Figure of the Day: Day 716
4/21/2008 7:34:56 PM | Reported by Adam

DARTH VADER Special Edition 500th Figure
Revenge of the Sith 500th Edition Figure
Item No.:
No. 85413
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: #3004
Includes: Dome, lightsaber, cape, hands, meditation chamber
Action Feature: Removable dome, swappable hand
Retail: $14.99
Availability: Summer 2005
Appearances: The Empire Strikes Back

Bio: Celebrate a very special moment in the history of the Star Wars 3 3/4" action figures, with the introduction of the 500th figure in this legendary collection. No character is more fitting to mark this significant event that the ultimate villain of all time, Darth Vader. Designed with incredible detail and superior articulation, Vader comes with his famous meditation chamber where his menacing helmet is lowered onto him. Own a piece of history as a cornerstone to your Star Wars collection. Star Wars - Live the legend... Celebrate the saga! (Taken from the figure's 500th edition box. So much marketing speak. I'm in marketing and it's making me puke.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' Millennium Falcon. 2007 Betrayal at Bespin reissue pictured.

Commentary: After stunning fans with the nifty and well designed 300th Edition figure, Hasbro decided to give it another go with the 500th Edition Darth Vader figure about five years later. Nevermind the fact that the tallies are probably way off, no matter how you count figures, it was nice of them to give it another shot. The packaging is certainly some of the most ornate (and certainly interactive) of any 3 3/4-inch scale figure ever, as it allowed you to raise and lower Darth Vader's helmet over the action figure. It also allowed you to view the figure from multiple angles, and basically acted as a mini playset of Darth Vader's meditation chamber. In short, it's impressive stuff. The one downer about the packaging was that warped the figure, as it was not designed to sit especially well. Lord Vader's codpiece, you see, is bent forward as a result of the figure's sitting down. What I'm getting at is that he's happy to see you.

While the packaging was certainly a treat, the figure itself was actually no better than the $10 Darth Vader figure released in the Vintage Original Trilogy Collection in 2004, with the possible exception of the removable cape and helmet. The figures are totally different sculpts, but are very similar-- the 2004 figure has no removable helmet, and the 2005 one's helmet just falls off. The 2004 one has a hole in his belt to plug in a lightsaber, and the 2005 one does not. 2004 Darth Vader has ball-ish-jointed shoulders, and 2005 does not. At the same time, the 2005 one has an extra hand to swap out, but they're both so similar that it wasn't necessary on Hasbro's part to do so. 500th Darth Vader has a decent amount of articulation, and except for the shoulders, has pretty much identical articulation to his VOTC ancestor. The sculpts are very similar, but the most striking thing about this release is that the shoulder and upper chest armor is a striking black with bright silver markings. Other releases of this figure tend to have much darker silver, and often sport intentionally scuffed shoulders. So this Darth Vader certainly looks striking with bright, shiny colors and super-glossy black. It looks much newer than most trilogy-based versions of the Sith Lord, but when you get right down to it, the Evolutions version that would come out just a few months later would make this 500th edition look like a piece of junk by comparison given it had things like ankle joints, ball jointed elbows, and a fully removable helmet. Oh, and no crazy codpiece either.

Today-- as in, right now-- the 500th Vader can be bought in the Betrayal at Bespin Battle Pack (with the helmet glued down) for about $20. (It also includes the 300th Boba Fett, VOTC Chewbacca, plus a great Leia and a decent Han figure.) This same mold was redecorated and reaccessorized for a few individually packaged releases for about $7.

I would not advise you to buy the 500th edition Darth Vader unless you're a hardcore collector of special figures, all things Vader, or or all figures, period. The two Saga Collection Darth Vader figures based on this mold are close enough to it that most fans probably won't want them all, unless you're a fan of the bright shiny silver or added accessories. It's a shame that Hasbro had to take a step back from the 2004 Vader when making this one and then would go on to leapfrog it just months later with a far superior release. It really is the "middle child" of the three major current style of Darth Vader molds, failing to meet up to the standards of his younger and older brothers. Of course, if this figure were $7, it'd have been the most awesome thing for the price, but it wasn't, so it isn't. It does certainly look nice, but as a toy, it wasn't the huge leap forward that 300th Boba Fett was over his previous releases.

Collector's Notes: It's hard to see this figure as anything but absurdly overpriced, with Hasbro once again showing that fancy packaging will indeed make collectors fork over additional cash for what is basically a $6-$7 action figure. This figure was supposedly popular but I've been stumbling on them at retail as recently as a few months ago. The mold itself has been reused extensively since 2005, spawning three unique-ish carded figures and the Betrayal at Bespin Battle Pack releases, to name a few. The 500th Edition and Betrayal at Bespin versions are nearly identical-- the helmet is glued down on the Battle Pack release, but the deco is identical. It's also missing the meditation chamber "playset"/packaging. As special figures go, when you get right down to it, this one wasn't particularly special. Unless you mean it in the sense that "special" was used to describe. ( MORE IMAGES )

--Adam Pawlus

Day 716: April 21, 2008

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