#2233: Luke Skywalker & Darth Vader

LUKE SKYWALKER in TRASH COMPACTOR & DARTH VADER w/ REMOVABLE DOME

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Board the Death Star…for a fight to the finish!  Recreate classic Star Wars movie battles in two games! In the first, for younger players, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca sneak through the Death Star capturing Imperials. Can you score the most captures?  Now advance to the next game — and take sides. Darth Vader, Boba Fett and stormtroopers move in the open, capturing Rebel Code Cards to win. But the Rebels move in secret. To win, they must use strategy to reach the Millennium Falcon, then dice-roll their way off the Death Star!  Add other action figures you already own…and fill the game board with life-like Star Wars characters!”

In the ’90s, Star Wars was back on the rise again, and they were just slapping the brand on everything they could.  The action figures maintained their foothold as the primary selling point for just about everything, resulting in the distribution methods being a little bit all over the place.  There were a bunch of mail-away offers, there were figures packed in with playsets, and carrying cases and collector’s coins.  And, in 1998, there were two figures offered exclusively with a board game of all things.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Luke Skywalker in Trash Compactor and Darth Vader with Removable Dome were the two Power of the Force II figures available exclusively with the “Escape the Death Star” board game (not to be confused with the “Escape *FROM* the Death Star” game from the ’70s, which was just re-issued with an exclusive figure packed in…it’s not confusing at *all*), which hit shelves in 1998.  The game included the two figures, plus a bag of accessories containing three lightsabers and three styles of blaster.  There were also cardboard standees of all the non-Luke and Vader characters mentioned, which could be replaced in game play by the separately sold PotF releases of the characters.

LUKE SKYWALKER in TRASH COMPACTOR

Luke was easily the most populous character in this line by this point, so another variant wasn’t really too much of a shock.  This one, like a lot of the late-run Luke variants was also exceedingly similar to a prior figure, namely the Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper Disguise from 1996.  But this one’s different, you see.  He’s Luke after he falls into the trash compactor and gets pulled under the the water by the Dianoga.  This necessitates the new head sculpt featured, which also better matches the changed Luke likeness introduced in 1997, though with the slicked back hair, he’s not as immediately recognizable as Luke.  Aside from the new head and a few small deco additions on the torso, he’s pretty much the same as the previous figure, meaning he’s still not a little short for a Stormtrooper.  Drat.

DARTH VADER w/ REMOVABLE DOME

As the most recognizable character in the franchise, there’s an undeniable desire to release lots of Darth Vader action figures.  The trouble, of course, being that the character only has minor changes to his look over the course of the franchise, so not exactly a lot of room for variation between releases.  Nevertheless, Kenner sure did their best to jam as many possible variants of him into the line as possible.  Unlike Luke, this one doesn’t actually get any new parts, being the head from the “Complete Galaxy” Vader on the body of the main line’s removable helmet Vader from the same year as this figure.  Despite his lack of new parts, he actually ends up being a slightly more worth while figure than Luke.  I mean, not essential or anything, but the reveal of the back of his head is a distinctive moment from Empire, and with the dome in place, he actually makes for a really solid basic Vader figure.  It helps that the removable helmet body is probably the best Vader body from Power of the Force, so getting it again really wasn’t a bad deal.  It also helps that, unlike Luke, Vader got to keep his removable helmet, so there’s less of a feeling of this loss of value.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t own this as a kid (though one of my cousins did), but I remember this game when it was released.  And I also remember it from all the years after it was released that it sat around not selling, because it was definitely not one of the line’s hotter items.  The real trouble is that finding the set’s market is a little tricky.  The game was just a hastily thrown together to augment the figures really, so it wasn’t going to be appealing to board game collectors, but the figures were also rather hastily thrown together to go with the game, and neither one of them is anywhere near essential to a collector.  Topping that off was that the whole thing cost more than four times the cost of a single figure, making this a very hard sell to the action figures they were trying to cash in on.  It’s not hard to figure out why these two are still rather cheaply acquired.

