Fitz’s Toy Chest #11: R5-D4

Welcome back again guys. It’s time to open up the toy chest and rediscover another vintage treasure!

This week we’re going way back to circa 1979 to take a look at one of the figures released in 1978 as part of the first expansion of the Kenner Star wars line.

The Kenner line started off with just 12 figures but soon expanded to 20 when they began producing figures for “blink and you miss them” background characters like Snaggletooth, Hammerhead, etc.

Our subject this week is one of the more unlikely additions, since their entire on screen performance consisted of rolling forward a few feet and immediately exploding. While this proved to be possibly the most critical turn in the entire Saga, it doesn’t really do much to make for an exciting action figure.

Today we’re going to take a look at none other than the owner of the baddest bad motivator in the galaxy, R5-D4.

R5-D4
Company: Kenner
Acquisition Year: 1979?
Acquired via: Purchased ???
Years In Possession: 41

When I think back to those early days of Kenner Star Wars collecting, believe it or not the place that I’m reminded of most is Sears.

I can still see the 60s/70s tile on the floor that looked like millions of tiny stones embedded in the floor. The brown metal door frames of the entrance, with the big wide handles, and the snack bar that greeted you just inside the entrance. It had high bar tables and smelled like butter from all the ever present spilled popcorn on the ground.

It was just past this snack bar that the toy section could be found. My palms still get a little sweaty when I think about seeing the old 12 and 20 back figures on the pegs. I can still remember seeing an endcap display containing a pile of landspeeders and cantina playsets.

And it was there that I saw R5-D4 on the pegs for the first time.

Not the most glamorous figure to be sure, but being the only other astromech besides R2 in the original line made him kinda cool. (Even though this figure is 75% the exact same as the R2 figure)

He has the same leg sculp and body as the R2 figure with just a different color scheme (an odd orange color reminiscent of the sauce in Spaghettios)

One thing about the Kenner astromechs is, they weren’t overly concerned with the accuracy of their dome sculpts. Obviously the technology in the 70s didn’t allow for super detailed figures, but these droids only look like their onscreen counterparts in the loosest sense possible. However, that only adds to the charm in my opinion.

R5’s 3 orange “eyes” are just as real in my head canon as R2’s giant blue “eye”. Neither look anything like the film prop, but who cares?

As always thanks for reading, and I’ll be back soon to share some more gems from my personal collection of old ass plastic junk.

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Fitz’s Toy Chest #10 – Grimlock

What’s up guys. Christmas is over and it’s time to get back into the Toy Chest!

Last time I talked about the one that got away, Superion. I also went on at length about how cool it was that the Autobots countered the Decepticon’s first combiner team with a combiner of their own.

BUT!

What I did NOT talk about was how Superion was not the FIRST answer to the Constructicons!

Was this an intentional omission to service my Christmas narrative OR is my 46 year old brain beginning to lose its abiltity to remember trivial details accurately?

I’ll let you the reader decide the answer to that.

What I will say is that Devastator’s first defeat did not come at the hands of the Aerialbots. Thanks to a chance discovery of fossiles embedded in the walls of the volcano where the Autobots’ space ship was lodged, and the genius that is Wheeljack, Devastator’s first ass kicking came at the hands of…the Dinobots!

The leader of this uncontrollable force was one of the greatest characters to emerge from the Transformers universe. The mighty sword wielding Tyrannosaurus, Grimlock!

Grimlock
Company: Hasbro
Acquisition Year: 1985
Acquired via: Christmas gift
Years In Possession: 35

I can still remember the first time I saw this guy in toy form. My best friend in 5th grade (and fellow TF fanatic) got ahold of one first and smuggled him into school in his backpack. I remember sneaking a look during class behind the bookshelf at the front of the room. It was so cool looking!

I remember thinking that the dino head looked exactly like the cartoon (which was pretty rare for these toys, that let’s be honest, tended to be on the clunky/ugly side).

Grimlock was another hard to find character. The Dinobots in general were scarce enough, but Grimlock seemed even harder to find.

Even the way he transformed was unique. The way his chest split open, and how the dinosaur head flipped back to reveal the robot head was so much fun.

That’s one thing that isn’t talked about enough when it comes to Transformers, the way they’re engineered to convert from one form into a robot. They’re sculpture puzzles, Rubik’s Cubes in robot form. Each one with a different solution. I think they had a big impact on developing my memorization skills and problem solving abilities. It was always a proud moment when you had the transformation moves committed to memory and didn’t have to refer to the instructions.

Another thing that stood out about all the Dinobots was all the chrome and gold and red. I can’t really think of any other characters that had the same amount of shiny metal bits as the Dinobots.

The one aspect about Grimlock that I always found a little comical was his tiny little robot head. It’s absurdly small compared to how big his chest and shoulders are. But I guess it makes sense, small head = small brain, and he was definitely no Mensa candidate.

Anyway, that’s it for this installment. Sorry about the gap between posts, I hope to get back on a semi-regular schedule soon, as I’m currently reorganizing all of my collections so that they’re easier to access and photograph for this blog.

Thanks for reading, see you next time!

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