The “Tatooine Wave” has probably one of the more promising line-ups of figures for fans and collectors. Lots of Cantina goodness, some main characters, a great army builder, and today’s review... the resculpt.
The review we’re dishing out today is for R5-D4, probably one of (if not the) most asked for do-overs by collectors to Hasbro. The first version of this figure was such an abhorred attempt at making a dull robot into an exciting toy, that R5 created immediate anger among the collecting community. Since that day the masses have clamored for a new version of this pivotal little droid, and Hasbro finally delivered one in 2006. Rest easy fans, he doesn’t split apart, he doesn’t shoot, he doesn’t have guns anywhere, and his action feature actually makes him a little bit cooler too.
Check out the review for the details and enjoy this long overdue resculpt. Hasbro takes some shortcuts with it, but I think you’ll be pleased with what you get ultimately.
-Sculpt: Hasbro cheats a little bit on the new R5-D4 by using a mold readily available to them. The good news for collectors though is that Hasbro doesn’t use a tremendously old sculpt, and that astromechs generally all look the same from the dome down. So Hasbro saves some coin on tooling a new mold, and we get a figure we should really be happy with in how it looks. As Hannibal used to say, I love it when a plan comes together.
The sculpt Hasbro chose to use is the “Early Bird Kit” R2-D2 body, and a completely new sculpt for the dome/feature. The body is where we’ll start though since it’s old hat at this point. The body is pretty decent though and fans should be happy with it. I personally prefer the sculpt of the Sneak Preview Astromech from 2005 (re-used a couple times afterwards last year) though, but only minor detail differences and nothing major to cite as a positive or negative.
The Early Bird R2 body is really well sculpted itself though, with all the right details in all the right places for any astromech droid. The panel lines are all there, raised and recessed appropriately of course, there’s lot of little detail like vent panels scribed into the sculpt, there are. There are little details all over the sculpt and one of my personal favorites on the latest two astromech sculpts, including this one, are the separately sculpted hoses/wires on the figure’s feet. The wires look just right and add some “depth” to the figure I think. It’s that extra effort that astromechs needed to really be improved upon noticeably.
The headsculpt on the R5-D4 is brand new, and pretty spiffy. The figure features a separately sculpted antenna, and a pop-up “bad motivator” action feature. The antenna is even a little more than just straight piece of plastic actually, and has a little circular detail piece sculpted on it. A little extra attention to details there I think.
The figure’s dome also features a ton of other details such as the 8 recessed panels on the top of the head, recessed pipe details sculpted into either side, and the R5’s signature 3 “eyes”. There are little details/differences as well, such as the “Neck Panels” below the dome, and some little dots just below the eyes. The head looks great and accurate to me, just what the doctor ordered on this figure considering the wait to get him.
-Paint Aps/Decoration: Overall, R5-D4 has a fairly complex paintjob by my eyes. There are a number of colors involved, lots of detail work on the figure’s sharp angles, and some wash work to dirty him up a bit too. The figure’s paint applications seem even and straight as well, with little straying, and that’s what you really should expect in a $7 figure at this point.
The figure’s details first consist of red details on various panels on the torso. Much like R2-D2’s blue, R5 is red in several of the same spots on his front body. The red on the dome is a bit more precise in its application though, as there is a red pinstripe that outlines the dome and the “cylinder” sculpt details, as well as a pinstripe above that which just barely outlines the edge of the top of the head. It’s fairly complex, straight, and even. It’s a nice, barely noticeable paint detail on the character in the film actually. And of course then atop the dome each panel is painted red.
R5 has also got a bit of blue paint details around his body as well, and looks like he dipped into R2-D2’s wardrobe some, but it’s all accurate. The legs most noticeably have blue details on the center, but also several of the panels around R5’s body are painted blue. Along with the blue there is a bit of silver to highlight the vents, ports, and other details sculpted into the figure’s barrel-ish torso, and also the silver paint bits highlight the “neck” panels and the bottom rim of the dome.
