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Review : Star Wars Black Series Battle Droid, The Phantom Menace



After dabbling with Prequel releases, Wave 20 of the Black Series in 2019 really dived in and devoted 50% of the wave to the Star Wars Prequels, including the army building B1 Battle Droid - number 83 in the phase 3 packaging.

Packaging 4/5


Our Battle Droid is packed in the standard phase 3 packaging and is simply called "Battle Droid" rather than use the B1 prefix we have seen used in a number of new novels. The illustration is a clean image of a Battle Droid head and shoulders holding his blaster rifle.


The side spine carries the number 83 and under this, for some reason, some alternative language translations of Battle Droid - although this isn't done on the front of the box? On the box back we have a short background piece alongside a repeat of the cover image.


"Rather than use flesh-and-blood warriors, the Separatists prefer mindlessly loyal soldiers that are easily controlled. Battle droids are dim-witted and no match for clone troopers or Jedi, but they weren't designed to be smart - they were designed to overwhelm Republic civilians through sheer numbers, something they do very effectively."


The Battle Droid is not taped or held into place in the inner box, but please remove with care as his limbs and parts are much slimmer and more prone to damage than a standard figure.



Paint & Sculpt 3/5


There is nowhere to hide when replicating the sculpt of the Battle Droids and this release does the job well with each part faithfully sculpted. The whole figure is cast in a beige plastic, which reduces the need for any solid paint apps - what we then get is the detail pieces like the eyes as well as some weathering and a couple of silver patches to represent scratches and battle damage.


With so many lines and panels the figure would have benefited greatly from a wash of darker brown to make the figure pop. As it stands it looks a bit cheap and not much better than the 3.75 Battle Droids from 1999.


Accessories 4/5


Our standard B1 comes with a fitted backpack - and this can be removed and replaced with a small aerial piece to give your Battle Droid an alternative look. This aerial section is quite detailed considering the size and is again cast in beige plastic with the stem of the aerial painted grey. If you do use the smaller aerial backpack, be advised you will be left with an exposed hole on the back of the figure.


The Droid is armed with a E-5 Blaster Rifle, the same as was included with Padme Amidala from the same wave. I like this weapon as it is chunky and well cast with a gun metal finish to give it arguably a better paint finish than the droid itself. Despite being quite large it fits perfectly into the droids hands which are shaped to hold the gun either in a one hand or two handed pose. You can also clip the blaster to the larger backpack when not in use.



Articulation 2/5


Articulation has always been an issue with any B1 figure, specifically the ability to stand. It has plagued most of the 3.75 line as well as more recent larger figures like the Bandai Snap Figure Kit. The Hasbro version has the same issue due to those slim legs and you will be a better man than me if you can get him to stand and remain stable on his own. I recommend dropping him onto a stand - the one I used was a Protech Vintage Figure stand - and even with the stand the posing is awkward with the legs not wanting to hold the figure up straight.


Joints on the droid are unique to the figure as ball joints are not used, and the figure has more traditional singular directional pivots in various locations. All in all there are 20 points of articulation.

Head : jointed neck - top and bottom, jointed rear head piece

Body : torso pivot joint

Arms : pivot shoulder, bicep swivel, pivot elbow, wrist swivel, wrist joint

Legs : pivot hips, single pivot joint knee, ankle rocker


Once you have your Droid stable the articulation will get your droid into various poses including two handed weapon poses and marches. He will also fold down to his deactivated/travel position which is pretty cool.



Summary


The B1 Battle Droid, from its inception on screen, was always going to be a very tough toy to replicate in terms of it being able to stand and do what they do on screen. Hasbro have done their best with this one, but packing in a stand would have been very helpful.


Aside from the stability issues, the figure is lacking in paint finish. As you can see from our edited promo images below, there is real beauty and depth to the sculpt and it only need a brown wash to bring it out.



I score the B1 Battle Droid an average 3 out of 5. I think it will be a figure we will get to know very well over the next few years, as like the Clones you can expect many more variants of this to come.




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