I’m chugging along on the Star Wars kitchen gadget train. My latest test runs were with the Stormtrooper toaster and the R2D2 toaster. To be frank, neither work well at all. At least the Deathstar popcorn popper made a small amount of perfectly fine popcorn while it was rifling out hot, unpopped kernels like Jesse Ventura laying waste to the jungle with his Gatling gun in Predator.
[NOTE: A FRIEND OF MINE WAS KEEN TO POINT OUT IT REALLY WASN’T JESSE VENTURA LAYING WASTE TO THE FOREST WITH A GATLING GUN, BUT RATHER HIS FRIEND, MAC AFTER JESSE VENTURA GOT HIMSELF KILLED IN GRUESOME FASHION – MY MISTAKE]
Both toasters have almost identical problems, but before I get into that, I’m going to look at them separately, then after that, what they have in common. So…
Jesus this thing is big. That is both a good and bad thing. Bad because its counter top footprint is huge. It looks great, it’s a life size stormtrooper head after all. But a life size stormtrooper head is a large appliance to have on your countertop. Along with it’s over all size comes large bread slots large enough for bagels to fit. A key component the R2D2 toaster is missing. I’m a New Yorker and accommodating bagels is an absolute must. So that’s a definite plus for the Stormtrooper. I do not like that the controls are on the back. I had it set up on my breakfast bar in my kitchen so the face is, uh… well, facing in. Reaching around it is awkward. I’d rather see the controls on the side maybe? I don’t know. On the front would totally disrupt the totally life-like stormtooper face it’s got going on. So maybe there is no solution, and yet it bothered me. Added to which, the plunger doesn’t go down smoothly. It hitches on something unless you push down in an absolute unwavering straight line. And it feels cheap. I mean cheaply made. Using it a couple of times and I felt like I was fortunate to have not broken it. One small note about the controls… I find it clever and hilarious that the doneness dial goes from the “Light side” to the “Dark side.” Perfect. If it worked. I’ll get to that.
Okay, now R2D2:
Much smaller footprint. Also a good and a bad thing. Good because it takes up less counter space. Bad because the slots hardly fit a normal piece of sliced bread, let alone a bagel. I don’t even think it could fit one of those shitty frozen Lender’s bagels, much less the bulging wonderful monster bagels you can get at any bakery and half the bodegas here. That automatically to me is a deal-breaker. I realize that for a whole bunch of people that aren’t me, maybe the lack of bagel accommodation is just fine. That being said, i had to kinda cram in even the slices of basic whole wheat bread I tried toasting and they were not thicker than any of your average loaves of sliced bread. It is nice to have the primary star wars design on the side, so the controls can face either way. I will say I am surprised the R2D2 toaster wasn’t designed to look like an actual R2D2 robot. I mean, R2D2 already looks like a toaster. Maybe R5D4 since he’s got a flat top. Oh, even better, the gonk power droid from the original movie – that guy absolutely looks like a toaster… but from a branding standpoint, i guess he’s pretty obscure (I told you I was a booger-eating Star Wars nerd).
As I mentioned above, the “Light side/Dark side” thing is great. But I’m afraid that dial doesn’t work well at all. Neither toaster works well at all. I think the primary problem is how they toast the image onto the side of the bread. Sure it toasts the design, but then does not toast the rest of the area on that side of the bread. Then the other side toasts almost like normal. If you have to sacrifice the efficacy of an appliance in service of something so frivolous, then you should do away with that aspect altogether. I mean, look at that big ole stormtrooper head on your counter top… do you really need the Imperial logo poorly burned into the side of your unevenly toasted bread? I say no. Added to which, that dial is pretty useless. Anything other than all the way dark and the dang thing just keeps popping early over and over. It’s extremely frustrating. Any other setting but total dark side is pointless. It warms the bread and pops, no toast. Turn the dial up, replunge and it warms the bread and pops, no toast. Not until you put it all the way will it finally toast, and even then it’s probably going to burn. The only way I got either to work right was to put the doneness setting all the way, push ‘er down, then return to check on it every few minutes until I thought it was done, then manually pop it. And even then, the side with the design is only half toasted, because the filaments are not evenly distributed. And even if they were, i noticed on both toasters, maybe 25% of the filaments weren’t glowing at all anyway.
I’m sorry, but these toasters are terrible. I wouldn’t even give these away as gifts. I’m not sure if I would even donate them to the Salvation Army or otherwise. Nobody wants a toaster that doesn’t work right. It’s like having a super-cool ice cream machine that only spits out liquid. There are plenty of options out there that work great and cost the same, or less than these two. My Hamilton Beach toaster is boring to look at, but boy howdy it toasts like a goddamn master. It is the Yoda of toasters, if I can intrude on the uncanny brands world. And it’s $15 cheaper than both of these. I’m sure there are diehard collectors out there who want to add these to their repertoire, but people like that aren’t going to take it out of the packaging anyway.