Star Wars Vintage Collection: R2-D2 (“Jabba’s Sail Barge”) by Hasbro

Way back in October of 2010 I scored Hasbro’s awesome Jabba’s Throne set and ever since then I’ve been meaning to rebuild my once great collection of Jabba’s denizens. In the years since, I’ve been picking them up here and there, but mostly relegating them to storage totes until I could get motivated to start opening them and piecing the display back together again. Well, cleaning out the Toy Closet this weekend, I stumbled upon some of those figures and have been putting them aside so I can start opening them and looking at them here. And so, the first feature of this week’s Toy Closet Finds, might seem like an unlikely start, but I felt like opening me up an R2 figure and he just so happens to be the version from Jabba’s sail barge.

God, I love this packaging and it’s a crying shame that Hasbro is doing away with it this year. As superficial as it sounds, the vintage packaging is probably the only reason I even look at the Star Wars pegs anymore. Of course, I don’t buy a lot of them because it actually makes me sad to open them, and that’s coming from someone who usually doesn’t give a crap about tearing open his action figures. I’ve managed to shake a lot of the hold Star Wars figures have had on me since I was a kid, but even I can’t resist the appeal of the figures when they’re carded on pure nostalgia. When Vintage Collection came back I started to buy doubles, but space concerns being what they are, that strategy couldn’t last. And so, even now, I don’t want to open this figure, but like taking off a band aid, I’m just going to do it fast so it doesn’t hurt so much.

It has been AGES since I bought an R2 figure. In fact, the last one was probably the one from the Original Trilogy Vintage Collection, and I never opened it. It’s still stacked on a shelf with the other VOTC figures sealed in the clamshell. Having been out of the Star Wars scene for a while now, I couldn’t begin to follow all the repacks and slight modifications R2 figures have gone through over the years. Thankfully, I don’t have to, because this R2 is a completely new figure. That means this little droid should be a whole lot better than the last one I opened, right? I was pretty anxious to play around with him and see what Hasbro has done with him lately.

Make no mistake, this R2 is full of gimmickry, a lot of which intrudes on the articulation and aesthetics of the figure, so before we get into those, let’s start with the sculpt first. R2 has always been one of those figures that looks perfectly fine to me until the next release comes along and emphasizes everything that was wrong with the last one. That having been said, I think this one looks pretty solid. It seems like there’s still a little room for improvement on the dome, and I wish Hasbro could figure a way to not have seams running up the sides of it. But the body has all the appropriate sculpted panel lines, vents, ports, and doo-dads, front and back. For some reason the cables on R2’s feet have always been a sticking point with me and his figures, but they look good here. On the downside, he’s way too big for the Vintage Collection 3PO, but then I wasn’t a big fan of that figure anyway. That’s about as far as I can go without starting to talk about the gimmicks so let’s get to them.

Hasbro tried to make this a pretty versatile representation of R2 as seen in Return of the Jedi. In addition to the obvious drink tray and serving arm, he has a retractable servo arm, a sensor scope, and a lightsaber. About the only thing missing from the movie is the Ewok zapper and the buzzsaw.  Easily the most unsightly of the gimmicks is the servo arm, which is poorly concealed behind the lower blue horizontal servo arm on his chest. In the movies, this blue piece is the actual arm that closes up flush with his body. In the figure, the whole panel opens one way and the servo arm swings out the other way. Considering the door doesn’t close properly and it isn’t screen accurate, I’d rather Hasbro left this one out and went with one of the vertical arm hatches instead.

The third leg gimmick is bewilderingly tied in to the sensor scope. To extend the leg, you have to put the sensor scope into the open panel on R2’s head and push it all the way down. The scope conceals nicely, but if you leave it in there you can’t turn R2’s dome. You can, however, use the scope to extend the leg and then pull it out to regain dome movement. Because the two gimmicks are connected, in order to display the sensor scope extended, R2’s dome has to be centered and the third leg has to be retracted. That having been said, the scope looks really good and since it just sits in the socket, you can rotate it. The lightsaber… wait isn’t that Obi-Wan’s lightsaber? Ahem… the lightsaber also just sits in the same socket as if R2 is preparing to launch it to Luke.

The drink tray is definitely the coolest piece of all the gimmicks, but then I guess it’s more of an accessory than a gimmick. It’s wonderfully sculpted and far surpasses the crappy one that Hasbro released previously. It sits snugly on R2’s shoulders and the drink serving arm plugs right into the socket on the top of his head. Amazingly enough, the drinking glasses are actually removable.

I won’t deny this is an ambitious and, in some ways, fun little figure. He will definitely look great dispensing drinks to Jabba’s minions, but I was also hoping this R2 would be a definitive version and clearly he’s not. I think Hasbro packed a few too many gimmicks into him and the figure struggles under the weight of its own over-engineering. But I think in the end, it’s the loose front servo arm hatch that bugs me the most about him. Ah, but a little super glue should soon fix that.

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