My excitement over R1-G4 has got me thinking alot about droids lately. Watching ANH the other day sent my mind reeling to the vintage days. Back before the "Empire" --- back when there were only 18 Star Wars figures. (Imagine! Being a completist for a mere. . . Forty dollars.) As a wee little child of eight -- it came as no big surprise that three of the second wave were mechanical beings.
Death Star Droid
Who didn't snap these up instantly? These three figures rocked. They were so dang cool! I remember having great difficulty tracking down R5-D4 especially.
And yet --- despite the early faith placed in these timeless Classic characters --- they have not faired well in the modern line. Far from it.
A brief (out of order) overview of recent history. . .
1999 at last gave us a Power Droid, now renamed Gonk! Droid if my memory serves correctly. And while this figure was pretty dang cool and pack-in to the best Jawa to date --- it was not TRULY a new version of the vintage classic. Instead it is a very precise replica of the Power Droid seen repeatedly in the Sandcrawler. Meanwhile, the vintage appears to be based on the Power Droid seen roaming past Aunt Beru as she calls up to remind Luke to make sure that the new translator speaks bocce. (the white stripe best exemplifies this.) Somehow, I just always thought we would eventually get another powerdroid and that this long lost vintage version would be redone, but no. Nothing yet.
Then there is the Death Star Droid. Of course everybody knows that the Kenner version was inaccurately named --- but they probably just figured that "Sandcrawler Droid" didn't have quite the same marquee value --- so they fudged things a bit. Hasbro later corrected this and their modern Death Star Droid is, in fact, glimpsed in the Death Star. A novel concept and a great figure. The black paint job is most groovy. But it is, nevertheless, no RA-7. Of course we have all seen prototype pics of this and it is supposed to be coming with the Sandcrawler. . . But as of yet nothing is confirmed. And so, for now, another vintage classic is unjustly ignored.
Which brings me to R5-D4. Um. . . do I even need to elaborate? Suffice it to say that no character in the Star Wars universe played such a crucial role (had R5 not broken down, R2 stays with the Jawas -- Imperials get him and the secret plans -- thus ending the story!) and received such shoddy toy treatment. The horrid POTF2 version still haunts collectors to this day. He has been rumoured numerous times. Then pulled. Heck he even cameos in Episode II and still he gets. . . Nothing. And he is a heck of lot easier to spot in the film than say. . . a certain yellow R3 droid. Star Tours R5-D2 is nice, but, well, he just isn't R5-D4. And exploding motivator aside, poor R5-D4 does not deserve to be so cruely left behind!
Why no love, Hasbro! Why no love for the droids of my youth?! Don't take this thread the wrong way, I am really not completely obsessed (well. . . okay. . . maybe a little) but I just thought that there was an interesting (perhaps, sinister?) pattern here that I have not yet seen addressed.