DARTH VADER Evil Sith Lord
Revenge of the Sith Evolutions
Item No.: Asst. 85553 No. 85662
Includes: Helmet, lightsaber
Action Feature: Removable Helmet
Availability: Fall 2005, Early 2008
Appearances: Return of the Jedi
Bio: Experience the evolution of the greatest villain the galaxy has ever known! These figures capture the fall of Anakin Skywalker and the rise of Darth Vader! Anakin is a young Jedi who fights for all that is good. He emerges as a hero of the Clone Wars but is lured to the dark side of the Force. He joins the evil Sith and becomes the menacing Darth Vader. From hero to villain, his power and influence change the destiny of a galaxy! (Taken from the figure's 2005 box.)
Image: Adam Pawlus' toy room.
Commentary: Considered by many (i.e., me) to be the best Darth Vader ever, this is one slick figure. It isn't perfect yet-- just the other night, I started work on a feature focusing on new additions you can add to Darth Vader-- but this is the best Darth Vader your money can buy today. You might argue, but you would be wrong, because this figure has it where it counts. The most amazing thing about this figure is how they integrated the cloth parts successfully. Typically, we get a cloth cape, and a cloth "skirt," so the top part of his robes are plastic and sculpted to the torso. Not so in this case! Hasbro actually ran the cloth under the shoulder armor, so if you flip the figure's cape up and look at his back, you'll see more cloth behind him. Wowie zowie. Someone put some thought into this one! With these cloth parts, articulation is fairly unhindered-- you can move his arms, and he can sit easily. Sitting has been a problem for Darth Vader since the introduction of the plastic skirt piece in late 1997, because even though his hips are jointed, the large, unbending plastic piece would get in the way. This would once again be a problem in 2004 and 2005 when several Darth Vader figures had a codpiece sculpted to his belt, which would bend when the figure sits and result in a Sith Lord that looks like he might be happy to see you once you take him out of a ship or meditation chamber. Hasbro wisely designed this figure with the codpiece sculpted directly onto the lower body, so the figure can just sit-- the way it should be. This is a great figure for piloting your vehicles.
As far as articulation goes, depending on who you ask, this is the best one. Some people prefer the 500th Figure/TAC/Saga Legends release due to its unique knee joints, but I prefer this one because he has ball jointed elbows. (I'll take arms over slightly different knees any day.) Darthy here has 14 points of articulation, making him the most articulated (or tied for it) of all Darth Vader action figures so far. With ball joints at the shoulders, elbows, ankles, and knees, this figure is about as good as you can get. If Hasbro can find a way to do a good ball jointed torso, neck, wrist, or hip, I'd gladly rebuy the figure with the enhanced articulation-- but this one is plenty great.
You might be left saying "wow Adam, it sounds like this figure is flawless!" Well, it isn't-- it's very good, but falls just short of being perfect. This figure has no way to hang his lightsaber on his belt, which we did have in the very good 2004 Vintage Darth Vader. This figure's removable helmet pops off very easily, and it's distracting. Also, his hands aren't very well sculpted as he often will drop his lightsaber. Depending on if these are deal-breakers for you, you might want to keep your peepers peeled for another version of the figure. But I still say, after nearly three years, this is the best overall Darth Vader figure Hasbro has ever released. I'm hoping they make a new one and prove me wrong soon, too.
Collector's Notes: This exact same figure was rereleased in 2008 in new packaging, and is in stores now. A similar figure was released in 2007 as part of the "Order 66" collection-- the figure was essentially identical, except the helmet was glued down. These figures are all similar enough that, save for the removable helmet feature, you can probably get one of them and call it a day. (We won't be treating the Order 66 version as a unique figure for the purposes of this column, as gluing down the helmet is something you can replicate easily on this figure.) The mold was revised and tweaked to create the 30th Anniversary Collection "A New Hope" Darth Vader, which had new arms, a new head, and a new torso-- but basically identical articulation.
Day 690: March 26, 2008