#2225: Darth Vader

DARTH VADER

STAR WARS: GALAXY OF ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

If there’s a face of Star Wars, it’s pretty undeniably Darth Vader.  Guy kind of made the franchise, being easily the most marketable character in the bunch.  So, pretty unsurprisingly, Vader is pretty much a lock for every new style product launch.  There’s a Vader for everyone.  Understandably, this means that even the newly launched Galaxy of Adventures line also has a Vader as one of its three OT characters at launch.  That’s the figure I’ll be taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Darth Vader is the last of the basic release figures for Wave 1 of Galaxy of Adventures.  He’ll be one of the four figure carrying forward to Wave 2, a good fit, given the overall OT-bend of the second line-up.  Standing 5 3/4 inches tall, Vader is the second tallest figure in the line-up, and he has 23 points of articulation.  Vader’s articulation is somewhat restricted by his design (as is the case with pretty much all Vader figures), so he’s a little stiffer than the other figures in the line-up.  However, while he’s not going to be doing any crazy kung-fu moves or anything, there’s plenty of far more Vader-esque poses you can get him into.  Also, I will say I was particularly impressed by the range of motion on the neck, an area where most Vader figures tend to be lacking.  While other sculpts in the line are rather stylized, Vader’s is the first one to really fully take advantage of the style to push some of his character aspects a bit further.  Vader’s always daunting in size and an imposing figure, but for this one he’s actually like twice the size of Rey and Finn, with super broad shoulders, and a quite impressive silhouette.  This is a very good example of getting all of the base elements for a character design and just really ramping them up to get that really cool, almost mind’s eye take on the character.  Also, like Chewbacca, he really seems to push that Genndy Tartakovsky feel, and I am again all about that.  Boy does this guy look like a bad guy, which is, you know, what you want out of a Vader design, I suppose.  Vader’s paintwork is fairly cleanly handled.  All of the important details are there, and the application’s good.  There’s some variation to the finish on the various blacks, which looks nice.  He’s packed with his lightsaber, which is the usual fair.  He also features a “Force Slash” feature built into his waist, which again is pretty non-intrusive.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Vader was honestly pretty high on my list for this line, because he’s typically a fairly good trial run type of character (which is why I have his Mashers figure).  I knew I wanted him, but I didn’t know when.  Turned out “at the same time as all the others” was the answer, thanks to Super Awesome Wife’s intervention.  Vader may well be the line’s star figure.  I mean, I like them all a lot, don’t get me wrong, but Vader’s translation into the line’s style just really ends up working, and he ends up as the most striking individual design in the set.  I can foresee a lot of people just having a Vader and no one else from the line.  Whatever the case, I do hope the strength of this particular figure might help to get some more of the old school fans to give this line a try, because it’s honestly the best Star Wars offering Hasbro’s got out there right now, and I’d like to see it succeed.

#1622: Darth Vader – Vantablack

VANTABLACK DARTH VADER

STAR WARS: THE VANTABLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Once a heroic Vantablack Jedi Knight, Vantablack Darth Vader was seduced by the Vantablack side of the Force, became a Sith Vantablack Lord, and led the Vantablack Empire’s eradication of the Vantablack Jedi Order. He remained in service of the Vantablack Emperor for decades, enforcing his Vantablack Master’s will and seeking to crush the fledgling Vantablack Rebel Alliance.  Vantablackly.”

Have you ever looked at something and thought it could use some more light devouring, piercing, soul-sucking absolute blackness?  No?  Well, that’s ’cause you’re silly.  The obvious answer was “vanta-yes!”  Enter Hasbro with their brand new product line, combining all of the coolness of their Star Wars: The Black Series line with the absolute blackness that is Vantablack.  Behold, Star Wars: The Vantablack Series.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Vantablack Darth Vader is the inaugural figure in Star Wars: The Vantablack Series‘s first assortment, alongside Vantablack TIE Pilot, Vantablack Death Trooper, and the ultra-secret-mega-chase-one-per-case-completely-theoretical Vantablack Panther.  Why’s there a Marvel figure in there?  Disney, that’s why.  All of those are all well and good, but today’s the main event, the main man, Vantablack Darth Vader, representing Darth Vader as he’d be if he were more Vantablack-y.  This figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has…points of articulation?  I think there’s like around 30?  I don’t know, it’s hard to tell.  Absolute blackness and all.  You try to get an accurate count on something you can’t see!  Vader’s sculpt is..uhh, well there’s…I mean, uhh, it’s new, I think?  It feels new.  Or maybe it’s old.  I suppose it could be the same as the last one.  I’m not used to reviewing my figures by touch.  The quality is good, though.  I think.  There’s probably tons of details there.  It sure feels like it.  I think it’s accurate to the movies, but having never touched any of the Vader suits from the movies, I can’t quite give an accurate reading.  If my fingers don’t deceive me, this is an ANH Vader.  Good choice, guys, that one’s the best feeling one.  The paint on this guy is all Vantablack all the time.  It’s obviously got consistent coverage, since I can’t see any reflection at all.  Vantablack Vader is packed with his usual lightsaber, but with the hilt also in Vantablack.  It’s cool, but I’ve already dropped it on the floor, and what with the Vantablack…I mean, do you know how hard it is to find an item that doesn’t reflect?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I stumbled on this guy at my Toys R Us.  I mean that literally.  The box is *also* in Vantablack, and, as I noted, that stuff doesn’t reflect, so it’s kind of hard to see, especially since TRU’s literally just stacking this stuff on the floors now.  Since I’d already left a sizable shoe-print on the box, I figured I should probably pay for it.  I greatly look forward to having more of these figures that I can’t really see.  Maybe I’ll put them in a dark corner of the room.

