I'll admit, I haven't been collecting the Star Wars Clone Wars action figure line all that much. Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge fan of Clone Troopers, and I'm delighted to see that George Lucas has been continuing the Star Wars saga with one of its most interesting segments, the Clone Wars.
However, I really do wish one thing. I wish that the character designs had been more realistic. Certainly LucasFilm is abundantly capable of it. And while I had nothing against the stories presented in the original cel-animated Clone Wars shorts, I wasn't all that fond of the character design style, and when the new Clone Wars CGI series came along, with designs that were largely based on that original animated style, it was a disappointment to me.
And, I haven't really been collecting the toys very much. While technically the various Clone Troopers aren't that far removed from their movie-based counterparts, unlike some of the characters who don't go around in full covering armor all the time, the figures are nevertheless distinctly on the skinny side, and in my opinion don't work all that well alongside their movie-based counterparts -- which is a shame because there's some interesting designs.
None of this is Hasbro's fault. In the case of Star Wars, both the Legacy Collection and the Clone Wars line, they work with what they're given, designwise -- what LucasFilm comes up with. And however enjoyable an extension of the Star Wars Saga the Clone Wars series may very well be, I, personally, have a problem with the direction LucasFilm chose to take for the character designs. So I haven't really been buying the toys.
However, some manage to work out better than others, and by "work out", I mean you can slip them into a collection dominated by the more realistic-looking, movie-based, currently-named "Legacy Collection" and pretty well get away with it. This would logically apply to certain droids especially, which is probably my second favorite category of Star Wars figure to collect after Clone Troopers. There's a limit to how cartoonish a droid who's resemblance to the humanoid form may be rather limited -- or completely absent -- is going to look. You can only "style" that so far.
This would apply pretty well to the Astromech Droids. You can't really stylize a walking fireplug that much. And while I didn't feel any great need to add the Clone Wars version of R2-D2 to my collection, any more than I've been inclined to add most of the R2-D2 variants over the years to my collection once I had one I was pleased with, a new Astromech Droid recently turned up in the Clone Wars line, that I decided to add to my Star Wars collection. His name is R3-S6, and he has quite the story in the Clone Wars Saga.
R-series Astromech droids are the product of Industrial Automaton. And however different in appearance some aspects of the Clone Wars series may be from the movies, it's still intended to be the same basic universe, so I'm sure that any published reference material pertaining to the movies, et al, also pertains to the Clone Wars. One thing I do applaud George Lucas for is his insistence on a decent level of consistency and the ability to be reasonably inclusive with all aspects of Star Wars storytelling, whether it's the movies, the comic books, the novels, the video games, or the Clone Wars series.
According to the Star Wars New Essential Guide to Droids, the R3 series of Astromech Droids -- which obviously followed the R2's (they go all the way up to R9's), is a military model originally built for gunnery crews aboard the capital ships of the Republic Judicial Department. They sported a clear dome of durable plastex. Though not designed as a starfigher plug-in droid, the unit can still hold up to five hyperspace jumps in memory. Industrial Automaton restricted sales of the high-priced model to the Republic and local planetary governments. During the first production run, the Republic produced 125 million of the droids, while the Empire later used R3's aboard its Star Destroyers and Death Star battle stations.
The first thing one notices, given this description, about R3-S6 is that he doesn't have a clear dome. For further details on this specific droid, I headed over to the Web Site "Wookieepedia", where it explained that R3-S6 had an R2 dome that was scavenged from somewhere. The two models of droid were virtually identical in appearance otherwise, in basic shape, so it's not surprising that this would work.
R3-S6's nickname is "Goldie", because of the gold-colored dome. The character description on the back of his package reads, "This astromech droid is the replacement for R2-D2, who is lost during a space battle. Anakin considers this new droid, whom he nicknames 'Goldie' because of his metallic coloring, to be unreliable and mistake-prone. What Anakin doesn't know at first us that the droid is also a spy." The image on the back of the package, from the Clone Wars series, shows R3-S6 projecting a holographic image of General Grievous, from whom he is receiving orders.
That was an enticing little bit of information. Several enticing bits, actually. R2-D2 lost in space? R3-S6 a spy? There had to be more to it than that. Fortunately, Wookieepedia came through with the full story of this rather nasty little droid.
R3-S6, nicknamed "Goldie", "Stubby", and "Arthree", was an R3-series astromech droid with a scavenged R2-series dome in use by the Republic Navy during the Clone Wars.
Following the loss of R2-D2 during a mission to Bothawui, Goldie was assigned as a temporary replacement to Anakin Skywalker during the search for Artoo. However, during their time together, it was revealed after many mistakes - like releasing Anakin Skywalker's Hyperspace Ring for his Starfighter and shutting of his engines in the midst of a battle - that Goldie was actually a Separatist spy and saboteur planted by Separatists agents in the Grand Army of the Republic, having made many dangerous and intentional errors (particularly towards Anakin and Ahsoka), although they appeared to be simply amateurish errors at the time.
