Hasbro grasps at straws to put new droids out in circulation, so for fans of the metal beings of Star Wars, there isnít always a lot to look forward to. It doesnít help that droids canít be made terribly exciting too often unless theyíre of the battle variety. But theyíre almost always popular figures when they do come out, and even minor tweaks and repaints are met with pretty open arms by collectors. That means that a 2-pack of Hoth droids is bound to be a hit, and so far that appears to be the case with the GNK ďGonkĒ Droid and Treadwell Droids.
The extra great news is that Hasbro had really minimal effort on both to give us ďnewĒ figures for our displays, and at the same time saving themselves a buck or two. Seriously, Iím all for Hasbro saving money when it makes sense like this, so this 2-pack really turned out nice for us and them. Everyone wins, yay!
So what is it that makes the Gonk great? Because, letís be serious here, we are basically talking about the Gonk droid and not Treadwell. Treadwell barely counts as a figure, but heís a nice extra in the package that nobody expected till pictures surfaced online. Well the sculpt of everything in the package may not be new but itís great and is a perfect duo to re-release with a new paintjob and a couple changes to make people clamor to repurchase figures they already have. I know I was happy to, and you can find out why if you just read on.
-Sculpt: Treadwell Iím going to list more as an accessory than his own figure, but heís cool looking so weíll touch on him later, itís the Gonk that really is the meat and potatoes in this package deal. And while the sculpt is straight out of 1999, it fortunately came from when Hasbro was turning a big corner in sculpt quality. The Gonk was one of the last of the POTF2 figures (packaged with a new Jawa) and showed Hasbroís ability to sculpt details like loose wiring on a droid, raised buttons and electronics, and how to hide an action feature too (which was a skill they seemed to lose heading into 2002, but I digress).
The Gonks were simple little droids in the films, and almost looked comically cheap, but that was part of their charm too, as the simplicity of the Power Droids looked ďbelievableĒ to viewers. The way they plodded along with heating duct legs and just seemed so cheesy, they still somehow looked like they had ďlivedĒ a long life in that galaxy far, far away. The figureís sculpt captures every detail of the little GNK seen marching through Echo Base, and has that classic trilogy cheese to it.
The Gonkís body immediately looks like a metal box of some kind, and has the proper raised and sunken lines sculpted throughout it. Thereís an access panel of some sort on its left side that looks so realistic you almost would think it could open actually, and the Gonkís ďfaceĒ (if you can call it that) is sculpted with a number of raised and recessed pieces giving it a lot of depth and realism.
GNKís feet and legs are also nicely detailed. The legs are sculpted to have the ridged look of flexible piping or tubing to them, just as the droid in the film has, and the feet look like simplistic metal blocks with crude toes. The details of the film seem to be perfectly captured and little extras like hoses sculpted to run from the back of the feet up into the body, there is a lot of little detail to enjoy. It should be noted too that Hasbro changes the figureís look up slightly by adding a separate piece of wiring/hoses around the middle of the droidís boxy body, and it only serves to make the droid more accurate and give it greater depth when you examine it closely.
Itís quite nice Hasbro added the wiring as an extra touch to make sure the figure turned out as accurate as possible. The sculpt is a very nice effort by them no matter if you have bought the original Gonk or this re-release of the figure with some upgrades. You really should own both if you donít have them already, as they are definitely two different figures in my eyes.
-Paint Aps/Deco: The Gonk Droid sports a new paintjob from its previous use of this sculpt, which of course sets it off completely from the previous version. Since droids are basically factory produced creatures in Star Wars, that means Hasbro saves a buck with sculpts if they want to, and Iím all for that if the figure was a good sculpt in the first place, so the paintjob tends to take a bigger spotlight then since itís what makes the figure unique (for the most part). Hasbro doesnít disappoint with the Hoth Power Droid either.
The droid is actually cast in a metallic base color that looks bronze-ish to me. Itís dim, but thereís a metallic flake in the plastic that really makes the droid sparkle, and the worn looking color makes it look like this is a Gonk Droid someone needs to take better care of. The base color really pops though and gives a nice weathered look that is a definite difference to his darker counterpart from 1999.
The details painted on the figure vary from silver nicks to metal panels painted on. The silver wear is at strategic points along the figureís body and feet that really arenít terribly complex but they get the point across that this figureís got wear and tear right down to his bare metal body. Itís subtle, Hasbro didnít overdo it, and while itís not amazing to look at, it does improve the figure giving it some character. There is a simple black paintjob on the legs with the wires that run from the feet into the body being painted brown, and it all looks very nice as well. Thereís a metallic blue panel painted on the droidís right side, and a metallic silver-ish panel painted nicely on his left side. Also thereís a darker bronze-ish color than the body used to paint the ďfaceĒ, to pretty much polish off the little paint details.
