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Entertainment Earth

R2-D2

The Vintage Original Trilogy Collection (VOTC) wrapped up with what most consider the best wave of figures for the line. The unfortunate problem with this is that many retailers were plagued with Wave 1 and 2 on the pegs, and that’s not good for getting Wave 3 out there in bulk. I myself never saw some of these figures at the “big” retailers and instead picked them up in trade or even dumped at outlet stores long after the line’s death.

The first figure on the chopping block then is one of the tougher figures to find in all the VOTC line ironically. His status of coming in Wave 3 didn’t help him, but he also seemed to just not be quite as abundantly released as the other figures in the wave. This review we’re going to focus on VOTC R2-D2 and all his beefed up astromech glory. While Hasbro had come close to perfecting these little droids, the new R2-D2 proves there are still advancements to be made. Check out the full review to see what works and what doesn’t with this little guy, and decide if he’s one you need to have on your shelves or not.

PROS

-Sculpt: Hasbro’s been doing a smash-up job on the sculpt of astromech droids now for a while. The 1999 R2 w/holographic Leia was a pretty big hit due to it being a fairly generic little R2, and then later we got the “Sneak Preview” astromech for Attack of the Clones, which I personally thought was droid perfection on the pegs. I was wrong though, and Hasbro manages to up the ante on realism with the VOTC R2-D2 figure.

The figure has all the details you’ve come to expect on your little bucket of bolts. There are recessed panel lines galore for lots of depth, vent panels, pipes, eye ports, lights, and other little details galore. This is all pretty standard at this point but the level of realism and detail on astromech droids from Hasbro has really been set to a standard and they seem to be maintaining that.

The big update to realism on this sculpt though lies at the feet of the figure. In particular, the added extra to the sculpt are little hoses separately sculpted and attached to R2’s outer feet in the front. The little wire/hose pieces are very nice additions that add an extra bit of detail that I didn’t even know I wanted, but now I can’t deny they look fantastic and do add to the toy’s overall appeal for display.

The VOTC R2 surpasses all previous attempts, and even though the 3rd leg isn’t retractable (a feature I love), it is still removable and not obtrusive to the figure’s looks in the process. Hasbro put forth the extra effort on R2 here, which is more than I can say for his counterpart VOTC C-3PO, and that’s all one can ask for on the issue of sculpt.

-Paint Aps/Decoration: Paint applications on R2-D2 (and astromech figures in general) can be tricky at times but Hasbro tends to pull them off nicely. The VOTC R2-D2 is no different and has a lot of vibrant color on his white background that doesn’t bleed or stray from the lines as far as I can see.

R2’s dark blue panels and details are all smooth and even where applied. On the dome in particular there is some nice application where a raised line of silver for the dome shines through the blue around it (as it should) instead of just being painted over completely. On the dome there are also a couple nice little details like the red and yellow circle lights on his lower dome areas.

R2’s blue panels on his body are mixed nicely with silver highlights. For instance the blue that covers the front vents on the center of his body also has silver that shines through on the vents and looks very realistic with little (if any) of the 2 paint colors bleeding together. That’s a nice little detail on a mass produced toy I think. R2’s got silver and blue markings where they all seem appropriate too, all around the little cylindrical body of the figure.

I’m not a big fan of chrome domes on astromechs though, at least on astro’s who don’t have actual “chrome” on their domes, as R2 had more of a dulled silver than the astromech “bling bling” as we see here. That’s for another portion of the review though. What I do love though is the way the separately sculpted hoses are cast in a metallic copper color and they really stand out on the figure’s feet then, and clash with the other colors. They look great though without a doubt and very realistic.

The decoration of VOTC R2 overall is fantastic and probably represents the best generic sculpt/look of this character as a figure that we have gotten so far. Definitely a plus for wanting him in your collection then.

-Accessories: When you think of droids like R2-D2 and his brethren, you really don’t think of much in the way of accessories. Hasbro saw fit to deliver SOMETHING with VOTC R2-D2 though, perhaps due to the hefty retail pricetag, to help fill out the packaging a little bit. The extras are nice though, and they increase not only the value of the figure from a retail standpoint, but also they increase the figure’s play value.

VOTC R2-D2 comes with 2 body panels, 2 “tool” arms, and a removable center leg. All the accessories “interact” with the toy in some way, and help to allow you to display him differently.

The panels snap neatly into the left front of R2’s body. One set with opened doors and holes for the tool arms, and the other with closed panels. The pieces snap snugly into R2’s body and are easily removed. The tools also snap snugly into their open panel piece, and look pretty nice when plugged into the figure. Perfect for R2 to be working on the Falcon or saving his friends via a scomp-link on the Death Star.

