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Review : R2-D2. Star Wars Black Series (Phase 1 / 40th Anniversary)

Updated: May 3

Review : R2-D2

Star Wars Black Series (Hasbro)

Wave/Series : Wave 1 (Phase 1)

Released : August 2013

Price : £19.99

R2-D2 was part of the launch wave of the Star Wars Black Series back in 2013. Alongside Luke X-Wing Pilot, Darth Maul and the Sand Trooper, R2 was seen as the "least desirable" of the figures being half the size of the other figures and with limited articulation.

R2 came in the original Black Series "orange line" packaging with a sleek black box broken only by the orange trim down the figures backing card and down the rear of the packaging.

The box front starts with the Black Series logo top left and to the other side of the top frame was the grey lined artwork enclosed in a circle. This showed the dome and front panel of R2-D2. The figure is then fully visible in the front window, and being a predominantly white figure he stands out well against that black background with its offset vertical orange trim.

Above R2 in the inner tray is a wealth of accessories. To the right as you look are two further accessories, all of which we will get to shortly. The bottom section of the box front contains the character name in the same orange shade as well as the Hasbro logo and warning information. This character name confirms R2 as #04 in the Black Series.

Round the back and the rear design starts with a repeat of the Star Wars logo top centre. Down the right as you look is the orange trim and to the side of this is a short bio of R2-D2 which doesn't really tell you much or confirm which "film" version of R2-D2 this is. Like all the other figures in the series there is then a character quote, which amusingly is "beep BEyoop whyEET bip beep boop!"

Under this text is a wider grey lined image of Princess Leia inserting the Death Star plans into R2-D2 from A New Hope. Euro cards sadly have a large over-sticker over this image containing the various safety notices for each EU country - you can remove this with care.

Review : R2-D2

Star Wars Black Series (Hasbro)

Wave/Series : 40th Anniversary

Released : March 2017

Price : £24.99

The new card backs are sized to accommodate the 6" figures, without being a direct upscale of the original 3.75" figures. They utilise the same character image as well as the Star Wars and Kenner logo's. The character name is set into a coloured box, with the same colouring used behind the figure.

A neat 40th Anniversary logo sits in the top left corner.

Round the back of the card is a checklist of the 12 figures that will be released. These are framed in various colours, each colour matching the scheme that will be used on their card. Under the 12 figures is an image of the Legacy pack, the stand that revisits the original Early Bird pack and gives collectors who aren't keeping these on card a display option for loose figures.

A subtle Black Series logo is atop the card and of course being 40 years after Kenner & Lucasfilm, we now find the Disney logo at the base of the card along with the present day safety notices and legal logo's

There are two variations of the R2-D2 released at the same time within the 40th Anniversary wave. One is packed with nothing attached to the legs. The panels are up the top and the boosters are to the side. The other has boosters attached to the legs and the flat panels still in the slot above.

Out of the box and R2 is a pretty light figure in hand. The dome is silver and has a few blemishes in places, and these aren't intentional either. The worst bit is the moulding seam that runs right to left and is pretty distracting to the look of R2. The blue panels are all painted and there is some level of leaching around a couple of them. R2's eye lens is flat black and could have benefited from being glossier. The red lens underneath is also a bit too matt in finish. Round the back is the green lens, and this is brighter - but again a matt finish.

The body is cast in bright white plastic with blue and silver painted on top. The two panels to either side of the central section are clearly a different shade of plastic and to stand out at closer inspection. The three horizontal sections under the dome are painted the rich blue but with more leaching on one, and on another the blue isn't completely covering the sculpted panel it should be covering.

As we move down the body we have the blue lower panel with silver vents and then more silver panels and details towards the base of the body. Round the back and the majority has been left plain white plastic, with a few lower panels painted silver with blue details.

The legs are a different plastic again with a slight shade variance when inspected in detail. They are neatly sculpted with a curved top running down to the angled and splayed foot. The wiring is a bit bulkier than it should to avoid breakages and this loops from the front of the foot round to the side. Here the wires are a nice bronze colour and done neatly.

The majority of R2 is not weathered, which is a shame. There was rarely a scene in any of the movies where R2 wasn't grimy or dusty or a bit dirty. There is a bit of dry-brushing in sandy brown at the feet, but not enough. A simple wash over the whole body would have brought out so much more detail and also closed up those plastic shade variations.

