STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES
Okay, so right off the bat, I’m sure my loyal readers are a little confused by today’s Figure in Question. I’m at another 50 mark with no High End review? Well, for the first 300 reviews, getting through another 50 was noteworthy. Past 300, it’s far too frequent. So, from here on out I’ll be saving those reviews for the every hundred. Okay, on to the actual review stuff.
Since the beginning of Star Wars: The Black Series, there’s been one key player obviously missing: Darth Vader. His absence from the line was a bit shocking to see, given he’s one of the signature characters of the series and he’s generally been Hasbro’s bread and butter. The prevailing rumor was that Hasbro was holding off on Vader until they had gotten a few series in, so they could get him right. Well, here we are, five series in, and we’ve finally gotten a Vader figure. So, did they get him right? The results are…mixed.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Darth Vader was released in the fifth series of Star Wars: The Black Series. Just like Luke, Vader’s number shows that Hasbro has reset the numbering on the figures. He’s figure #02, a number previously held by the X-Wing Pilot Luke from the first series. If I’m correct in my thinking, this is meant to be Vader from Return of the Jedi, though it’s possible he’s an amalgamation of the Empire and Jedi looks. That’s what Sideshow did with their Vader, so there’s precedent. Regardless, the differences are minor, so only a die-hard fan will really notice. The figure is about 6 ½ inches in height and features 26 points of articulation. The figure features a mix of sculpted pieces and cloth goods to convey his design. Let’s look at the sculpt first. Overall, the sculpted work on this figure is pretty good. The proportions of the body look right for the character, and there’s some very nice stitched ribbing on his arms, legs and torso. There have been some complaints about the pose of the left hand, but I think it looks really great, and it adds a bit more uniqueness to Vader. The figure has been given a two-piece, removable helmet, like in the movie. The underlying head sculpt is a pretty good approximation of Sebastian Shaw. The eyebrows aren’t painted, so it’s technically Special Edition-ed , but they’re sculpted, so you could paint them if you so desire. The helmet is really the sculpt’s downfall. It’s not bad, per say, but it’s just off enough to fall short of what Vader should look like. To their credit, the helmet pieces snap together really well, and the assembled helmet has no trouble staying on the head. If you don’t want to take the helmet off, you never have to. However, the shape of the assembled helmet is just off enough to throw the whole figure off-kilter. The real issue is that the helmet is just too short and squat for Vader’s helmet in the movie. It’s minor, but when you’re dealing with a design this distinctive you can’t afford to be even the slightest bit off. It’s kinda like messing up Mickey Mouse’s ears, or Superman’s shorts (okay, bad example). If the helmet is the downfall of the sculpt, the cloth goods are the downfall of the figure as a whole. Cloth goods on smaller scale figures are something of a polarizing issue. I don’t mind them when they’re done right, but that’s not here. The major issue here is that the pieces have just been cut WAY too big. The skirt hangs too far in front of his legs, going past the sculpted slot by a good ¼ inch on either side. It also is far too long, leading to it dragging at his feet. The cape isn’t quite as bad. It’s still too long, and it sits too low on his shoulders, but it does have a nice chain clasp, and it looks okay with some good futzing. The paint on Vader is nothing too exciting. It’s clean. Some people dislike the red eyes, but they aren’t that noticeable in person. Vader’s sole accessory is his red lightsaber. It’s well sculpted, and it fits nicely in his right hand, but the blade in mine has trouble staying attached.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Vader was acquired from the same Walgreens where I got Luke, which I was taken to while visiting my Super Awesome Girlfriend (love you!). Vader is a confusing figure. Honestly, he’s not that bad. Were this quality applied to any other character from the franchise, it’d be fine. But this is Vader. This is the guy you have to get right! If he’s not right, it throws the whole collection off. I understand that Hasbro wanted to bring their A-game to this figure, which is why he was pushed to a later series. But, the issue that seems to be cropping up here is that the quality of the line is falling, rather than rising, with each subsequent series. Vader and Luke aren’t bad figures at all, and I don’t regret getting them. I’m incredibly happy have both of them. Still, they could have been better, and that’s a shame.
Well, I said I wasn’t doing a Deluxe review, but I’ve actually written a regular review that’s about the same length. How about that?