Anyone who’s read Toybox for any significant amount of time knows that I’ve got a thing for droids. Be they R2 units or Daleks, there’s something fascinating about little plastic robot replicas. And this wave of Star Wars Episode II figures certainly fits my droid collecting bill.
Of course, you can’t kick off a new range of toys for a new Star Wars movie without R2-D2 and C-3PO, and this line of figures is no exception. These two characters receive a new and unique treatment this time around, with Artoo sporting a special digital sound chip activated by pressing the “double vent” button on the figure’s midsection. The legs are articulated, but due to the demands of the sound mechanism – which loudly pumps out several signature Artoo sound clips – and the glowing red “eye” in the center of his head, Artoo’s center leg and head don’t move at all.
Threepio receives a similarly novel treatment. The basic figure looks more or less just like the “bare-bones” version of Threepio seen in Star Wars Episode I, but includes holes into which several outer paneling accesories can be fitted via pegs. The panels cover the figure’s exposed legs, arms, chest and head, looking very much like the more weathered Threepio seen in Episode II. Also included is a rather bulky storage box, presumably to keep all the loose panels together when not in use.
The other new invention of Episode II in the droid department is the Super Battle Droid, seen in the Geonosis arena fight scenes. Looking like a bulked-up Episode I battle droid with a shinier coat of paint and a prescription for steroids, the Super Battle Droid also comes with interchangeable “battle-damaged” chest and a rocket-launching arm, and can be blown apart at the touch of a button. (Like many figures meant to dismantle themselves, it frequently comes apart too easily, and is a bit flimsy.)
Not shown here, but also among the first wave of figures, is a regular Episode I-style battle droid, with a new paint pattern of battle scars and the obligatory rubbery “lightning” which can be wrapped around its body.
Hopefully future Episode II characters will include the very retro-tech-looking Techno Union character seen among the conspirators (you know, the one whose voice sounds like a freeware Commodore 64 speech synthesis program?), though it’s also just as likely that we’ll see the inevitable dopey pair of juxtapositions of Threepio and the battle droid from the arena battle.