LEGO's latest addition to the Ultimate Collector Series range makes a welcome change from the massive ships that have dominated the previous few offerings, and allows people like me who have limited shelf space a massive sigh of relief. Does it also represent a return of the Star Wars sculptures that appeared in the early days of UCS? I doubt it, but I wouldn't complain!
Everyone knows R2-D2 - even non-Star Wars fans. He's become something of a household name in the 35 years since the release of Episode IV: A New Hope. So it makes sense for LEGO to release a large-scale set based upon the little whistling tin box, perhaps hoping to entice some casual trade... I can certainly imagine a few dads picking up this set whilst ostensibly shopping for their kids. But let's take a look at how this set shapes up to an AFOL's scrutiny.
Review: 10225 Ultimate Collector Series R2-D2
Theme: Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series
Release: 1 May 2012
Price: GB £149.99 | US $179.99 | EUR 179.99 - 189.99 | AU $249.99 | CA $229.99
Presenting the iconic R2-D2 as you've never seen him before. Everyone's favorite droid from the Star Wars galaxy is now part of the ultimate collector series and features fantastic detailing, such as rectractable third leg, front panels that open to reveal a universal computer interface arm and a circular saw, rotating head and 2 fold-out front spacecraft linkage control arms. With the included fact plaque and mini R2-D2 figure, this diminutive model is the perfect addition to your Star Wars collection! Measures over 12” (31cm) high and 7” (18cm) wide.
• Ultimate Collector Series R2-D2™!
• Features retractable third leg!
• Front panels open to reveal a universal computer interface arm and circular saw!
• Features realistic rotating head!
• R2-D2 features 2 fold-out front spacecraft linkage control arms!
• Includes fact plaque and R2-D2 minifigure!
• Measures over 12” (31 cm) high and 7” (18 cm) wide!
This is a tall box. Presumably the box dimensions are determined partly by the size of the model, allowing it to fill the available space. Certainly this is an imposing cover image, and it really stands out in the shop. It's also heavy, and feels worth the price.
By accident or design, the 2011-2012 'Darth Maul' SW livery really suits this set. Its primary colours match perfectly; though Maul himself looks a little incongruous. The 'faux-Falcon' backdrop of the box front also seems to have been colour-matched, and will appeal to Original Trilogy diehards, while the rear diorama features a rather ambiguous landscape which could be Tatooine or possibly Geonosis.
As we've come to expect, the rear details the set's features in a number of little insets, and reminds us that this set comes with the necessary UCS Display Plaque (despite the lack of the 'Ultimate Collector Series' tagline anywhere else on the box, which might be a language issue).
Only one side of the box - the left, as you look at it - holds anything of interest.
Here R2 poses for the camera; though if the rendered images behind him are instructions for how he should pose, he's chosen to do it his own way.
Fortunately for us box-collectors, R2's box has simple end-flaps, so there's no tearing or origami required to get in. Out of the box fall a nicely cardboard-backed instructions-and-sticker sheet pack, a single loose black 8x16 tile, and fifteen polybags, some fecund with smaller offspring.
The evil instructions had arranged themselves especially to torment me with the vile Gewinne Kid, but I outsmarted them. Decals defend us!
The build is modular, and the polybags labelled 1 to 10. The polybags from stages 1 to 5 can be seen here; stages 6 to 10 are worth a little comment:
I think 10 is the highest number I've seen on modular builds. Confusion between 6 and 9 is prevented by a little dot denoting the bottom of the number, but for some reason only on the small polybags.
Decal Sticker Sheet
The only sticker is the smart decal for the display plaque.
I think LEGO struggled to find useful information to put on here!
Three identically-fronted booklets accompany the set. Books 1 and 2 have high-quality paper covers; book 3's cover is lower quality. Maybe this is because the Gagne Kid is on the rear of book 3 and they didn't want to waste good paper on the horrible child.
The instructions are clear, easy to follow, with piece-callouts and no colour issues. Apart from a faint Maul watermark at the top right on some pages, there is no decoration. The steps continue right to the rear cover of book 1 ...
