STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES
Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series has been running almost 5 years now, and over the course of that 5 years, we’ve gotten the main look for just about every major character from the Original Trilogy. However, one major character has been pretty consistently absent: C-3PO. Now, obviously, with a character like Threepio, it’s not a question of if he’s going to be made, but rather when he’s going to be made. You don’t just willy nilly leave out one of two characters to appear in every film in the franchise. So, when his name popped up as one of 2016’s upcoming figures, no one was really surprised. Well, that is, not until they saw the figure, standing there in all his red-armed, The Force Awakens-glory. Why would the first release of this much anticipated character be what is undoubtedly a one-off look? It turns out Hasbro had more up their sleeve, and a regular Threepio found its way to release. I’ll be looking at that figure today.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
This C-3PO figure is Walgreens’ 2016 Star Wars: The Black Series exclusive. This has been a point of contention for a lot of fans, since many of them think this Threepio should have had the main retail slot, and the Force Awakens figure should have been made the exclusive, citing the second version as a less necessary variant. While I can’t argue with that, I can sort of understand why the figures ended up the way they did. In 2015, Walgreens got stuck in the Emperor’s Wrath Darth Vader as their exclusive, and sales on him were pretty soft. With that in mind, I can easily see Walgreens pushing for a higher profile exclusive. On Hasbro’s side, I can see them feeling that Threepio might be more easily acquired for some fans as an exclusive item shipped in solid cases of himself, as opposed to being stuck in a revision assortment of the main line, which may or may not get put out (I can attest to having seen more of this guy out in the wild than I’ve seen of his red-armed counterpart). In addition, Threepio has traditionally been a slower seller than the rest of the main characters, a fact Hasbro is likely banking on. Ultimately, it’s not the ideal solution, but it’s workable. The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and has 21 points of articulation. Early reports had me worried that this guy wouldn’t be very posable. The final figure lacks any elbow joints, but this ends up having little effect on the posability, and the rest of the joints offer a more than serviceable range of motion. Threepio’s sculpt is shared with his Force Awakens version, but is otherwise totally new. It’s a very strong sculpt, and does a really solid job of capturing Threepio’s basic design. There’s a lot of really sharp detail work, and he’s definitely one of the best figures in the line in terms of working in the articulation. The arms do seem a touch long when compared to the legs, but it’s only barely noticeable, and far from the worst case of this in the line. Threepio’s paint is pretty decently handled; Hasbro let fans know from the get-go that this figure wasn’t going to be vac-metalized like many of the smaller Threepios have been. Some fans were a bit let-down by this, but I find myself not minding that much. While the process is fine on smaller figures, it can rob a sculpt of a lot of its best details, and on larger, more articulated items, it can also be rather susceptible to damage. I was happy to see they opted for gold paint instead of gold plastic, as it allows for a brighter sheen and a more consistent application of the color. The only part that seems a bit odd to me is the eyes; rather than the usual flat yellow, they’ve been done with three white dots on each eye. It’s not terrible looking from far away, but looks quite strange up close. Threepio includes no accessories, which is a real letdown, especially since there are technically no new sculpted pieces here. The communicator from the Death Star would have been nice, especially since they already have the tooling for it. Oh well.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
News broke on this guy back around Rogue Friday, and I pretty much immediately started looking for him. I didn’t have much luck, but on a hunch, I stopped at a slightly out of the way Walgreens on the way home from grabbing some dinner last month. He wasn’t in the proper action figure aisle, but I remembered that a lot of Walgreens stores had a separate Star Wars end display, and, sure enough, there he was. Odd choice of distribution aside, this is a really good figure, easily the best Threepio that Hasbro’s put out. Hopefully everyone that wants one can get one!