R2-D2 is articulated at the dome which rotates a full 90 degrees. As you do this there is some clever internal engineering that lowers or raises the 3rd foot. This third foot is plain white plastic with no detail and a huge imprinted CE mark on the right hand side. If you want to turn the head while not lowering the foot then turn it past the open or close mark and you will here the head rotating on a ratchet. I think it's designed to do this for posing, but be warned there may be a risk of breaking the internal mechanism.

The other articulation is on the legs. These are hinged at the top where they meet the body. This allows them to swing all the way round the body if you wish. There is then a further joint on the foot allowing the foot to remain flat to the floor as the legs are moved. This means R2 can be posed on two legs vertically, or three legs in a "travelling" pose - or indeed most positions in between.

You can also open the two panels that run down each side of the body. These are hinged and will likely need a slim tool or screwdriver to pop them open. Once open, behind them are some tools. The right as you look is the welder and the left is the manipulator claw arm. These swing out and face forward. Each are painted silver with a blue end on the welder and an orange end on the claw device.

A lot of the criticism aimed at R2 is the height and scale of the figure. R2-D2 stands 8cm high, that's 3 1/4 inches. Scaled up from 1/12 to 1/1 that means R2 would be 96cm high or 3ft 2in. The actual R2 prop is listed as actual being 109cm high, 3ft 7in.

While a few cm/inches seems insignificant when you compare the Black Series R2 to other Black Series figures and the height is more noticeable. A couple of promo shots I looked at saw R2 with C-3PO and then with Luke & Ben. With 3PO and R2's dome was as high as the 3PO's tummy wires, on the figure the dome only reaches the bottom of these wires. And with Luke the movie R2 reached above Luke's belt (Tatooine outfit) and the figure the dome falls well below this.

Now all that being said, I am going to be a touch controversial here in that in my head the figure R2 is the size I would image R2 to be if you asked me to describe him from memory. It always surprises me how big R2 actually is on screen when I look at screenshots and therefore there is an argument that Hasbro have designed a figure that scales with the range rather than meets on screen measurements. This is certainly something they've done with other figures like Chewie, and of course look what happened when they made the Slave Leia to actual scale and then got criticised for it looking too small?

So onto the accessories, and first are the two rocket boosters which R2 deploys in the sequels. To install these you carefully pop off the two blue horizontal panels on each leg. The boosters then slot in, and now looks as though the boosters are out and deployed.

There are now three remaining accessories, all of which are designed to fit in slots in the dome. If you inspect the dome then three of the blue panels are fitted with notch and if you lift them they each lift out leaving a socket underneath.

The largest socket, above the eye lens, is for the light-saber than R2 secrets during Return of the Jedi while he is on Jabba's sail barge. You get the lightsaber hilt included in the pack. While obviously of the same saber, the sculpt include with R2 is not the same as the one packed with Jedi Luke later in the range. The R2 version actually has some better detail with more controls down the side. The R2 version also does not have the looped end which they placed on Jedi Luke so it could hang from his belt.

While the Saber slots in to the dome it doesn't do anything other than be half way exposed. There is no mechanism to "fire it" which might have been a nice nod to the original Kenner figure. This leaves you posing R2 and the saber in a preparing to fire pose only?

The other two accessories are designed to slot into either of the other slots. One directly to the side of the saber slot and the other at the rear.

The first accessory to go into either of these is the periscope that R2 uses on Dagobah when he falls into the swamp. The Periscope is a silver rod with white scanner head and blue trim to replicate the panel that essentially has lifted up to expose the Periscope. It can also be rotated to point in any direction you wish.

The final accessory is the lifeforms scanner. This is the one we see R2 using to scan for Luke on Echo Base on Hoth. Again this is a silver shaft, but this time the head is a dark black.

In summing up, R2-D2 never really "fit" with the other figures that launched the Black Series. While Maul, Luke and the Sand Trooper had layers of paint and extra accessories - R2 is a bit too sterile and is downright sloppy in places. He is also undersized, but that could have been forgiven if we'd have got a top notch paint job. There is also the issue of trying to make this work for every R2 appearance ever. I'd much have preferred less gadgets, and the droid to be scene/film specific - that would have even allowed Hasbro to make many R2's and I would have bought them?

In scoring R2 we have to ignore his rarity - both in his phase 1 box and more recently as one of the two short packed figures in the 40th Anniversary wave. Assuming we can pay retail price for him then R2 only deserves a 2 out of 5.

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