... while book 2's rear advertises the latest game on starwars.lego.com. An odd choice for a 16+ set, though the game is fun for a few seconds.
The introduction to book 1 contains a summary of the modules and what sections of the droid they build. However, it tells a little lie (at least to me):
Apparently there should be a brick separator included with bag one, but I didn't get one. Truth is, I can live quite happily without it, but I still feel somehow cheated.
Book 3 contains the now-obligatory set inventory, which in this large set spans three pages. Pages one and two can be seen here; page three faces the set features, and is here.
Many would be nicely surprised by the summer sets, revealed with their characters at the rear of the book:
Not me. I read Eurobricks. It does give us an idea of the relative sizes of the boxes, though, and if you want to see the characters closer-up, click here.
For the sake of my sanity, I've displayed the parts in modular order. This will produce a degree of repetition, I'm afraid. There are ten modules, so we're in for a bit of a trawl. I'll do my best to be brief.
Bag One builds the base of the tin can.
'Oh, say can you see...' It's a patriotic selection , but largely a collection of basic bricks and plates in basic colours. The only noteworthy parts here are the four 1x2x3 panels, new here in Earth Blue.
Bag Two, which builds the centre of the tin can, continues the basic brick theme, but introduces some colourful Technic. There's nothing new here, but the large number of white jumper plates (38 in the set in total) might prove useful.
I must mention at this juncture two points of interest. Firstly, there is considerable colour variability in the white pieces in this set. Some are creamy-white, others best described as 'extremely light grey'. It's best seen in the 2x1 bricks:
The second panel also shows this colour difference, but also reveals a difference in the stud design in the 1x2x5 bricks. This mold difference is of little significance, but the colour variability is a more serious issue, which I've not noticed before in white parts. Still, it's not so noticeable on the finished set.
Topping off the tin can, Bag Three is where the dark blue parts start to appear in quantity, though of course white is still the dominant colour.
There's a useful number of white tiles, and it's nice to see some green headlight bricks. The obligatory cheese wedges make their first appearance in this bag.
Uh-oh, there's been an explosion of Technic in Bag Four:
The... interesting colour choices here indicates that whatever this bag builds is destined for the deep interior of the model.
Bag Five will produce R2's 'third leg' :
This rather unexciting selection is strangely reminiscent of early Technic sets. I was puzzled as to what use the four semicircular curves would be put as I arranged these.
The side legs come from Bag Six, which contains some more Earth Blue and a sizeable number of white SNOT brackets:
I was slightly perturbed at the sudden appearance of flick-fire missile pieces in this set, but, rest assured, that is not their purpose here.
R2's feet are made from Bag Seven:
Some nice white slopes bolster an otherwise unremarkable selection here.
I really had no idea what Bag Eight was for when I opened it. It's the smallest of the ten modules:
Nice curves! But the star attraction here - and the highlight of the set, parts-wise - are the four flexible 12L hose parts, new to this set in Reddish Brown.
We get a welcome relief from white as we move onto R2's head in Bag Nine:
... but at the expense of an expanse of bluish grey. Still, there's a lovely spread of earth blue bricks and plates here.
And finally, Bag Ten tops off R2's head and builds the display plaque:
Again, the earth blue parts brighten up an otherwise dull selection.
Overall, you'd be forgiven for being a little disappointed with the spread of parts in this set: if you're looking for rare or unique pieces, this isn't a good choice for a parts pack. If, however, you're looking for quantity, particularly of small plates and bricks in white, light bluish grey and dark blue, then this could indeed be useful to bolster your collection. But I'm not sure that's the best reason for buying this set!
Let's build this beauty! We start with the base of the tin can. A ring of plates is built up with bricks, and even early on interesting things start to happen, with slopes forming roughly circular alcoves at top left and bottom right, and interesting indentations of unknown purpose here and there. The whole build is full of intriguing details, which start to make sense as the model progresses, and keeps things interesting.
