complement from people who recognize it. I can't wear Han Solo's full gun belt around town, but I can wear my buckle when I pick my daughter up from school.


John Cooley 
John Cooley is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.  

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John Cooley September 11, 2020 0 tags (show)