Upon arrival, and very much like the Storm Trooper, Bandai's R2-D2 / R5-D4 kit is pretty daunting when you open the box. On the plus side, this new dynamic of getting a few hours of enjoyment building your action figure really adds another depth to the hobby.
For the price of this kit you are getting a real value for money - getting two figures for less than you would pay for one Hasbro Black Series 6" figure. The kit is available readily from the far east, and will cost around £19 delivered (give or take the exchange rate). There is also some availability on Amazon, but dont expect to get this any quicker as these are still shipped from Japan.
Once the box is opened you are faced with 6 sprue's of part and a 16 step fold out instruction guide. The instructions are all in Japanese, but are illustrative enough to follow. Watch out for the strange symbol that indicates making sure a piece is a certain way round. Also watch out for where you need to add stickers/decals during the build (on the droid bodies) which you didnt have to do on the Storm Trooper kit.
The model is click together, and I recommend a pair of clippers and a craft knife as you go through. I did also need glue to repair a couple of bits. For the decals you will need tweezers and a cotton bud.
The model builds both droids side by side, which is what I did. This is workable if you keep the parts for each droid seperate as you go. Alternatively you may want to tackle one, and then go back and do the other.
Unlike the Storm Trooper, I had a number of issues on this kit. Firstly, many of the parts are a lot smaller than seen on the ST kit and therefore are easily broken, the aeriel on R5 for example more or less snapped when I looked at it. Secondly, there are a number of parts that are a tight fit and then others that are really loose. The tight ones will go with a bit of persuassion and making sure any flash is trimmed off. The worse of the loose ones are the panels on R2's head which are designed to be removed to add various attachments (same as the Hasbro version). I didnt want to display any attachments so ended up glueing these rather than risk loosing any.
In about 4hrs I had both droids built, and probably took another hour for the decals. As with the ST, I went down the sticker route rather than the water decals. The stickers on the droids were much better at coming off the backing paper than the ST model, but many of them are increidbly small and even with tweezers I couldnt apply them. These smaller decals dont add a great deal to the model, but it is a shame that I had to miss out some details.
Finished Model & Comparisons
So when these are built, how do they stack up as an Action Figure? And more importantly how do they compare to Hasbro's own 6" Black Series
Both droids are much better scaled than the Hasbro R2 which was always controversially undersized vs the film prop. R2 stands 3.5" high, and R5 a tad taller at 4" (excluding his antenna). This puts them much more accurate to the original trilogy and they stand up alongside the 6" figures much better.
The sculpt and detail is very detailed, and the join's where the model went together are not really noticeble.
Articulation is limited to what you would expect on an Astromech. The legs have full movement back and forth, and the ankle's (for want of a better description) are on a pivot. The head rotates, and by removing the head and pressing a square panel beneath the third leg drops down for posing either droid with the 3rd leg in use.
Colouring (a better word than painting) is acceptable, but a bit too clean. I had also hoped the grey/metal areas would be more a metalised silver - you may want to spray the 2 grey sprue's before assembly (thanks for the tip Colin H). Details are obviously stickers/decals but do the job - although as above the smaller ones feel (to me) almost impossible to install.
In summary these are great for the price point, and also give you a good 4hrs of build time before you can add them to the cabinet. For the more seasoned modeller and painter they will also be a great starting point for extensive modding - a good wash will bring out much more detail on both droids. Bandai are in a great place presently with their 1/12 Star Wars kits, and with this one now sculpted they have a real opportunity to release more Astromech versions if they want such as R4 from the prequals or some background droids from any of the 6 movies. Am not sure how much more extensive Bandai can get in terms of Star Wars releases, having only tackled droids and armoured troopers so far - but I look forward to the upcoming 3PO and then the Scout Trooper & Bike.
Going back to R2 and R5, if I were rating these as figures straight off the shelf I would give them a 4. But as an overall experience I feel the need to take away a point for the fragile parts and the tricky decals (a better model maker wouldn't have these issues),
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