Friday, December 3, 2010

Die-cast C-3PO (Takara, 1978)

If Star Wars had been created by the Japanese, it would have lasted only a few minutes. Because as soon as Darth Vader stepped onto the rebel blockade runner -- wham! -- he'd have gotten a face full of missile, compliments of everyone's favorite golden protocol droid, C-3PO.

At least, that's how it'd have played out if the 3PO in the movie matched Takara's amazing interpretation of the character.

Standing an imposing 6.5 inches tall, this heavy, plastic-and-metal figure features a bad-ass missile launcher smack in the center of his torso rings. 3PO is fully articulated at the shoulders, elbows, and knees, and there's a small handle at the back of his neck that turns the head from side to side.

When you think about it, that handle is kind of weird. I mean, it's right below the back of 3PO's head. If you're fingers are already there, why not just grab the head itself? Why add such an unnecessary bit of mechanics to the toy?

Because the Japanese toy makers were awesome, that's why, and they never missed an opportunity to give something just a bit more play value. This won't be the last time I point out that Japanese toys, whether they're vintage robots from the Fifties or die-cast toys from the Seventies, kick total ass.

Note the small handle just underneath the head. And below the screw in his back you can see the black button that fires the missile.

A red-eyed 3PO is not a happy 3PO. Duck!

C-3PO comes packaged in a wonderful box. Like most Japanese die-cast toys, he fits inside a styrofoam bed, along with his small, plastic base, two missiles, and the requisite Takara catalog of toys.

I love the box art, with its killer portrait of 3PO and small photos from the movie. I can't read Japanese, so the writing takes on a neat, graphical quality that helps the packaging stand out with a weirdly exotic quality. It really straddles both U.S. and Japanese cultures, which is a lot of fun.

Takara boxes were collector friendly. No staples, glue, or tape to keep them shut.

Cool. I can't read a word of it, but cool.

The catalog advertised Takara's line of Star Wars toys.

This 3PO is one of my favorite Star Wars toys. It's really detailed -- dig that shine! -- and full of play value. It's also compellingly tactile, thanks to the cool (as in temperature) and heavy (as in it's freakin' heavy) metal construction. This is one solid toy. Which means it'd nicely double as a weapon if any schoolyard bully tried to take it from you.

Just sayin'.

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