Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,087: Artoo-Detoo (R2-D2, The Black Series)

The Black Series 40th Anniversary Return of the Jedi or 2023 Window Box Line Look The Mandalorian Packaging
Item No.:
Asst. F6853 No. F7075 and Asst. E8908 No. F8351
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #32 - Star Wars: The Mandalorian
Includes: Four arms, two scopes
Action Feature: Neck extends for on-board arm storage, retractable third leg, opening ports for scopes in dome
Retail: $24.99
Availability: September 2023
Appearances: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Mandalorian

Bio: As Luke Skywalker ushers Grogu into his Jedi training, he's accompanied by R2-D2 who is particularly enthused to encounter the foundling. (Taken from the The Mandalorian box packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Click here to buy it at eBay now!

In a period of weeks, Hasbro demonstrated how it is dealing with being tasked to use fewer SKUs by releasing the same Artoo-Detoo (R2-D2) figure on two different styles of packaging. As far as I can tell both releases are identical, and I opened the 40th Anniversary Return of the Jedi one for this review because the packaging arrived smashed. This new astromech droid body is a little bigger and has a different set of features from the one we got way back in 2013, addressing some issues but not others. It is a little more than just different enough to make you mad, but it is not, sadly, the ultimate R2-D2. You're still being charged a regular price for a smaller figure, but at least this time Hasbro made a few more parts move and added some features to make the most out of the budget. (They did not, however, add instructions so the average Joe can use them.)


BanDai did a similar figure a few years ago, and what it tells us is that Lucasfilm apparently does not have a definitive R2-D2 schematic. For those of you who bought that Incredible Cross-sections of Star Wars, Episode I - The Phantom Menace: The Definitive Guide to the Craft book, you know that R2-D2 has an extendable neck so his head pops out of the top of the ship. BanDai went with a five-piston version, while Hasbro's is one big extending piece. In terms of toy functionality, Hasbro's has a slight edge because you can store the figure's extra arms in there, if you want. The dome rotates on the extended neck, and two of the panels on his dome are removable/easily lost for you to use with the included periscope and sensorscope. What's more, R2-D2 has a third leg with an unusual feature - a foot that not only pivots, but swivels. We never get those. They managed to cram a lot in here... but not everything. More on that below.

The figure has four opening bodily compartments, without the little tabs to help get them open. On his sides, each one has three holes in it, so you can put in a manipulator arm, a datalink port, an oil-slick arm, or a utility/interface arm. Also the blue panels under his dome open, but I can't see any function to them in terms of a place to put arms or accessories. It's just a cool extra, and sign that Hasbro is making the most of its tooling budget. I had no idea those panels even opened until I got this in my hands, so you can say I'm more than a little impressed and surprised to see it. I'm also surprised two versions of this figure were released without any mention of all these features on the packaging or an instruction sheet. If you're going to put money into making such a robust droid with so many moving parts, why not tell everybody?

I haven't even talked about the sculpt yet. It's good! It looks like R2-D2 and the size seems more on the money. I like the wires on the feet, the painted blue panels, and his "bald spot" on top of his dome was actually painted this time. (Hasbro frequently leaves the circle on top silver.) They left the vents under his legs unpainted, and also and the areas around the silver greeblies on his arms were left unpainted. But they did recess the octagonal silver element on the bottom of the figure, while leaving off the blue paint in that region. The back of the dome also has a place for a long, rectangular light but Hasbro opted to leave it unpainted this time. On the front of his dome, the Logic Function displays - those little stacked rectangles - were sadly also left unpainted. Since they're hollow, I wonder if Hasbro just left a piece out?

The dome has two pop-out panel slices. Sadly neither hinges up like in the movie, so R2-D2's periscope with the blue top looks like it belongs, but the sensorscope just looks like a piece fell out. It's good, but not perfect. Maybe the next one will be perfect, but it might also be at a higher price for the extra bells and whistles. (Confidentially, if Hasbro made an R2-D2 that does everything at a deluxe price, maybe incorporating some die-cast metal, I'd probably buy it.)

For those looking to replace their older figure, it's two steps forward and one step back. Fans have been asking for a do-over for R2-D2 since the first one came out, because we're hard to please. We may ask for one again as this R2-D2 lacks any sort of lightsaber storage, has none of the arm booster rockets, and lacks wheels. It is difficult to get that third leg out, and still doesn't have the key Return of the Jedi pizza cutter to escape the Ewok net. It's by no means a bad figure, but for those looking to get the best version and call it quits, it is sadly worth noting that this is also not the final definitive R2-D2. You'll probably want the old version too.

If you never got the first R2-D2, or its various reissues or deco variants, I would recommend this one. $25 or so ain't bad, and the added play features make it genuinely worthwhile. The action features are more subtle this time, and the size may be more to your liking. I just wish it was as good as it could possibly be - it's so much better, but short of budgetary reasons (or maybe a new variant with different legs next year) there's nothing really keeping those arm rockets off the toy. I shouldn't dump on it for what it isn't, particularly since what it is, is better than the 2013 version. According to the inflation calculators, $20 from 2013 would be $26.42in 2023, so you might even look at this figure as, in some ways, a decent deal. Also Hasbro still hasn't done a "disk drive" in the modern era - the 12-inch figure from the 1970s had Death Star plans you could cram in the back, but nobody has worked with the diskette from the original movie yet. Free unrequested feedback for the next one: plans, lightsaber, maybe some drink trays, and booster rockets.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 3,087: December 5, 2023

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