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SWIV: A New Hope
by yo go re

Walgreens is back, with their third Star Wars Black Series exclusive. Unlike the other two, this one is important.

C-3PO is a droid programmed for etiquette and protocol. Over the years, he was involved in some of the galaxy's most thrilling battles and is fluent in more than seven million forms of communication.

The first exclusive was Prototype Armor Boba Fett, which, okay, is a fun little thing to do, but hardly necessary. The second was Emperor's Wrath Darth Vader, which had the dual advantages of 1) actually appearing the film, and 2) actually appearing in stores (barely). But while there's a Force Awakens C-3PO available, this excluisve release is the only way to get the classic look everyone thinks of when they think "C-3PO." Unless your brain weirdly defaults to him having one red arm.

C-3PO was designed by Ralph McQuarrie, based on George Lucas' description of the character as "tall, thin, old, battered, and of Human proportions" - he pictured 3PO as elegant and sophisticated, since a protocol droid would be used in high-class situations. There's also a heavy dose of Metropolis' Maria, particularly evident in the head. C-3PO's face is immobile and expressionless, so that any emotion could be projected upon it by the viewer.

While Ralph McQuarrie may have done the early designs, the final version was the work of a woman named Liz Moore. A sculptor who worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange for Stanely Kubrick, Moore was brought onto Star Wars by production designer John Barry. Working over a plaster cast of Anthony Daniels' body, she was personally responsible for every inch of the C-3PO you know today, every inch this toy duplicates. The torso is mostly smooth, while the legs have thin raised lines on them, and the arms get various greeblies to make them more interesting. His chest even has the tiny bumps found on the real suit, even if here they look like simple molding errors. And while you may expect this figure to simply be a repaint of the Episode VII figure, it's not: his lower torso has been remolded to change the wires hanging there. How unexpected!

The wires get their own paint apps; red, white, or red against a black background. The paint is fairly clean, with only a little bit of excess in a few spots. The body is painted, rather than being vac-metallized. Usually we'd be fine with that, but being shiny is part of who he is, so we're torn. Then again, he was always covered in various levels of grime, and chroming might have made him look too pristine. He's gold like C-3PX, not yellow like Beaker, so we're at least in the right area. And it's always weird to realize he has a silver leg that was just hard to notice because it was usally reflecting gold anyway. If you can, you'll want to compare paint before you buy: scratches seem to show up pretty easily on his chest, and the eyes can get blurry.

The articulation is not great. Correction: most of the articulation is great, but the arms are junk. On the plus side, he has a balljointed head, hinged neck, swivel/hinge shoulders and wrists, a balljointed torso and hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. Now, we can understand why Hasbro wouldn't give him elbows - there's just no way to make the pistons on his arms functional at this scale, and leaving them off would be wrong - but why on earth does he not have any sort of biceps? Rather than making his shoulder-cuffs separate pieces that simply fit over the arm, they could have used those to add another swivel. If he could at least turn his arms, there would be a much better variety of poses, but as it is, you can barely do anything with them. This is a real disappointment from a company that usually does better.

Actually, the way this figure is being released at all is a disappointment. The one iconic version of C-3PO is a store exclusive? All respect to Walgreens and their toy buyer, but C-3PO deserved better. The problem with this store exclusive isn't the store, the problem is the "exclusive"; He should have been at mass retail. Heck, he should (like we said before) have been in a two-pack with R2-D2 four years ago. The toy itself is mostly good (with bad arm joints), but getting him this way is less than ideal.

-- 01/15/17

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