In our interview yesterday with the Hasbro Star Wars Brand Team we asked which Astromech they suggested collectors use with recently announced General Merrick’s X-Wing Fighter when it is released later this Fall. This question stems from the fact that this figure has never been released in the 3 3/4″ scale nor any line in actuality, not even LEGO. So Patrick was kind enough to do some research and check with some Hasbro designers and supplied us with an answer:
R2-R9 was first released in 1999 and was an exclusive figure packed in with the Episode I Naboo Royal Starship Blockade Cruiser/Playset. The droid was simply called an R2 Unit on the packaging and as you can see it features a red body with white panels and a silver and red dome.
Now while this droid is not Gen. Merrick’s per se (we all saw this droid’s death in The Phantom Menace) it is the droid that most closely resembles Blue Leader’s. The differences are in the fact that Merrick’s droid features a red body with black panels on the body and dome.
Collectors who want to fill their X-Wing droid sockets have two options when it comes to picking up R2-R9. The potentially more costly one is the one seen above from the Queen’s ship. The second option is from 2012’s Wal*Mart exclusive Royal Starship Droids set from the Episode I 3-D Discover the Force line.
In this set, the red Astro is finally named and includes an updated mold of the doomed little droid.
The 2012 droid will still set you back $20 to $30 dollars, after shipping, on eBay but it may be the fastest way to round out your Rogue One diorama later this year, as while Hasbro is very aware fans are interested in an accurate Blue Leader droid, it appears that none are currently in the works. And with Hasbro’s own admission that figures from concept to shelves take 12-18 months, it may be close to two years before a release is made available.
We’d like to thank Patrick and Eric and the Hasbro Star Wars Brand team for all the great information they provided this Q&A session and we look forward to future chats with them both virtually and hopefully sooner than later in person at conventions.
May the Figures be with you!
P.S. If anyone learns the name of Blue Leader’s droid, please let us know!