Yeah, it’s Transformers Thursday, but I’ve got no new Transformers to look at this week, so I thought I’d go with another robot instead. This guy arrived at my door just a couple of days ago and he’s been a pretty polarizing release so far, so I wanted to bump him up on my priority list, so here we go…
I’ve been pretty firm on my decision not to get in on Sixth-Scale Star Wars figures. It’s a dark path that I really don’t want to head down for fear that it would consume all my monies and shelf space. That attitude will likely be changing when it comes to Hot Toys and The Force Awakens, but that’s a problem I’ll deal with later this Summer. As for the Original Trilogy, well I bent the rules when it came to Artoo and Threepio because they’ve been such iconic characters to me virtually my entire life. Early last year, I checked out Sideshow’s R2-D2, a solid if imperfect figure, and after a long wait his counterpart, C-3PO is finally here. Strap yourselves in, this one is going to be a long one…
The figure comes in what seems to be standard for the SS Star Wars line. It’s an enclosed box with a nice look at the prototype of the figure (important for later!) and it’s obviously collector friendly. If you get the Exclusive then the box will have the foil sticker on the front denoting such. There are shots of the figure on the back and side panels as well. I don’t have a lot more to say about the package so let’s just talk about the figure’s initial reception. I spent Tuesday afternoon waiting for my 3PO to arrive and I decided to do what I often do in this situation: Make a pot of coffee and read through forum posts of early impressions as they roll in. Here I was confronted with horror story after horror story of bad QC, including bad mold flashing, pistons breaking, paint scratches and chips, a head that wouldn’t come off to access the electronics, aaaand… oh yeah, the fact that it seemed like the entire run of figures had their thumbs put on backwards. Needless to say when the UPS man finally handed me my shipper box, I was pretty nervous about opening it up.
So naturally the first thing I did was give the finish a good once over and based on what I’d been seeing from other owners, I was shocked at virtually no discernible flubs or scratches. You may think you see a scratch here or there in the pictures, but I assure you that’s just my arch nemesis, Cat Hair! No, apart from a very little bit of visible mold flashing on the right knee, this particular figure is just about spotless. There were no broken pistons or any other defects. I had indeed dodged what appeared to be a QC bullet. The thumbs? Oh, yeah. The thumbs are indeed assembled wrong. Which sadly isn’t an individual QC defect but a design flaw across the entire run. There are times when it’s obvious, but truth be told, most of the time I barely notice it. With the hands held to the sides or palms front, it’s barely an issue at all. I’ll deal more on that at the end of this Feature.
Anyway, getting 3PO set up just requires you to pop off the head to remove the battery tab that will activate his eyes. The instructions ridiculously tell you not to pull on the head, only the neck, otherwise you may damage the figure. Frankly, I don’t see how grabbing only the neck is even possible and there are apparently a fair share of owners who have not been able to pop the head at all for fear of breaking the figure. Me? I was able to hold the figure firmly at the base of the head and just wiggle it right out, easy peasy. This lets you remove the tab and is also how you replace the batteries. Tap the back of the head, and 3PO’s eyes come to life and those peepers are pretty gorgeous. It’s a feature that really is necessary to bring 3PO to life and they nailed it. They may not look it under the bright studio lights, but in normal room lighting, they’re quite bright.
With all the qualification behind me, I’d like to say that this guy looks pretty stunning on the shelf. The finish is obviously the worn and dirty version. This isn’t a droid you’d take to a Yavin celebration like the Tamashii version. That having been said, there’s still a nice metallic sheen to him. The gold paint looks rich and authentic, even if the realism of the oil and grease marks fall a notch or two below hitting the mark. I think it’s actually kind of cool that the weathering patterns seem to vary quite a bit from figure to figure. Some seem to have it in places where others don’t and that makes each individual figure a little more special. So long as your happy with the one you got, otherwise I guess it sucks. I don’t think the weathering looks bad at all, but with them there Hot Toys prices, Sideshow, I gotta turn my expectations up a couple of notches and so does everybody else. Oh yeah, I really dig the silver they used for the lower right leg and the rust spray on there looks outstanding.
