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Battle Of The 6-inch Figures!

Today I want to continue the 1/12 scale Star Wars action figure retrospective. Previously I focused on single characters. For this article I focus on characters and figures that don’t warrant an article of their own, but which have still various options available and where it makes sense to talk about what is the “best” or “ultimate” version. In this article I cover the characters Count Dooku, Mace Windu, C-3PO and R2-D2! So click through for the battle of their 6-inch action figures!

Count Dooku is very much looking forward to this battle

Let’s begin by looking at the most iconic and most famous Star Wars droids: C-3PO and his best friend R2-D2. There are quite a number of options available for both characters.

To remind everyone how C-3PO and R2-D2 are supposed to look here is a production still from A New Hope.

R2-D2 is not looking entirely screen accurate here and C-3PO’s eyes are not illuminated, but the overall shape, size and proportions of the characters are of course just like in the movie.

Let’s focus on R2-D2 first!

The Black Series R2-D2 figure. This figure was repainted and repacked various times, I will not cover any of the variations here, since it’s always the very same sculpt.
Back in 2013 R2-D2 was a massive pegwarmer. That changed once C-3PO was released years later and all of a sudden people paid crazy money on the aftermarket to get the very worst R2-D2 6-inch scale figure. It looks cheap, it’s woefully underscaled and just look at the warped legs, something virtually all TBS astromechs suffer from. And you need to turn the head to lower the middle leg, which is an awkward solution. Even all the various accessories you get with the original release really don’t make this figure any better.
For a while Revoltech also made 6-inch scale Star Wars figures. Their R2-D2 is of much higher quality than the TBS version. However, this astromech is somewhat too tall and slightly out of scale. The dome shape is also somewhat wrong.
Mafex released a C-3PO & R2-D2 2-pack. The Mafex R2-D2 is a contender for best R2 figure. It has the accurate scale and it comes with useful accessories. His tray with drinks from Return of the Jedi and a Leia hologram figure to recreate the iconic scene from A New Hope. He also has some weathering applied, which looks quite nice. However, there’s one big downside: you cannot buy this figure alone, you also need to buy a  quite terrible C-3PO figure (more about that later).
S.H.Figuarts also released R2-D2, as a single figure. I will not really cover the Bandai model kit, since the sculpt of the model kit is virtually identical to the SHF action figure and has the exact same scale. The big plus of the SHF version is, that it is painted, whereas the model kit needs to be painted for best results, otherwise the dome looks a bit dull and overall the model kit looks more plasticky, of course. Anyway, the SHF figure of R2-D2 turned out excellent. The figure has a slight wash to highlight all the panels. You don’t get all that many accessories (you get some extra parts for the legs that were used by Kenny Baker when he was inside the droid), but you can open the panels and reveal some tools. You can also change the color of the lights on R2’s dome with a push of a well hidden button (the periscope lens on the dome and one of the blue dome panels double as buttons), which is something no other R2 figure gives you.
Just for reference, this is the Bandai model kit version of R2-D2 with its various accessories. If you are a talented model builder and painter this version is probably the one that gives you the most options. You also get a really fabulous R5-D4 model in the same box! Or you can buy the option that comes with BB-8.
And here is the Black Series R2-D2 next to the S.H.Figuarts R2-D2. The TBS R2 is just a terrible sculpt, using cheap plastic, suffering from warped legs and Hasbro should really revisit their astromech sculpts. Back then the size of R2 was actually limited by the size of the TBS box, a serious design oversight. Maybe they should have given R2 a different box… For that reason the SHF box for R2 is deeper than most of their other boxes for Star Wars figures. It really is no contest here. In my opinion the SHF R2-D2 figure is the best one you can get. You don’t have as many display options, but a) you don’t need to buy a rather bad C-3PO figure like Mafex forces you to do and b) the looks are just close to perfect. Of course if you are a talented model builder then the almost identical looking Bandai model kit can be customized and painted to your heart’s content and made to look like any other astromech as well.

So to sum things up: the Black Series R2-D2 figure is the worst of them all, by quite a margin. The Mafex R2 is a really great version and it also comes with some useful accessories, but you also get another figure you really don’t want to own. The SHF R2 figure is in perfect scale, uses high quality materials and looks pretty much perfect. Also, I think the blue on the SHF R2 looks slightly more accurate than the blue Mafex used. The model kit is actually the cheapest option, comes with an additional R5 droid, but for best results it requires paint. The SHF R2 is therefore the best action figure, since it requires no additional work at all.

Now that we have looked at R2-D2 it’s time to look at action figures of C-3PO. Which version is the best? Let’s find out!

