#1781: Concept R2-D2 & C-3PO

CONCEPT R2-D2 & C-3PO

STAR WARS: 30TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“Ralph McQuarrie was commissioned by George Lucas to create several paintings. This scene depicts R2-D2 and C-3PO in a desert landscape. Even in this early rendering, Threepio already has a somewhat startled look, and Artoo reveals traces of his spunky nature.”

Prior to the versions of the characters we’ve all come to know and love so well, the Star Wars characters were handed to illustrator Ralph McQuarrie.  McQuarrie created distinctive versions of the characters that have stuck with the fanbase all these years later, even though they were in some cases very largely changed for the final product.  McQuarrie’s best remembered image is the confrontation between Starkiller and Vader, but not far behind it was his desert landscape, featuring the characters that would become R2-D2 and C-3PO.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

R2 and 3PO were released as an exclusive two-pack at Celebration IV in 2007, where they helped launched the 30th Anniversary Collection.

R2-D2

Perhaps one of the least changed of the McQuarrie designs (barring perhaps Vader), R2 was still a tripodal little trash can droid.  His basic silhouette is more or less the same, though McQuarrie’s design was a little chunkier and had a few more attachments.  A lot of the specific elements of this design would later be worked into Rebels’ resident astromech, Chopper.  The figure is about 2 1/2 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  He’s actually more compact than he initially appears.  He’s about 3/4 of the size of your usual R2 figure, but he’s certainly not short on detail work.  The steampunk nature of the design translates to a sculpt that Hasbro’s sculptors clearly had a lot of fun with.  I think my very favorite part is the pair of arms at the front, which nicely fold into his mid section, helping to recreate R2’s signature “face”.  Rather than his classic white and blue colors, the McQuarrie R2 design serves as a more natural counterpoint to 3PO’s golden finish, being a gunmetal grey and silver combo.  It actually makes for a pretty striking look, and the work on this figure is actually way better than you might expect from a straight silver figure.  There’s plenty of accenting, which helps to bring out all of the cool details in the sculpt.

C-3PO

McQuarrie’s C-3PO is probably one of his most remembered designs.  I think it’s largely to do with the decidedly more feminine nature, and that it bears more than a passing resemblance to the robot Maria from Metropolis.  It’s a really cool throwback to one of sci-fi’s most classic designs, which definitely gives it a leg up in my book.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 16 points of articulation.  3PO exists in this kind of weird cross roads of articulation.  Hasbro was really just starting to learn how to articulate these guys, so you kind of get this weird mix, where the elbows, mid-torso, and ankles have a great range of motion, but then the shoulders and hips are just basic cut joints, and there aren’t any knees at all.  The knees in particular are odd, since the design has natural breaks for them and everything.  Odd choice.  Still, the figure’s not as limited as you might think.  The sculpt actually takes a little bit of a departure from McQuarrie’s illustration, and plays more into the Maria side of things.  I’m not opposed to this, though, and I think this ultimately makes for the better overall figure design.  3PO’s coloring is rather similar to the final film design, being gold, from head to toe.  It’s even more prominent on this design.  The figure’s molded in a goldish plastic, and sports some brown accent work, which generally pairs off well with R2’s paint.

Though neither figure in the pack includes any character-specific extras, but they do include one of the 30th Anniversary coins, which features some of McQuarrie’s artwork embossed on it.  I never got super into these, but they’re certainly nifty.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted in my review of the Concept Han Solo, I’ve always been intrigued by the McQuarrie Concept figures.  They’re a lot of fun, and some day, I’ll get around to putting together a whole set of them.  I think these two are nearer the top of my favorites, though I gotta say, I was expecting to like 3PO the most, but it was R2 that ended up being my favorite of the two.  Regardless, these are two very well put together figures.

This pair isn’t part of my personal collection (yet), and were instead loaned to me by my friends at All Time Toys.  These two are available through All Time’s eBay store front, should you be interested in owning them for yourself.  And, if you’re looking for other toys, both old and new, please also check out All Time’s full eBay store front, and take a look at their webstore at alltimetoys.com.

