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LUKE: "Uncle Owen! This R2 unit has a bad motivator, look!"

The droid uncle Owen wanted to buy at first, nicknamed "Red", was R5-D4, belonging to the R5-series, which was according to the Legends section of its entry in Wookieepedia, "a low cost (...) line, (...) plagued with malfunctions".

According to the same source (Legends via Wookieepedia), the R2-AG-series made use of old R5-series shells when the latter series was discontinued. The R2-AG-series was a line of agromech droids, which sounds much more useful when moisture farming then an astromech droid.

As evidenced by the quote, Luke thought Red to be an R2-series unit.

What did Owen think he was buying?

An R2-AG-series unit, or an R5-series unit? Did the Jawas try to pull a fast one on him, selling an R5 for an R2-AG?


Inspired by the question why the Lars family needed an R2 unit.

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  • I would not weight the whole "prone to malfunctions" to heavy. According to one story that was "Skippy the Jedi Droid", who comitted suicide when he realized him being bought would break the timeline: starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Skippy_the_Jedi_Droid Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 16:59

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The film's official novelisation indicates that both Owen and Luke did recognise the R5 unit as a "semi-agricultural droid", similar to an R2 unit in all but its attachments.

Apparently Owen Lars had already come to a decision, having settled on a small semi-agricultural robot. This one was similar in shape to Artoo Detoo, save that its multiple subsidiary arms were tipped with different functions. At an order it had stepped out of the line and was wobbling along behind Owen and the temporarily subdued jawa.

Apparently the term "R2 Droid" can just be used interchangeably to describe any of that style of astromech made by Industrial Automaton.

Q. In New Hope, why does Luke call R5-D4 an R2 unit?

PH: The same reason we tend to call any cola Coke, any tissue Kleenex, any adhesive bandage Band-aid, and any photocopy Xerox. When a product is so successful that it becomes synonymous with its generic description, people tend to use it as shorthand, so, while R5-D4 isn't an R2 unit, the term "R2 Unit" is such a commonly used phrase for Astromech Droid[s] that everyone knows what means, even if it's not technically accurate.

Pablo Hidalgo: Star Wars Insider #64.

As to whether this droid is better than R2, the answer is probably 'no'. Owen needs droids to repair his moisture vaporators rather than farming actual crops, so any of that style of model would probably suffice. On top of that, the usual rule about beggars and choosers would likely apply.


Interestingly, the film's junior novelisation does go one step further, referring to the droid as an "R2-5" droid. Presumably this is to explain the discrepancy.

The Jawa leader yapped a sharp command and the other Jawas scurried out from behind the sandcrawler’s treads to dust off the R2-5. Then, catching Owen’s eye, the Jawa leader made encouraging gestures at the blue-domed R2 unit.

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  • Wait, so what series is that droid according to canon? An R2-5 or an R5-D4? Do you have other canon sources that name the series / model?
    – SQB
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 19:42
  • @SQB - The canon name is definitely R5-D4. I've seen it in the other novelisations, the new (disney canon) factbooks, etc etc. The only place I've seen it listed as R2-5 is in the junior novel.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 19:49
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    @SQB According to the West End games RPG, R-series are all technical support droids. They repair stuff. If that is starships or moisture vaporators, really makes very little difference. Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 17:02

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