Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 1,775: R2-B1

R2-B1 Royal Starship Droids
Discover the Force Walmart Exclusive Battle Packs
Item No.:
Asst. 38606 No. 38608
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: R2-D2, R2-R9, R2-N3, display stands, die, cards, droid harness
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $24.96
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.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 1,775: April 3, 2012


Luis said...

As a huge fan of the Build-A-Droid line, I cringed at the possibility of not seeing one of these in the wild. Yet when I finally ordered one online and they DIDN'T sell out the minute I clicked on the buy link, it showed up in just a couple of days!

Definitely the best R2-B1 of the bunch. Though, doesn't the red droid also have as many releases as this little guy? Even though he was unnamed when the Royal Starship came out, they named him in the collector tin version and I'm pretty sure he's the same droid.

Adam16bit said...

Yup, but only 2 of the 3 R2-R9 action figure releases were named. (Although I guess if I start counting the RC robots from Tomy and/or Hasbro it throws things kinda outa whack.)

Luis said...

How many R5-D4's are there in the modern line, including the RC one?

Adam16bit said...

Off the top of my head in 3 3/4-inch scale? POTF2/Rocket, TSC/bad motivator, TVC/build-a-droid, and TLC/RC.

Luis said...

So what are the chances of getting a rocket firing or RC version of R2-B1 or R2-R9? :P

Actually, have they ever released a C-3PO using the B-A-D mold?

Adam16bit said...

No C-3PO from BAD yet, but hey, the year is young.

Brian Buck said...

Wasn't the Target Geonosis 2 Pack an EPII C3PO from BAD parts?

Adam16bit said...

Arena C-3PO from Target was a modded 4-LOM body. The closest thing to a build-a-droid C-3PO is probably C-3PX.