Saturday, May 19, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 378: Pit Droid

PIT DROID Overpriced Bonus Figure
Episode I Overseas Bonus Packs
Item No.:
Asst. 84085
Number: n/a
Includes: Power Converter plus either Darth Sidious Holograph or Naboo Royal Guard
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $19.99
Availability: Spring 2000
Appearances: The Phantom Menace

Bio: Small in stature and mechanically adept, pit droids scurry to service Podracers in the height of competition. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' TV tray, with a "broken" Hyperdrive from the second wave of Episode I accessory packs. You know, the ones nobody ordered because wave 1 sucked so hard at retail.

Commentary: There are very, very few figures that were essentially unavailable in the USA-- but there are a few. The Tiger Games Darth Maul action figure (with dirty boots & cape) was virtually unavailable, but FAO picked them up. The bonus Battle Droids were eventually picked up by the Fan Club. There are even rumors of the Qui-Gon and Eopie sets showing up in a few isolated places. But the bonus Pit Droid figures? We done got screwed there. Some of these little buggers worked their way up into the triple digit price range, which takes some real doing for a modern action figure.

The figure itself is nothing special. It's just a pit droid, right? Well, yes and no. The mold is unique to these "bonus packs," and these sets were only sold in Asian and European markets-- as far as I know, none were sold in the USA outside collector circles. These are also a nightmare for variant hunters-- you see, each unique droid mold is available in three colors and with at least two figures. This little guy also comes in a tan color and a dark brown color, and was sold with either the Holographic Darth Sidious figure or the Naboo Royal Guard. So if you want all the versions of just this mold, that's 6 figures, and let me tell you, they're plenty expensive.

Hasbro did a great job of giving this guy a nifty little pose so he has personality and looks as inquisitive and potentially dangerous as he did in the movies and, later, the comics. (Those guys totally tore up Villie's ship.) The figure has five points of articulation (arms, legs, and a ball-joint neck) and no foot pegs-- so he's at the whim of your sneezes if he falls over as no stand can work with him. A pity. Still, he's great diorama fodder, or he will be when these bonus droids are no longer prized collectibles and turn into what they were supposed to be-- goofy little toys that were meant to be supremely cheap and affordable.

Collector's Notes: A collector was kind enough to let me know when he was quitting and getting rid of his Pit Droids a few years ago, and to my benefactor, I still thank you. You're good people. These little guys were the bane of my existence for several years and I'm quite pleased that they're getting reissued in the USA for all fans to enjoy later this year-- hopefully with no changes-- as part of the Saga Legends collection. Here's hoping people will plunk down the cash for them. Prototype images for "deluxe" accessory kits featuring bonus Pit Droids showed up as well, so it's possible there was an intention to release this little guy in US stores, but when the prequel line was being swept under the rugs and accessory packs were shelved, so went these figures. Kudos to Hasbro for listening to fans' cries of not being able to afford a complete set and reissuing these. And I say this as someone who got them when they were super-rare. I want more. It's not in anyone's best interest for a toy to be collectible when Hasbro and retailers can still sell more and make money off it.

Day 378: May 19, 2007

1 comment:

Peter in Japan said...

I've always thought these guys should have been called "binary load lifters."