• thebrickguy

R3-M2 Astromech (Review & Research)

This unique polybag that was released and floating around in the wild last in December 2016 has finally become a formal Gift With Purchase item in the UK and Malaysia recently. It still rings a mystery with the following questions that we will take you on a journey to discover and answer them hopefully.

  1. Why this particular droid release? Why not the more popular R2-D2?

  2. Who is this Astromech anyway? How is it relevant to the Star Wars Universe?

  3. That technic pin! It's something NEW from LEGO?

  4. The pin shows something upcoming, but what and who? More astromech droids?

Well, read on to find out the answers right after our Review!

The Review

First off, is the polybag itself. The packaging itself is quite different from the regular polybag packaging and material. It seems like its of a lesser quality and thinner with cheaper printing. Even the seal at the top shows some inconsistency across multiple packages, making it seem like it was manually sealed at times.

The bag holds another bag with the parts. The build instruction guide, a sticker, and a semi-sturdy-plastic-ish display card.

A quick knolling of the parts shows 22 parts (including spares). It's nice to find the CMF base stand used in something OTHER than the CMF issue packs. I've come to learn It's also used in the more recent Caterham and Temple of Airjitzu set. So it seems reusability is the theme here. That's the only thing that stood out for me.

The 2 unique printed parts are of course the R3-M2 droid itself. The dome element is translucent which makes it hard to see the detailing. The brown prints on the torso seems very familiar-ish from our good old buddy R2-D2.

The build is simple enough stand just shaped in the size of the CMF Minifigure stand element. A 4x1 Tile is left for the sticker to be mounted on.

There are two tiny perforated holes in the card to allow it to be slotted in and two technic parts are used to secure it to the back. The remaining parts you see are the only spares in this polybag, So technically its a 20-pc Polybag build.

For the life of me, I can't tell what's printed on the display card, it probably looks like a scene from the rebel / resistance base.

The final part of the build is the placement of the sticker.

The finished build is quite nice looking especially with the backing card and the stand.

Let's compare it to a R2-D2 Astromech. It seems like a exact replica in terms of the patterns with the exception of the large brown bars that stretch across both horizontally and vertically.

For the dome headpiece, it seems "almost" the same with minor differences.

These two could be cousins from their very similar look! Then again, most astromechs are somewhat related anyways. :-D

The Research

Let's start with the WHO and WHY question. Who is this R3 Astromech and why is it featured?

The R3-M2 is a droid that had its first (and only) appearance in Rogue One and created just for the movie. It didn't have much air-time, and to date, I'm still searching for the particular time-stamp. (I'll update this post once I do find it with some screenshots)

Is it a new concept?

The next question is about that technic pin, at the side. It surely screams out, MORE TO COME! Is this standee-figurine something new that LEGO is doing? Not really. In actual fact there has been something similar released in 2000. No technic pin, but similar minifiigure display with a stand and a backing card.

Image Source: http://www.brickwars-sets.com/

There were various 3-in-a-pack with stands and card backing (printed on both sides)

Image Source: eBay listing

At the back of each individual box showed the various other collections and a quick instruction guide, and you can see that it went beyond the Star Wars Franchise including City themes and others.

Image Source: http://www.chowrentoys.com

While the figures are standard issue from LEGO, the stands are unique elements. Perhaps it make sense for LEGO to issue brick-built standard parts for a Polybag issue instead of custom moulds that would cost more. It's also interesting to see how the cards are slot in with little notches to hold it in place.

Image Source: eBay listing

Now that we know it's been done in a similar concept before, what can we expect? Our favourite R2-D2? But wouldn't that be boring? We have tons of R2-D2's running around in a kazillion sets. So here's where our speculation starts.

What can we expect to be released?

While there have been speculation already in the internet regarding these toy sets, I learnt that these 4 droids which were released in 2016 under the Droid Factory series - and featured the new droids that only existed in Rogue One. These came up when I googled for R3-M2 so I'm just using that as a bread crumb to connect the dots.

It's somewhat not far to stretch that since R3-M2 was exclusive to Rogue One, why not feature all of Rogue One's droids exclusive? While you may say, hey, that's R5-D4 over there from A New Hope, but looks like it's not. I can't tell for sure yet, but since this is an official set release, looks like R5-D4 has a new buddy in R5-SK1.

Image Source: Jedibusiness.com

Image Source: Jedibusiness.com

Image Source: Jedibusiness.com

If the theme is spot on I can't wait to see the rest of these Astromech droids get featured, especially that R2-BHD has a metallic look! I wonder if LEGO will indeed give us a metallic paint job instead of a grey droid!

Image Source: JediTempleArchives.com

So there you have it, the *potential* Exclusives of Rogue One Astromech droids. While it may be speculation - it does seem somewhat plausible. If you hear of anything else that says otherwise, do feel free to drop us a note and share your thoughts!

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Research Sources (so you can learn more) ;-)