In terms of sculpt, I think they really nailed a lot of the aspects of the droid that other people haven’t been able to. The head, for example, looks spot on to me. The crest around the head, for example, isn’t too thick, which is one of my biggest pet peeves on 3PO figures. I’m sure there are plenty of obsessive Star Wars fans who can find plenty to nitpick, but that ain’t me. The texturing of the exposed mid section is nice, as is the paint on the wires, however, at this price, I would have liked actual wires attached to the rubber piece, but this works well enough and looks fine.
The inner pistons on the arms actually work and look particularly nice. These are often too thick and prominent on larger scale renditions of the character. The trade off here, of course, is that they are crazy delicate. I’ve seen several pictures of them broken off in the boxes and others snapping when moving the arms. It’s hard to think of a better illustration of the fact that these are collectibles and not toys and more than a modicum of care is needed when articulating his arms. The pistons on my figure travel their channels smoothly and don’t inhibit the articulation all that much more than the original suit design intended. I do think the 3PO suit had a little bit more elbow articulation than what we got here, but not much. Moving on down below the waste, I’m particularly satisfied with the movement in the hips. I don’t dig my protocol droids to be all bow-legged and there’s enough easy play in those hip joints that you can get 3PO to stand with both feet touching. At the same time, the leg joints are all solid enough to support the figure with no worries or floppiness.
3PO is not heavy on the accessories, which is unfortunate because of the high price point. In fact, the only accessories with the standard release are a pair of magnetic restraining bolts and the commlink. I assume they included two bolts in case you lose one, which is fairly likely since the magnets on the bolts are crazy weak. After a couple tries, I was convinced there was no magnet at all, so I tried it on R2 and it worked fine. Turns out you just have to be really accurate when you place it. The commlink is barely worth mentioning as an accessory. It’s just a tiny piece of painted plastic. Surprisingly, even with his challenged thumbs, 3PO is capable of holding it, but it takes some effort.
The Exclusive included is the shoulder stump, which in theory just involves pulling the arm out at the shoulder and replacing with the stump. Unlike the head, my figure’s arm was an absolute bitch to remove. Getting the full arm out requires a little too much force than I’m comfortable with and putting the stump in results in a thunderous click as it locks in, making me initially think, “Oh God, how the hell am I ever going to get that out again?” It came out, but it was a bit of a fight. It’s a fantastic bonus feature and it looks great, but I doubt I’ll be doing that very often.
Naturally, you get a stand, which is not nearly as necessary as I thought, because 3PO stands beautifully by himself. That having been said, I don’t risk displaying any of my 1:6 scale figures without a stand and Goldenrod here will be no different. The stand is as no frills as you can get. It’s just a big black hexagonal base with a post and crotch-cradle. Considering the price of the figure, it would have been nice to get something a little more fancy or maybe a stand big enough to display him and R2. I’ll probably try to hunt something down.
So, where to come down on this figure? Quite frankly, I love it, but that affection needs to be qualified. On principle, the thumb thing is inexcusable. Either the figure should have been delayed to make a fix or Sideshow should have gotten in front of it in order to make it right for their customers before shipping. Instead, they posted pictures of the final product, complete with mis-assembled thumbs, right as they were shipping and still haven’t addressed the issue to their customers. It makes all the difference difference between being responsible toward their consumers and being blatantly unprofessional. If my figure had other issues, I’d consider doing a refund, but honestly, I love everything else about this guy so much, I’m willing to overlook what is becoming known as thumbgate. That’s not to say I don’t think some restitution isn’t in order, at least to garner some goodwill over the incident. If that sort of arrangement is forthcoming, I’ll be sure to post an addendum here.
The other qualifier is about value. You may have noticed that I brought up price a lot during this Feature. As much as I love my shiny new protocol droid, I will say that at $230, I think this figure is grossly over priced. Sure he looks fantastic, even more so beside R2, but it’s still difficult to see where all the money went. At the $189-$200 range, I could have given 3PO my blessing, but tack another $30-40 onto that and I feel like I’m paying too much. Sure, licensing costs money and Star Wars is the hottest property there is, but Hot Toys just put out a First Order Stormtrooper with more accessories and for $20 cheaper. Now, to be clear that doesn’t mean I regret buying him, it just means I concede that I spent more than I was comfortable spending on him. Truth be told, at the end of the day, if I had had been given this figure on a trial bases, I’d still be pulling the trigger. I really do love him that much.