Review : Disney Build-A-Droid (Disney Parks)
Star Wars (Disney)
Wave/Series : Disneyland Paris
Released : 2015
Price : €10.99 (£8.50)
The 3.75" Build-a-Droids are a relatively recent addition to Disneyland Paris, translating across from the US parks last year and being installed in the Star Traders store adjacent to the Star Tours ride in Discoveryland.
With the Star Tours and Star Traders closure for refurbishment (April 2016), the Build-a-Droid stand has been moved to the Disney Store in the Disney Village (opposite Planet Hollywood).
Essentially, for the very reasonable price of 10.99 (£8.50) you assemble a Droid of your choice using a variety of parts available. Each droid has one body, one head, two legs, a central leg and you can also add an accessory to the dome.
When we purchased our Droids for review in Disneyland Paris (April 2016), there was a choice of 8 bodies, 10 R2 heads, 4 R5 heads, 2 R4 heads, 7 leg options and 4 central leg struts. The dome accessories, of which there were 5, included Mickey Ears with a rebel logo, a Yoda hat, an Imperial Cap, Goofy ears and Mickey's Magic Hat.
Once you have assembled your Droid, it is all placed into a hinged blister pack.
Starting with the packaging, and it is a nice electric blue with blueprint detail on an Astromech droid included into the background. The Star Wars logo is presented in a gold colouring, and under this is the Droid Factory logo. A Kenner style name place is placed under the logo, and left blank for you to add your own Astromech name. To the top left is a Mickey Ears symbol stating age 3+, and to the top right is the Disneyland Parks merchandise stamp. The Droid fits into a central blister which is edged in gold, again very reminiscent of the Kenner packaging.
Round the back, and the same blue background continues and there is a repeat of the Star Wars and Droid Factory logo. Under this, centrally placed and trimmed in gold, is a paragraph that details the role of Droids in the Star Wars Universe. It goes on to talk about the Droid Factory and how Park Guests can build their own. Interestingly the text isn't specific to Astromech's and makes reference to Assassin and Protocol Droids - however the current offering in Paris is Astromech's only. The same text is repeated in French underneath, so this is not a US card and is specific to Paris.
So let's look at the Droid itself...
Each Droid stands between 2.5 and 3 inches high, depending on whether you chose an R2, R4 or R5 unit. Assembly is smooth and each part fits and clicks snugly into position, and can also be removed easily enough and re-assembled, so if you buy a few droids you can experiment with other parts.
Sculpt wise, and the Droids are all comparable to the Hasbro Astromech's, and as you can see from our comparison pictures they also match in terms of scale and height.
Every part is neatly coloured, with the most detail seen on the body and dome. I found no paint bleed or paint errors on any of the many Droids we built over the week or so we spent in Disney. It is fair to say that some bodies are obviously more detailed than others. Despite the neatness, when you sit these Droids next to a Hasbro version you can see that they are all too clean and crisp, and lack that last level of detail in terms of a wash to bring out the panels further and to dirty the Droid up a little to aid in the realism.
Articulation is pretty standard and comparable to Hasbro. Starting at the top, and the dome rotates fully 360 degrees. The same applies to the side legs, and these also have a joint at the feet which allows them to be adjusted to either a 3 leg rolling mode, or a 2 legged upright pose. The inner leg is not retractable, but can be popped off if you want to go with that 2-legged pose.
The accessories, for want of a better word, are OK and very kid friendly and also personalise your figure as a Disney exclusive. Their inclusion does mean that when posed without them, there is a hole in the dome of your Droid, and this is more noticeable on the lighter coloured Droids, and the R2's more than the R4/R5 heads.
If you have read our Disneyland Paris Shopping Report, you will know that the Build-a-Droid's are one of the very few figure related exclusives that can be bought solely at the Disney Parks. To that end, and considering they come in at a very reasonable £8.50 (cheaper than a current Hasbro 5POA figure), then they are a great little figure to pick up as both a reminder of your trip, and of course as an addition to any 3.75" Star Wars collection you may have.
My maths is not the best, but considering the parts available I think there is circa 3500 variations you can employ at the Build-a-Droid station - assuming you use matching legs. That increases to nearly 18,000 variations when you consider the hats and caps. There are also other parts in the range that are currently in the US Parks, but not yet added to the Paris options.
It is difficult to score the Build-a-Droid in the usual sense as it carries a couple of extra dynamics - none more so than the fun in building your droid in the first place. Considering the price, the packaging, the assembly and the experience as a whole, there is no real downside to the figure. The exclusivity is its only really downside, and I don't mind this too much as I went to Disneyland hoping to buy something that you can't get in the shops back home. That being said, it would be pretty cool to see the Build-a-Droid principle rolled out to Disney Stores, perhaps with certain parts held as Park exclusives only.
I score the Disney Parks Build-a-Droid, Paris version, a 5 out of 5. And I recommend that whether you are a Star Wars fan age 3 or age 63+, that you make sure Build-a-Droid is on your list of things to do at Disneyland Paris.