Reader Review: 30th Anniversary CZ-4 By Whitewolf

Bespin refugee - August 25, 2007
Wave 4 is indeed hitting shelves in larger quantities, but still nowhere near the peg-clogging levels of Hasbro's rehashed Saga Legends garbage (how many times do we really need that R2-D2 with the electronic soundbytes rereleased?). So be patient friends and neighbors, because these figures will eventually see a more even distribution within the next month.

Today's review covers one of the more obscure characters from the Star Wars mythos: CZ-4. Some younger collectors (and some old-timers as well) have no idea where this droid was in the movies. Well, I'll enlighten you all on what exactly this droid was supposed to be in the grand scheme of things. These droids appear 4 times in the Original Trilogy. One is inside the Sandcrawler and another (allegedly CZ-3) wondering the backstreets of Mos Eisley in ANH (see below); in Jabba's Palace, a dismantled CZ droid is seen stacked against a wall in the Droid Torture Chamber (CZ-4 himself, according to the figure cardback) and another droid, possibly of a different numerical designation, is glimpsed briefly standing among the courtiers in Jabba's throne room during the Rancor scenes in ROTJ. But what exactly does this droid do, you ask?

The CZ-series Secretary Droid was produced by Serv-O-Droid about 50 years before the Battle of Yavin to halt the company's market shares from dropping year after year while Cybot Galactica (maker of the 3PO Protocol Droid) and Industrial Automaton (maker of the R-series Astromech Droid) picked up the fiscal slack. But in spite of the CZ-series droid's strengths, newer products from the two rival droid companies forced Serv-O-Droid to eventually file for bankruptcy and leave the business for good. The unit is classified as both a secretary droid and a communications droid, with a surface-to-orbit comlink built into its head that can randomly rotate frequencies, engage encryption algorithms, and activate sensor jammers. These features make the CZ-series one of the most secure comm droids for sending private transmissions or sensitive data. Most often, the CZ is used as a secretarial unit with common jobs that include taking dictation, organizing electronic files, scheduling calendars, and making comm calls. The droid comes preloaded with a number of business languages---including Huttese, Bocce and Neimoidian---and is conversant in business regulations and galactic tax codes for thousands of planetary governments. At launch, the CZ-series boasted a garish lime-green and orange paint job with schoolbus-yellow highlights. Serv-O-Droid believed that this tactic would draw attention to its new droid model, but most buyers immediately had their droids repainted to better suit specific business environments. Nowadays, few CZs have any trace of their original paint schemes... (paraphrased from the New Essential Guide to Droids)

For a figure that comes with absolutely no extras beyond the collector's coin, I'm really liking it. That's not to say that Hasbro's current crop of figures must have a ton of accessories for me to even warm up to them, I merely mean that CZ-4 has a lot going for it by itself. First and foremost, CZ-4 is a brand-new sculpt from head to toe and as far as protocol-style droids go, he's exceptionally articulated. 8 ball-socket joints (neck, elbows, torso, knees and ankles), 4 straight-cut joints (shoulders and hips), and 2 swivel joints give the droid a range of motion that even TSC Endor Threepio doesn't have. The only thing that Threepio can do that CZ-4 cannot, is actually sit down. The fact that I now have a droid with articulated elbows and ankles is enough for me to absolutely love this figure. Its the small things, I guess...

The torso is slightly different from a 3PO unit in the respect that it does not expose the "gut wiring" around the droid's torso, rather it runs all the way down to the droid's lower torso plating. But the ball-socket joint in the torso allows the droid to arch its back and slightly show the wiring underneath. This was an attention to detail that Hasbro included that could really have been overlooked entirely, but chose not to. Props to the Hasbro folks for that! The head itself is the only possible gripe I have. The eyes don't seem to be large enough and are too far apart, compared to the stock photo of the figure used on the packaging. Perhaps there is a "version 1 head" and "version 2 head" like the VOTC Stormtrooper helmets had? The droid's "mouth" also seems to be a bit too wide at the bottom, compared to the actual droid. The entire lower torso and legs of the figure are nearly identical to those used for C-3PO, so hopefully Hasbro could look into a possible super-articulated Threepio by kitbashing these parts at some point in the future. Of course, the electroplating process apparently does not allow for much articulation, but a gold-painted Threepio wouldn't be too bad either...

CZ-4's paint scheme is typical of any droid left to its own devices on Tatooine. The droid was originally supposed to have a gleaming white paint job with black detailing around the eyes and vocabulator. But it now sports all sorts of dirt, grime, sand-erosion spotting and carbon scoring. The left shoulder covering even appears to have been replaced with a solid black one from another droid. The large round eyes have been meticulously given the trademark "crosseyed" look that the droid is semi-famous for. When I first saw high-res pics of this droid a few months back, I thought Hasbro had gone overboard with the weathering effects mentioned above, but now that I see the figure in person, I'm thinking that it works, considering the backstory of the droid...though the movie screenshot DOES show the droid in a much cleaner condition than its figure counterpart.

As I mentioned before, CZ-4 doesn't come with any accessories per se...only the coin. The coin itself is the real disappointment, to those who are actively collecting them. Hasbro had stated that Waves 1 through 3 had "defective" coins that had scratches all over them, and that problem would be resolved in Wave 4. Well...hate to be the bearer of bad news, but all of the Wave 4 figures I got also suffer from the scratched coin syndrome. You can see some of the scratches on the coin below. So apparently the production issue has yet to be resolved...

CZ-4 includes:

*Collector's Coin #26

Overall, I'm really impressed with this figure. With the aforementioned head sculpt issue, I have no real big gripes about the droid. My Sandcrawler's droid hold now has every single droid featured in ANH. He may not be a huge screen presence, but the figure itself is a nice sold mold...and incidentally has been fetching a rather high price on eBay lately as well, so its obvious that CZ-4 is a collector favorite already.

I give CZ-4 4.5 Death Stars.
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