The colourful interior is intriguing too, if rather garish. I had no idea what the bright inverted slopes were meant to achieve at this point, but all is revealed later. (The same can't be said of the orange pieces: I still don't know what those achieve!) Note the white slopes at the rear, which hint of some half-stud offsetting to come.
Moving on to module 2, we now use the 1x2x5 wall pieces to build up the rear at an offset, and we discover that R2-D2 is apparently Powered by Octan. Or should that be, 'Octan Inside!' The purpose of the hole in the rear will become apparent later.
Now Technic makes its entry, in a minor way. The yellow Technic perpendular connectors you can see here behind R2's opening front doors are important, as we shall see (but I was mystified as I was building it).
As we reach the end of bag 2, R2's shoulder joints are rounded nicely:
... and some more colourful Technic forms internal bracing, which is necessary as this is a heavy model.
The tin can is starting to take shape, but I was a little surprised at this point by what seemed like unfinished areas: the front will be completed shortly...
... but I was worried that the exposed red and yellow alcoves at the sides seemed to have been forgotten about.
Module 3 is small but special, and deserves note for some wonderful techniques.
R2's front vents are created using ingenious SNOT-work. The wheelarch pieces sit bottom-to-bottom, attached using the green headlight bricks I mentioned earlier; between them is slotted a little tiled section which fits snugly and closes off the gap. It isn't attached, but doesn't rattle. Plates and tiles close off the sides, and the whole thing slides into the front recess of R2's body with barely a gap. A delightful detail.
From the murky depths of module 4 arises a monster of the darkest hells:
I can readily believe that the designer built this as a prototype which then got buried in the model and couldn't be retrieved again. Seriously, it's hard to get this beast out again once it's secured in R2's innards. But it does look rather thrown together. As you might have guessed, this is the third leg-raising/lowering mechanism; the yellow connector in the centre joins to the elastic banded 2L liftarms to form a simple rocker switch which latches the rack, keeping the third leg in the raised or lowered position.
Here's a tip: if you haven't built this yet, make sure the 8-tooth gears at the front and back of this contraption spin freely. It'll make the third leg work a lot better, and as I've already said it is a mammoth job getting this contraption out again later.
The beast is lowered into its lair, and secured with axles at either end.
At the lower end, they are pushed in from the outside, and finally those colourful indents are closed up with some nice SNOT grille-work.
We're nearly half-way through, but things speed up from now on. Module 5 builds R2's retractable third leg:
The long Technic rack will feed into the yellow-green monster from the previous step; the slopes of the foot marry up with the colourful inverted slopes inside the body. The brightly-coloured turntable will attach R2's head.
Now we build R2's side legs, and again there are some great techniques used here. SNOT abounds; the many white SNOT brackets I mentioned in the Parts section are mounted above one another, allowing tiles to attach vertically and provide some added rigidity.
However, most of the strength comes from the Technic liftarms, but in contrast to most similar builds, here you build the bricks first and add the Technic later. It's a minor point, but it really feels like this is a sculpture with technic added for strength, rather than a technic frame with bricks attached.
Now come the feet:
I've 'exploded' one to show the innards. Two things puzzled me as I built it: firstly, the 'missing' 4-stud section from the bottom of the feet, which is built separately, and added later; and secondly, the three 2x1 cheese wedges used instead of slopes on the inward-facing aspects of the feet. The former, it transpires, is necessary to allow placement of a small stud-pin to secure the long Technic liftarms from the bottom of the legs in to feet ...
... and the latter is explained by next section. Here we build two lovely curved things which I presume are R2's motors:
A sandwich of six 1x2 double SNOTty bricks is the key here. And the six-stud length of this section explains the three 1x2 cheese wedges of the feet, which form a little recess into which the motor bit fits snugly.
Nearly there! Now we get a lesson in building a hemisphere.
The placement of dark and regular blue bricks and plates seems a little random at first, but it starts to come together into a nice pattern, and we can see how R2's projector nozzle is attached at a kooky angle. The dome starts to taper here ...
