Bandai 1/12 R5D4 Astromech Droid
KIT #: 196163
PRICE: $Varies. Only sold in Asia
DECALS: One option


"This R2 unit has a bad motivator. Look."

R5D4 had a brief and explosive appearance in Star Wars as the astromech droid originally bought from scavenger Jawas by Lars Owen along with C3P0. It suffered a major malfunction and R2D2 was selected instead. R5D4's remains were destroyed along with the Jawas later when the Jawa Sandcrawler was ambushed by stormtroopers from Darth Vader's elite 501st Legion. The rest they say is history.

Later stories claimed that R2D2 was the one who actually sabotaged R5D4.



Consists of 197 parts covering six sprues: two white sprues, one Bandai trademark multicolor sprue, two silver grey sprues and one black sprue. The parts have almost no flash with minimal mold marks. The multicolor sprue contains a section of gold, a section of blue and a section of orange representing the colored sections of the two droids. It is designed so that you just need to assemble it without any painting. For those of us who prefer to make the colors pop, dealing with seams and weather a model can still paint it (I think the silver pieces do require painting.)

It also contains the complete markings as waterslide decals or stickers. The color instruction booklet provides extensive diagrams and decal placement. It is easy to follow despite being written in Japanese.


R5D4 would be the test droid before I took on R2D2. I followed the instructions because building the model out of order would lead to complete disaster. The various parts were cut off and the sprue nubs were sanded smooth.

At this point I added the various inserts (including the center leg) into the body halves. I tried to make sure that I could paint them or add various parts later without much issue. Any parts that made masking and painting them a difficult chore and didn't have to be added till later were left off. The remaining parts were put together without much issue as Bandai did an excellent job of designing them to fit. How easy the model fit together reminded me of the Japanese puzzle ball my parents gave me as a child. I glued the head and body halves together and they sat in the box for several months as real life intervened.

When I started building again, I worked on any visible seams like the sides of the body and head. These were filled and sanded without too much of an issue. At this point I left remaining parts on the sprue (and gentle sanded away the mold markings) so I could start painting.



The colored plastic is supposed to make things easy if you don't want to paint and decal the model. Otherwise, I found that it did not help much. I sprayed the body and head with white primer (mostly to fill in the small gaps.) While those parts dried, I sprayed the blue parts Model Master Acrylic Arctic Metallic Blue which was the closest color to the actual blue used on both R2D2 and R5D4, the orange parts Tamiya Orange and the silver parts TS-30 Polished Silver. After some more sanding/buffing of the primer, I sprayed the body, legs pieces and head Tamiya XF-2 Flat white.

The most difficult part of the painting happened when I masked off the chest bands, the various panels with Tamiya tape and sprayed them orange. It took a couple of times to correct the areas I had missed or where the paint bled thru. Next I masked off the silver areas and sprayed them with Vallejo White Aluminum. Finally the blue areas were masked off and sprayed with Arctic Metallic Blue. It turned out not as bad as I feared, but the one process error I needed to correct for R2D2 was I was going to prepaint the parts before insertion and mask/paint the areas I needed to sand.

The top part of the robot head did not fit well (because of the thick primer coat) and I had some gaps that needed fixing. I used Vallejo plastic putty to fill them in and then repainted that area with flat white before I laid down the gloss coat.

After it cured for 24 hours, I put on the decals with the most prominent one was the thin band around the head of R5D4's head as well as the eyes. I did not add over half of the decals as I could brush paint those areas with silver or Arctic Metallic blue. I should note that Bandai's decals are decent and the colors are in register.

After the decals were dry, I wiped down the model and put on a final gloss coat of Future. I decided not to weather the model.

I assembled the legs as the parts were white, silver and arctic metallic blue. This was the easiest step to complete as I had everything ready within an hour. I added the gold wiring to the legs, but I did not paint them as they looked better than any gold paint I would have used. The remaining prepainted pieces of R5D4's head and body were added to their respective locations and the main body was completed. The completed legs were added into their respective sockets and I had a completed R5D4.


The Bandai Astromech droid models are a very fun build. More fun if you don't paint, sand or fill them because everything except assembling and adding stickers to them is done for you.

If you want to weather it and remove seams or use the decals then it will take some careful work and preparation when it comes to painting, but that does not diminish the fun one will have with these kits. These are wonderful kits and worth a build if you are a Star Wars fan. A kit for modellers of all skill levels.

Highly recommended if you can find one.

Dan Lee

19 August 2016

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