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#1517: Han Solo – Concept

HAN SOLO – CONCEPT

STAR WARS: 30TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“The vivid imagination of conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie brought to life the characters and worlds envisioned by George Lucas. McQuarrie’s paintings and drawings were instrumental in the push to bring Lucas’s saga to the big screen, giving shape and form to a multitude of fantastic individuals, creatures, planets and technology encompassed in this epic tale. Developed in collaboration with McQuarrie himself, this remarkable action figure series pays tribute to the man whose art defined some of the most memorable characters in film history.

McQuarrie’s concept painting of central characters in A New Hope depicts Han Solo as a fierce Jedi Knight rather than a rougish smuggler. Wearing close-fitting battle gear, he is ready for combat with his lightsaber blazing and his face set with stern determination.”

Here, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Star Wars franchise, it’s nice to look back at all the possible what-ifs of the franchise.  Ralph McQuarrie’s contributions to the early designs of what was then titled The Star Wars are quite well-known within the fan base.  They’ve spawned comics, animation, and yes, even action figures.  I’ll be looking at one of those figures today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Concept Han Solo was released in the seventh wave of Star Wars: 30th Anniversary Collection, as figure 47 in the line’s overall count.  He was the seventh of the Concept figures (there was one of them per wave), and is a slightly odd-ball figure in an otherwise Return of the Jedi-based assortment of figures.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 18 points of articulation.  Han was sporting an all-new sculpt, obviously based on McQuarrie’s early design of Han.  Ultimately, it;s rather far removed from Han’s final character, and seems to have more in common with Obi-Wan Kenobi’s final character, especially as seen in the Prequel Trilogy.  Still, it’s a pretty solid piece of retro-sci-fi design work, and the figure’s sculpt does a rather admirable job of replicating it in three dimensions.  It keeps a lot of McQuarrie’s style, but adds a touch or realism, so he’ll still fit in with the standard movie figures.  There’s a ton of detail work going on, especially on the various parts of his uniform.  If I have one complaint about this figure, it’s the way his articulation works.  It’s not bad; as a matter of fact, he comes from when Hasbro was really starting to improve the movement on their figures, so he’s got a lot of posablity. With that said, the joints aren’t always worked in so well, and when posed, they can leave him looking a little bit odd.  Han’s paintwork is actually pretty solid, and much more detailed than your average Star Wars figure.  The base colors all match up pretty well with the original concept work, and there’s a ton of accent work, which adds a lot of dimension to this figure that a good number of his contemporaries lacked.  Han was packed with a lightsaber (both on and off) and his blaster pistol.  They resemble the final film’s props, but are definitely more classic sci-fi, especially the saber, which has a cool energy flare effect going on at its base.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The McQuarrie Concept figures have always fascinated me, but for one reason or another, I’ve just never tracked them down.  And, honestly, if I was going to get just one of them, it probably wouldn’t be Han.  With that said, I was out with Super Awesome Girlfriend two weeks ago participating in Ellicott City’s Midnight Madness, and I found this guy at All Time Toys.  I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to get him, but she insisted on buying him for me, so here he is.  He’s actually a pretty solid figure, truth be told, and he has a fun bit of history behind him.  Now I definitely feel the need to track down the rest of these guys!

#1497: Han Solo – Smuggler

HAN SOLO – SMUGGLER

STAR WARS: 30TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“A scoundrel through and through, Han Solo nonetheless adheres to a deep sense of right and wrong. He couldn’t leave his new friends behind to what he felt was certain death. Though some might call his arrival at the Battle of Yavin late, he prefers to say that he was ‘just in time.’”

