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B1 Battle Droid

SW Jedi: Survivor
by yo go re

Capitalism, as a system, encourages only one thing: make more money. It doesn't solve problems, other than the problem of "how to make more money." It doesn't care about its neighbors, other than to the extent that they have money that could be taken from them. To see this distilled into a microcosm, one need only look at the videogame industry.

These variant B1 Droids have been reprogrammed and repainted to serve a new master years after the end of the Clone Wars and the Rise of the Empire.

Five years ago, nearly to the day, Ubisoft quite famously gave an investor presentation in which their CEO proudly showed off a graphic hyping the "live service" model of games, where you the consumer just keep paying in perpetuity for something you've already bought. See, because actually making games takes time and effort to do, and time and effort both mean money flowing away from the company. Their ideal end-state was one where they do no more work, and you keep handing them dollars. This was them saying the quiet part loud. Every videogame company wanted a part of this new "recurring revenue" paradigm, and so spent time and effort convincing you that it's what you wanted as well. And because a few of the games were success, everyone went all-in on the model, insisting it was the wave of the future, to the detriment of all else in the market because it was the fast and easy way to make more money. Because it was the only thing Capitalism told them to do.

And then Jedi: Fallen Order blew the damn doors off, because the actual audience was desperate for exactly the kind of games the companies said audiences didn't want anymore.

Although the industry used to be run solely on solo-player, story-driven games, the pivot to live services severely undermined that formula for years. But Fallen Order was such a hit that it's getting a sequel a few weeks from now, and the first toys are Black Series repaints in GameStop's "Gaming Greats" subline. We'll start with the B1 Battle Droid.

This mold is entirely the same as the existing Battle Droid figure, so if you have that, you know what to expect. It's tall and spindly, with narrow limbs, large rounded hinges for joints, and a blockish chest supported by two little flanges rising up from the waist. The surface of the droid is mostly smooth, with only a few simple seams, but that's the way it's meant to look - these aren't Michael Bay Transformers or anything. Having a slight recess below the neck and a knob on the left side of the chest is just right. The mold may be pre-existing, but these are mass-produced robots, so that makes sense.

The difference comes in the coloration. We've seen tan Battle Droids, rust Battle Droids, a previous Gaming Greats Battle Droid based on Battlefront II, and yet this one still manages to stand out. The BF2 Droid was the most colorful until now, a mix of rust red and gun metal grey with silver scrapes to show battle damage. The new Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Droid is mostly a dark grey, with a deep red on the hands, waist, shoulders, and sides of the head, then white stripes on the chest and the center of the face. It's a striking look that's likely to be pretty neat when we see it in-game, and the fact that the backpack is solid white means players should be able to tell at a glance whether the enemy on-screen if facing them or looking away.

There's only so much you can do with human articulation, but a robot provides more opportunities. The battle droid has hinged "ears," a balljointed head, swivel/hinged neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, a balljointed chest, swivels for those "rib" things, balljointed hips, hinged knees, and hinged ankles with swivels both above (in the shin) and below (in the foot). The droid's neck can pull up out of the chest quite a distance and there are notches on the back of the calves that line up with the ridges on the back of the thighs. All that means you can ball them up in their "storage" posture. Or sit in the shower and cry.

The previous GameStop Battle Droid came with several guns borrowed from other figures; this one doesn't even have all the pieces the original came with. They've got the E-5 blaster rifle, and the comlink booster pack, but not the backpackless antennae. Those antennae are contracted when you tear open the bag of accessories (this release uses the new plastic-free packaging, so the figure is wrapped in paper in the cardboard frame), but you can pull them up to their full height. Like we said above, the backpack is solid white, and the gun is unpainted grey. It can plug into the side of the pack for storage.

The Battle Droid is a fun toy, but that was true four years ago when we first got it. It was the colorscheme that drew me to this one, because I'm still waiting for Hasbro to make Snap Wexley's jury-rigged bodyguard droid, Mr. Bones. But hey, maybe once Jedi: Survivor comes out, we'll like this droid for themself.

-- 02/11/23

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