The accessories are small overall, unpainted, and not the most complex pieces by any stretch, but when it comes to astromech droids in general, getting any accessory looks like a blessing since it’s a rare occurrence. Kudos to Hasbro for going the extra mile with their vintage remake of this figure then, by adding lots of extra pieces to it and improving on past R2 figures in the process.

-Articulation: Astromech articulation is kind of at the max point of what Hasbro can achieve, and they seemingly are maintaining that level of standard. That’s all one can ask for really. The center leg for R2-D2 is the only lacking area of articulation, however with the leg’s removable nature the poseability of the center leg becomes a non-issue really.

With that said, VOTC R2-D2 features articulation at:
- 2 standard “shoulder” joints
- 2 “ankle” joints
- 1 rotating (360 degrees) dome joint

That’s 5 total points of articulation, and while it sounds like little, it is about as good as any figure like this can achieve. Hasbro perfected astromechs pretty well with the R2-D2 w/Princess Leia Hologram figure, and they’ve managed to maintain that perfect format with this latest R2-D2 figure. Again the center leg is sacrificed as a couple points of articulation (arguably) but it still isn’t a huge issue.

The figure is quite poseable for what it is, and it works fine for a number of scenes and such. My personal favorite is working on something, tilted forward, but that’s me. It’s a fun little droid to play around with though.

-Features: The VOTC R2 figure comes with a number of little features that are hidden throughout it, and all of them are unobtrusive to the toy itself. Yup, action features that actually don’t hinder the figure in any way… that’s the only way to do them if you ask me.

R2 features a rotating dome that raises his antenna, wheels on his feet, and Hasbro even gave us the light port for a light-up eye feature. These little extra play features add a lot of complexity to the toy’s construction and overall value so they’re all appreciated little features even if they’re not overall appealing to me personally.

For my tastes I would easily do without the wheels on the bottoms of the feet. They don’t roll well, though they do roll a little, and they don’t really appeal to me as a collector anyway. They’re nice but add to the cost of the figure and with little benefit.

The light pipe eye, and the rotating dome/sensorscope features though are really nice to have on the toy. The last sensorscope R2 figure had a somewhat noticeable button but now the feature is completely hidden and the dome on this figure still rotates perfectly without obstruction due to the feature. The light pipe catches the light very well and really shines through the eye well. Both these features though are welcomed additions to the toy and help give the perception of a little extra value to it as well.

-Packaging: The packaging on the VOTC figures is probably the most ornate and eye-catching package for a Star Wars figure to-date. While the basic OTC line that shipped alongside the VOTC figures was nice, the VOTC definitely drew your attention as being something special.

A downside to the dazzling packaging was the cost, which like other features I’ll touch on that shortly in the “Cons” portion, however it was a cost a lot of people were willing to bite for “ultimate” versions of various figures.

The packaging is a recreation of the original vintage Kenner action figure cardbacks from the 1970’s and 1980’s. If you were like me, and can recall these figures adorning your local toy store (Ah, Children’s Palace… The days when a trip to the toy store meant something), then you no doubt have a feeling of nostalgia, just as Hasbro intended. The old style cardbacks are nice to see on the pegs, and they really do catch the eye like no modern packaging has been able to.

While Hasbro went to great lengths to recreate the front of the packaging, the back of the packaging was a modern style displaying 3 other figures from a specific wave. The waves were broken down into a Star Wars wave with the original Star Wars style card, an Empire Strikes back wave styled accordingly, and then a Return of the Jedi wave.

Hasbro’s work to recreate the cardbacks was nicely done, and appreciated. This has so far been the only packaging I’ve wanted to save really. And Hasbro made saving the packaging easy if you were careful in getting the figure off the bubble, as they included a reseal-able protective clamshell over the figure’s card/bubble. Just perfect for keeping everything minty fresh, aside from that X-Acto knife slice along the bubble to get the figure out.

The end result is some nicely displayed toy on the pegs. A full set of the 12 VOTC cardbacks looks really nice displayed amongst your figure collection.

CONS

-Panel Lines: If there is a complaint to be made about VOTC R2-D2’s sculpt it’s directly tied to the removable panel accessories on the figure. The panels leave fairly noticeable lines on the body of the figure where they snap on/off. The panel lines are not hideously noticeable, but they do stand out a bit on the overall nicely sculpted toy.

