1995 was one of the biggest and most important years in the renaissance of the Star Wars phenomenon. I have spoken at length about several aspects of this year ranging from the re-release of the trilogy in THX on VHS, to Dark Forces on the PC, to one of the most hideous and frightening looking Star Wars figures of all time. As such I will skip harping on the importance of 1995 to Star Wars fans in my preamble since it is unnecessary if you read a few of those older posts. Although there has always been some debate among young fans as to whether Han or Luke is better, or if the Empire is cooler than the Alliance, one thing every fan has agreed on since 1977 is that R2-D2 is awesome. Everyone loves the little droid. R2 is funny without any spoken lines of dialogue, R2 has an abundance of useful or futuristic tools at his disposal, and he continued to bail the heroes of the trilogy out of difficult situations despite being the smallest member of the group. As such, R2-D2’s toys are always big sellers.
When Kenner rolled out the Power of the Force line in 1995 rebooting the franchise in toy form R2-D2 was a good showcase figure on what these toys could be when compared to the vintage line. Now there’s nothing wrong with the vintage R2-D2. It was a good toy and a product of its time. However the sculpting on the dome was way off, the body detailing was just a sticker, and he lacked the middle leg. When comparing the vintage figure to the Power of the Force figure based purely on an accuracy standpoint, the newer figure wins hands down.
The spinning top dome actually looks like R2-D2 now rather than a flashlight lens with a couple of dots around it. Not only does the dome look screen accurate but there is an added feature that the vintage figure lacked. The top of R2-D2’s dome is semi-translucent which allows light to enter. This light is piped to the central “eye” on the front of R2’s dome which allows it to glow. By moving your finger on and off of the top of the dome the central eye will blink. The body has sculpted detailing that is film accurate as opposed to a printed sticker which makes it look much more like a miniature of the film prop than a children’s toy. But the biggest improvement is the inclusion of the middle leg which is retractable. By pushing it up inside the body R2-D2 can stand at attention. Using your fingernail to pry on his “toe” pulls the leg out and allows him to freely roll through the corridors of the Death Star. The only problem is that when R2’s leg is retracted it has a tendency to fall. Yes, R2-D2’s 3rd leg doesn’t always want to stay up. Considering he’s among the oldest of the characters in the saga that makes sense. Some guys have trouble with that as they get older. Aside from the limp appendage there aren’t any other complaints.
Since this was a great toy and plentiful in it’s heyday it is also extremely common on the secondary market so it doesn’t command much money. On top of that, all encompassing toy giant Hasbro is still making Star Wars figures and since R2 is among the most popular characters in the Star Wars universe there is always a new version of the little droid hanging from the pegs. Since he’s had umpteen billion iterations over the last two decades since this figure was released there simply isn’t much demand for this specific figure. Even without the demand however, I still have fond memories of him and watching his third leg spontaneously drop.