REVIEW: STAR WARS CLONE WARS R4-P17 DROID
There are certain types of Star Wars figures that will usually attract my attention. One of these is Clone Troopers and Stormtroopers, from both the movie-based Saga Legends collection, and the animated Clone Wars collection.
The other is astromech droids, like R2-D2 and company. And Hasbro has certainly made no shortage of them over the years. Although most of them have been part of the Movie-based lines, more of them are turning up in the Clone Wars line.
The cool thing about that is, that while the animated-style figures are not generally entirely compatible with their movie-based counterparts, simply because of the differing styles and visuals employed by the animated series, the astromech droids are, for the most part, close enough to each other to work well in either line. I mean, seriously, how far can you "stylize" one of these little fireplugs, anyway?
One recent such addition to the CLONE WARS line of action figures is a droid that actually has some presence in the live-action movies. Its name is R4-P17, and it first appeared in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
According to the Web Site "Wookieepedia", a superb source of information on all things Star Wars, R4-P17, nicknamed "Arfour", was the astromech droid assigned to Obi-Wan Kenobi's Delta-7 Starfighter, and was often on board his Delta-7B class Starfighter, and Eta-2 Class Light Interceptor prior to and during the Clone Wars. This was a droid that got around a fair bit.
According to the background details, R4-P17 was built on the planet Gyndine, by Industrial Automaton. The real surprise to me was that the "technical specifications" state that this droid has "feminine programming", so it is appropriate to refer to it as "she" or "her". Okay, I do recall that R2-D2 tends to be referred to as "he" rather than "it" -- but in the name of Yoda, how much difference does it make with these things? It's not like they're especially humanoid in appearance!
The droid originally possessed the R4-series' trademark conical head dome. At this point I would refer readers to the Star Wars New Essential Guide to Droids. While it doesn't cover the Clone Wars specifically, it is an excellent and highly illustrated book that discusses many of the droids of the Star Wars universe, and has an extensive section on all the various versions of the R-type astromech droids.
Anyway, R4 was involved in a rather messy incident while trying to repair a trash compactor on Gyndine (like there would be any other kind with a trash compactor?), resulting in the droid being crushed. Anakin Skywalker, on a visit to the shipyards to inspect the Jedi customizations to the Delta-7, found R4's wreck and rebuilt her with an R2-series dome. This kid just can't stop tinkering with droids.
From that point on the communal property of the Jedi Temple, R4 became the prototype for other integrated droid navigators in Jedi ships. As part of the Delta-7, the astromech had a truncated body which was permanently attached to the ship.
Prior to the Clone Wars, she helped Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi to follow Jango Fett's ship, the Slave I, from Kamino to Geonosis. The fighter that she was in was recovered during or after the battle that took place later.
During the Clone Wars, the Jedi began to transition away from the Delta-7. R4 was given a full astromech body as a result, to make her compatible with the new Delta-7B Interceptor and Eta-2 Interceptor used by General Kenobi. However, before she received her full body, Obi-Wan temporarily used a droid called R4-G9. After he switched back to R4-P17, Obi-Wan requisitioned a direct link between the two droids to ensure all flight performance records could be transferred between them.
R4 also journeyed to Tatooine, to negotiate with Jabba, and participated in the Battle of Teth. Later on in the way, she traveled to Rodia to stop the bounty hunter Cad Bane from kidnapping Wee Dunn, and to Mandalore when Kenobi was investigating rumors of the Duchess Satine Kryze creating an army for the Sepatarists. Like I said, this droid got around.
R4-P17 later suffered extreme damage due to her head being sliced by a buzz droid in the Battle of Coruscant while aboard Kenobi's Eta-2, and the remains of the droid were lost for good when the rear half of the ship "Invisible Hand" was severed while Skywalker and Kenobi tried to land the damaged flagship. This was shown in the opening segments of the movie Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Obi-Wan lamented the loss of R4-P17, as the droid had been a competent unit. He was soon after assigned R4-G9, whom had served as his interim astromech droid during the later stages of the Clone Wars.
One small behind the scenes note - in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, R4-P17 was originally supposed to be chained to one of the posts in the Geonosian execution arena along with Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme Amidala. However, this was changed, and the droid survived until the early parts of Episode III, and it's assumed that Kenobi's starfighter, and R4, were retrieved from Geonosis at some point, as stated earlier.
If you think about it, her removal from the scene makes more sense than her inclusion. Why would the wild animals that were brought forth to "execute" the two Jedi and Padme have any interest in chowing down on a droid? Add to the fact that by this point in the movie, R2-D2 and C-3PO were actively involved. And, if nothing else, a droid chained to a post alongside three humans probably would've looked silly.
So, how's the figure? Very well done. I must say. R4-P17 has a dark burgundy dome, with pewter gray detailing, and a white body with dark burgundy detailing.
It's interesting to compare this toy to an astromech from the movie-based line. R4-P17 is very slightly smaller, and shorter. This isn't really that big a deal, as the difference is nearly negligible. It is interesting to note the appearance changes. As one might expect, R4, modeled after the animated series, is somewhat simplified relative to the movie-based droids. There aren't quite as many visible panels on the cylindrical body, and there are fewer visible ridges at the base, and on the base of the feet. The sides of the legs are similarly simplified. It's not by a whole lot. I'd say it's still within the realm of possibility to "mix and match" the two lines of astromechs, certainly more than it is among the human characters between the two lines, but the differences are there, nevertheless.