Beyond this, the figureís bronze-ish body seems to have a wash on it of some sort to really give it a grimey look. It sparkles because of the metallic flake in the plastic, but the sparkle is shining through years of droid ring-around-the-collar I think. While these arenít amazing paint applications, they make for a new and nice looking droid so Iím a happy camper.
-Accessories: I canít say that the Gonk Droid actually comes with a whole lot of accessories but he does sport a couple unique items. Theyíre removable, and if you remove them, you technically have yet another droid if you wanted to pick up two. I also am listing Treadwell as an accessory rather than a 2nd full figure... He is a figure, and yet heís not. Most didnít count him as a whole figure when he came with Beru, just something nice to get with her, so Iím keeping him that way for this review.
Gonk here comes with two ďtopĒ pieces that snap into holes on the figureís head. Something I didnít mention in the sculpt was that 2 new holes were added on his flat top and they are to plug in a black hose port looking thing, and a larger bubble/hose port thing that is nicely painted to boot. There is also, of course, Treadwell who came with Beru back in the ďFlashbackĒ wave of figures leading into Episode Oneís line, and heís got a new paintjob too.
The figures also come packed with the embossed and personalized stand, as well as the randomized miniature holographic figure that are the standard of The Saga Collection. The stand and miniature holograph are just extras that you either love to death or could give a hoot about. Iím more the latter.
The two top pieces to the figure are hard to argue as accessories but I only count them as such because you can remove them easily and you get a new figure (more or less) without them. I may get a 2nd Gonk just for this reason actually. The black hose port item is pretty simplistic looking, and just looks like a nicely sculpted little extra detail to plug into his head. Nothing major there. The other hose port is bigger, round and almost balloon-ish looking at the base, and features a piece atop it that I guess are energizing ports by what Iíve read of them online. This piece is nice though because the round base is painted orange, and thereís also brown, silver, and gold coloring on the accessory, so it actually gives the droid a good bit of color when you put it on him. It helps him stand out as he trots along.
Treadwell is simplistic, but he is a good sculpt. Heís colored slightly different than the one that came with Beru, and he features similar silver marks showing wear and tear as the Gonk Droid itself does, so it is unique compared to Beruís TreadwellÖ And since there was a Treadwell in Echo Base for Han to swear at and berate itís a fitting extra in the packaging that I donítí think any of us will be unhappy to get.
While none of these are traditional accessories, or a little diorama set piece or anything, they are all appropriate for a figure with no arms and who was only seen briefly in an open hangar. Itís nice to get Treadwell since he was there too, so Iím pretty happy with the extras, for what they are. The fact some are removable do give some incentive to rebuy this figure too, thatís a plus to me.
-Action Feature: While I am not an action feature fan, I have two criteria for it to not be a negative on the figureís review. First it mustnít be obtrusive to the figureís looks, such as a large ugly button sticking out of it somewhere or a weird looking gap at a point of articulation or whatnot. Second the action feature mustnít be intrusive to the figureís play/poseability. What I mean here is that the arms canít be so loose they flop around and fall down when youíre posing it, or that a figure canít stand because of an awkward action feature. A lower criterion I have would be that it simply works and works well. Like the Super Battledroidís exploding action feature works, and works well.
The Gonk Droidís action feature is only slightly obtrusive, and if youíre like me youíve found a way around the negatives mostly. The action feature is where a small button on the side, which simply looks like part of the droid, is pressed and the droidís legs ďwalkĒ forward and back. The feature ďworksĒ for what it is. Itís a simplistic feature, but it inhibits the figure in that you canít just put the Gonk in a pose where itís just standing there. Iím not sure why Hasbro didnít make it so you could, but you canít.
The method I found around this negative to the feature though? Those little tiny clear rubber bands that hold a blaster in a figureís hand are very ideal here. They wrap around the Gonk Droidís ankles perfectly and hold the legs together perfectly so they donít move apart. Problem solved, and because theyíre clear you can barely see them there, and Iíve found them to be virtually indestructible and Iíve never had one dry-rot on me either. How can you NOT be using these things? I save those little rubber bands, and you should too, they come in quite handy at times... like now!
