DARTH VADER with REMOVABLE HELMET
STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)
“Luke Skywalker removes his father’s head gear so that Anakin may look at at his son with his own eyes for the first time. Darth Vader became one with the light side of the Force when he rescued his son from the clutches of the Emperor.”
Remember last week when I was talking about the difficulty of coming up with credible variants for certain characters in Star Wars, given how little they change between installments? Good, because it remains relevant for today’s review! Darth Vader’s one of those tricky things to balance for toys, because the guy’s kind of the face of the franchise, but he also looks the same in all of his appearances (to the untrained eye, anyway). For the vintage line, he only had one figure throughout the whole three movie run, and at the outset of Power of the Force II it looked like history might repeat itself. That standard Vader did get a re-card, and even a slight tweak on posing to keep him on shelves, but by 1998, Kenner was doing revamps on all of the core characters, and Vader found himself on the receiving end of such a revamp, one which even gave us something we’d never seen on a Vader before: a removable helmet!
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Darth Vader with Removable Helmet was added to the Power of the Force line in 1998, as the line’s third basic Vader release. Unlike the line’s prior Vaders, which were all sort of amalgams of his designs from all three films, this one was the first to specifically replicate one design, in this case Return of the Jedi. The figure stands a little over 3 3/4 inches tall (as they were back to acknowledging that Vader was taller), and had 7 points of articulation. Just like the Bespin Luke figure from the same year, Vader is granted an extra point of movement on his right wrist, thanks to a removable hand (again making this a more Jedi-specific release). I’ve actually looked at the bulk of this figure’s sculpt before, when it was used for the “Escape the Death Star” Removable Dome Vader release. It really was the best sculpt Vader got out of PotF2, so I definitely can’t complain too much. It’s far less beefy than the initial Vader, and even adds the missing inner robes that hadn’t actually been done in action figure form at this point. The main distinguishing feature on this guy is the unmasked head, which is a pretty solid recreation of his unmasked appearance in the film, especially given the level of detail we typically got from this era of figure. In terms of paint work, this figure marked another improvement for the line, with more than just the straight black of the initial Vaders from the line. This guy also gets some of the proper silver detailing on his shoulders, plus all of the various colors he should have on his chest panel and belt. And, of course, he gets a fully painted face under the helmet, complete with eyebrows, meaning he’s pre-Special Edition! Vader was packed with his lightsaber (whose blade has a tendency to fade over time for this particular release), as well as a Freeze Frame.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Add this Vader to the list of figures I didn’t have as a kid (which, to be totally fair, is all of the Potf2 figures I’ll be reviewing from here on out), but it’s one I very much wanted and never managed to get. One of my parents’ friends had both this and the Bespin Luke when they were released, and I always wanted this guy to pair off with my own Bespin Luke, but I never quite managed it. Over the years, I kept an eye out, but he doesn’t crop up as much as some of the other entries in the line, so it took a little while. Fortunately for me, one wound up floating around the back room at All Time for a little bit, so I was finally able to snag him. He’s definitely the best Vader for this line, so I’m very glad to have him.
Thanks to my friends at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy. They’ve got a decent back stock of Power of the Force, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.