Updated: Jan 16, 2020
Alongside the main Rise of Skywalker releases in Wave 22 and 23, there were a number of exclusives released in Autumn 2019, including this new version of C-3PO and new character Babu Frik. The set was exclusive to Target in the US, but as a fan channel shared exclusive elsewhere.
The box for this release is a standard phase 3 box, with the usual red spine albeit devoid of numbering as this is an exclusive. The only precedent prior to this release (and that of Rey and D-0 released at the same time) for two named characters in a single figure release was the 2015 Rey and BB8 and like that set both C-3PO and Babu Frik are included in the Gregory Titus artwork. This artwork has C-3PO wearing the bandoleer, but also has what looks like the top of Rey's staff over his shoulder - it was possibly based on earlier footage or concepts for the movie?
Round the back of the box the artwork is repeated, but here Babu Frik is lost as the image zooms in on C-3PO and Babu gets lost behind some text. Unlike the 2015 Rey pack, we now get individual background text for each character. As they are taking up the space usually used for one character both are quite short - and very generic vs the plot of Rise of Skywalker.
"C-3PO longs for more peaceful times, but his continued service to the Resistance keeps him on the frontlines of galactic conflict."
"A tiny, well-regarded droidsmith, Babu Frik can modify virtually any droid, regardless of the securting measure protecting its systems."
Paint & Sculpt 4/5
C-3PO is not quite the same figure as has been used since 2015 in the droids various guises - red arm, silver leg etc. This version has been updated with the extended upper legs from the 4-LOM / 0-0-0 figures which makes him stand a bit taller and look better proportioned. Like the previous figures the sculpt is pretty accurate with some intricate detailing on panels round the neck, upper arms and that exposed wiring loom around the midriff. There are also some new features which I will cover as we go along.
Metallic paint finishes still aren't perfected with Hasbro, and Threepio is far from shiny gold - but for me its a good compromise at this scale. The majority of the figure is cast in the gold plastic, with painted silver trims and the tummy wires the notable paint application. As was seen in the movie, Threepio is now fully golden - no red arm, no silver leg.
Enhancement one for the figure is one of the gimmicky heat changing paint options. The eyes on Threepio turn red when he is exposed to cold - mimicking the part where he translates the Sith text. The image below shows the figure after 10-mins in a fridge - so its not glowing red and isn't really practical for a display - maybe having it heat activated would have been a better choice?
The next enhancement is not advertised on the box or immediately obvious as you handle the figure. The rear of the head can be popped off revealing a full wired robot brain underneath. The seal on this rear panel is excellent and is very tight to take off. While it is obviously replicating the scene from the movie I wonder how many collectors will never know it is there?
Like the tummy section, the wires are painted in yellow, red and blue and the frame of the head is silver.
Babu Frik is no bigger than Threepio's head, and at this scale the details are a little softer than a full sized figure. That being said we have a defined head under that hood with painted yes and a mouth. The costume is replicated well with a number of pain colours used including grey, orange, yellow and burgundy,
The feet, I think, are sculpted larger than they should be to give Babu some stability and these allow him to stand perfectly on a flat surface.
The set includes accessories - a first for C-3PO - and these are Chewie's bandoleer and bowcaster. While the original trailer made it look like Threepio would be wielding these in battle (or at least our imaginations did) the reality was a bit more mundane with Threepio carrying these back to the ship after they rescued Chewie.
The bowcaster comes in two pieces, with a shaped notched socket on the bow that fits into the blaster. It is cast in grey with a metallic dry brush over the top. Like the other bowcasters released to date it suffers badly from warping particularly the gun sight and the bow. Threepio can hold the weapon, but only really in neutral poses as the arm articulation wont allow your imagination to play out Threepio roaring into battle.
The bandoleer and satchel are cast in a brown plastic and have painted silver compartments and buckles as well as a dark brown wash on the satchell segment. Again, Threepio can wear this if you wish.
I can't help but feel these packed in accessories are on the back of an anticlimax and now I've seen the film I would rather have seen them give us something more tied to the plot - a Sith wayfinder for example, or perhaps a soft goods overcoat as worn on Kijimi.
The parts are all re-used from the 2015 Force Awakens Chewbacca, and are actually better painted in this set than the original if you want to give Chewie and upgrade?
While this is essentially the same Threepio as has been around since 2015, this 2019 version does get an important articulation upgrade. He now comes with the moveable elbows as first used on 4-LOM and then on 0-0-0. While these do free up the elbows, the range of movement is still quite restricted. Droid articulation is very different to human figures, but in general terms Threepio still comes in with 16 points of articulation in total.
Head : ball joint pivot neck
Body : torso ball joint
Arms : rotating pivot shoulder with rotating shoulder cup, piston elbow bend, wrist pivot
Legs : ball joint hips, single knee joint, ankle rockers
Threepio, as has always been the case, will simply be posed in a neutral "Threepio" stance for display and the figure can achieve this - with the one exception of the feet not quite being close enough together.
One watch out is the arms - particularly the left on my figure - which pop out of the shoulders far too easily than usual. I wonder if that is a symptom of some engineered changes on this body to facilitate the "blown apart" Threepio from Empire?
I am delighted to see Babu Frik is also articulated, with three points of articulation worked onto the tiny figure. The two arms are ball socketed at the shoulder and plugged into the torso. This lets them rotate and move up and down - but they can pop out if taken too far. The other joint is in the welders mask which can be raised or lowered over Babu's face.
Considering the size of this figure, I wasn't expecting any joints and just a static figure. So for Hasbro to include what they did is quite impressive at the scale and price point of the set.
It is a shame that like BD-1 from the Cal Kestis set, Babu can't perch or be perched on Threepio's shoulder. A plug or socket or something discreetly worked into the mould would have been brilliant for posing. In the absence of this, then do what I did for the following images and use blu tack or similar.
Previous C-3PO figures have been criticised for being quite stale in terms of them being the droid in a box with lacklustre paint, limited articulation and zero accessories. This set challenges these historical issues by updating Threepio on the articulation (just) and some added features like the head panel and glowing eyes.
The inclusion of Babu Frik will sell this set, he was one of the memorable characters from Rise of Skywalker. The accessories are based on a scene that wasn't as excited as we perhaps hoped it was going to be and I think there may have been some other options for Hasbro had this come out after the movie had been released for some time.
At sub £20 at most retailers, this is certainly a value for money purchase if you are building a Rise of Skywalker collection.
I score C-3PO and Babu Frik a 4 out of 5.