Let’s look at the Black Series version of C-3PO first. I will not cover all the various variants. This is the photoreal version with elbow articulation, previous C-3PO figures had no elbow articulation. But the overall sculpt is the same, except for the torso wiring.
The Black Series C-3PO is a solid figure. Sculpt is quite good. Hasbro no longer vac metalizes figures (at least for Star Wars figures), but his gold paint is a good approximation of his onscreen look. I would recommend you get one of the later iterations of C-3PO because of the photoreal eyes and elbow articulation.
Revoltech also made a C-3PO figure. It’s much too stylized though and looks all wrong. However, it is a lot more shiny than the TBS version. But the overall aesthetics are just bad. One plus is that this figure also comes with a mouse droid.
Mafex’ C-3PO is not available as an individual figure. You either get this version with R2-D2 or a version with a red arm with BB-8. The overall looks of the figure may be quite ok, C-3PO also has the proper shinyness. However, the hip joints don’t look all that good and the Mafex figure has serious QC issues. The figure literally falls apart when you take it out of the box. Chances are you have to glue parts together again. If you can live with the horrible QC issues then this C-3PO is a good looking figure and apart from the hips it also looks better than the Black Series version. The figure is a little bit taller than other C-3PO figures, but not so much that you cannot pose it with human Black Series figures, but it is a bit too tall.
Bandai released a model kit version of C-3PO. It is the ONLY C-3PO with the proper shinyness. All the parts a vac metalized. You get various display options for the model. You can choose between different face plates (dent or no dent), you can also display him with one of his eyes torn out (which requires paint), you also get a restraining bolt (which needs to be painted) and you get a different set of arms with articulation, but then the pistons are not vac metalized. Articulation and vac metalization don’t go well together. For best looks you should use the arms without articulation. Photos do not really do the figure justice. The shiny nature of the figure will always cause weird reflections. I can tell you that this is the ONLY C-3PO that 100% looks like the character in the medal ceremony scene. If you are a talented painter you can of course weather the figure. But even with no paint applied this is the best looking C-3PO.
S.H.Figuarts eventually released a C-3PO as well. The sculpt is excellent overall, but one detail may bug you, because it’s wrong. 3PO’s neck is too elongated and doesn’t look all that accurate. The upside is that this C-3PO has much better head articulation than the TBS version. You decide what is more important to you. C-3PO is not really vac metalized, but the paint SHF used is quite shiny and looks much better than the Black Series versions. You get a few hands and an alternate dented face place as accessories as well as a tiny communicator C-3PO used on the Death Star. One of the alternate hands can hold the communicator.
And here is a quick comparison between the SHF C-3PO and TBS C-3PO, next to a Figuarts Luke Skywalker figure. The SHF Luke is as tall as the TBS version. And as you can see the TBS C-3PO sculpt has one serious flaw. C-3PO is too short. According to Wookiepedia C-3PO should be about 5 cm (2 inches) taller than Luke. And as you can see SHF C-3PO has the proper scale (the model kit is also a little bit shorter than the SHF figure). You can also see that the gold color on the SHF figure does look a lot better than the TBS gold color.

So what is the ultimate C-3PO figure? It depends. Based on looks the model kit is the very best version of C-3PO, even without any paint applied the figure looks excellent. However, you do get the clean medal ceremony version. But none of the action figures of C-3PO are weathered either. Only the Mafex C-3PO has some weathering applied to it, but nowhere near enough for his look on Tatooine. The vac metalized Bandai C-3PO has to be seen with your own eyes, photos of him always look weird due to the many reflections.
If building model kits is not your thing then I feel that the SHF C-3PO figure is overall the best you can get. Details are extremely crisp, there are zero QC issues and apart from the somewhat elongated neck to allow for head articulation the sculpt is quite excellent. You also get more articulation than with the Black Series version. Of course with the SHF C-3PO you only get one version of him (you can replace the face plate however with a dented version). But I would guess that many prefer the silver leg version.

Next up is Mace Windu. We have two options for him. The Black Series and S.H.Figuarts. Which one is better?

Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu. No hair, no beard, this should be an easy likeness to sculpt!
For a long time only S.H. Figuarts gave collectors prequel figures, whereas Hasbro mostly ignored the prequels for several years. The SHF Mace Windu figure looks excellent. The figure comes with a serious look (pictured here) and a REALLY serious look.
This is the alternate REALLY serious headsculpt. This photo also much better represents Mace’s skin and tunic color, the previous photo used a lot of flash which makes the skin and tunic look much brighter than they really are.
In my opinion the likeness here is excellent.
Hasbro eventually found out that collectors don’t really hate the prequels (or at least action figures from the movies) and a few years after SHF they finally released a Black Series Mace Windu.
It’s a really good figure. Most people will probably go for the TBS version, since it is (was) much cheaper. The sculpt here is also quite excellent and I find it next to impossible to determine a winner here, since both the Black Series and S.H. Figuarts heads look very much like Samuel L. Jackson. In natural light I think the SHF figure has the somewhat more accurate tunic color. Also, the tunic looks more like fabric, whereas the TBS tunic looks a bit plasticky. However, the TBS version does give you a (flimsy looking) Jedi robe for a change, the SHF figure has no robe at all.

So what is the best Mace Windu 6-inch scale figure? I would say it’s probably a draw here. You cannot go wrong with either version of Mace. If more fluid and the overall much better articulation matter to you and a somewhat less plasticky look overall then SHF Mace Windu will be your preferred version. Also, the SHF figure has somewhat more accurate tunic colors (in my opinion), but in actuality both TBS and SHF Mace look about the same.

And finally let’s look at Count Dooku!

Christopher Lee as Dount Dooku.
S.H.Figuarts released their Count Dooku figure first. In my opinion the likeness is pretty great here. However, the beard shouldn’t be all that much white, but as far as beards are concerned, which are notorioulsly difficult to get right, it still looks quite good. SHF tried to faithfully recreate Dooku’s chain. The cape also looks more or less exactly like in the movie. However, the cape is also a bulky, unwieldy mess and almost impossible to drape correctly. It may have the correct aesthetics, but it just looks terrible overall. Also, the figure is somewhat over-engineered. SHF gave Dooku chest articulation, but this results in a figure that seems to wear a sports bra. Also, the color scheme of the figure looks all wrong. There’s some debate about what the actual color of Dooku’s tunic is, there are also differences between movies, but whatever the real color of Dooku’s costume may be, the SHF color scheme looks nothing like Dooku in the movies, it is much too light.
You also get a second headsculpt with the SHF Count Dooku figure, which has a very faint smile. Sculpt is still good here, but just see how ugly the breast part of the figure looks. The SHF figure does come with extra Sith lightning hands, which does provide you with some extra display options.
The Black Series Count Dooku was released several months after the SHF figure. The sculpt is excellent and even somewhat better than the SHF sculpt. Also, Hasbro gave Dooku the correct beard color. The cape is not really accurate, it’s somewhat thin and flimsy, however, the aesthetics of the cape are MUCH better than what you get with the SHF figure. It drapes rather nicely. The plastic chain looks a bit cheap, but the metal chain of the SHF figure is not entirely accurate either. The big pro here is that the TBS figure has the correct looking tunic color. The “swoosh” extra lightsaber part you get as an accessory is probably not all that useful, the Force lightning hands the SHF figure give you are a much more useful option.

So what is the best Count Dooku figure? The answer is quite easy: the Black Series Count Dooku just looks a lot better than the SHF version. Figuarts sometimes have the tendency to over-engineer things, and Count Dooku is a victim of that. Also, while the cloth cape faithfully replicates the look of the movie cape it’s virtually impossible to drape. I used a paper clip to make it look better, with the paper clip that holds the cape together it does look actually pretty great and just like in Revenge of the Sith, but you shouldn’t need to use a paper clip to make the cape look ok. But even then the terrible, terrible chest articulation ruins the overall aesthetics of the figure. No chest articulation would have been the much better choice here.

And that concludes today’s battle of the 6-inch scale Star Wars action figures!

To sum up things one final time:

Best R2-D2: the SHF R2-D2, followed by the model kit which does require some extra work though for best results. The TBS astromechs are just bad and the sculpt should be retired.

Best C-3PO: the Bandai model kit, hands down. The best action figure that requires no assembly is the SHF C-3PO. The (more recent) TBS versions look ok, but are somewhat too short and the gold color is the worst of all the C-3PO 1/12 scale figures.

Best Mace Windu: it’s a draw between SHF and TBS Mace Windu, if looks are all that matter to you. If you prefer premium materials, a somewhat less plasticky look and the more fluid articulation then SHF Mace is the version you want.

Best Count Dooku: the Black Series Count Dooku beats the SHF version where it matters: overall aesthetics. SHF Dooku may have the better accessories and better overall articulation, but the articulation also destroys the sculpt here and the cape looks horrible without using something like a paper clip to drape it properly.

What are your favorite 6-inch scale action figures of R2-D2, C-3PO, Mace Windu and Count Dooku? Do you hope Hasbro will eventually retool and redesign their astromechs in the Black Series from scratch?

 

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