... and this continues as his dome is built up with bley bricks and plates.
The blue clippy-plate at the front will allow R2's 'eye' to sit at a slight angle.
Either R2's going rusty, or he's bumped his head and has a nasty bruise.
Don't worry, these surprising colours are hidden; they hold the axle of the colourful turntable we built earlier.
Finally, there's just the display plaque to build:
It's a simple little thing, but nicely rounded off. I'm glad that today's UCS sets use a single large tile to attach the sticker, which saves the STicker Across Multiple Pieces problems of the early sets. And don't forget R2's little Mini-Me!
The Complete Set
Now we get to have a good look round the little fella!
Aww, he's rather cute! But let's stay focused. Front on, the shape is pretty-much spot on, though the body could perhaps be a brick wider at either side; if anything, he's a little skinny. I think the roundness of the body has been achieved fairly well despite the blocky construction which is part-and-parcel of building with LEGO, and I personally would rather the model looked like LEGO. Of particular note in this portrait-view are the dark blue transverse panels, the ovoid vents, and the circular doodah at centre-bottom; all superbly rendered.
The back is a little plain, but it's meant to be. The centre is dominated by the rocker switch which controls the third leg retraction:
You can see here how the half-stud offset is used to create a little detail without adding unwanted colours; it's not entirely successful, and causes the roundness to be lost a little.
The side view highlights one of the real triumphs of the set: the legs. Some serious thought has gone into their design.
I love the chunky curves of the shoulders, and the dark blue and grey detailing down the centre. This is also a good place to highlight the little round recess at the rear (on this side) of the lower body.
How successful is the brick-built dome?
I think it works very well! The studs help to round it off. LEGO designers have a lot of experience with building spheres, so I would expect this to be good; what makes it more interesting is the blue areas, which use a little cheat: the grey stripes should be centred, but are displaced a stud to the side. This is hardly noticeable, and certainly doesn't detract. There should, however, be six blue panels. It's also worth noting the regular blue spots: these give the impression of light reflections off the dome, and make up for it not being shiny.
Let's take this opportunity to take a look at the real R2, here in a screen-shot from The Empire Strikes Back:
You can see how well the circular thingy comes across in the LEGO version, and the ovoid vents look great, even though they should be sqaurer. The little octagonal recess at the side is visible, and even the little recess to the (our) left of the circular thing has been rendered into LEGO. The legs are pretty much perfect; R2's red spot should perhaps be a little bigger in the LEGO version. Overall, a near spot-on re-creation!
So, R2-D2... you look good, but what can you do?
Ok, so this isn't an action, but it's worth a closer look. R2's feet are things of beauty. I never thought I'd say that. But they are!
The curvy motor units really make this set. They are an integral part of R2 but one that most wouldn't remember if asked to sketch him from memory. Joined as they are by the rusty cables, they look perfect. This is also a good opportunity to look again the little octagonal recess in the side of the body, and the round thingy at the front. One slight criticism here is that the cheese-wedge detail around the bottom of the body doesn't continue round the sides; this is necessary to accommodate the motors, and is a minor point.
Moving up, we get a closer look at the ovoid vents, and the circular thing.
The ovoid vents should be squarer, but their appearance and construction is so delightful that I'll forgive them anything. The two white 1x1 bricks with handle allow the side gadget panels to be opened, as we shall see shortly.
And here they are opened. R2's right compartment reveals his computer interface arm, in use in just about every Star Wars film, and the left contains the buzz saw, used to escape the Ewok net in Return of the Jedi.
It should be noted that the opening panels should be taller, and flank the blue transverse panels rather than being beneath them, but I can live with this minor inaccuracy.
Moving round the back, we can see a close-up of the controls.
We've already seen the central rocker switch; note the two Technic axle connectors at each side, which turn the mysterious yellow perpendicular connectors I mentioned during the build.
Here's what they do:
Turning the knob causes the arm to pop out! You have to extend the tool yourself, but the mechanism for elevating the arm is remarkable in its simplicity. I wasn't expecting this feature, and it was a lovely surprise!
