Posted by D_Martin on January 19, 2015 at 02:10 PM CST
There are times when I told you soes are completely appropriate, and this is one of those times. Do take into account that Sideshow Collectibles was a very different company when I went to talk to them about their 2005 announcement of the 1/6 scale figure collection. Back in 2005 they were still in a relatively small facility and humbly made small production run collectibles for niche markets. They already had their Premium Format Star Wars collection underway, but they had yet to realize how their entire business design would be thrown on its ear. Of course, I knew it was about to happen, but they were skeptical about it back then. When the pre-order for their initial release, Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight), went live on November 11, 2005 writing was on the wall. With the exclusive, limited to 1,250 pieces, selling out in mere 24 minutes, there was no denying they were ushering a whole new age of Star Wars collecting. That figure, with its original price of only $49.99, turned out to be an exception leap forward in its time. The follow up pre-order of the Revenge Of The Sith Anakin Skywalker actually set their servers aflame! No joke. There was a fire. The Star Wars Generation had spoken.

Looking back at these releases that arrived at our doorsteps in 2006, there is a sense of nostalgia that is almost as powerful as that of the classic Kenner collection. In the very tangible current realm of Hot Toys, the evolution that Sideshow Collectibles lead back in 2006 with these releases may be overlooked, but it is vitally important to remember when we as 1/6 scale Star Wars collectors went from collecting children?s toys to collecting adult?s collectible figures. This is the world Sideshow Collectibles created, even if at the time they didn?t know it. Most of the people responsible for the lines creation are no longer with the company, but the line has continued to move forward and the company has evolved beyond anything anyone could have conceived back in the day.

The reason that I start this review looking back at the genesis of the collection is simply because the notion of an R2-D2 never crossed my mind back then. I always hoped for a General Grievous, and even fixated on it when they said they would never take the line that far, but Artoo never crossed my mind. I?m not certain why. I could argue that it was because that little droid is absolutely essential to the six currently released Star Wars feature films, The Lucas Saga, so its a no brainer that they would make one, but that would be an excuse. I never thought we'd get one, at least not until after we got a Chewbacca.

When I was approached to do an early review, I was looking at shooting the figure in the desert sands of California, and in hindsight I?m glad this was a figure I shot in my studio simply because it offers so much. The figure answers every story element in the original trilogy that could be fit in. Sure, it doesn?t represent the cleaned up version we saw at the end of A New Hope or The empire Strikes Back, but that isn?t what anyone wants as their first R2-D2 in a collection. We all want the same thing: A weathered astromech packed full of whatever is required to pull the hero?s bacon out of the fire. Given time this same sculpt could be repurposed as a clean R2. It can also be used to create a flying prequel era R2. Heck, with slight retooling it can also serve as a battle damaged post Battle of Yavin R2. But for now, it is the R2 we all wanted. Let it get repainted some other day. For now it is precisely what we all want. I do hope at some point they produce a variant version that answers the production issues of A New Hope by includible brackets to secure the legs when it travels on three legs and funky heating vent tubes to attach to the legs when in full Kenny Baker mode, but that?s me being a geek.

THE SCULPT

This figure, to the naked eye, looks dead on. previously released 1/6 scale R2-D2s never looked right. There was always something you could point out within the first few seconds of holding it loose. The Sideshow Collectibles? R2-D2 has instant wow factor. The only legitimate argument one can make about the sculpt is the seams on the dome. To be completely honest, I didn?t notice them at first, nor while I shot the figure. When I began editing the shots I was a bit surprised, but its a simple issue excused by looking at something in images much larger than 1:1. The seams are there, but if I didn?t take massive images of the figure I?d never have really focused on it. Still now, after three days of playing with this figure (Yes, I used the word ?playing?. You take one of these out of the box and try to argue that you aren?t playing with it and I?ll call you a liar.) it is only something I see because I read what some collectors posted after seeing our initial gallery. If you don?t fixate on it, you can easily look past it.

PAINT

The paint design on R2-D2 is extremely tight. There are little to no blemishes. Certainly none you?ll see with the naked eye. The light details added to the compartments on the droid?s trunk are perfect. The weathering, which in my eyes looks very much like what we saw when he was fixing the shield generator on the Queen?s ship in The Phantom Menace, is perfectly in scale with the figure easily represents Artoo's appearance in all six films. There are a few points of questionable weathering that encourages me to watch the original trilogy a bit closer the next time I go for a marathon. Most noticeable is that around his main eye. Consciously I don?t recall him having wear like that on the blue portion of the eye, but that might be my mind idealizing the droid much in the same fashion many Star Wars fans will argue Han wore a blue coat on Hoth (It was brown!). Beyond that one thing, which is far from a breaking point, the paint design is incredible. The colors seem to be a perfect pantone match to the screen used prop.

ARTICULATION

Simply, R2-D2 moves in every way you?d expect without resistance. The ankle joints are tight enough to hold the figure in any pose without fear of toppling over. The head rotates a full 360 degrees, the shoulders rotate 360 degrees as well. The ankles on all three legs pivot, all three projectors are ball-jointed, the dome features three pressure activated ports and a pivoting top hatch which we?ll touch on in the next paragraph, and the trunk has six opening panels, two of which have hinged arm ports that can travel vertically on rods.