-Packaging: The Saga Collection packaging for each figure is an interesting mix of styles. You can definitely see some elements of the ROTS line mixed with elements of the OTC line, and that makes for a unique package on the shelves. I really enjoy the black cardback with silver lettering, and I hope itís something Hasbro is willing to stick with for a long time to come.
I also highly enjoy the unique backgrounds for each figure. Pulling an element from the OTC line, the new Saga Collection packaging uses a film shot that pertains to each unique character, and really individualizes the figures. This is drool-worthy for the carded collector and it makes even the die-hard openers want a figure here and there to keep carded just because of how special the backgrounds are.
The bubble is a little closer to the ROTS line in its overall size and shape, but should lend itself more to staying mint for the carded guys. Thereís also an insert depicting the specific character and the characterís name, packaged into the bottom of the package just as the Revenge of the Sith figures had. The insert features the bold blocky silver lettering of the Saga, and lets fans know that this is the universal collection of figures encompassing the entire Star Wars universe.
Thereís a lot to like with this packaging so I hope it stays as the standard for a while. I would say that The Saga Collection and Original Trilogy Collection will go down as some of the most liked packaging by collectors for quite some time if Hasbro gives it a while, and this is coming from a guy that rips almost everything off its card at some point or another.
-Articulation: This is a tough one to even list as a negative on this figure, but I really canít list it as a positive either. The Gonk simply doesnít lend itself to being a figure you can articulate very well. It has 2 legs, and thatís allÖ What do you do with that, ya know?
Still, the figure does sport a whopping 2 points of articulation and thatís it. He has two leg jointsÖ Iím not going to list them, thereís no point doing my usual breakdown right? Right.
The real detractor to the articulation though is the action feature actually. The feature kind of makes it so that the figureís legs are stuck waddling back and forth or if you use the technique I mentioned about the rubber band you can lock them in place. I think had there been no feature, Hasbro could have made the legs stiff and you could have gotten one leg ďstraightĒ while another is bent forward or back so the droid looks like itís taking a step.
Yeah, as you can tell, that still wouldnít be really impressive, and really itís not a big gripe of mine on this figure. Poseability just isnít something you can expect with the Gonk, but itís still a minor (the most minor) of gripes.
And by the way, Treadwell doesnít move much either. More of a complaint could be made about him, but I wonít. He is what he is and I still look at him as just an extra in the packaging rather than a figure.
-Price Hike: Star Wars figures have taken a jump in price at some retailers, and while we paid $5 - $6 for most of our ROTS figures throughout most of 2005, figures are up to $7 at most retailers with only Wal-Mart sticking to a $6 or less price point right now. Hopefully Hasbro and Retail will see the light that price increases in this day and age means that people may become more tight with their spending.
I know a price hike will affect my buying habits, and Iíll buy fewer extras of any figure I maybe wanted extras of. Iíll cut back on army building, custom fodder buying, and other areas that I otherwise maybe would have spent more freely. That $1 or $2 starts to add up over 60 or so figures though. Hopefully at least Target will adjust to compete with Wal-Mart in the near future, if nothing else, and we all maybe will have more to spend on more figures.
So, is the Gonk Droid & Treadwell 2-pack a really exciting set? Uhm, well that depends on the type of collector you are. If youíre like me this is the kind of thing that makes the line worth buying some days. To me itís a prime example of what a good ďrehashĒ is, because it really isnít a rehash at all. Itís a good way for Hasbro to save money and actually make people happyÖ unlike the Chewbacca in Chains for instance, which has a nice chain thing but it was a letdown choice of a Chewbacca to throw back on the pegs with absolutely nothing else to make you want to buy him. I mean, would putting the tentacle arm thing that reached out at 3PO have been a bad idea to throw into the packaging?
The Gonk though gives you something new, it gives you something different. It is cheap for Hasbro to throw this together, and itís easy for collectors to want one, maybe two, and maybe even more than that if theyíve got the deep enough pockets for it. I know I myself will be getting 2 at least, and Iím actually cutting back in 2006 because of the incredibly sucky price increases Hasbro and Retail have imposed on us this year.
So yes I say pick this droid up even if you own the older one. I think you should own that Gonk as well, and these little droids are always seemingly popular in the line, at least for a while. Repainted astromechs have a trend of doing well in the past and so far the Gonk is the one figure from Hoth I know I havenít seen on the pegs more than once, so it seems to be doing quite well also. I easily recommend picking it up if you are able to find one. I wonder if weíll ever get a black one for an Imperial Gonk at some point? Iíd buy it in a heartbeat.