Figure of the Day: Day 788
7/2/2008 7:40:42 PM | Reported by Adam

R2-B1 Astromech Droid
30th Anniversary Collection Basic Figures
Item No.:
Asst. 87500 No. 87648
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #3051
Includes: Harness, coin (2008 release replaces coin with display stand)
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $4.99
Availability: Fall 2007
Appearances: The Phantom Menace

Image: Adam Pawlus' mousepad.

Bio: An astromech droid on Queen Amidala's Royal Starship, R2-B1 is one of the droids that tries to repair the ship's damaged shield generator. As the starship attempts to get through the Trade Federation blockade, R2-B1 and another droid are destroyed by enemy fire, leaving only R2-D2 to complete the task. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Commentary: At press time, just under 20 figures share the same basic mold and construction as this R2-B1 figure. This makes sense, as it's a good body-- the figure's dome can be turned, raising or lowering a central third leg. He has wheels under each foot. The proportions are basically on target, and each leg has an articulated "ankle" to allow for increased movement. Hasbro even did one better by including a droid harness from the Queen's starship as an accessory, plus there's a coin with this one. What's more, the figure is a new version of the very difficult to find 2000 release from Episode I, which featured two legs and a vac-metal dome. So why does this new release suck?

It's an improvement over the first, but there are two things I very much dislike about it. One, it doesn't match the other droids' domes. Since 1999, every new Astromech droid character (and most R2-D2s) were painted a silver color, non-reflective and evenly colored. (The 2000 R2-B1 had a vac-metal dome, making him an odd man out even back then.) The 2007 release has an unpainted grey dome, which more or less doesn't fit in on a shelf with other robots. Basically "one of these things is not like the other," and when you're a collector, this is really frustrating. Odds are this resulted from a communication error with the factory, but man, it's a shame given all the other droids are presented differently. The other issue I have-- and you might not-- is the light-up eye port. It's well-established that the big eye is black, not clear, not colored. And, again, most of the droids have a big black eye now, but this one doesn't, causing it to stick out some more. When it comes to things like Clones or Droids, some level of consistency is very important, so it's a real shame this one doesn't match his robotic brothers.

Collector's Notes: Droids tend to be strong sellers, and this one is no exception. Packed strongly in 2007, it came back in 2008 and continues to sell out quickly. As an affordable version of R2-B1, you should probably pick it up even though it won't match your other droids.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 788: July 2, 2008

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