Thursday, May 16, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,134: Battle Droid (The Retro Collection)

with Non-removable Backpack

The Retro Collection 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure Target 6-Pack
Item No.:
No. G0370
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Blaster with Queen Amidala, Jar Jar Binks, Qui-Gon Jinn, Darth Maul, and Obi-Wan Kenobi
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $59.99
Availability: March 2024
Appearances: The Phantom Menace

Bio: The Star Wars Retro Collection is inspired by 1970s Star Wars figures and features original figure design and detailing! Continue your collection from the galaxy far, far away! (Stolen from the marketing copy. Packaging has no bio.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at eBay now!

Sometimes a retro figure looks a lot like a regular figure - take the Battle Droid. At first glance, it looks like any of a number of figures put out by Hasbro around the turn of the century, many of which had more articulation. This one stands out with sturdier, thicker limbs, no knee or elbow joints, and a distinctive pose that actually gives him some personality. You also lose a removable backpack, but depending on how you see Kenner figures, that's something that may be a good creative decision.

I'll give away my overall opinion by saying I'm annoyed that this figure is in a $60 gift set, as I'd love to buy another one or two. (Maybe Hasbro can repaint it later.) A lot of fans forget that a lot of old Kenner figures had poses with personality, including bent arms or hands that look like maybe they were posed to push a button on a panel. The Battle Droid keeps both hands able to grip things, but the sculptors made a good decision to twist the right wrist and bend the elbow so he can look like he's gesturing and telling you that you're not authorized to go there. This sets the design apart from a lot of modern figures who just stand there with their arms at their sides, which is never quit as interesting. His pose is mostly upright, but that's typical for this kind of robot - and probably why it looks so much like existing "modern" figures. He's hard to get wrong.

The details are pretty good, a little less intense than Hasbro's other droids but all the major elements are all there. You can see little ridges and joints (that are cosmetic), and the head has some mold seams that I assume weren't intentional, but certainly add to the old-ness of the design. His head now turns at the base of the neck only, so be careful - you don't want to torque the head off the neck. I don't know if this design would hold up to kids playing with it, but hey - that's never going to happen, is it? In the hands of collectors it should be fine.

In the movies and previous figures, we saw Battle Droids with removable backpacks - Kenner never sold a figure with a removable backpack. (Some accessory packs with backpacks did, however, exist.) Hasbro 2024 opted to co-opt the backpack designs of 1979, fusing the backpack to the body with some hand-waving, rounding it off and making for a thicker torso. I think this is the right idea - we saw similar design cues in Dengar and the Rebel Commander, but the connective tissue was refined as time went on. The Battle Droid has tiny antenna and a rounded-off look that seems unfinished, or perhaps made from memory - which is how a lot the Cantina Aliens of 1979 were made. I think going with how the Rebel Commander backpack made it look more like a separate element than part of the body would be a better looking choice, but the weirder choice is certainly more interesting (if intentional.) If you told me the idea was to make something Kenner might have designed before the original Star Wars line, I think I'd believe you - it's wrongness feels a little right.

It's always a little jarring to have Retro figures that have modern touches (hands that can grip the blaster well) and things that seem primitive (backpack), but it works for me. It's different enough from a standard figure that I can say "hey, that's interesting" even if I can't say "hey, that seems worth the ten bucks." Hasbro made freebie Battle Droids as substitutes for CommTech chips in some non-English speaking markets in the 1990s... and this is about that good, with similar articulation. And let's be honest, probably why the entire set is $60, unlike $72 or more like some of the other retro 6-packs we've seen. I like this figure for what it is - quirky, fun, sturdy - but odds are its pose isn't "retro" enough to please purists and anyone who has an MTT full of Battle Droids already doesn't need another one. Recommended for retro enthusiasts... unless this set goes on clearance, in which I say don't buy it at all, just leave it at the store so I can buy more of them.

Collector's Notes: I got my set from Target. It was in a pile of stuff on the "Collectibles" shelves without any real indication as to where it should have been.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 3,134: May 16, 2024

1 comment:

MisterPL said...

I understand the appeal of the figures.

I don't understand the appeal of Episode I figures in vintage Kenner packaging. Episode I had its own unique branding. If Hasbro and Lucasfilm are so intent on leaning into the nostalgia factor, they might want to remember to apply it to the trade dress.