Following Artoo's rescue from Skytop Station, the two droids faced off in a duel. R3 started to fall off of the platform, but used his rear suction dart to attach to Artoo. Artoo managed to get free using his buzz saw to cut through the cable. The duel ended when R2-D2 knocked R3 off, and Goldie was shattered to pieces by debris.
Ouch. His true loyalties also earned him another nickname from Ahsoka, according to Wookieepedia, specifically, "That stubby little backstabber". This after initially referring to R3 as, "A Gold droid for Gold Leader of Gold Squadron," when he was presented to Anakin.
So, how's the toy? Extremely impressive, I have to say. He caught my attention first off because of his distinctive color scheme. I like Astromech Droids, and the more unusual the color scheme, the more I'm likely to be interested.
Along with the gold-tone head and sides of the legs, R3-S6 has a mostly black body. According to Wikipedia, his color scheme is a tribute to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I'm not really sure how the Steelers feel about having a treasonous droid colored after them. I find myself wondering just a bit if the second half of the droid's name, "S6" stands for Steelers, and the fact that they have won six Super Bowls, including the most recent. This might be a bit of a stretch, since given the prep time needed for both the animated series and the toy, both might well have been in production before the Steelers' most recent Super Bowl victory. Makes for an interesting coincidence, though.
R3-S6 stands about 2-3/8" in height, and is comparable in height to any movie-based Astromech Droid. Pretty much as I expected, the differences between the two types are relatively minimal here. The legs and feet are somewhat less detailed, and the two jagged bars across the front, pretty much one of the traditional marks of an Astromech Droid, are designed somewhat differently. On R2-D2, I'd probably have a little problem with that. On a new droid like R3-S6, one can just say that's how he was designed. Most of the other details one expects to see on an Astromech Droid are present and accounted for, if in a few cases slightly more simplistically.
As with other Astromech Droid toys, R3-S6 has wheels underneath his feet to allow him to roll along. Interestingly enough, there has been an improvement here compared to R3's movie-based counterparts. The bottoms of his two side feet have two wheels each, as opposed to the typical one for previous droids in the movie-based line. Those single wheels created a slight stance problem when the droid was standing on two legs rather than three. They tended to wobble a bit either forward or backwards. R3 doesn't wobble, because essentially he's standing on four wheels.
R3-S6's third center leg, which has a single wheel underneath its foot, is a snap-in unit and does not retract. This is because R3's main body, including the dome-head, which on many Astromech Droids was the means by which the center leg did retract, was needed for other purposes.
R3-S6 is advertised as having "Hidden Gadgets!" on the package -- and brother, they're not kidding. Leave it to a spy droid to be concealing this much extra stuff. His little sensorscope can be popped up from one of the panels on top of his dome. Open a back panel and there's a cable (okay, a black string) in there with a hook on it. This can be extended to a fair distance, and reeled back in by turning the dome head. The two long panels on the front of the droid can be opened to reveal extending arms. One of them has a small claw at the end of it, and the other one is some sort of tool.
All of these can be brought out, and snapped back into the droid and all panels closed. That's quite the supply of extra features for such a small droid.
Overall painted detail is excellent. This is one area where there have not been any simplified shortcuts. The dome and legs are two shades of a semi-metallic gold, and the main body of the droid is a semi-flat, very dark grey, with some gloss black detailing. Other detail areas on the dome and the body have been very carefully painted, including some distinctly small detailing, especially on the dome itself. Given that I've seen some occasionally pretty sloppy paint details on Star Wars figures here and there, this was especially impressive. I mean, there's a little series of buttons on the back of the dome, and one of them is clearly and neatly painted light green, and it's the only time that color occurs on the entire droid. That's what I call careful attention to minute detail, and I'm very pleased to see it.
Articulation -- okay, Astromech Droids don't exactly specialize in articulation. You're not going to get three dozen points of articulation out of any Astromech Droid. But -- he moves where he needs to. The dome rotates, the legs move, and the feet are articulated. If you want to start throwing in things like his moving "Hidden Gadgets" and the wheels under his feet, you'd probably get a pretty fair articulation count out of him.
So -- what's my final word here? This is a cool droid. Okay, so he was a treacherous backstabber in the series. Nobody's perfect. If you, like me, have been reluctant to collect the Clone Wars line because of the differences in style over the movie-based Star Wars figures, here's an exception you should seriously consider making. If you're any sort of fan of Star Wars Droids, here's a very cool Astromech Droid for you with, indeed, some cool "Hidden Gadgets" that leads to an impressive end result of a rolling fireplug. And, if you are collecting the Clone Wars line, you'll certainly want to add him to your collection.
Ultimately, I'm glad I got him. He's not so far removed style-wise from the movie-based Droids that he doesn't fit in, and he's a cool Droid in his own right, regardless. The STAR WARS CLONE WARS R3-S6 "GOLDIE" ASTROMECH DROID definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!