So far, I’ve been OK with the bizarre relationship that Hasbro and Walgreens have forged over exclusives. In fact, most of them have been figures that I could live without so I haven’t really been hunting many of them. The one exception would be Marvel Legends Namor, and I was able to get him off the website easy-peasy. But now all bets are off. Because Original Trilogy C-3PO is a Walgreens Exclusive while the red-armed version from The Force Awakens is the wide release. And the very fact that I’m taking a look at TFA 3PO today means that I’m still hunting the exclusive one and stuck with the consolation prize. Not cool, Hasbro. Not cool.
3PO comes in what is now the standard Black Series window box, with the figure’s number (in this case #29) on the side panel. These packages aren’t branded specifically to any movie, but this version is called “Resistance Base” 3PO and the blurb on the back calls out his continued service to General Leia. All that and… oh, yeah the red arm is all you get to designate that he’s from Episode 7. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with this figure just seeing him in the box, so I’m anxious to get him out and see if that impression holds.
The first thing I have to say is that I really dig the gold finish on him. 3PO’s coloring is hard to get right. Do you go clean? Do you go dirty? Do you vac-metal him? Here we have a relatively clean finish, but somewhere between matte and reflective gold. It’s kind of a satin look. I think he was a lot more shiny in TFA, but even with that having been said, I really like the gold paint Hasbro used here. It looks rich and metallic and it’s just beautiful. And best of all, you don’t have to worry about him chipping or scratching. Indeed, the coloring here reminds me a lot of the paint my dad and I used when we built the MPC 3PO model kit when I was a wee lad.
The sculpt and proportions on this droid look really good as well. I’m sure fanatics who have scrutinized the costumes can point out all the differences, but he hits nearly all the right points for me. If I had one complaint in the sculpt and paint department, it would be the left arm. The sculpt looks a little softer, and I suspect that’s due to the different type of plastic used and the fact that it’s unpainted. I think it also looks a lot more obvious that the left arm is static with no elbow joint and it looks a little weird, but I’ll come back to my outrage over the articulation in a bit.
As a quick interlude… I should stress here that the red arm in TFA didn’t bother me like it did some. It did seem like a long way to go for a quick one-off joke (although I’ll confess that scene did make me laugh), but 3PO wasn’t a major player in the film so I didn’t really care. It makes sense that people would swap out damaged parts on their droids all the time and those parts wouldn’t always match. It’s like seeing a red Camaro drive by with a black bumper waiting to be painted. And, yes I know that Marvel explained the arm in one of their comics. Anyway, I’m certainly not opposed to having a TFA accurate version of 3PO, but not at the cost of being able to easily find the regular one.
Like the coloring, 3PO’s head is also something that can be tricky to get right. Here, I think they did an admirable job. There are still certain angles where it looks better than others, but all in all I’m quite pleased with it. I especially like how they painted the tiny starbursts in the eyes to replicate the lights on the costume. I do wish they had blackened out the inside of his “mouth,” but that’s something that I can do fairly easy with a marker.
3PO’s exposed midriff, for lack of a better term, looks pretty good as well. The underlying covering is sculpted with a ribbed pattern and the wires are all sculpted and painted as well. The paint could be a little neater in some areas, but it works for me.
Alas, the articulation is this figure’s biggest downfall and that’s mainly because he’s completely missing elbow joints. I didn’t know that going in and I could hardly believe it when I got him out of the box. I mean, I was legitimately flummoxed. I’m sure there are all sorts of reasons why Hasbro didn’t do it. Maybe the joints would look weird. Most likely, it was too hard to make it work with the pistons at this scale. But you know what? Hasbro released a 3 3/4-inch 3PO back in 2010 that had elbow joints so why not here? Granted, that one didn’t have the pistons at all, but frankly I would have rather had the articulation. Besides, NECA managed to put working pistons on the legs of their RoboCop figure and he wasn’t much larger than 3PO. All I’m saying is that I was really shocked at the lack of articulation in 3PO’s arms, but the more I played with the figure, the less it bothered me.
So what did we get? The shoulders are ball jointed, and the shoulder cups are separate pieces, which swivel at the shoulder and that’s pretty cool. The wrists are on rotating hinges. The legs feature ball joints at the hips, swivels in the thighs, which are concealed under the plates, and hinges in the knees. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers. Yes… we got a 3PO with no elbows but lateral rockers in the ankles. That makes sense! There’s a ball joint inside the chest and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.
Having had an R2-D2 since the very first wave of the Black Series, it was really odd to have to wait more than 28 figures later to get 3PO. I’m very glad to finally have him, even if it means I’m still searching for the regular version. Yes, the lack of elbow joints is not ideal, especially on a modern collector figure. It’s something that will always stick in my craw when looking at this figure. On the bright side, everything else here is pretty well done and overall I’m still surprisingly satisfied with him. And hey, we can all thank god that Hasbro didn’t decide to give him removable plates as an homage to Episode 1 3PO like they did on the Vintage Collection version.