R5-D4

Nick Eppinga

Nick Eppinga

Nick Eppinga

Nick Eppinga

TABLE OF CONTENTS

COO SHEET

FIGURE GUIDE

   I:  Unitoy
   II: Not an R5 COO
   III: Not an R5 COO
   IV: Kader/ Poch/ Meccano
   V: Unitoy
   VI: Not an R5 COO
   VII: Not an R5 COO
   VIII: Kader

Figure Guide

As with the majority of the early characters, R5 was produced at both Kader and Unitoy factories in Hong Kong. The figure debuted on a 20bk card with Kader and Unitoy following soon behind on the 21bk. Kader is responsible for most of the ESB and Jedi output, before Unitoy returns to production with the F1 No COO figure on the Trilogo cards. Kader, presumably the Macau factory (known as Qualidux), also has a late batch of 78 HK & No COO figures produced which found their way to French Trilogo cards and baggies.
 
Let’s now break the variations down into their respective mould families…

COO Family I:

UNITOY

UNITOY 1977 MADE IN HONG KONG COO

The Unitoy figure debuted on the 21bk Star Wars era MOC. This also shows up sporadically on mid-ESB era cardbacks from both Unitoy and Kader where it has been repackaged (smooth bubble seal). Unitoy were also responsible for many of the late era NO COO R5s which can be found on Trilogo cards.

Above you can see following variants (left to right):

  • Unitoy R5-D4 1977 MIHK Standard SW/ESB version
  • Unitoy R5-D4 1977 MIHK ESB era small wedge sticker
  • Unitoy R5-D4 1977 No COO SW era large wedge sticker
  • Unitoy R5-D4 1977 No COO Standard ROTJ/Trilogo version
  • Unitoy R5-D4 1977 No COO Light blue sticker (missing)
Key details for the family 1 Unitoy R5-D4 are:
  • Smaller dome than Kader
  • Large or small eye spray mask
  • Large or small wedge
  • Orange-red paint for dome and legs
  • No leg EPMs
  • Tall or medium height platforms foot soles
  • Unitoy used a flanged screw to assemble their Astromech figures

R5’s torso is shared with the Unitoy R2-D2. Given how close in design the two figures are, this is a great production shortcut Kenner used, which allowed them to create two characters with minimal need for bottom-up figure creation, as the only new sculpting and tooling required for the head and silver “neck” of R5.

In the mid to late stages of ESB & early Jedi output, Kenner HQ decided to move a lot of the current production line away from the Unitoy factory with many characters. Presumably, this is all related to the cost efficiency of the Chinese/Macau alternatives. This is seen in the form of shorter runs in all Unitoy produced figures, seconds/overstock parts going to Spain for Poch to paint and assemble and shortly afterwards a majority of the ex-Unitoy steel moulds going to Spain for their PBP line as they moved into injection moulding their own figures. The Unitoy factory wasn’t being retired, just a reshuffle in their previous lines with legacy figure and vehicle production moving to China/Macau with the in the upcoming ROTJ line just around the corner.

UNITOY 1977 NO COO

Broadly the same details as the MIHK version. This figure has a sticker design alteration due to the newly released R2-D2 Sensorscope figure and now has a small “wedge”. Mixed up versions of both the MIHK & 1977 NCOO also exist as shown in the image above.
 
Only moulding point of difference to note is I’ve not yet found the 1977 No COO with short feet on a MOC. Given how easy this figure is to alter, loose examples can’t be used as evidence.

COO Family II:

Not Applicable. R2-D2 & R2-D2 Sensorscope COOs only.

COO Family III:

Not Applicable. R2-D2 COO only.

Very occasionally, the torsos for R2 & R5 were mixed up resulting in R5s with a 1977 HK COO and R2s with a 1978 COO.

COO Family IV:

KADER / POCH / FRENCH MECCANO TRILOGO

KADER 1978 HONG KONG

Kader created a new tool for the R5 torso and stamped it with a 1978 copyright date. This version debuted on the 20bk and was a mainstay through the ESB, Jedi and Trilogo eras.

