Review : C-3PO, Resistance Base (The Force Awakens)
Star Wars Black Series (Hasbro)
Wave/Series : Rogue One Wave 2 (Phase 3 Wave 8)
Released : November 2016
Price : £21.99
The 2nd batch of Rogue One 6" figures took a little longer to arrive than the equivalent 2nd wave of Force Awakens last year, but a little over 6-weeks since Rogue Friday the 3 brand new figures have arrived on UK shores. Here we will be looking at Director Krennic who is joined by the Scarif Stormtrooper Squad Leader and The Force Awakens C-3PO. The rest of the 6 figure wave is made up with re-releases of Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor and the Deathtrooper.
It feels like we have been waiting an eternity for a Black Series 6" scale C-3PO from Hasbro, in reality it has been about 3 and a bit years. And after that extended wait, during which time we have had multiple Luke's, the first C-3PO we get is actually from the 2015 Force Awakens movie and not the Original Trilogy or even the Prequels. To add a touch of insult to the wait an actual Original Trilogy C-3PO has arrived at the same time, exclusive to the US retailer Walgreens - making it unavailable outside the states in any quantity, and the ones that are coming through are over priced by at least 30%.
This is not a great start for 3PO, but let's take a look a the standard release which rolls in as #29 in the phase 3 packaging. The box is standard fair, with a grey scale image to the front corner which again feels more detailed (or is at least bolder) with some artistic stylization of the lines in the image. Round the back and the bio paragraph sits over a blown up version of this image. This bio talks about C-3PO in terms of being a "fastidious and worry-prone protocol droid" and doesn't really tie him to his appearance to the Force Awakens fully, only that he continues to serve Princess Leia. The character name is underscored by the bracketed "Resistance Base" placing him firmly into The Force Awakens, as does his red arm - which we will get to shortly.
C-3PO is one of the few Black Series figures to date to be packed with absolutely no accessories at all. This further insults the fans who will be paying upward of £21 for this figure, particularly when you consider what could have been included, at least with a Original or Prequel Trilogy C-3PO. He stands a touch shorter than most 6" figures, putting him in scale with his peers like Luke and Han. It also makes him scale well when up alongside the Black Series R2-D2.
The actual design and sculpt of the droid is pretty nice at first glance. The lines are clean and the panels smooth and nicely proportioned. The head captures that quizzical look of 3PO, particularly when it is cocked to one side, but the eyes don't feel bright or illuminated and look the same gold tone as the rest of the head.
The elephant in the room, even before this figure hit sore shelves, is the colour particularly as it was this gold finish that Hasbro quoted for many months on why a 3PO was delayed. The choice they have gone with is a metallic gold paint. This paint finish is neat enough and does hold a sheen, but it doesn't match the on screen finish for 3PO and feels dull and unpolished. The ideal option would have been to weather or dirty 3PO up over the top of this colour and make him the Tatooine version, either New Hope or Jedi. The alternative is of course a form of vac metal, and Bandai did this on their 1/12 droid which you can see in the comparison images below. For me this version is just far too shiny and reflective and you kind of wish there was some kind of in-between finish that Hasbro could have achieved?
The red arm is also not great in regards to its paint finish. The red is not metallic and just a gloss finish, and it lacks any sort of weathering or wash that would have brought out the detail and matched what we saw in the movie. There are neat touches on the arm with the palm of the hands a matt black split with slivers of gold on the right and red on the left.
The tummy section is nicely detailed and is sculpted detail that is then painted, not just painted wiring. Each wire is neatly picked out with blue, red, yellow and green all across a flat black background. Down the arms are the hydraulic rods and bolts that aid in 3PO's movement, these are a bit soft and not as crisp as other parts of the droid - most probably as casting them in harder plastic would have left them open to snapping too easily.
Articulation was never going to be great, it isn't on the real costume after all. We start with the head which sports then new pivot ball joint. Despite the neck rings this joint allows the head to tilt back and forward, and it also rotates a full 360 degrees. The arms are only jointed at the shoulder and then again at the wrist, the elbow is fixed. These shoulder joints sit in a shoulder collar which you initially think will stop the arm being moved too much. However, this collar around the shoulder does actually move and can be rotated, and doing so the arm can then be raised and lowered more. The hands rotate at the wrist, and with a peg they also bend, almost to 90 degrees to the lower arm.
The torso is ball jointed just under the upper chest piece, this means the joint is hidden, but allows for a wide range of movement and this allows 3PO-esque poses to come more easily as he quite often pushed out his groin and leans his shoulders back when you look at him on screen - particularly when he is walking. The ball jointed hips won't move much as they are held back by some overhang on the top of the thigh. They can go wider if you wish or out to the front for an almost sitting position. After dropping the elbow articulation, Hasbro have also gone single joint on the knees. Now this is nicely engineered to match the way the characters costume works, it does only allow for a slight bend and the hydraulic peg that connects top of the knee to the shin is fixed and just juts out when the knee is bent. The articulation ends with the standard ankle rockers, and these are easy to adjust and C-3PO stands pretty well.
All of this articulation does already feel loose and wobbly, and I would imagine C-3PO will start to flop and fall over in the very near future.
So if you haven't realised by now, this is a disappointing release. The sculpt is soft in places, and as we are dealing with a robot these should all be crisp and sharp. The articulation is reduced and loose and there is nothing to compensate this lack of movement, not even a single accessory is thrown in. I can just about live with the gold as I understand the difficulty, vac metal would not have been ideal either but if Figuarts and Mafex can hit a decent looking gold at a price point only a tad over the Black Series then surely it wasn't beyond Hasbro.
The biggest kicker is the version of 3PO represented here. I have no problem with a Force Awakens release, particularly as it will appeal to collectors and children who entered the Star Wars Universe last year. The issue is the slap in the face that Hasbro have made a Original Trilogy version and made it exclusive. I have nothing against any exclusives, but to give Walgreens a big name original trilogy character is madness, surely they could have still gone with a 3PO but made him the "retaining bolt" version or with the damaged eye from Jabba's sail barge. The optimist in me would hope Hasbro have a longer term plan to give us, particularly overseas, the OT droid - either by tieing up a UK or Worldwide deal to distribute the Walgreens version (although this didn't happen with Emperors Wrath Vader) or by working around the exclusive deal. Maybe a 2-pack with a re-release of R2-D2, or a tweaked version - how great would a 3PO who could be disassembled and packed into a net bag be?
£21.99 for C-3PO doesn't feel the best value for money, and with the various niggles with the figure I feel I can only aware him a 2 out of 5.