FUNCTIONALITY / PLAYABILITY

Starting with the dome, this R2-D2 has more features on its head than most previously released R2-D2s have had over their entire body. The hatch on the top of the dome is easy to flip open and reveals a port for the extension arm / drink dispenser. While there is a piece of metal embedding in the hatch to assist the magnetic Lightsaber accessory with opening, a quick flip of the figure will release it without fuss. This may cause some problems in crazy action poses, but most people won?t want to display their R2-D2 upside-down so it doesn?t really seem to be an issue. To the right, the sensorscope panel is released by lightly pushing down on it, a second push will pop the sensorscope out. I?m not certain if this piece extends further than seen in the images in our photo gallery, but numerous attempts to pull it out further failed. Fear of breaking the piece prevented me from really pulling on it. Same can be said for the pressure release spring loaded periscope on the back left portion of the dome. The periscope itself looks awesome, but it should go up much higher. Again this may simply be my error in assessing its functionality.

One of the most interesting parts of the dome is the sliding port that can house the lightsaber accessory. It works by pushing it down and then pushing it left into the dome. The port itself reveals a spring loaded space for the Lightsaber. I haven?t figured out how to get this port to stay open so there wasn?t a lot of experimenting with this feature.

The dome is removable and reveals the battery compartment and the on / off switch. Once the dome is secured to the trunk, the user can use the touch pad on the left of the dome to switch the lights on, turn the front projector on, and turn off all lights.The first setting is great , as it is programmed to run a flashing sequence on all the dome lights that closely matches the character?s appearance in the films.

The trunk?s opening panels are all very well hidden allowing the user to display the figure with any of the panels open or shut. The inner compartments are painted silver and feature sculptural details that are consistent with what you?d expect to see. The only panel that doesn?t serve too much purpose is the one just right of the vents since it is the 'charging port' on the robot, and this figure doesn?t include a 'charger' accessory. Still, it is a nice touch. All four lower panels can be open easily enough with the user?s fingernails or with the magnetic Lightsaber, but the two upper blue arms are tricker to open by hand. All six panels stay shut when positioning R2-D2.

The motivator leg is spring loaded and virtually disappears when in the up position. One simple push releases the leg and then allows the user to pull it down the rest of the way. All three feet feature two functional wheels each, but they are hidden within the foot design and don?t get in the way when displaying R2-D2 on two legs. Some would argue that the wheels should be visible since they were from time to time in the films, but that always seemed like something they couldn?t work around in some shots, and is acceptable that they aren?t visible on this figure.


For whatever reason, the droid wranglers on the original films seemed to have disregarded their own continuity photographs and would switch the droid?s legs around giving R2 inconsistent shoulder details. Sideshow Collectibles? design team addressed this gaff by making the shoulder panels removable on their R2-D2 figure, allowing you to choose the configuration. This little consideration illustrates the dedication the design team had in creating this figure. Back in the early days, something like this would never have been considered. That more than anything stands as a solid argument in favor of the price increases seen on the line over the last few years.

ACCESSORIES

the exclusive version of R2-D2 comes with six switch out arms (the regular edition only comes with three), an articulated extension arm / drink dispenser, a magnetic Luke Skywalker Lightsaber hilt, a magnetic restraining bolt, a drink serving tray (three pieces), seven drink glasses, as well as Obi-Wan Kenobi?s coffee table and a holographic Princess Leia Organa figure.

The table in and of itself is a fantastic accessory that features a plug that sits flush with the table top and is only removable with the help of the magnetic Lightsaber hilt. Once removed, the revealed port can fit the the holographic Leia figure which can then be lit up with a push of the table's hidden button.

IN CONCLUSION

Having enjoyed this figure for a few days, I can say confidently that I don?t have any issues with it. Some collectors that looked at our gallery may have had concerns about the seams on the dome, but looking at it in person, I don?t think the concern is all that valid. Yes there are visible seams, but in natural, non-clinical, light the seams don?t draw attention to themselves.

As I mentioned above, I think it would be very cool for this figure to be repurposed as a film prop version of R2-D2. One that has little brackets that hold the legs in position when the third leg was in use, that included little Kenny Baker?s leg-hiding tubes, that had visible wheels. Here?s hoping in the future Sideshow considers making something like this. I know I?d be in line for it. Let us know if you would be down on it as well.

Ultimately, this figure answers every display question you could ask about an original trilogy R2-D2, but it would have been very cool if it included the little lamp Yoda stole from Luke. Of the few ways you can?t display this figure, R2-D2 getting hit in the face by Yoda?s gimmer stick is on the top of my list.

All that said, Sideshow Collectibles? R2-D2 Sixth Scale Figure is by far the best figure produced of this character. It?s screen accuracy is undeniably spot on and the engineering involved in its functionality raises the bar higher than we?ve ever seen in this scale. For $149.99, you won?t find anything that will offer you this much fun. If you are on the fence, you?d better make up your mind quickly. I suspect that once people start getting theirs the flood of positive reviews will create a feeding frenzy for any R2-D2s left available.

Follow this link to get on the wait list for the exclusive version or this one to pre-order the regular edition.
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