Redesigns are to LEGO Star Wars as J.J. Abrams is to mystery boxes: the two are inextricably intertwined, often way beyond the point of reason. I’m talking very pointedly there about the endless updates to classic characters like the Stormtrooper, which has led us down the dark path to today’s dual-moulded monstrosity, and the swiftly-abandoned Rebel Pilot helmet from 2018.
But at the other end of the spectrum sits R2-D2, the poor, forgotten astromech droid who’s still rolling around in the same threads he was wearing back in 1999. Sure, he’s sewn on a couple of patches and chucked them in with the laundry once or twice, but – to abandon that runaway metaphor – slightly updated printing just isn’t enough in 2021.
Look, I’m not expecting miracles here. I know Artoo is wildly out of scale with other minifigures, and that’s part of the LEGO charm. But next to the rest of the current cabal of Star Wars minifigures, the not-so-diminutive droid looks absolutely primitive.
In essence, it would only take two very simple changes to radically improve LEGO R2-D2, without losing all that makes him a minifigure – and without abandoning the droid’s entire brick legacy. The first is back printing, an addition that probably would have been revelatory sometime around 2005, but now feels painfully overdue.
The second is a tiny bit more complex in that it would require a slight reworking of R2’s timeless body element. Replacing the studs at the top with a turntable base (into which a turntable top could be placed) would allow for the droid’s dome to rotate – again, a feature that would have been mind-blowing, oh, 10 years ago?
If we’re talking pipe dreams, I’d also love a retractable third leg, or at the very least one that could be removed and reattached without resorting to potentially ‘illegal’ (by LEGO design standards) solutions. But given the character’s painfully slow evolution over the past two decades, I’m happy to start small for now.
That said, if the LEGO Group was planning to introduce a new version of R2-D2, it’s hard to think of a better time to do it than in a set dedicated entirely to everyone’s favourite astromech droid. So when the official images of 75308 R2-D2 landed online earlier today, seeing the same old minifigure in tow was deeply disappointing.
But I guess the LEGO Group needs to save something for the theme’s 25th anniversary.
Featured image background: Star Wars