2017 marked the 40th anniversary of A New Hope’s release, and thus the 40th anniversary of the Star Wars franchise as a whole.  Hasbro had a few commemorative releases, mostly to do with the Black Series, but it was notably smaller than the last big anniversary celebration they ran, back during the 30th Anniversary.  For that one, there were several different assortments running, with coverage of all six of the franchise’s films.  There were some new additions offered, but there were also more than a few variants of the main players.  There were three versions of Han Solo offered, and today I’ll be looking at the first of those three!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Han was released in the second wave of the Star Wars: 30th Anniversary Collection, which was based around the Battle of Yavin from the end of the first movie.  The whole assortment had initially been planned for release in 2006, but ended up pushed back to 2007.  Han was figure 11 out of 60 total figures in the 30th Anniversary Collection, and is based on Han’s fully kitted out look seen both when he uses the gunner turret during the Death Star escape and when he swoops in to save Luke from Vader during the trench run.  The figure stands just shy of 4 inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation.  After the introduction of the Vintage Original Trilogy Collection in 2004, Hasbro was beginning to experiment with more fully articulating the basic figures, and Han followed this trend.  This was partly out of convenience, as this figure was built on the VOTC Han’s base, and therefore inherited a lot of his articulation.  To facilitate the slightly different look of this particular Han design, the figure gets a new head and arms.  The head adds Han’s headset, which connects to his belt at the back.  I find the head has one of the better Ford likeness at this scale (especially for the time) and headsets just make everything cooler, am I right? (Fun Fact: the headsets used by Han and Luke in A New Hope are the same model used by the Nostromo’s crew in Alien and the Colonial Marines in Aliens.)  The new arms remove the hinge/swivel elbows of the VOTC figure for the slightly cheaper to produce angled swivel joints.  They aren’t quite as useful, but they pose well enough if you’re creative with them, and they’re pretty well hidden by the sculpt.  He also has new hands, sporting the gloves Han wears wile piloting the Falcon.  I’ve always liked the gloved look, so I was happy to see it show up here.  Han’s paintwork is pretty decent overall, with very clean application with little bleed over or slop.  His pants are a slightly brighter blue than they really should be, but that’s pretty minor.  The gloves are also usually seen with more of a yellowish hue to them, but I think the differences here can be written off as variations in lighting.  Han was packed with his trusty DL-44 heavy blaster pistol, which he can hold in either hand or stow in his holster.  He also included a 30th Anniversary Collection coin, which I foolishly threw into my bin of unnecessary extras before I got a picture.  Silly Ethan.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wasn’t really collecting Star Wars figures at the time of the 30th Anniversary Collection, so I didn’t get this guy new.  In fact, my first knowledge of this figure’s existence was seeing him re-packed with the huge 2008 Millennium Falcon release.  I thought he looked pretty cool, but not cool enough to drop $160 for the Falcon (what a fool I was!).  Ultimately, I ended up getting this guy about a month or so ago, during Lost In Time’s grand opening sale.  All the basic Star Wars figures were marked down, and he just looked cool.  He’s a pretty sweet figure, and one of the better Hans I own.  It makes me a little sad that the Black Series figure didn’t include an extra head with the headset.

***SHAMELESS PLUG TIME!***

Hey FiQ-fans, do you enjoy reading my incessant ramblings about Star Wars toys?  If so, you should totally check out A More Civilized Age: Exploring the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which features an essay about the history of Star Wars action figures, written by yours truly!  And if that’s not enough for you, there’s another 18 essays discussing the Expanded Universe, (including one written by my dad Steven H. Wilson) as well as a foreward by Star Wars Novelist Timothy Zahn.  I’m very excited about it, so please check it out here.

