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1:12 C-3PO ‘Protocol Droid’

James H

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1:12 C-3PO ‘Protocol Droid’

Catalogue # BAN996418
Available from Hobby Link Japan for ¥2,800






This one really needs no introduction. If you’ve never heard of, or seen C-3PO, then you must’ve been living with your head rammed in a certain physical extremity, for the last 40 years almost. This is probably the most lovable and well-known arthropod droid that has ever hit the silver screen. Along with his sidekick, R2-D2, this golden tin can character is probably one of the most loved from the original Star Wars film trilogy.


Bandai? I always thought they produced electronic video games! I suppose I'm showing my age :)


How I remember Bandai


C-3PO (or Threepio) is just one of a number of 1:12 Star Wars figures that have been released by Bandai, and one of four that I have here. I decided to look at this one first, simply to show both the technologies and design features that Bandai have crammed into this release. If you can remember the 1:48 Fieseler Storch that Tamiya released a few years ago, then you will have found the coloured/clear sprue to have been quite a novelty. That seems to be pretty par for the course these days, with some manufacturers. Bandai have used this to good effect; not just with colour, but also with some sprue parts being flexible.


Bandai’s Star Wars releases look just sumptuous in their presentation. As with the other kits in this series, this one is packaged into a highly glossy box that shows the main character on the lid, and with a series of model images and options highlighted around the box edges. Unfortunately, all descriptive text is in Japanese, so I can’t readily translate for you. If you have a Smartphone, such as the iPhone, then there are real-time translators that can hack this text for you.




C-3PO contains SIX sprues, some of which are sub-divided into a number of other sprues, and packed into heat-sealed cellophane wrappers. Two packets contain a number of connected sprues that are plated in a gold, mirror finish. Another has a single sprue that is chrome plated. C-3PO had a replacement leg which wasn’t of the same gold finish, and this caters to that, as well as a number of other parts.


One packet contains two black sprues (one rigid and one flexible), plus a waterslide decal sheet. The last packet is the most unusual sprue I have EVER seen. It is mainly black styrene, but also has gold, red and clear elements, with the red parts appearing to be flexible. That is a neat bit of moulding on behalf of Bandai. Very impressive.





This is the sprue which really captivates me due to its multicolour mouldings. The predominantly black moulding contains a number of interconnection parts, such as the torso midriff and the inside hand. The famous torso with its wiring is well depicted here. This is supplemented by a few parts that are moulded in red plastic too, plus mute gold. What this kit does supply are decals in both waterslide and sticker format, and a sticker/decal is supplied for the midriff connecting point.










Clear parts are provided for the eyes, and also the electronics module that is located in the panel on the rear of C-3PO’s torso.


Look at the arms of C-3PO, and you will see various linkages. Most of these are integral to the mouldings we’ll see in a moment, but the extras are provided here. If you want these to match the other parts, then you really need to airbrush them in something akin to Mr Metal Color Brass/Gold. These are far friendlier to apply than the Alclad colours, and don’t have the same noxious whiff.






This is a single sprue, and one that is gold plated. A good number of C-3PO’s key parts are here, such as the head shell parts, upper torso, lower torso, and some head and connective parts. Two chest plates are included, one of which has an attachment part of some sort. Sorry, I can’t elaborate further, but if you are a Star Wars buff, you may know exactly what this is. That forward plate is interchangeable too, with the part simply plugging over an internal plate, also on this sprue.






Look at the rear torso plate and you can see that the access door for the electronics unit, is a separate part. That electronics unit is also included and the door can be removed to show this.


The head is split into a rear shell, interconnecting plate, and the forward shell. Two options are provided here, with one of them having a dent in the forehead. Again, I don’t know the significance of this. I only ever saw the first Star Wars film, and that’s where my knowledge begins and ends. Clear parts are provided for the eyes. I was just thinking how great it would be to model these with a nice, soft light filtering through them. I think I may just do that, as there is plenty of space in the stand to house a switch and any resistors required.






