Droid Factory Action Figures: The Whole Series, With Pictures
Sunday, June 22, 2008
To introduce American Star Wars fans to the build-a-figure concept which we've been asking for, Hasbro gave Wal-Mart a slick assortment of figure two-packs with a bonus part which builds C-3PX.
These sets are a mix of repaints, retooled figures, and reissues. So how are they, and can I write this up really quick so I can meet a friend for lunch? Let's find out.
#1: Plo Koon with R4-F5 (Revenge of the Sith-inspired)
Two repaints and a new limb. Plo Koon is based on the 2005 figure, but now includes a one-piece lightsaber and is painted differently. It's not better or worse, it's just different and a little more subtle. His sidekick, R4-F5, is inspired by the dome of the droid that appeared in his Jedi Starfighter in Revenge of the Sith and is based on the vintage R2-D2 mold. In case you were keeping track, the light-up eyeport is blackened, the pop-up sensorscope still works, the third leg is removable, and the panels are glued down. In short, it's a pretty great set for the money, even if you feel like a sucker for buying yet another Plo Koon.
#2: Darth Vader with K-3PX (Marvel Comics-inspired)
One repack, one retool, one new limb. Darth Vader, not surprisingly, is the 2005 basic figure released once again with no immediately obivous changes-- he still has eight points of articulation, a lightsaber, and a cloth cape, making him a prime figure to pilot your vehicles. His sidekick cames from a post-Empire Strikes Back issue of Star Wars from Marvel Comics, and sports an all-new torso and head with recycled limbs from the 2007 4-LOM figure. Overall, it's worth getting primarily for this unique Imperial protocol droid, which I believe is the very first new character to see a toy that originated from Marvel comics.
#3: Han Solo with R-3PO (from The Empire Strikes Back)
One retool, one repaint, and one new piece. Han Solo takes the 2007 "vintage" figure and paints it up to look awesome, with snow and added glove detail. There's a new head with his hood up, plus a removable visor which can be placed on his forehead or over his eyes. The figure is a significant improvement over the 2007 releases, and this is somewhat depressing as the set with the bonus figure and extra part retail for $0.03 less than that release. His droid companion is a candy red R-3PO based on the 2006 C-3PO Endor Throne mold. The bright red color seems more in line with the shots from the movie, but the 2003 R-3PO had a really killer paint job and top-notch sculpt which makes it seem even better than this release. So while it's worth getting just as another different-ish droid, the older one seems better.
#4: Kit Fisto with R4-H5 (Vehicle-inspired)
One repaint with an added cloak accessory, one redeco, one new piece. Kit Fisto has one of those new wire-enhanced Jedi robes that let you wrap the cloth garment around the figure or pose it in the wind, which is a nice bonus. The third release of this particular mold, Kit finally gets a much-needed deco enhancement because Hasbro painted him green instead of a fairly hideous brown with green highlights which always suggested to me that he was drying out and/or dying. So this is the best version yet of the mold, and is worth getting if you don't have any of the others. (And even if you do, it's still nice.) The Jedi's robot pal is R4-H5, inspired by the design of the dome on the 2006 Target exclusive Kit Fisto Jedi Starfighter vehicle. The original design is pretty gritty and is colored to look like a plate of vegetables-- a nice departure. Our new droid friend also gets a light coat of dust which does a lot to make him look a little more lively, and he's based on the same mold as R4-F5.
#5: Watto with R2-T0 (from The Phantom Menace)
Two repaints, one new piece. Watto takes the 1999 mold and improves on it several times over by decorating it to better match the film. There's not much to say other than Hasbro totally did it right and this kicks the tail of your older Watto. The figure has five points of articulation, and his wings are easily removed. Joining him from his junkyard is R2-T0, a filthy green and seemingly element-battered redeco of R4-G9 (which has been used as the basis for over a dozen other droids.) While he doesn't have the opened panels on his chassis as seen in the movie, the coloring is right and he still looks pretty great. As far as paint jobs go, this may be my absolutely favorite Astromech out of Hasbro to date. It's just really neat to look at, and it seems like it would be right at home in a pile of junk rotting in the desert, which is pretty much the point.
#6: Luke Skywalker with R2-D2 (from A New Hope)
One repaint, one remold, one new piece. Luke Skywalker is based largely on the 2006 release of the figure with a few changes. Yes, he still includes Darth Vader's lightsaber hilt, but on the bright side the ugly oddly grinning face seen in the pre-release photos was dropped in favor of the same head mold used a few years ago. This is a good thing. His grey straps are now silver, the "map" on his sleeve is painted, and there are a few other minor deco changes from the original, although it's worth noting the helmet is still bizarrely clean. Some weathering would have been really nice, and overall this figure looks better than the Vintage release from 2006 which actually cost $0.03 more. Odd, no? He's joined be a newly remolded R2-D2 based on the R4-G9 mold. His dome and body have exposed wires, opened panels, and blasted-off bits and pieces which make this look like a nonfunctioning droid. (Again, this is the point.) The paint job isn't as good as it could have been, as these damaged elements could really have benefitted from a little extra color here and there. Also, R2-D2's blue pieces are a little bit closer to a purple or indigo color, but it's not a dealbreaker. This is a stunning figure and yes, it's worth getting even if you don't care about the Luke it comes with. Get one, you won't be sorry.
Build-A-Figure C-3PX (from Droids comics)
One new figure from six sets. If you get the entire collection, you'll have enough spare bits to build your very own C-3PX, a protocol droid bounty hunter from Dark Horse's early Droids series. The figure has lots of guns on his person, and has the most articulation of any C-3PO-style droid to come out of Hasbro-- he's got ankles, wrists, the works. The figure is still a little clunky as the arms are made in such a way that movement is slightly hindered-- but it's better than it's been-- and the figure is colored in a flat gold color rather than the shiny gold we're typically given for his non-evil doppleganger. If you liked the old comics, it's worth collecting all these figures to get this oddball droid, but I'm curious if we'll some day see a vac-metal repaint. Probably not, given how many little parts are involved, but stranger things have happened.
If you bought and loved Target's Order 66 collections, you need Droid Factory. If it seems like a waste to you, let me assure you that the new droids and revised figures are largely worth it-- I consider the Darth Vader to be totally disposable, and Luke is a minor upgrade to the point where I don't think I could convincingly say it's worth getting to the level of your being able to toss out your old one. Ditto with Plo Koon. However, the six companion droids, Han Solo, Kit Fisto, and Watto figures are all completely worth owning, and I personally really dig C-3PX. So if you buy the collection for just under $60, you'll get one figure you probably don't want or need, another you could probably use, and another that's basically a variation. So that's three iffy figures to 10 great ones, meaning you're paying about $6 per figure for the good stuff, which I would say is worth your time and effort to track down.
Posted byAdam16bit at 9:05 PM