The figure is finished off then with a grey-ish paintwash from flat head to stubby toe. The wash is a bit haphazard, not really highlighting any one part of the figure’s sculpt or detail. The wash instead is to give the figure just a look of grime and wear as a used droid should probably have. It’s not Hasbro’s best use of the paint technique but it brings the bright white of the figure down a notch and does give it an aged look. A customizer can do better with paint and brush, but this being a production toy, I think we get what we pay for with it.
-Articulation: As Astromech droids go, the body of the “Early Bird” R2-D2 figure is as articulated as Hasbro has made. The ankles each pivot, the figure moves at its “shoulders”, it has a removable third leg as opposed to retractable but the end result is the same. R5-D4 doesn’t move a whole lot in the movie but Hasbro makes sure you have a droid you can place into any scene and have it in any pose you want one of these little droids in.
The new R5-D4 features articulation at:
- 2 standard “shoulder” joints
- 2 hinged “ankle” joints
- 1 rotating dome joint
That’s a total of 5 points of articulation, and really besides the center leg’s “ankle” having a point of articulation, it’s perfect. Other sculpts have a hinged ankle, but the center leg is also not removable and retracts into the body on those figures. I think this figure gets a pass on that one lacking point then.
The poseability then works for pretty much everything you could want. R5-D4 can stand there waiting to be sold, then kick it into 3-wheel motion and cruise on over to his destiny. It’s a definite upgrade over the POTF2 figure who had a fixed center leg due to his asinine action feature, and it is as poseable as most any of the other astromechs in the modern line now, so I’m happy about that. It’s as good as these little droids can get, so enjoy it.
-Action Features: R5-D4 isn’t without the dreaded “Action Feature”... yes, the little bit that ultimately trashed the original R5-D4 is back on the new figure, however this time around Hasbro made an action feature that actually made a lick of sense, and one that maybe even improves the figure (at least to me and some others) rather than detracts completely from it.
The new feature is integrated into the turning motion of the figure’s dome. When turned, the dome has a “bad motivator” that pops out of one of the tiny panels atop his head. The feature looks quite neat, and the motivator hides down into the head quite well also when you turn the head other directions. When the head is straight in particular, and eyes fixed forward, the motivator disappears. It’s a small detail, but I do appreciate that with the eyes forward the motivator disappears, as that’s how I’d prefer displaying my figure.
The action feature is pretty neat though, it doesn’t take anything away from the sculpt really save for a tiny hole on the top of the back of his dome, and it really adds something to this figure in terms of play value I think. Although, how many kids really care about the R5 that blew up after a couple seconds of screen time? Either way though, this feature is interesting to me and I really do feel it’s a plus to the figure overall.
The only other feature to mention is the figure has wheels on his feet for rolling. My R5 barely moves at all though, so the feature is null and void in my opinion. I don’t “roll” my toys (those RC astromechs are fun to play with though), so I wouldn’t use this anyway, but I can see rolling droids being more fun for the kids so I will just note it here and leave it at that.
(And as a side note, my figures with wheels stand up pretty much AOK without the center leg down. They don’t seem to topple easily or anything, so the wheels don’t bother me at least.)
-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 it’s 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. There’s also an insert depicting the specific character and the character’s 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.
There’s 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.
-Accessories: To say that R5-D4 doesn’t come with much is an understatement. It would be a stretch for me to cite his center leg piece as an “accessory” since he requires it to stand in his 3-legged poses. So that leaves me with really nothing to note of importance on this figure.
My first major gripe about the lack of accessories though is that this figure’s sculpt is based on the “Early Bird” R2-D2 as noted above. That figure came with a removable “closed panel” body panel you could replace with an “open panel” body panel, and on that open panel you could then attach an s-comp link or buzz saw arm accessory into little ports on the panel.