The “Red Bar” sticker variation is a factory error produced from this factory (refer to the sticker guide below). Poch (early PBP) received unpainted Kader HK parts to produce their figure in Spain.

Above you can see following variants (left to right):

  • Kader R5-D4 1978 HK COO Dark blue sticker. Standard SW/ESB era version
  • “Red Bar” Kader R5-D4 1978 HK COO ESB era small wedge sticker
  • Poch R5-D4 1978 HK COO SW era large wedge sticker
  • Kader R5-D4 1978 HK COO Light blue sticker. Standard ROTJ era version
Key details for the Kader R5-D4 are:
  • Wider dome than Unitoy
  • Large eye spray mask
  • Chrome “shoulders”
  • Mid-red for the dome and legs
  • A leg sculpt which is shared with the Kader R2-D2.
  • EPMs are found on both the upper leg strut and also on the battery pack on the foot
  • Wide-domed Phillips head screw used for assembly
  • Produced with dark/mid blue (SW/ESB era) and light blue (ROTJ/Trilogo era) stickers

FRENCH TRILOGO/ MECCANO 1978 SCAR/SMOOTH NO COO

Very late era figures were shipped to France which had their COOs removed. This figure originally had the COO scarred out, before a smooth version was then produced. To be clear, this “Meccano” R5 is produced by Kader in Macau. Legs are always a darker red and the dome can be either a dark red or orange-red (which are painted MIHK era overstock domes). The sticker used is the later variation of the large wedge with the lighter blue highlights. Sculpt is the same as the common Kader HK figure.

Above you can see following variants (left to right):

  • Kader 1978 “Scarred” No COO Mid-red (overstock) dome
  • Kader 1978 “Scarred” No COO Dark-red dome
  • Kader 1978 “Smooth” No COO Dark-red dome

COO Family V:

UNITOY

UNITOY 1977 MADE IN HONG KONG COO

The F5 MIHK COO has smaller writing and is in a slightly different configuration to the previously documented F1 MIHK COO. This COO also can be found with both the Unitoy R2-D2 Solid & Sensorscope figures.
 
I’ve found both large and small MIHK COOs on early 21bk Unitoy cards as well as Trilogo cards. These steel moulds were used in various stages without any reason I can see other than, it just happened to be the mould that was picked off the shelf by the tooling supervisor.
 
COO aside, the rest of the figure shares the same details with it’s Unitoy brother, the SW/ESB era F1 MIHK COO. To recap, the key details for the mould family 5 Unitoy R5 are:
  • Smaller dome than Kader
  • Large or small eye spray mask
  • Large wedge sticker
  • Orange-red paint for dome and legs
  • No leg EPMs
  • Tall or medium height platforms foot soles
  • Unitoy used a flanged screw to assemble their Astromech figures

COO Family VI:

Not Applicable. R2-D2 COO only.

COO Family VII:

Not Applicable. R2-D2 COO only.

COO Family VIII:

KADER

KADER 1978 HONG KONG

This newly discovered mould family was hiding in plain sight all along. Due to the similarity between both Kader mould families, this pair were previously classified as F4c/d COOs, and are now labelled F8a/b.
 
I’ve only found an F8 R5 on a mixed up late ESB era MOC so far. We’ll be keeping watch for more examples and update the guide when they show up.
 
The details for the F8 Kader R5-D4 are the same as the Kader family 4. To recap:
  • Wider dome than Unitoy
  • Large eye spray mask
  • Chrome “shoulders”
  • Mid-red for the dome and legs
  • A leg sculpt which is shared with the Kader R2-D2.
  • EPMs are found on both the upper leg strut and also on the battery pack on the foot
  • Wide-domed Phillips head screw used for assembly
  • Produced with dark/mid blue (SW/ESB era) and light blue (ROTJ/POTF era) stickers
  • The “Red Bar” sticker variation is a factory error produced from this factory (refer to the sticker guide below)

STICKER GUIDE

The R5-D4 sticker is a 4 spot-colour print featuring blue, black, blue and grey.
 