#0854: Sgt Stalker

SGT. STALKER

G.I. JOE: 30TH ANNIVERSARY

Stalker30a

G.I. Joe’s switch to the smaller scale is probably one of the most successful re-brandings ever. For most, those smaller figures simply are G.I. Joe. When the line was initially launched, there were 13 figures. They were all unique, but they were specifically designed to make the most of as little tooling as possible. Today’s subject, Sgt. Stalker, was among those 13, though he was just “Stalker” at the time. When it came time to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the smaller line, Stalker was chosen as the representative of the Original 13, with a reimagining of his first figure, in a more modern aesthetic.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Stalker30bSgt. Stalker was released in the first series of G.I. Joe: 30th Anniversary figures. The actual anniversary year was 2012, but the 30th figures were rushed into the end of 2011, in order to make way for the G.I. Joe: Retaliation toys. Of course, Retaliation was then pushed back to 2013, making the rushed release of the 30th figures completely pointless. Yay. The figure is a little over 3 ¾ inches tall and has 24 points of articulation. While the later series of the line would release a wide variety of newly sculpted parts, the first series got by on as much re-use as possible, and Stalker was not exempt. The head is re-used from the Resolute version of the character. My feelings on this are a bit mixed. While it’s not a bad head at all, it has the Resolute design’s dreadlocks. Those fit in fine with the more exaggerated Resolute designs, but they look just a bit out of place on the more realistic figure, especially one that’s supposed to be an update on his original figure. The rest of the figure is repurposed from one of the Pursuit of Cobra Snake Eyes figures. That figure was itself meant to be an update on Snake Eyes’ original figure, and given that the original Snake Eyes and Stalker figures used the same body sculpt, this actually makes a lot of sense. It helps that it’s a really nicely sculpted body, with some amazing small detail work, especially on the underlying turtleneck piece. The body is so Stalker30cattentive to detail that it even has removable knee-pads, which is a pretty awesome touch. To differentiate him a bit from Snake Eyes, Stalker gets a different web gear piece, which was first seen on the Jungle Patrol Dutch Duke from PoC. Stalker’s paint is fairly decent, and is clearly meant to emulate his original design, but I can’t help but feel he’s a bit drab, especially when compared to some of the other 30th figures. Still, he doesn’t look bad at all. Perhaps the figure’s strongest suit is his accessory complement. He has a submachine gun, a pistol with a removable silencer, a pistol without silencer, a machete, a knife, a small sword, and a display stand with his name on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

By the time the 30th figures starting hitting, I had long since realized that finding the G.I. Joes I wanted in stores was not a thing that would be happening. So, I had resorted to ordering full sets of each series from Big Bad Toy Store. I hadn’t planned on getting Stalker at first, being content with the Resolute figure, but I wanted the rest of Series 1, so I got him anyway. I’m actually really glad I got him. Yes, I’d have liked for him to get a new head, but other than that (honestly minor) issue, he’s a pretty darn fun figure, who reminds me just why I loved this line so much.

#0185: Iron Grenadier

IRON GRENADIER

GI JOE 30TH ANNIVERSARY

IronGrenader

I’ve done a fair number of reviews based around Hasbro’s 3 ¾ inch re-imagining of GI Joe under the A Real American Hero name. It’s ranged from the early 2000s re-launch as GI Joe VS Cobra, which was followed by GI Joe 25th Anniversary, which was in turn followed by the tie-in line for 2009’s GI Joe: Rise of Cobra. Following the return to the non-movie themed toys, Hasbro first introduced Pursuit of Cobra, before jumping into GI Joe 30th Anniversary. No points for guessing why they went with that name. Today, I look at an Iron Grenadier, a member of weapons supplier Destro’s personal army.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Grenadier was released as part of the first wave of GI Joe 30th Anniversary. It’s a slightly tweaked version of the same figure’s release in the Pursuit of Cobra line. Both figures are a more armored re-imagining of the classic Grenadier design. The key difference between the two is this version’s lack of camo-paint on the gray parts. The figure stands 3 ¾ inches tall and has 20 paints of articulation. The articulation is a bit hampered by some of the sculpted parts, but that’s to be expected. The Iron Grenadier is actually crated from totally reused parts, but they’re a smart re-use. The head comes from the previous 25th version of the Grenadier, and the body is from the armored up version of Destro released in the Pursuit of Cobra line. This means that the troops matched the newer version of Destro, while still fitting with the previous Grenadiers, which is definitely cool. All of the sculpted pieces are really great, and tremendously detailed. The paint work is pretty good on this figure, though he is hurt by the lack of detailing on the gray parts. Given the high quality work on the rest of the figure, he almost looks unfinished. The Grenadier includes a display stand with his name and the Cobra symbol, a backpack, a smart-gun, bullets, and a bullet case. All in all a solid figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I hadn’t really planned on getting the Grenadier, but I decided to order a full set of the first two waves of 30th from Big Bad Toy Store, so I ended up getting him with the set. I don’t regret the purchase, as it’s a pretty cool little figure, and a great addition to the Cobra ranks. It’s not quite as good as the Pursuit of Cobra version, but it’s still good on its own merits.