Welcome to our review of the Bandai 1/12 Star Wars Action Figure Kit of the Battle Droid and STAP (Single Trooper Aerial Platform) as released in 2016. The kit recreates the Battle Droids of the Trade Republic as seen in Episode 1, The Phantom Menace
An intro to the Bandai Star Wars Model Kits
For those who haven't seen a Bandai 1/12 Figure Kit before, let's just consider the concept for a moment. Rather than buying an action figure here - you are buying a kit, akin to Airfix, which you build using clip together hard plastic parts. The final kit is then actually an articulated action figure rather than a static model. The kits are coloured out of the box so they are reasonably accurate once built with options to add more details via stickers (easier) or water-slide transfers (harder). The more skilled model maker will go on to paint and weather the model for a more realistic finish. As these are 1/12 scale (6 inch) then they do fit with the Star Wars Black Series from Hasbro and other 1/12 figures like MAFEX and SH Figuarts. These kts are also relatively cheap at sub £20 for a basic figure.
The only issue for UK collectors on these is the fact they are not allowed under the current licence to be sold in the UK or Europe. This may change in the coming months/years with Revell signing a deal to distribute Bandai kits in Europe, although at the present this is only for the similar line of Star Wars ships.
Packaging for the Battle Droid is the same as any of the previous kits comprising of a two part box which is then cling wrapped. It opens by sliding off the top of the box leaving the base tray underneath with the sprues for the kit along with the instructions and decals.
The box includes art from the movie as well as illustrations of an almost technical blueprint nature down the sides to show off the kit.
There is no rear artwork, with the back of the box simply gloss black.
Once the kit is opened you are presented with three inner packs. The first is a light beige with black and silver parts packed behind. This is for the Battle Droid.
A second pack of black and dark brown parts is the sprues for the STAP.
There is then a third kit containing the clear parts for the STAP stand, black for the Droid stand and the decal sheets are also in here. With all of this is then a colour instruction booklet to walk you through the building process.
Constructing the Kit
Now these kits are made and sold in Japan, so the first issue (if you aren't fluent in Japanese) is the language of the instructions. However, these are well enough illustrated to not pose too much of an issue once you've worked out the corresponding numbers from the instructions to the sprues and parts.
You won't need any glue, but a craft knife and perhaps some clippers are advised. These are necessary to cleanly remove the parts from the sprue. Simply snapping them will leave defects or even break the piece completely.
All the parts snap together and as you go the various segments combine into the full figure. The same approach is taken for the STAP.
Watch out for the "optional" pieces where there may be two or three options for the kit depending on what look you want for your final figure. On the droid this is around the backpack. There are no optional parts on the STAP.
I am a relatively inexperienced modeller with fat fingers and little patience. I spent about two hours building the droid and the same again for the STAP.
Battle Droid 2/5
Once built you have a very lightweight, but nicely sculpted Battle Droid 6 inch figure in hard partially glossy beige plastic.
The design of the kit into the figure is great, with the working parts making up the joints in a very similar way to what you'd see in reality. The articulation is good with about 13 clear points of articulation, a lot of which are very extensive in their movement.
The figure can even fold into the transportation position.
The colour is accurate, but the whole thing is too clean and bright and it would benefit hugely from being weathered to bring out the panel lines and give it more character.
There are other issues too. The hands are extremely fragile, with the thumbs a plug in ball joint of their own so it can hold the accessories or the handlebars of the STAP. These broke on mine and had to be glued.
The other issue is stability if you want this as battle droid standing on its own. The stand works, and the figure can stand on its own without it. Sadly it wont stay standing for long as the ankles are incredibly loose and the figure simply flops over.
Our battle droid comes with his Macrobinoculars which are assembled in the same beige plastic as the droid. The articulation is good enough to allow these to be held in both hands and brought up to the eyes. The colouring needs to be addressed as with the droid to make these more visual.
He is also armed with his E-5 Blaster. This is a black plastic piece with very crisp detail. It can be held by the droid with careful placement of those articulated fingers & thumbs. When not in use it can be stowed on the back pack if you have chosen the back pack configuration.
The STAP model is very well designed too and even using too base colours it looks great once built. There were also constructional issues on the build. The blasters are very fragile and didn't line up with the shafts correctly and ended up collapsing. These were glued in the end. The same happened with the handlebars which are really slim and crack very easily.
There is great definition of the repulsor engines and the mechanical parts and these would look great with just a bit of silver dry brushing if you want to go to the next stage.
The STAP even has articulation with the top section pivoting on the body to different firing positions.
The whole thing sits onto the clear stand, although the fit on this is not brilliant and it tends to wobble around a bit too much?
Battle Droid & STAP 3/5
While the Droid can be used as an infantry trooper, it is clearly made to be riding the STAP. To do this you slot the feet into the shaped pedals and then once these are secure, pose the legs and upper body into a realistic riding position.
The hardest step is to get the fragile hands to grip the fragile handlebars and hold in place. Due to the weak joints on the figure if these hands aren't secure then you end up with a droid flopped back in the riding position.
Posed, it looks brilliant and scales really well to other 6 inch lines.
On release the Battle Droid and STAP was coming in at a UK import price of £40 - £50 and for what you get this is a little on the high side. While prices have fluctuated, keeping an eye on the set should see you grab it for sub £40 at which point it becomes better value for money.
The decision to pack an army build figure with a vehicle is also an odd one. While I get it as a one off, I am unsure why Bandai haven't capitalized further and released a Naboo Battle Droid 2-Pack, although they did do a Geonosis red droid 2-Pack.
Having built a handful of other Bandai kits, this one was the most challenging and the most "visually" unfinished when you are done. While Stormtroopers and Vader look fine in glossy plastic, this one really needs that extra level of weathering and paint app to look the business.
It also suffers from a few fragile parts and very weak joints which are its biggest downfall. These joints prevent it standing for long on its own and also can impact the riding position.
If you want a 6 inch Battle Droid without the hassle, then the Hasbro one is on its way. Time will tell if we can get a STAP to go with it. I will endeavor to come back to this review when the Hasbro version lands for comparison and to see if the Hasbro one can ride the Bandai kit.
As it stands, for £40-£50 this will give you a good few hours of building, and for the serious modeller the basis for an awesome looking figure with a bit of additional works.
I score it a basic 2 out of 5.