In 2016 a set of three Astromech droids from The Battle of Yavin (A New Hope) were released as a Toys R Us Exclusive. Roll forward 2-years and a follow up set, The Red Squadron, was announced by Hasbro, this time as an Amazon exclusive in the absence of Toys R Us who ceased trading in early 2018. The set was sold only by Amazon US and not on the UK site, and other than a few higher priced imports - fans had to order via the US in order to add this set to their collection.
The Red Squadron packaging is identical to the original Astromech Toys R Us Exclusive. It uses the same principles as the Phase 3 black series with a black coloured box and red accent colour on the text and side spine - but interestingly not as a backing colour to the figures which is also black.
Due to the size of the droids vs figures in other Multipacks', and to retain the height on the box to match the other Phase 3 releases, we find a much smaller window on this set with the three droids laid out under the Star Wars Black Series logo. The artwork from Gregory Titus then lines up directly under the window and under each droid while their name is then printed in red aside each illustration. The overall set name, Red Squadron, sits in he usual position on the bottom left of the box front.
The back of the box splits into three segments, one for each droid, and the segments contain the same Titus artwork overlaid with some background text for each droid.
A resourceful astromech droid, R2-D2 showed great bravery in rescuing his masters and their friends from many perils. A skilled starship mechanic and fighter pilot's assistant, he served Luke Skywalker during the Battle of Yavin alongside Red Squadron.
A red astromech droid used by Jek Tono Porkins - Red Six - during the Battle of Yavin, R5-D8 saw time on both Y-Wing and -Wing starfighter during his service to the alliance
Astromech droids are a series of versatile utility robots generally used for the maintenance and repair of starships and related technology. R2-X2 was Red 10 Theron Nett's droid and served in the Battle of Yavin.
The droids do not sit in a a traditional inner tray, but rather a black gloss plastic tray with no visible backing card. The tray itself sits in an inner brown cardboard piece with the droids held in place by small plastic ties.
The Black Series Astromech sculpt base was established right back at the start of the line in 2013 with the first R2-D2 figure. It is recognized by many as being undersized for the 6 inch line of figures and certainly does not fully line up to the heights of these droids as seen on screen. Hasbro have however remained faithful to the sculpt and all Astromech droids have been based on this 2013 version - including all three in this set.
R2-D2 is essentially the same figure as released back at the start of the Black Series, but he has been given a weathered makeover for this set to create some variation. The base of the droid and legs are cast in white with blue painted segments and silver trim, with the foot wiring picked out in bronze. The dome is a silver colour, with the same blue trim in the various panels around the head. The photoreceptor eye is black with some red detail underneath where the display panel sits on the prop.
The weathering is added in brown, to recreate mud & dirt. It fits with the dirt and grime as we find Artoo after the escape from Tatooine and the Death Star. There is also a large white panel on the dome where Artoo is hit during the Battle of Yavin. This is less obvious in terms of what it is trying to portray and I think some scorching and burning would have been key to this specific damage.
R2-X2 is a green Astromech and was essentially only seen in very brief shots in the Yavin hanger and being loaded into the slot of an X-Wing. The figure uses the same dark green base colour with a silver dome and silver panels around the body.
Similar weathering is added to X2 with most concentrate on the dome area.
R5-D8 uses the R5 dome first established in the 2016 set with R5-K6 and latterly in 2017 with the R5-D4 exclusive release. The entirety of the body is cast in white with red panels added on the body and legs and as a thin trim around the top of the head. Silver detail is used too on the three eye segments on the head and on panels down the body, with a touch of blue also added to some segments on the right hand side.
R5 also carries weathering, although this is more subtle and more like an aging effect than applied dirt and grime with a yellow/sandy splash effect across the main body and around the dome.
R5-D8 also features an Aerial on the dome. This is cast in black and is in a rubbery material so it does come a little warped, but by retaining some flexibility it is not at risk of snapping easily if knocked or mishandled.
While the original R2-D2 came with a variety of parts to enhance the figure - boosters, scopes and radars - these figures come with nothing. And yet all of the parts on the figure that would accommodate these accessories remain in place and can be popped off. The panels on each leg, where the boosters would fit, can be clipped off. And on the two R2 units, all of the head panels are removable to show off slots underneath for the radars and scopes.
All three Droids come with the same level of articulation. The legs are jointed at the body and with a further pivot at the "ankle" so the feet can be posed for standing straight or for angling in a travel position.
The dome rotates and in doing so the lower central travel leg extends or contracts from the main body. This additional leg also includes a pivot on the foot section for straightening into the ground. This mechanism works well, but links the dome position to the additional leg - so you have to use the counter-clockwise click to position the dome into the position you want without opening the leg.
All three legs are fitted with rollers for pushing the droids along the ground.
All of the droids also retain the manipulator arms in the main body. The two long panel down each side of centre are hinged to open. Inside are arms that swing out from a top fixed position. On the right is the interface arm which is cast in grey with a blue segment two thirds of the way along. On the left is the grasping arm claw, again cast in grey and with a gold segment just ahead of the claw end piece.
These are a little tricky to engage due to their size and location, and those with fat fingers like myself may need some assistance from a paperclip or similar to extend them outward.
After hanging on for this set to come into a decent price bracket for nearly 2-year, I am glad to have these droids in my collection as I do feel that they add some background character to a display mostly made up of humanoid figures.
The size issue is well publicised, but this far into the line I think there may be more of an outcry if it was changed. What we do get is well sculpted & proportioned droids with a decent enough paint job and some weathering to give them the worn Universe look that George Lucas originally envisaged.
The Droids come with articulation I would expect from a Droid figure including that clever feature to extend and retract the additional leg. They just perhaps need extras like the original single packed R2-D2 to give the set some value considering the RRP is the same as three general release figures.
I score the Red Squadron Astromech set of R2-D2, R5-D8 and R2-X2 a total of 3.5
About Me : As a child of the 70's and 80's I grew up in a golden age for action figures and in my youth bought and sold myself through collections of Star Wars, G.I. Joe (Action Force) and M.A.S.K. while also dabbling in He-Man, Transformers and Ghostbusters. Roll forward and I am now reliving that Youth with the action figures of today and am a collector and fan of the larger 6-8 inch figures from my favourite movie and TV licences - including the ones mentioned above, but also the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Who and the Aliens. I launched The Mephitsu Archives in 2015 with a view of creating a UK focused site or these figures where fans can pick up the latest action figure news, read reviews and get information on where to buy their figures and what is currently on store shelves. I hope I am delivering that to you guys...
action figures, reviews, review, articulation, star wars, black series, hasbro, a new hope, astromech, red squadron, R2-D2