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Rear printing on R2 droids

GeordiePaulGeordiePaul Salem, MA, USAMember Posts: 258
Does anyone know why the R2 droids don't have any printing on the rear of the main body? It's always just been a big blank space there. Rear printing on minifigs is pretty commonplace these days so it just seems strange that they wouldn't add that extra bit of detail to this particular popular character.

I assumed they would do this around the same time they increased the detail on the C3-P0 minifig but it's still blank! Apologies if this has been answered elsewhere or if the reason why is well known and I'm just in the dark :-)

Comments

  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 13,916
    I don't think any of the droid bodies have back printing. I expect it is a machinery / printing issue. Just like torsos need the neck band to identify front and back (except for Chinese printed ones), something similar would be needed to ensure correct orientation. I would have thought they could be machine held, front printed, spun on axis and reverse printed, but I guess this is not how it works.
  • GeordiePaulGeordiePaul Salem, MA, USAMember Posts: 258
    @CCC Could be a reasonable explanation. Maybe we'll never know the real reason? They probably would have done it by now if it was possible (or easier) given the amount of detail and printing they can achieve these days.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,072
    CCC said:
    I don't think any of the droid bodies have back printing. I expect it is a machinery / printing issue. Just like torsos need the neck band to identify front and back (except for Chinese printed ones), something similar would be needed to ensure correct orientation. I would have thought they could be machine held, front printed, spun on axis and reverse printed, but I guess this is not how it works.
    Actually, the printing machines LEGO uses can in fact rotate a piece to up to four different orientations in order to print up to four surfaces. Minifigure heads are a good example of a part they do this with (printed in three orientations: front, back, and top). The neck print on minifigure torsos is there because the arms are attached before printing the torso, so they have to be able to correctly sync the orientation of the printing with the orientation of the arms. But R2-D2's torso is both perfectly symmetrical and not pre-assembled, so shouldn't have that issue.

    There are some limits on when LEGO can print the front and back of a piece, but they have more to do with how many colors the part needs to be printed in. The printing machines LEGO uses in Billund have 12 print stations, each of which can print one color. So, for instance, if a part needs 8 colors for the front, that leaves just 4 stations to print other sides. And with certain print and part color combinations two coats of color might be necessary, which means it takes up two print stations. This is part of the reason you might sometimes might get off-white printing on brightly- or darkly-colored parts — LEGO could fix this by printing a second coat of white, but it might require cutting down on the total number of colors for each surface.

    This is just what I learned on the LEGO Inside Tour about the printing machines they use in Billund. Some of the newer facilities in other countries have more versatile printing equipment (for instance, equipment that can print the sides of minifigure arms and legs, which the machines in Billund could not), so might have different limitations. Anyway, sorry for that digression.

    With R2 specifically, they might need to design new fittings for their printing machine to be able to print both sides of his torso. But this is not an insurmountable issue; they tend to design dozens of new fittings for their printing machines each year. More likely, there may just be other parts in the Star Wars theme that have a greater need for that new equipment budget. For instance, totally new parts that are meant to be printed have to have new machine fittings designed for them as well. R2-D2's back does have detail in the movies, but not nearly as much as the front, so it's possible kids largely don't mind or don't think about the lack of printed detail.
    catwranglergmonkey76Jackad7stluxPaperballpark
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 13,916
    Surely the colours on the back would be pretty much the same as the front. So it comes down to doing the rotation.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,072
    CCC said:
    Surely the colours on the back would be pretty much the same as the front. So it comes down to doing the rotation.
    Same color or not, it'd still involve having separate printing stations for the front and back colors. I don't think that's a specific issue for astromech droid torsos, I'm just bringing it up since it's something interesting I learned about the printing process when I was on the Inside Tour. Before that I didn't often think about the number of colors on each surface of a piece as a specific factor in how those pieces can be printed.

    I think Mark Stafford mentioned that this was one of the reasons the Chima minifigures had separate face and headgear pieces — it let them use more colors than if they tried to put all the printed colors on one piece.
    catwranglerstlux
  • FauchFauch FranceMember Posts: 1,420
    I took a look at some figs not too long ago and noticed there were rarely more than 6 colors on one side of the face.
  • ClutchPowerClutchPower Austin, TexasMember Posts: 180
    Whoops, thought this said "rare printing."
  • Switchfoot55Switchfoot55 Washington, USAMember Posts: 232
    Am I the only one who thinks a droid with a "rear" printed on it would just look funny?
  • GeordiePaulGeordiePaul Salem, MA, USAMember Posts: 258
    To be honest it's always seemed a bit weird that it's totally blank back there. In an age where we have such elaborate details and patterns on things like Star Wars pilot's helmets, having a key character with a totally blank surface on it just doesn't seem right!
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