The panels are one of those necessary evils though for the accessories, and Hasbro was really trying hard to not have the simple holes in the figure’s torso that the original R2-D2 w/tools figure had on it. R2 here is still pretty sharp looking through, even with the panel lines, and the slight distraction they give aren’t discouraging my opinion on this figure.

-Size/Value Perception: Part of R2’s problem, when looking at him from a strictly consumer’s point of view, is that you’re paying a whopping $10 for a very small figure. With VOTC Yoda you had the perceived value of the cloth and all, though his size did hinder his perceived value as well. With R2-D2 though, you have just some small and relatively simplistic accessories that you see in the package and very little else to make you WANT to spend $10 on the figure.

The cost of the VOTC figures is probably the line’s biggest flaw overall, as you’re really buying $5 figures on $5 packaging and that can’t sit well with anyone out there. These figures are easily the quality you should be expecting in the basic line anyway and with R2-D2 you’re not even getting a STELLAR improvement in quality over previous astromechs. The little extras are nice, but not nice enough to make me say, “yes, this is a $5 figure with $5 worth of extra stuff and improvements”, is what I mean.

-Chrome Dome: As noted earlier, R2-D2 in the films has a pretty clearly silver dome, but not a chromed one. The vacmetalized dome looks pretty neat and it’s a great throwback to the vintage figure and all, but the VOTC line has generally not given a nod to the vintage figures in anything but packaging style, while the figures were 100% modernized and realistic.

The chrome dome from the vintage toy was inaccurate then and I prefer the painted duller silver dome of the 1999 Commtech R2 figure over the chrome. If anything I see customs paint over this “flaw” to fix it. I really believe accuracy should’ve been key then as the chromed dome really brings R2 down a notch in my book for wanting to display him with other realistic chracters. It’s a flaw that unfortunately does knock a decent figure down a little.

-Sculpt: -Retail Cost: Without a doubt, and probably the worst aspect of the VOTC line, is the cost that came with each figure. Some have been lucky to have bought their VOTC sets on clearance, however most people paid the retail price which came to approximately $10 per figure or so. Not the cheapest price to pay for a single figure.

The cost of the figure can be blamed on a number of reasons. The VOTC line was touted for its “limited” nature, for instance, driving up costs due to lower production runs. The packaging was ornate, recreated by hand, and it required a lot of extra work for it to be done appropriately. The coffin blisters on the packaging even, to recreate the vintage look, were also “special” and added very slightly to the packaging costs. The special protective case surrounding the figure also would’ve been a noticeable increase in overall costs in producing these figures also. And that’s really only starting on where increases in costs could be hiding with the VOTC figures over basic modern figures.

I personally feel the VOTC figures are not any more intricate or complex in their design than a basic figure is, as far as costs go. If you put VOTC on basic cardbacks, and at basic production numbers, you’d see a figure that would sell profitably at a basic figure’s price. But with the packaging, you have something that, unless it becomes the line’s standard, it definitely inflates the production costs of the figures.

The cost seemed to noticeably hurt the VOTC line as well, as it also has hurt the Ultra/Deluxe lines over the years. $10 is a lot to pay for a figure, and it showed at stores that ordered the VOTC line heavily like Wal-Mart who couldn’t move the later waves out quickly. I love the VOTC concept though, and think that either a better price or case ratios would have alleviated all issues with product movement.

OVERALL

So that’s Vintage Original Trilogy Collection R2-D2 wrapped up in a nutshell… A long nutshell albeit, but wrapped up nonetheless. And the figure is one of those ones you really are going to have to weigh whether or not you need/want it in your collection.

If you can get past the dome’s inaccuracy, you’re probably going to want this figure in your collection. However I really didn’t see this figure in any abundance at any major retailer, and I actually picked mine up at an outlet store locally for cheap. Not many seemingly got to retail so another problem you may find yourself in is finding the VOTC R2-D2 for a fair price. Can you get him for the $10 retail? That’s a tough one to say.

The figure is a nice generic R2-D2 though so long as you can look beyond the chromed dome (or if it’s something you actually prefer even). The panel accessories and tools are fantastic, and I love the sensorscope feature as it hides perfectly in the head and the head rotates just fine despite the feature. Perfectly executed by Hasbro overall then.

For my money, I was glad I got VOTC R2-D2, but bear in mind I got him for less than retail too. I lucked out I guess but even still he’s a big improvement over the R2 w/tools we got back in the POTF2 line and I’d likely have happily bought this figure for $10 if I’d seen him full price. He’s worth having one of I think, but I hope Hasbro gives us a more accurately domed one at some point is all.

 

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