Sideshow has been running their Sixth-Scale line of Star Wars figures for quite some time, and I’ve managed to stay away from it… up until now. It’s bad enough that I already collect Star Wars figures in two different scales, I don’t need to add an expensive third format. There are, however, exceptions to every rule and in this case I’ve decided that I rather need a really nice Sixth-Scale R2-D2 and C-3PO on my shelf. 3PO won’t be showing up until the end of this year at the earliest, but R2 finally shipped this month after a few months delay. When I was a kid, my Dad and I spent a week building the original MPC R2-D2 model kit. I remember wanting to slap that thing together and play with it, but my Dad taught me patience and care as we spent days filing down sprue marks and painting every last piece and the result was extraordinary. It’s a great memory of my childhood and until now that was the best R2 I ever owned. I wish I still had that model and I’ve been looking for an equal to that R2 for ages now. Needless to say I was mighty excited to get my hands on this little Astromech Droid and I can’t wait to check him out.
R2 comes in a really big box for such a small droid. Sure, he’s Sixth-Scale but for an R2 Unit that amounts to only about 6 inches or so, the box stands close to 12-inches tall and is almost as wide. It’s fully enclosed, but it does have a flap that opens to reveal a window that lets you get a good look at what’s inside. Opening the flap demonstrates why the box is so damn big because it lets you see that R2 only occupies a small portion of the space on his tray, with the rest taken up by his various accessories and extra bits. There’s a lot in this box to look at, mostly attachments, so let’s start out with the base figure…
My first impression is that Sideshow really did their research to painstakingly recreate every little panel line and detail on this little droid. Their Sixth Scale line has come so far since the earlier days! I also want to point out how happy I am they went for a slightly weathered look. Bright and clean R2 just isn’t as interesting to me and super dirtied up rarely looks good. Nope, this is a middle-of-the-road “I’ve been on adventures” version of R2 and I like it a lot. I should also note that I had concerns about the way the dome would look in-hand and how bad those seams would be, but I needn’t have worried. The dome looks fantastic in person and again I think the worn silver works better than a bright and shiny silver would have looked. As we’ll see in a moment, R2 has tons of opening panels, but it’s hard to tell that most of them open because they sit perfectly flush with his body. I’m really thankful for that because it would have been a major “make or break” aspect of the figure for me. If you look closely enough, you can make out seems on a few panels, whereas others totally look like they’re just sculpted as part of the body. All of three of the projectors on R2’s dome are articulated, but the one on the top of my figure has a little mold flashing, which sometimes gets stuck on the grommet. As Yoda would say, “QC issues, yes… but minor they are!”
While he looks fantastic, getting R2 in hand gave me pause, as this is a pretty light figure and some might say flimsy feeling figure. There’s no die-cast to give him any heft and it’s obvious that he’s mostly hollow. He’s priced like a high end collectible, but he feels more like a toy, and a delicate one at that, especially as you begin to open his hatches and mess around with his features. Granted, for me value doesn’t have to equate with weight, but I know a number of collectors have been voicing unrest over some of the recent light weight Premium Format statues by Sideshow and this R2 presents a similar case. On the other hand, it’s probably a good thing the body isn’t any heavier because there’s a little play in his ankle joints and you have to balance him just right when standing on only two legs or he’s likely to lean forward or back. The shoulder joints, on the other hand, are nice and snug. R2 also features the retractable third leg. You can deploy it simply by pushing in on it and it will spring out. Push it back up and it will lock into place. All three feet have wheels on the bottom and R2 rolls splendidly across my desk, buy hopefully never off my shelf.
The electronics in the figure features various lights situated around R2’s dome and they are easily the high point of the figure for me, simply because they are executed so well. R2 looks great standing on the shelf, but when you activate those lights he absolutely comes alive. The color change and dynamic light movements found on a few of the panels are amazing. Once more, getting it activated is as easy as tapping a certain blue panel on the dome with your finger. Tap it again and it activates his projector too. Tap it a third time and everything shuts off. There’s an On/Off switch situated under the dome, but the electronics don’t need to be reset after a while of inactivity (an annoying feature which was the only blemish on the Hot Toys RoboCop figure for me) What’s inexcusable here is the lack of any audio clips. Yes, I knew that was the case going in, but it doesn’t make the absence of sound any less disappointing. For crying out loud, Hasbro was putting sound chips in their ten dollar 3 3/4” R2 figures over ten years ago. The fact that Sideshow couldn’t do it on this $150 piece is pretty sad. I think the sound combined with the stellar lighting would have really sent this figure over the top.
