#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!