Alrighty, It’s Saturday and I’m running into overtime, but I promised to end this week with another Star Wars Black figure and so here we are to take a look at Darth Vader. Obviously, the Dark Lord of the Sith was on a lot of collectors’ 6-inch scale want lists and Hasbro didn’t take too long to deliver him. However, they did go the somewhat controversial route of giving us a Return of the Jedi version with a removable mask. Was it a good call or will I be crying for a do-over? Let’s find out together!
There’s Vader in his box. As noted last time, Hasbro has done some tweaking to the SWB packaging, but it’s mostly just cosmetic. You still get a collector friendly window box that is happy standing on the shelf or hanging on the peg. To be honest, Vader doesn’t look all that impressive in his box, but I think that’s because he’s kind of all smooshed in there.
With Lord Vader out of the box and properly fluffed, I’m digging him a little more. The first thing that strikes me about the figure is how well the soft goods are executed. I remember back when the line was first announced the use of soft goods was one of the selling points for me. How’s that been working out so far? Not so great. We didn’t even get proper Jedi cloaks with Obi-Wan or Anakin… just skirts. Vader here, features a cloth inner garment, which wraps around his torso, flows under his belt and forms a skirt plus a nice flowing cape. The cape secured around the neck with an actual chain and also secured to the shoulder armor. The soft goods are far from perfect, but it is pretty much the selling point for me with this figure. Maybe it’s just because I’m so desperate to see mixed media used in this line to some advantage.
The sculpted detail on the rest of the figure’s body is fairly good. The suit has that great quilted leather texture and I dig the way the shoulder piece looks. Plus… oh, hell… I can’t do this anymore. How many Darth Vader figures have I owned over the years? I don’t even have a large Star Wars collection any longer and I’d still bet I have two dozen. The body sculpt here is passable, but is it better than some of the better 3 3/4” Vader’s. Not really. Regular readers should know my litmus test with the 6-inch Black line by now. Is the figure improved by the larger scale? Again, not really. The truth is there’s nothing here about the sculpt that really stands out as anything we haven’t seen before, but it’s certainly good work. Let’s move on to the portrait.
So, when I heard Hasbro was going with a removable helmet, I expected a soft and squishy train wreck of a sculpt. We did not get that, but there’s still something seriously off about it and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Granted, I’m not a Vader helmet expert and I can’t tell you all the little differences between the costumes. The red eyes are certainly off putting, because whatever the truth is about the costume, they always looked black on screen to me. Overall, I was expecting worse, but that doesn’t make it particularly great either.
Pop off the helmet and you get Anakin unmasked. Here again, I’m going to throw out a “meh.” It’s not bad, it’s not great, it just is. I think the sculpt on the face is actually pretty decent but it’s let down by the paint job. I’m particularly put off by the cartoony look of his eyes. What I do think is fairly impressive is the work they put into the little controls and doo-dads on the tray in front of his mouth.
Generally speaking, I don’t require a lot of articulation out of my Vader figures, but this guy features some competent poseability. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, but alas no bicep swivels. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, hinges in the ankles and we even get some lateral rockers in those ankles too! There’s a ball joint in the waist and a ball joint in the neck. On the downside, those hip joints are pretty loose and sometimes Vader can’t support his own weight when doing those wider stances.
Vader comes with his lightsaber and the blade is detachable so you can go for a lit or unlit look. The problem? There’s no way to attach the hilt to his belt. Seriously, Hasbro? How hard is it to put a peg and a peg hole on the figure? This kind of oversight really pisses me off, especially when they’ve released three Luke figures and all of them have had a lightsaber hilt that could attach to the belt. Grrr…
Armed with the knowledge that Hasbro went for the removable mask, I was expecting this figure to be pretty damn terrible. Now that it’s in hand, I wouldn’t call it terrible, but rather pretty average. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that going for the removable helmet on the first Vader in the line shows poor judgement on Hasbro’s part. Granted, I’m not sure if my issues with the helmet are caused by the fact that it’s removable or if this is the sculpt Hasbro would have went with otherwise, but either way it isn’t all it could have been and that really sums up the figure as a whole. It’s far from the worst figure we’ve got in the line, but a character as important as Vader deserved better than this. Still, it certainly won’t be the last Vader we get in this line, so better luck next time, Hasbro!