That stand also comes with an optional post onto which Threepio can be mounted (charging post?), and because of this, a small plate to the rear of the lower torso, can be removed if you want to pose the model like this for a while. I have to say it does nothing for me, and perhaps detracts a little from the character standing on its own two feet.


Other parts on this sprue include one of the integral arm halves, ball sockets for both arms, one of the knee joints, upper left leg halves and electronics unit panel.



SPRUES B2/B4/B5/B6/B7/B8



These sprues are connected together to make a larger sprue, and again all finished in metallic gold. It’s now that we see a couple of other options. Notice that the regular bent arms are supplied as halves, with the actuators moulded on them. If you want to pose the arms in a less bent position, then you can make these from a series of individual parts, such as upper/lower halves and separate actuators. It will be useful to use one of these other arms if you wish to pose the model in this iconic way, as the arms and hands can rotate.






Optional hands are also included, with the fingers less bent on one set. I really do like the options available here. Due to the arm actuators, it wasn’t really feasible to have a fully moving unit, and I think Bandai’s compromise is certainly very workable. All limbs are movable to a degree, including the legs, and here you see the upper right leg, and the lower left, plus the left foot with a separate sole.






Bandai also did a great job of moulding the upper arm/shoulder connection parts, although these are a number of parts that unfortunately have the sprue connections on the part face. As these are very minor parts, they will easily be touched up.






The reason this sprue is moulded separately is instantly evident. Yes, it’s finished in chrome, and not gold. C-3PO had a chrome finish lower right leg which was obviously shown to be either a replacement, or from another droid. As a result, this sprue contains the lower leg halves, knee joint, actuator, foot and sole. Lastly, the electronics unit is to be found here.











PC’, I hear you say. Yes! I think the best way to look at this is that it might mean ‘Poly cap’. The plastic is flexible, and contains a multitude of joint connectors. Instructions show that not all of these parts are to be used, so it must a sprue that is common to a number of releases. As well as the joint connectors, the flexible torso connectors are also moulded here.






This last sprue contains the model’s plinth. As this is a common part, it has a hole within it that is plugged with a specific part on the first black sprue. Notice that a small connector part is also supplied, which is ideal for joining the base for the R2-D2 kit. With these joined, I might be inclined to add some yellow sand to the base, simulating the Tatooine surface.





Plastic Summary
Moulding is seriously high quality, with plenty of detail and minimal clean up required. The latter is essential when you consider the metal plating on the majority of parts. No defects can be seen, and you really don’t need to worry about ejector pin marks here!





As I have already mentioned, both waterslide and sticker options are given for all of these. I’m not a fan of stickers, and at least with the decals, you’ll be able to get them to bed down nicely with setting solutions. Printing, in both cases, is excellent.








This is printed on a long, fold-out sheet, and shows every single section of the model, referenced against a drawing that highlights the specific section under construction. Very clever, but then, quite necessary as most folks simply won’t be able to understand the Japanese text. Options aren’t as obvious to start with, and you will need to study the instructions for a couple of hours first. Printing is in a combination of black & white, plus colour, with a number of model photographs included.


Just wow!! I know some modellers will be concerned with plated parts, and won’t like them……BUT, remember that this finish is a perfect base onto which to add a combination of satin and matt varnishes to simulate the tarnished finish of the real thing. Accentuated with grime and sand, then you really should have a replica of C-3PO that is very close to the movie character. You will need to follow the instructions illustrations closely so that you understand the options available to you, but that is only because of my lack of understanding of the Japanese language!


Whilst I’m no fan of Sci-Fi, this and a number of other kits from the same range, are manna from heaven for me. These iconic characters were a big part of my childhood, and to see them immortalised in an amazing kit is just what I’ve wanted to see for many years. Thanks for fulfilling that guilty passion, Bandai!


VERY highly recommended


Review kit courtesy of my own wallet. To buy this directly, click THIS link.


James H




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I think they do, but just provide an alternative to painting.


The gold will remain, but it needs to be flattened down and weathering added, so it's fine to keep.

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