Above this, we have the dark blue transverse panels. These open, to opposite sides, which is correct to the movies ...
... revealing some pearl gold things. I don't know what these panels for for, but we see them open in ROTJ, when R2 gets shocked by a laser blast outside the Endor bunker, and R2 uses one as a 'hand' at some point in one of the films (which I can't remember currently. It'll come back to me. )
R2 wouldn't be R2 if his head didn't turn. It turns rather well:
Finally, the pièce de résistance:
R2 can be posed in 'tripod' mode. To do this, you have to lift the model, and flick the rocker switch to the 'down' position. If you followed my advice during the build section (or were just careful when you built it), the leg will drop down and latch in this position. Now lean R2 forward, manouevering the body over the motor blocks, and it will come to rest like this. The action is a little tricky, but works nicely, and R2 looks superb with his third leg out; when retracted, the third leg is virtually invisible.
Here he is from behind, in 'See ya, loser!' mode (as he might have said to C-3PO on Tatooine).
His legs look fantastic from this angle ...
... as they do from the side:
If I have one tiny criticism here, it is that the third leg should perhaps extend a little further, so R2 leans back a little more. I think this would be easily achieved by modifiying the 'yellow beast' retraction mechanism deep in R2's innards, but it's such a hassle getting it out again that this will have to wait for another day.
I have to say, there's incredible attention to detail in the design of this set. The characteristic blue transverse panels, the ovoid vents, the circular doodah at the centre-bottom are all realised beautifully in the unforgiving medium of LEGO. Of course the body isn't perfectly circular, and the ridged sides bely the brick construction, but this set achieves something remarkable: it is recognisably a LEGO sculpture, and a near-spot on facsimile of a science fiction icon, and it is packed full of delightful features that will keep you coming back to the set (and make you the envy of all your friends!). Moreover, it is an absolute joy to build! The build is fascinating: both in terms of interesting techniques and lovely little surprises on the way.
I think the biggest appeal of this set - and which is likely to attract casual fans who wouldn't normally buy LEGO - is that is makes a great centrepiece. You can guarantee that this will keep the guests at your dinner party amused while you bin the burned lasagne and call for a pizza. And I just know that this set will pass the Sister test: my sister will love it. She's not into LEGO, but likes Star Wars; the only other set she's shown any interest in is the Motorised AT-AT. I strongly suspect she'll love this one.
Design: 9 This is by a long way the best LEGO rendition of R2-D2 that we've seen in a set. Admittedly, the competition consists of Technic versions and minfigures, but this really is a superb realisation of the iconic astromech droid. It is indeed a beautiful sculpture, true to form and its own LEGOness, and packed with working features. It's not entirely accurate; I've mentioned the narrowness of the body and the incorrect number of dome-panels, amongst other things, but the overall appearance more than makes up for this.
Build: 10 I loved every minute of this build. Throughout it is interesting, with minimal repetition, and full of intriguing details which reveal themselves as the build progresses. I can't count the number of times I wondered what a certain recess or SNOT panel was going to turn out to be, or what a Technic thingamybob would end up doing, and was delighted by the revelation.
Parts: 7 The part selection looks a little mundane, but it makes up for lack of unique parts with sheer quantity of useful day-to-day pieces if you intend to part the set out. And there's a decent quantity of basic dark blue bricks and plates, decidedly lacking in my current collection.
Playability & Displayability 10 Normally I would score a UCS set by 'shelf value' rather than playability; this set scores highly on both. It's a great centrepiece talking-point, and has features that'll keep you fiddling with it every time you pass. I keep changing its pose from two-legs to three-legs and vice versa every time I pass - I just love the way it does this!
Value: 10 Yes, it's 2000+ pieces for £150 pounds, which is good value, but that's not why it scores so highly. It's time for money that gets the points: quality time building, and the satisfaction you get from having this beauty, are worth far more than a couple of thousand parts.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the review. Agree? Disagree? Say so here!
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