R4-K5 Darth Vader's Astromech Droid
The Saga Collection Repaint Wave 2
Item No.: Asst. 85770 No. 87346
Includes: Display base
Action Feature: Turn dome to retract or extend central leg
Availability: Spring 2007
Appearances: Some book I didn't read
Bio: When Anakin Skywalker falls to the dark side and becomes Darth Vader, he casts off his entire past. To further embrace this change, he paints his starfighter black and chooses a black astromech droid to replace his former droid companion R2-D2. The outer darkness of his fighter and droid mirrors the inner darkness of the new Sith Lord. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)
Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.
Commentary: Repaint! R4-K5 came out as part of a batch of repaints as a token figure that everybody wanted, because, by and large, fans are very forgiving of trooper repaints, droid repaints, and pilot repaints if a new head is used. This is an excellent figure, because it's not simply a black repaint, but a figure that also uses some grey, some red, some silver, and the end result is pretty gosh darn great. The most obvious feature-- or non-feature-- is that like R4-M6, the figure's central eye is surrounded by a square that matches the rest of the dome and not the various panels on his head. I personally think it might have looked better were it decorated more like standard droids, but the silver paint used on the head tends to bring out a lot of detail so that the "eye" doesn't fade in to the rest of the head. I mean, look at the picture-- the shadows fall where they should and everything pops out visually, and nicely at that. If you like droids, Imperials, Darth Vader, or black toys, this is something you should probably track down.
Collector's Notes: Though technically part of the 2006 line, this figure didn't hit until 2007. Of course, that doesn't mean we can't include it in the big tally of how many freaking droids came out from January 2006 through March 2007, just before the basic 30th Anniversary line hit. There were two packs of five droids each (10), a red R2-R9 in a tin set (11), 5 basic Saga Collection carded figures (16), and if you want to count some oddities, there was also a UK-only silver R2-D2 as part of a gift set and a reissue of the 2005 ROTS R2-D2s... the talking one, and the one with the claw (19) plus a DVD trilogy pack from Wal-Mart with another R2-D2 ressiue (20). So 20 droids for what was essentially the 2006 line, 15 of which weren't R2-D2. For 2007, it hasn't been quite as extensive, but here's hoping Hasbro cranks out lots more droid repaints, at least 1-2 a year, even (and especially) if they're original designs.
While it hasn't yet come to pass, I originally expected this figure to be the herald of a new era of Star Wars toys in which Darth Vader would have things. Lots of things. He's got a Jedi Starfighter, a TIE Fighter, a personal squad of 501st Clone Troopers (with Commanders Bow and Appo so far) plus an astromech droid-- what's next? Darth Vader's ISP-6? Darth Vader's protocol droid? Darth Vader's Jabba the Hutt? Painting things black tends to attract collectors (because black equals cool, if you didn't get the memo) and it seemed this was a trend that would continue for a while. Well, it didn't-- so did Hasbro decide Darth Vader had enough toys, or will we see more later? Here's hoping for some more, especially if Darth Vader's Star Destroyer is one of them.
Day 502: September 20, 2007