It’s disappointing that one figure that used this body got those little extra bits but the other didn’t. I’m not sure what Hasbro’s reasoning would be behind taking the pieces away from the latter figure other than it’s just a little cost skimping issue on their part that only serves to ultimately make the figure look less interesting on the pegs, or of less value to a potential consumer.
What really stings about the lack of accessories though is the simple fact that R5-D4 was “half done” for Hasbro already, so it’s not like they even were investing a lot into this little fellow. He’s half the size of a normal figure and the entire torso sculpt is something they’ve already made and tooled up, so the costs were already low on the astromech. Was it then really a necessity to cut the extra pieces the original figure came with just to save a couple bucks?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know... It shouldn’t be a big deal, but the point stands that this figure costs the consumer the same as any other but cost Hasbro less than others will and yet they still cut a corner with it in my view. And yes R5 doesn’t use any of that stuff in the film, but if the R2 can come with it why can’t R5 get those extra accessories just to add a little something to the figure and balance it out with others? I think they could’ve pulled that off at least.
And of course R5 comes with the usual pack-ins too for figures in 2006 that add absolutely nothing to the toy but somehow wind up costing the fans more at retail. There is an embossed stand featuring the film the character appeared in raised on its surface and a silver name of the character painted on the one edge. There is also a randomly packaged holographic miniature figure snuck into the packaging as well. While the stand and miniature are nice, both required molds and effort to be produced and it’s my opinion that the money put into these “gimmick” accessory pack-ins would be better put into the figure itself. I prefer quality toys over gimmicks.
-Price Hike: Star Wars figures have taken a jump in price at most all retailers in 2006, and while we paid $5 - $6 for most of our Revenge of the Sith figures throughout most of 2005, figures are up to $7 after tax at most retailers, even the usually stalwart for cheap prices, Wal-Mart. 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 I’ll buy fewer extras of any figure I maybe wanted extras of. I’ll 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. With no retailer seemingly wanting to budge on their standard price, things aren’t looking good for a decrease anytime soon. So keep your eyes peeled for sales because when they happen I’ve noticed that figures that were sitting suddenly fly off the pegs.
The price hike sucks, and what really is tough to accept is that in 2006 we’ve seen many fewer figures with “great” articulation like we saw in last year’s line for ROTS. This decrease in overall “quality” coupled with the price increase just hasn’t sat well with me about this year’s line-up. Though those nicely articulated gems like the AT-AT Driver or whatnot do sneak in there.
So the accessory issue aside, my opinion of R5-D4 is really pretty good overall. The accessory thing does bother me. I mean, even the Gonk Droid got a second droid packed in with him (oh how cool it would’ve been if they made a new multi-armed Treadwell for a pack-in). R5 is destined to be chilling alone in his bubble though, but that’s not too, too bad really.
The sculpt is fantastic, it’s a vast improvement over its original incarnation obviously. The other bonus though, and one that R5 has over his casemate Momaw Nadon, is that R5-D4 doesn’t just LOOK better, he also is much more poseable. This figure can stand without the center leg; he can roll along with all 3 legs; he can really be posed as well as any Astromech can. It is a step above the original. That’s what hurt Momaw Nadon in the long run and it’s nice that at least R5 isn’t suffering like that.
The sculpt though is the highlight obviously. Hasbro got all the tiny details right on this one like the little antenna on the head, and even the bad motivator. The eyes have just the right level of depth, and really everything is just exact I think (or at least as far as I can tell, I’m not an R5 expert). So obviously my review of this is positive. You need to grab this guy up when you see him, and I’m sure some of the painters out there will be picking up extras for repaints too.
This is the resculpt fans have been waiting for and Hasbro didn’t disappoint. Short of them using the preview droid’s body, I think we’re getting something pretty spiffy and Hasbro’s saving some dough as well, so hopefully everyone is happy. I know I am and I’m glad to be writing this off the wants list now. Now I only want it repainted as all the various R5 droids from the original trilogy.