When printing in volume, a large sheet featuring many stickers would be produced. These would be imposed in such a way to obtain the maximum number of stickers per sheet in the most space efficient way. Each sheet would then be “die-cut” in a separate process which would cut the sticker out into individual panels.
Early KADER R5-D4s (Fam.4 & 8) stickers featured a dark-blue and mid-grey colour palette.  The later ROTJ and Trilogo era figures (HK, Scar COO & No COO) have a noticeably lighter blue than their predecessors.
 
R5’s sticker design is the same as the early R2-D2 solid domes. Each colour is printed in a separate pass (red/blue/grey/black). By swapping R2s blue for R5s red, you have a completely new look. The initial stickers Unitoy and Kader are identical in design, however, the Kader used stickers can very occasionally be found with a RED BAR in the top left corner. Rarer sticker/COO combos also appear in the late ESB era when the Unitoy factory stocks were being used up.

The “red bar” sticker is an error. There’ve been a few theories on why this exists, but the most likely reason is it’s a remnant from the R2-D2 blue separation which wasn’t removed on one of the many copies. In short, one red bar sticker remains on a sheet of many stickers.

The other thing this suggests, is that the external printers used by each factory were different otherwise you’d more commonly find the red bar on Unitoy 1977 R5s. Either that, and less likely, is that each factory retained their print separations and a mutual printer produced stickers exclusively of each other.
These mid-grey stickers were also used for the POCH produced of R5-D4.
The first UNITOY stickers featured a dark-blue and mid-grey colour palette. As the line progressed into the ROTJ era they printed the stickers in darker shades of grey and blue. Very late era Unitoy stickers transitioned to a light blue (not shown in graphic).
 
In the mid-ESB era, Unitoy produced an R2-D2 Sensorscope figure which had a new sticker design, with the most noticeable feature being a smaller “wedge”. For cost efficiency, the same (small wedge) printing plates were used for the subsequent MIHK & No COO R5-D4 figures.
 
The transition between the early large wedge and ESB era small wedge resulted in a mix of Unitoy sticker types and MIHK/No COOs.

REPRO stickers have been in circulation for decades now, and the most recent versions have even been designed to artificially mimic the yellowing effect of the ageing process. In the making of this guide, I saw dozens of figures sold on eBay as vintage, priced as vintage, but in actuality had reproduction stickers applied purely to dupe unsuspecting buyers.

SCREW GUIDE

This is a copy of the screw guide I made for R2-D2, so the only relevant pictures for R5-D4 are the Unitoy & Kader examples!
 
With all figures, each part and accessory is specific to a factory. This is no different with R5-D4, as every part, screw and sticker used to produce the figure also being specific to a particular vendor.
 

Parts can easily be swapped around and  for decades this has been done, and done incorrectly. If you have an R5 which has anything different to what’s shown here, I’d take a look at the other parts on the figure using my sculpt detail guide to see if the R5 has been tampered with. These Astromech figures have been messed around for decades by sellers/collectors looking for the cleanest example and indifferent/ignorant to the fact they’ve created a Frankenstein figure.

FOOT SCULPT GUIDE

Hopefully this leg sculpt guide can help confirm if your figure is factory correct or has been swapped around.

Cardbacks

"Red Bar" R5-D4

Brian Angel

Brian Angel

Many thanks to Brian for allowing us to share all 9 known MOC versions of the R5-D4 Red Bar variant, including the newly discovered Canadian 20 Back!

20-A – SW Canada

20 – SW Italian Harbert (salesman sample)

21-A – SW US

21-C – SW US

47-A – ESB US

48-E – ROTJ US

65-B – ROTJ US

77-A – ROTJ US

77-A – ROTJ US QC sign off