Out of all the scene specific Vader's, an "Emperor's Wrath" is probably one of the more symbolic in the saga. Perhaps this figure should have been badged as "Redemption" Vader, though it doesn't have as cool a tone. This is the third Force Lightning energized 'Wrath" Vader in the line (although "Emperor's Wrath" as a sub-moniker isn't mentioned on either card variant), the first as far back as 2000's Power of the Jedi. The Vintage Collection version includes a detachable hand, Force Lightning effects, and what's become a signature look for this scene specific figure; a transparent helmet.
Cardback: Celebrate the legendary Star Wars saga that changed the universe forever! This collection brings to life the incredible story of good versus evil that captured our imagination and took us to a galaxy far, far away. Iconic Star Wars heroes and villains are captured with incredible detail and premium features to commemorate each epic tale in the Star Wars saga. May the Force be with you!
Cardback (Lost Line): Celebrate 35 years of Star Wars in 2012 as we recreate a "lost" packaging line look that was created, contemplated…and put aside in favor of Kenner's classic black-and-silver Star Wars design. For the first time ever, we're bringing this line look out of the Kenner archives and treating you to a glimpse of what might have been.The same creative team who designed the black-and-silver look also developed this design as one of several options to be considered for the line. In this lost line look, they created high tech imagery incorporating a signature Star Wars vehicle and an epic space theme. What might have been, what was and what is: It all captures our imaginations, just as the Star Wars saga captures our imaginations today, tomorrow and always! [IMAGE BANK PHOTOS]
SCULPT/PAINT: The newness here is in the translucent helmet with a sculpted skull underneath and a removable right "fist" that detaches from a stump with silver paint app that's supposedly his exposed circuitry (which is actually an improvement and more screen accurate than the 2006 TSC figure's "stump"). The rest of the body and soft goods were last seen with VC08 Darth Vader from 2010. There is some differentiation with the paint, specifically on the chest panel and shoulder plates, but overall, it's just a new head and right hand. You can say there was some "shortcutting" involved and where the 2000 Power of the Jedi figure excels in some points.The helmet/head of that figure had painted on blue force lightning that along with the translucency and glow in the dark inner skull (and translucent torso and and arms), gave a much better overall effect than 2012.
If you're inclined to pop on VC08's head on VC115, you can actually do so. There's a little looseness but it will stay put.
ARTICULATION: Re-using VC08's body has its advantages with the 14 points of articulation. You can pose him in various action (and in-action) stances and even hoist the Emperor over head for a good toss down the Death Star pit.
ACCESSORIES: The included Force Lightning is nicely done, with one piece covering his torso and the other his arm. It has a good purplish dark side hue that should have also been replicated and decoed on the helmet and parts of the body for added effect. The included lightsaber has been issued before and not really vital or specific to that scene, but you have one if you want one.
CARDBACK: The Vintage Collection black and silver version faithfully receates the Return of the Jedi 77 back "pointing" photo that's my favorite. The card back features the 2012 "14 back" design with other figures from Wave 6 as well as characters from the upcoming Wave 7. The same Vintage "repack" vehicles shown on the bottom portion along with the wrong Obi-Wan Starfighter serve as a stark reminder that Hasbro missed some quality control opportunities.
Curiously, Hasbro changed up the sequencing of Darth Vader from VC113 to VC115 (The Republic Trooper originally had that numerical designation). This could potentially be an error, but we'll certainly find out once Wave 7 is released (or sooner).
The alternate "Lost Line" card back, currently being packed one of each figure in the latest case assortment, looks more contemporary and quite modern aside from the classic Hildebrandt logo prominently placed on the front card header. The renderings of "Wrath" Vader and a Shuttle and Interceptor taking off from Death Star II are well done and probably the best of the Lost Line look assortment. While we can be thankful that Hasbro ultimately went with the iconic silver and black, carded collectors should enjoy this little homage to forgotten Kenner history. The back of the card features a photo of the actual figure set against the Lost Line card back with its own sequencing of "EP606" (Episode 6, Figure 6). Other figures from the Lost Line wave are represented on the bottom.
TOPPING THINGS OFF: Hasbro took some shortcuts and produced what is essentially a kit-bashed figure. The new translucent head and Force Lightning are well done and the short circuited stump an improvement from 2006, but some enhancements like additional "Force Lightning" paint ops or even translucency on some limbs would have improved this figure from merely pieced together and re-issued to something a little more special. Not saying that the Power of the Jedi figure is superior, but it does have superior points of expression. The Vintage Kenner cardback is superb with the "pointing Vader" photo variation that's a personal favorite, but it can't hide the flaws of what should have been a better designed figure.
Carded collectors will certainly want to collect both variants. Loose collectors may be somewhat disappointed with the short cuts and wasted potential.
RATING: CARGO HOLD (3 out of 5 Bounty Points)
REVIEW AND PHOTOGRAPHY: MIKE SULLENGER