The Black Series 6-Inch Assortment
Item No.: Asst. A4301 No. A4304
Points of articulation: 7 (including retractable leg)
Includes: 2 rockets, 2 panels, 2 sensorscopes, lightsaber hilt
Action Feature: Twist dome for third leg
Availability: July 2013
Verdict: No matter your allegiance, you're going to need an R2-D2 in this scale. It is not impressive, but as an essential character that may not matter. The figure is smaller than 3 3/4-inches and generally looks cheaper than the rest of the line by a few bucks - it's not bad, it's just unimpressive and isn't even as big as your average $10 figure. It's by no means bad, it's just that compared to the wonders of the other three in the wave this is the dud. Like in 1995, I expect that a shelf of this figure will serve as evidence that other, better figures were in a store and have since sold through. For $15, you'd love it, and for $13 you'd feel as if you got your money's worth. For $20, well, let's be honest - you'll probably buy it the second you see it.
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Bio: R2-D2 is a plucky and loyal astromech droid that takes part in many of the momentous events of the galaxy. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)
R2-D2 is a new sculpt with roughly 7 points of articulation. The figure is effectively an upsized, enhanced take of the R4-G9 astromech droid mold from 2005 with swappable "leg" panels and opening body panels that allow you to use his gear. The figure has a grand total of 5 opening panels which allow you to insert various objects or swivel out arms and probes for your display purposes.
If you have the 2010 The Vintage Collection R2-D2, this figure is a lot like that, only more so. Unfortunately Hasbro did not take the opportunity for the figure to store his own accessories, so be wary that it does have small parts you may lose quite easily. Do not buy this for your kids - the "ages 4+" on the box is a little generous. 6+ would be better, due to how pieces will end up in mouths, ears, or vacuum cleaners.
Visually speaking this figure does not impress - it looks about on par with any 3 3/4-inch R2-D2 action figure, which is unfortunate as the little guy really needs a little more "pop." A layer of white paint would have made him look more expensive, the undecorated white plastic just doesn't scream "I'm worth $20, take me home!" His silver dome is pretty good, although mine has a minor scrape on it. The dome is normal for an R2-D2 action figure, and is about as good as the better-than-average 3 3/4-inch scale versions of the figure.
This is where R2-D2 excels. He has pop-off blue panels on his legs which can be replaced by the flight rockets as seen in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. His dome has three removable panels, two of which accept a pair of removable sensors. (Sadly, they are not retractable and therefore will be easy to lose.) The third dome panel opens up to allow the included Return of the Jedi lightsaber hilt to pop up - again, it does not store inside the dome or the body.
In addition to these, he has two opening body panels with a datalink accessory and a tiny claw arm, which actually looks smaller than the 3 3/4-inch version. They require some fidgeting to get them out, too, but at least they're decorated fairly nicely.
The good news is that all of his accessories work as one might expect, but the bad news is they could work better. I want to store the lightsaber in the figure - and can't. I want those spare sensorscopes to retract into the body - and they don't. I expect the little dome covers on top of R2-D2 will be the most-frequently lost parts in this entire line.
Hasbro has produced dozens of R2-D2 figures in numerous scales with various feature sets. The 12-inch scale (closer to 6-inch) Action Collection figures are some of the best-looking, while the animated The Clone Wars version is the most fun to play with as it has lots of fun working gimmicks. This one seems a little small - perhaps a fraction of an inch too short, given that Luke Skywalker stands about 1.72 meters and R2-D2 is .96 meters high. 2 R2-D2s are about as tall as Luke. By himself, he seems very small. Next to Luke or a Sandtrooper, he seems smaller. Even if it's accurate, there's no arguing with perception.
For the wave Luke is best, with the Sandtrooper and Maul tied for second, and R2-D2 a distant last.
The retractable third leg is a nice bonus feature, but it seems a little too thick and getting the dome and leg positioned just right is difficult. It would be nice if they omitted the geared gimmick in favor of a pull-out third leg like on Hasbro's old 12-inch scale Action Collection figure from over 10 years ago.
A removable third leg would be great, as it's larger and harder to lose, and that geared gimmick space could be devoted to accessory storage. Or at least, it would be if I were doing this. Don't get one for your kids.
Small - it's smaller than a vintage cardback! It's still 9-inches tall, but as it's slightly narrower you can fit more in less space - kudos, Hasbro. Minimal tape, rubber bands, or other fasteners mean you can cut the tape and have this figure outside the box in seconds. The box format reminds me of German Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures.
The graphic design is dull. Someone has to squish a bug on it or add a price tag to bring it up to merely "uninteresting." Unless you can see the figure in the window, it's difficult to know who's in the box - the side panel is completely black, with no markings of any kind. A line-up of these boxes on a shelf wouldn't give you much of an indication as to who was inside, unlike Hasbro/Kenner's wonderful Collector's Series and Action Collection boxes. The figure packaging should be treated like you would a book or DVD, with information on the "spine." The dark colors - grey on black - make it harder to read, and the spot color of orange would have been better used for the lettering. Having been a buyer of Star Wars for just over three decades, I can safely say this is the first time my reaction to the packaging was "Why?" (A close second was when Galoob decided to use the exact same template for its incompatible Action Fleet and MicroMachines during Episode I. Another similar situation, actually.)
I would have preferred the Vader Lava template. Or the Yoda template. Or some silver and black 1980s-style. Or the blue Saga look. Or the POTF2 stripes. Really, just about anything else.