Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,119: R5-D4 (The Mandalorian, The Black Series)

R5-D4 A New Chassis
The Black Series 2023 Window Box Line Look The Mandalorian Packaging
Item No.:
Asst. E8908 No. F7045
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #33 - Star Wars: The Mandalorian
Includes: Bad motivator, 5 other accessories
Action Feature: Telescoping neck, there's a hard-to-pry-open bad motivator panel on the dome, opening red panels on the front
Retail: $24.99
Availability: December 2023
Appearances: Star Wars: The Mandalorian

Bio: A battered astromech droid, R5-D4 has had a long operational span bouncing around various owners on Tatooine for decades. Now, he resides in Docking Bay 3-5 of Mos Eisley Spaceport in Pelli Motto's employ. (Taken from the 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!

One step forward, one step back? R5-D4 was sold as a figure in The Black Series previously, using the original 2013 R2-D2 mold body. This uses the 2023 body, which has more opening panels, plenty of tools, and a telescoping neck - it does a lot more than the last one, but somehow, the last one is now available pretty cheaply. It seems like there's a slow exodus away from The Black Series' older releases, even though some of them are quite good - but neither R5-D4 has the clear edge. Some elements of the older figure were left unpainted - and on the new figure, different areas are left unpainted. Neither has the edge, neither is superior, although this one has more fidgety parts. But the other one has really nice shiny silver bits on the neck, and that release's eyes are painted silver, while this one is oddly molded in silver that doesn't quite match the other greeblies. In short, a repaint of this figure would be the ultimate release. But it doesn't exist.

This droid is a super-clean R5-D4. Sadly, he could benefit from dirt - the circle from where the restraining bolt used to be would be nice to have, or the burned out areas around his "bad motivator" panel. Everything here is squeaky clean, including what seem to be some scrapings sculpted around his eyes - a customizer could turn this into something really amazing. The eyes being unpainted makes the figure look a little cheap, as silver paint - which is what we've had since the first rocket-firing POTF2 figure in 1996 - has been the norm. His central leg is now completely undecorated, as are some vents on the sides of the chassis. Looking at some photos of R5-D4 from the set, the actual prop was incredibly battered and we're missing out on all of that gorgeous weathering here. In a retro context or a kid's line, it would be no big deal - but this is Hasbro's flagship collector line, its highest-price basic figure. I would really have loved a few more pennies put in deco. I could go on about how I wish the neck had reflective silver, or that the blue on the legs had a metallic shine, but really, we're just bumping into what Hasbro will do in terms of making a premium figure. $25 gets you basic - and $33 also gets you basic deco. I'm curious what it would cost to pick up something that leaves you awe-struck these days.

The figure's body is more or less the same as last year's R2-D2 [FOTD #3,087], which was pretty good and had a lot of the same areas left unpainted. R5 has a dome panel you can pop off to put in a bad motivator, the two red panels under his neck open, and the long rectangle panels on the sides open to insert any of his five arm accessories. You get datalink ports and other tools - I assume diorama builders are going to love these. I would be much happier with them if I knew what they were, or if Hasbro called out their functions on the packaging rather than give us five paragraphs of bio. The detail is good, there are little painted black and gold bits that pop just right - it's better than we'd get in the old days.

The amount of accessories and opening panels here are impressive for a modern figure, especially since the bulk of figures we get these days exist only to be posed and placed on a shelf. I like the parts and pieces, but also, we've had so many R5 figures that I was really hoping to get one with some deco specific to The Mandalorian, instead of a squeaky-clean version. If you just want a 6-inch scale R5-D4 this one is perfectly good - and arguably more fun than the previous release on a Vintage-style cardback. But that other one is cheaper, and arguably looks a tiny bit better despite being smaller. I guess the important thing is you have choices, only neither one is a clear-cut victor.

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

--Adam Pawlus

Day 3,119: March 26, 2024

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