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SWIV: A New Hope
by yo go re

Today is the first weekend of the month, so it's time for our (semi-)regularly scheduled Star Wars review. So let's take a look at the figure our own Rustin Parr called "offensively terrible."

R2-D2 is a plucky and loyal astromech droid that takes part in many of the momentous events in the galaxy.

The image on the back of the box, for which a film still was opened in Photoshop and had the "Posterize" effect applied, is taken from Episode IV, so that's where we're organizing this review; but don't worry, this R2 could easily be from any of the movies. Well, any of the first six movies. Who knows what the new movies are going to bring? This is an exciting time we live in, folks, with the prospect of a new, wholly unknown Star Wars movie on the horizon. Not since the ancient days of 1998 has the world known its like! You'd have to be a grump with a heart of stone not to be looking forward to it (or, you know, a well-adjusted adult with more important things to worry about than a silly sci-fi movie).

Arguably the most famous robot ever, R2 is looking pretty good in this Black Series release. He tops out just under 3¼" tall, only about an inch taller than the R2s in the main line. That seems accurate - R2 is officially listed at .96 meters tall, which translates to 3.15 feet, making this a nearly perfect 6"-scale figure (and reveals that the 3¾"-scale astromechs are about 13% too big).

The increased size means an increased level of detail in all the various panels, vents and embellishments that cover the surface of his little drum of a body. It's not that previous R2 figures didn't have all these details, it's just that they're cripser and more intricate here than in the past. This is easiest to see on the two wires that run from the front of his feet to the power packs (motivators?) on the insides of his ankles: those are often just molded as part of the foot or, if they are separate, as one joined unit; on this toy, they're individual wires that just curl around the way they should. That's not the only improvement in the sculpt, it's just one good example.

A larger size means a heightened level of expectation when it comes to the paint. As always, R2-D2 is white, blue and silver, with the addition of copper for his leg-wires, and red, black and green for his various eyes. Unfortunately, despite the sculpt being stronger, the apps don't always fill the entire area defined by the molded lines. This is most evident on the blue panels on his chest.

R2 has the articulation you'd expect: a swivel neck, swivel shoulders, and hinged ankles. It's not like he needs anything else, right? The toy does have an action feature: as you turn the head, his little tripod leg drops down out of his body. This isn't really a bad feature, per se, but there are better ways they could have done it. Like, why not turn the vertical blue box on his chest into a button that works as a latch to allow the leg to slide in and out manually (similarly to the way the silver fuel tanks on Optimus Prime's legs work)? The worst part is that it means you can't freely turn the droid's head without moving the leg, so you have to choose what pose you want him to have, rather than just playing with him.

The other features are much better. Three of the panels on R2's dome are removable, allowing you to plug in his periscope, his life form scanner, and even Luke Skywalker's second lightsaber - all of which are included here. The blue bars on the outside of his legs can be removed and replaced with the rocket boosters seen in the prequel trilogy - like we said, this toy covers all the movies. Two panels on his chest open, allowing you to extend the arm that he uses to interface with computers, and the one that features his mechanical grasper (you know, when he's fighting with Yoda). Really, the only thing he's missing is his circular saw. Oh, and hey, what about his drink tray from Jabba's sail barge? Or a "flame" stand that plugged into the rockets? Those would have added some value.

Rustin hates this figure, but Rustin and reality have only a casual acquaintance at best. R2-D2 isn't terrible, but he also isn't worth the $20 pricetag. He's small, and doesn't have enough accessories and action features to justify the full price (I got mine on sale, so that helps). Hasbro would have been better off to do C-3PO and R2-D2 in a two-pack for $30, because it's not like 3PO is going to have a lot of accessories, either. So the toy isn't bad, but it's not as good as it could be - and if the goal for the Black Series is to release definitive versions rather than endless repaints and minor upgrades, then this one doesn't meet that mark.

-- 13/05/13

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