Discover the Force Walmart Exclusive Battle Packs
Item No.: Asst. 38606 No. 38608
Includes: R2-D2, R2-R9, R2-N3, display stands, die, cards, droid harness
Action Feature: n/a
Availability: January 2012
Appearances: The Phantom Menace
Bio: Astromech droids repair the Naboo Royal Starship. The shield generator and hyperdrive are damaged while escaping the Trade Federation's blockade of Naboo. The droids fix the generator, but the hyperdrive is too badly damaged. The ship is forced to land on the remote world of Tatooine to find a replacement part. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)
Image: Adam Pawlus' desk.
Commentary: The third time is the charm! After three attempts, Hasbro has finally gotten R2-B1 painted "correctly." (I don't have photos of the front, back, and sides, but he has a silver dome and that's what I wanted to see.)
The first 2000 release had a vac-metal dome, just as that was going out of vogue. The 2007 release was molded grey plastic, unpainted-- which matched pretty much zero droids, let alone the rest from his crew. But this one? Just right. It's kind of depressing that I spent about $15 on previous R2-B1s, and only now in a boxed set of 3 other figures which are basically robots I already have do I get a correct one, but what are ya gonna do?
This time around R2-B1 is made of build-a-droid parts, which should make him attractive to pretty much everybody. The blue color is just a tiny bit paler than the 2009 R3-M3 figure, but the markings are unquestionably R2-B1. After all, he's got yellow panels, a silver dome, and that's what you really want. This is the R2-B1 which will match your other droids, plus the colors just seem to click. Oh, and he has a black central eye-- finally-- which makes him as authentic as you can get to the movie right now. Sure, the little holes in the bottom of his body for extra legs aren't exactly like in the film, but nothing's perfect! Its a good R2-B1 and if you only get one, make it this one. The droid harness is a nice touch, too, but not absolutely essential.
For those not familiar with the build-a-droid chassis, it has removable legs, a removable dome, a removable central third leg, and articulation at the ankles. There are no extra features or gadgets, but the end result is a clean, well-sculpted, and nicely decorated figure. Right now, unless you've got a real soft spot for extra gadgets and panels which open, this is the best mold Hasbro has for new movie astromech droids.
Collector's Notes: This set is one of two tremendous pains-on-the-butt from an otherwise uneventful and frankly above-average roll-out of Walmart exclusives. The chain got a whopping 17 exclusive items, and all except two were distributed fairly well in a matter of days. These two Battle Packs were sold online around late January and vanished completely from Walmart's online inventory and, in most cities, apparently never actually got out to stores. There were shelf labels, but few (if any) collectors started to see inventory until the very end of March 2012. I ordered my sets online in late March 2012 and they showed up literally yesterday, about three days after I actually saw them at retail. So there you go, sometimes ordering online is a good backup plan for exclusives, but sometimes you'll still see them in the wild first. But anyway, yes, you should see these at retail but it's unknown how many each store will get, so go out and look today if you haven't yet found them. The set is arguably not worth $25, but 4 build-a-droids for $25... it really isn't that bad of a deal.
Oh, and there's a variation (and presumably not an error.) If you pop off his dome, some of the figures have an unpainted segment directly where the "guts" can be seen, while others have an unpainted, blue area. It's not yet known what the exact deal is here, other than the painted ones are definitely more common. This sample was a painted on.
I think at this point, R2-B1 has more toys than any other Astromech than R2-D2, as action figures go he should be tied, in the modern line, with R5-D4. R2-D2, of course, has somewhere around 30 modern releases by now.
Day 1,775: April 3, 2012