The most obvious visual difference are the two bars across the front of the chest, which are in fact recessed manipulator arms. The Clone Wars design, which has been seen, not only in the show, but on numerous astromech droids on the show, including the best known of them all, R2-D2, is quite different than the live-action version. It is more jagged and less symmetrical. The funny thing is, it actually looks more complex than the live-action design. Sort of makes me wonder why they made the change, unless it was purely for aesthetic purposes, just to sort of set the animated droids apart a bit from their live-action counterparts.
Astromech droids can differ not only in their colors, but in how complex their color schemes are. I've got one astromech droid here from the movie-based line, I can't recall his name, but he's mostly a sort of brick orange in color, but he has all of these intricate little lines and segments in black and white all over himself, that looks like his owner took him to the Star Wars droid equivalent of a body shop and paid someone plenty of credits to do the ultimate trim job on him. Most droids, whatever their color schemes, are generally not so complex, although it can vary by degree and pattern rather considerably.
R4-P17 is fairly straight forward, although arguably I would say she's a little more complex in design patterning than R2-D2, who was pretty basic. R4-P17's head is dark burgundy, with pewter paneling. Her body is white, but there's no shortage of burgundy detailing here. Several of the droid's body panels are outlined in burgundy, and her legs are not only burgundy on the insides of the sides of the legs, but also a trim line around the edges, thicker at the top, and narrower on the way down to the feet.
The paint trim is excellent, and surprisingly complex. Everything has been very neatly painted, which is certainly a step up from an R5-D4 that I bought several years ago, whose three little eyes had obviously been painted with a very sloppy brush. The sheer number of colors used on R4-P17 is really remarkable. Her central eye is black, and a lower little optical piece is light blue. A panel to one side of her optical sensor has two little orange buttons in it. A small lens on the top of her dome is light blue. Moving around to the back of the head, there is a circular area that has been painted light green. Most remarkably, there is a series of five buttons within one panel, four of which have been painted four different shades of green and blue, while the last one is painted red. All of them exceptionally neatly. Now -- THAT'S an impressive paint job!
Probably to give the painters a break as much as anything, although the paint detailing on the droid's main body and legs is certainly very neatly done, it's nowhere near as complex, and is mostly burgundy, pewter, and a couple of spots of a coppery gold. The cables on the two outer feet are yellowish in color, but they are separate pieces that were molded in this color and then attached during assembly.
Of course, R4-P17, like any good astromech droid, can assume either a two-legged or three-legged stance. The third leg is a separate piece, that snaps in to a slot in the underside of the droid. Given that it's a relatively small piece that could be easily lost, I recommend snapping it in, and leaving it there.
R4-P17 has two small wheels underneath each of her side legs, and one small wheel underneath her third central leg. The wheels roll well enough to allow R4 to scoot along for a short distance on her own with a gentle push, on a smooth surface, but let's be honest -- this is a droid, not a Hot Wheels car. Still, it's nice that the wheels are included, for a little more authenticity and capability.
R4-P17 is not short on capabilities, however. This isn't just another robotic fireplug. Two of her panels on the front open on hinges, revealing manipulator arms, both of which can swivel outwards, and one of which has a small claw on it. There's a panel on her back that opens, revealing a tow cable and claw. This can be reeled out a short distance, and then reeled back in by turning the dome head.
Speaking of the dome head, it has a little sensorscope recessed in one of the top panels. It's easy to miss, and it doesn't come up all that easily, but it is there. That's quite a bit to pack into one small droid.
As far as basic articulation is concerned, it's very agreeable. R4-P17's head turns, the legs swivel, and the two feet pivot, to allow for a proper two-legged or three-legged stance. The central leg has no articulation of its own, unless you count the wheel. Admittedly, this doesn't sound like all that much, but it's more than adequate for what is required of the droid.
R4-P17 doesn't really come with any accessories, unless you count the third leg, which I regard as part of the droid. However, she does come with all of the items necessary to participate in the Galactic Battle Game presently being touted in all Star Wars action figure products, which includes a display base, plastic die, and battle card.
I haven't researched the game, but each card gives the character in question various numerical rankings in certain specific attributes. Not surprisingly, R4-P17 gets a "16" in Mechanical Skill. She gets a "14" in Intelligence, which could be really embarrassing for less-gifted organic beings. She also gets a "14" in Luck, and I'm not sure how valid that one might be, given that she started out getting crushed by a trash compactor, and ended up getting dissected by a buzz droid, and what was left of her ended up in the bad half of a entire starship getting torn apart. Sort of leaves one wondering whether it's better to be smart or lucky. At least if you're an astromech droid in wartime.
So, what's my final word here? This is a cool droid, and certainly a good addition to my overall Star Wars collection. R4-P17 isn't the first Clone Wars style droid I've brought in, and I doubt that she'll be the last. I'm pleased to have her. She has a distinctive color scheme, is well made, certainly well-painted and detailed, and has more special built-in features than one might expect just looking at her on a store shelf. Any Star Wars fan would be very pleased to bring R4-P17 into their collection. I know I was.
The STAR WARS CLONE WARS figure of R4-P17 definitely has my highest recommendation!