Darth Vader (Lightsaber Attack)
Released April 2005
Reviewed by Adam Pawlus
Photography by Michael Sullenger
Reviewed on May 18, 2005
There have been a great many versions of Darth Vader from the trilogy, but this version from Revenge of the Sith is the first basic prequel figure and the first (and so far only) true Darth Vader having been designed from the prequels. We think. It's my understanding that an armored Darth Vader doesn't have any sort of saber action outside of publicity stills, but hey, there's a lot of things in the new flick that are probably going to be surprises, right? So right or wrong, it's an interesting figure and a very different Darth Vader from what you're used to.
The supposedly final individual to be knighted as a Dark Lord of the Sith includes a lightsaber and a swinging action.
Despite confusing many fans with its appearance similar to that of the Vintage figure late last year, this new release is actually an entirely new mold, as far as we can tell, ,right down to the lightsaber.
With the cloth cape and unusual pose in the photos, you might say "hey, this is a new great super-posable Darth Vader!" Well, it's not. It's new, and it has a good range of articulation, but it's more or less "Publicity Still Vader" and not something based on a specific moment from the silver screen. The costume is really well done, right down to the oh-so-striking helmet.
The look of Darth Vader in the mindset of the fan has evolved as Hasbro refines its sculpting techniques. Little details like silver stripes on his shoulders, the little chain around his neck, and the layers of robes became visible as Hasbro added them to their figures and then all new artwork reflected this a lot more-- it's obvious that these things aren't just toys, they're reference items.
The familiar helmet of the Sith Lord is more or less what you're used to and how you remember it. While there were red lenses in the helmet at times in the past, this is supposed to be the first-ever version of the character and no such lenses are present-- it's basically straight black. There are some silver tips on the face, but beyond that, it's Vader as you remembered him for most of his plastic life, resembling his classic 1978 action figure self more than his 1977 filmed self.
The armor more closely resembles the 1978 action figure than any film version of the costume, in many respects. For starters, this is the young, trim Vader-- he doesn't carry a presence like Dave Prowse gave him, and he doesn't have the robes over his shoulders. While this was supposed to be the very first version of the Vader armor, it's a little surprising it wasn't more like the A New Hope version, or something that visually predated that-- maybe he had a slightly different pair of boots, or something. This version works well and it should fit in with almost any Darth Vader diorama you'll make, with his unique pose allowing him to easily choke someone by gripping their neck or with a gesture. It's a little odd with his pose and joints having his arms a little splayed, but it works because it's a very different figure. While one hand looks ready to choke the life out of his nemeses, the other is fused into an eternal round grip in which you can slide his lightsaber, and without his lightsaber, it looks really stupid.
Paint is good, with very little where it shouldn't be-- it's clean, it's conservative, and there's no weird paint wipes, dirt, or damage that would make this figure seem like anything but the birth of Darth Vader. It's a good deco job all around.
The joint situation isn't bad-- for kicks, I went ahead and stuck him in a Jedi Starfighter and he fits fine. (My Darth Vader's TIE Fighters are currently in boxes so it's tough to test.) He has joints at the neck, hips, right bicep, wrists, shoulders, and waist. So it's a good range of motion, but not a great one, and the existing pose can't be deviated from too much. This is not the ultimate Darth Vader, and while we've had some good ones, we're still a while away from having Darth Perfect. But we can always hope Hasbro has something awesome on tap for later, no?
...but what about that action feature? Well, it more or less sucks but doesn't get in the way of your situating your figure. Squeeze his legs, and Darth Vader will kinda sorta chop his saber down a few centimeters. Some have told me that theirs works fine, so I might have a fluke, or high expectations. Either way, my review sample proved that the action feature is crap and for the time being I'm going to say it wasn't a worthy mechanism.
This set includes a lightsaber.
It appears to be a new sculpt, with the black grip part sanded down so it can slide into his clenched fist. The blade has a good red color, and there's a lot of really nice detail on both the blade and the grip. The blade is not removable, because with the action feature, it'd probably snap.
New for 2005: the flaming head of Darth Vader.
This is a very ornate package. Despite being somewhat generic across the line, there are numerous layers at work here-- there are two cardboard inserts in the front, a plastic tray, and stickers all over to make this really stand out. The end result is a busy, flaming design you just can't ignore. It isn't as gee-whiz or gosh-golly cool as the packaging used for the Original Trilogy Collection but it looks like the most expensive cardback Hasbro has done to date and the new egglike bubble is a huge departure from the previous two decades and change of product from Kenner and Hasbro. The bubble is much like that of the G.I. Joe figures (two- and three-packs) from 2003-2005 in that the bubble wraps the card, hugging it, where it is taped in the back. This allows you to remove a figure a little more easily, although the folks at Hasbro secured it in more places so you'll probably rip most of these getting the figures out.
I've seen lots of these everywhere, and I dare say they're shipping some sort of special assortment at Kohl's that's really heavy on Vaders. You can get one if you want one as of now, but in a few months, odds are he'll be replaced by something better.
Darth Vader is usually a no-brainer-- if you need one, get this one. If you're sick of them, don't bother. This Vader doesn't bring a lot new to the table and odds are most long-time fans will whine but that's what we're known for. I like this Darth Vader for what it is-- an action-feature kids toy with cloth capes-- but the articulation is a little lacking and the pose isn't great. It is neat though, so if you can get it cheap, it's fun enough to consider picking up.
Our review sample was obtained from Entertainment Earth in 2005.