Alrighty, so let’s talk hatches and attachments and we’ll start with the body. R2 comes with Luke’s lightsaber hilt and there’s a magnet in it so you can use it to open all of R2’s chest panels. I love this feature as (most of the time) it prevents you from having to dig these open with your nail and risk damaging anything. Yes, the hinges appear very fragile, and while I did have one door come off entirely, it was easy to put back on. The two horizontal blue actuator arms swing out. The door to the left of the central vents (R2’s left) opens to reveal some sculpted and painted mechanisms. The panel to the right of the vents opens to reveal a socket to insert one of his arm attachments. The two long side panels each open and reveal swing out arms to plug in arm atachments too. Getting these arms to swing out can be a bit of a chore, but once you do they are designed to travel up and down a rail to change their height, which is a pretty cool feature. All the doors can open at once and if you got the regular retail edition (Sideshow’s Exclusive came with an extra saw blade) you can have all the included arms deployed at once. The arm attachments include his zapper, his computer interface, and his grabber arm. These arms just socket into the holes, although some don’t really stick and can be knocked out very easily. And yes, while some of these features are delicate, I still think they were done quite well.
Moving on to the dome, there are three panels surrounding the center that open to reveal features. First, you get the periscope, which is the easiest to deploy. If you hold R2 upside down it’ll usually pop out.
The little radar dish is a lot tougher. You have to push down on the panel to get it to pop up and swing out. Then you can use the lightsaber to push down on the dish and it will (theoretically) pop out. Unfortunately, mine was retracted backwards, which made getting it out the first time so difficult that I almost gave up for fear of breaking the thing. Lastly, if you press down on the third panel and swing it to the side it will open a compartment for the lightsaber. I had the least amount of success with this one. The panel just seems to want to keep closing on the saber and I was afraid if I dropped it in there that I’d never get it out.
Oh, yeah, you also get a little magnetic restraining bolt… cool!
The final feature on the dome is the rather elaborate serving tray and arm that was used by the little droid on Jabba’s Sail Barge. The serving arm hatch is opened with the lightsaber magnet and then you just peg the arm into place. The tray requires you to peg in the side pieces, which is a precarious undertaking since each level of the drink tray is secured by two rather weak posts. I can easily see these bending and snapping when applying the force needed to get those sidepieces on or taking them off to put everything back in the tray. After that you just peg in the drink cups. Once assembled, the whole thing rests very securely on R2’s shoulders and looks pretty damn great. The serving arm will rotate 360-degrees and it’s hinged in several places. I like this thing a lot, but I can’t see myself using it for display all that often.
And we’re still not done, because R2 also comes with the table from Obi-Wan’s place with an attachable hologram of Princess Leia. You plug it into the center of the table and click one of the doo-hickeys on the side and it lights up. It’s a rather large extra for the figure and R2 displays really well with his lit projector pointed towrds it!
I like this figure a lot, but I can see some really obvious areas for improvement, in fact three to be precise. Firstly, the figure would have benefited from some ratchets in the ankles to keep him from leaning without having to balance him. Secondly… sound chip! In a world where you can make an electric key fob that makes R2 noises for a couple of bucks, I really question the lack of sound with this figure. If I’m not mistaken they had a sound chip in their Probe Droid, so why the hell not R2? Finally, and I hesitate to mention this because I’m rarely a champion of diecast, but some diecast in the side feet and possibly the legs would have given R2 some added heft without compromising stability. Now, all nitpicking aside I still think Sideshow did a beautiful job here and they certainly packed in enough goodies to make it worth the price, but I can see a lot of collectors feeling that R2 here is too delicate for his own good. Ah, but there’s certainly no buyer’s remorse on my end and having him on my shelf has made me all the more excited to get C-3PO later this year, assuming he can arrive on time.