#1492: Darth Vader

DARTH VADER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

“Once a heroic Jedi Knight, Darth Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force, became a Sith Lord, and led the Empire’s eradication of the Jedi Order. He remained in service of the Emperor for decades, enforcing his Master’s will and seeking to crush the fledgling Rebel Alliance.”

When Star Wars: The Black Series first launched, Hasbro deliberately spaced out the heavy hitters, over the first year or so of the line.  Perhaps most noticeably affected by this was franchise icon Darth Vader, who didn’t officially join the line until five series in, well into its second year.  Hasbro presumably wanted to wait until they had the rhythms of the line down before tackling one of the most recognizable villains of all time.  Unfortunately, The Black Series had something of a downward curve of quality in its first couple of years, and poor Vader was left with a passable, but far from perfect figure.  Nevertheless, he’s Darth Vader, so the figure was one of the line’s strongest sellers, providing a scarce, expensive, and ultimately very disappointing experience for most collectors.  Fortunately, Hasbro took advantage of Vader’s re-appearance in Rogue One, as well as the original film’s 40th anniversary, to give fans another shot at the dark lord.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This new Vader figure was available two ways.  The first was as part of the 40th Anniversary Legacy Pack, released early this summer, which included Vader carded in the same faux-vintage fashion as the rest of the 40th Anniversary Collection, packed alongside a display stand mimicking the materials included in the original Kenner Early Bird pack.  He was then re-released as figure 43 in the main Black Series line, as part of the first The Last Jedi-themed assortment.  There are some minor differences between the two, but they’re functionally the same.  This Vader differentiates himself from the last Black Series Vader by taking his basis from the A New Hope Vader design.  I like this, because it’s functionally the same design, but it means that the fans who have the old Vader still have a reason to own both.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall (the same as the old one) and he has 26 points of articulation (also the same).  He too uses a mixed media approach to the design, with plastic for the overall body, and then a cloth cape and robes.  This is dangerous territory, as bad cloth parts have been the downfall of more than one Black Series figure.  In this case, it seems to have worked out alright, though.  The pieces could still be a little tighter, but he’s not swimming in an XXL T-Shirt like the last figure.  The all-new sculpt fixes a few of the problems of the prior, most notably, the shaping of the helmet.  Since he never took off his helmet in ANH, this helmet’s a solid, non-removable piece, which makes for a more precise and accurate take on Vader’s distinctive mask.  I don’t know that I like this piece quite as much as the smaller Rogue One figure, but it’s certainly a marked improvement on the original figure.  His paintwork is generally pretty decent.  It’s nothing terribly complex, but there’s some nice, subtle variations in the various finishes which offer some nice depth.  Regardless of which release of this Vader you get, they both include his usual lightsaber, which appears to be the same piece that was included with the last figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When this figure’s digital sculpt was first shown off, I was pretty pumped.  I was more than a little let-down by the old one, and a replacement was high on my list of wants.  When he finally hit stores, I was focussed on other things, and just had a hard time justifying his higher price-point, no matter how cool that stand may be.  Ultimately, I ended up getting him because I found one at 2nd Avenue for $3.  I can’t say for sure which release I got, but I’m happy I finally got one.  With all that said, in digging out the old figure for the comparison shots, I realized I was perhaps a little harsh on that one, and he isn’t as bad as I’d remembered.  Now I really don’t know which one I prefer.

#1446: Darth Vader

DARTH VADER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Once known as Anakin Skywalker, expert pilot and hero, Vader studied the ways of the Force under young Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi. His impatience with the Jedi training made him susceptible to the dark side, which corrupted him as he gave in to his anger and aggression. Vader was almost killed in a confrontation with Kenobi, and was forced to adopt his current life support systems and fearsome body armor.”

You know, it’s been two weeks since I reviewed a Star Wars figure. That’s a long time.  I could go into withdrawal.  Or worse yet, I could get a huge backlog of Star Wars figures to review!  Oh…right…too late.  Well, let’s take another stab at getting through that backlog, shall we?  Let’s have a look at my man Vader here.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Darth Vader was part of the very first series of the Power of the Force II line.  Believe it or not, this was only the second small-scale Vader ever released.  That’s kind of crazy in this day and age where you can’t go anywhere without tripping over like 50 of this guy.  This was long before the trend of 100% movie accuracy, so this figure ends up as a rather indeterminate version of Vader.  I suppose he’s technically an Empire/Jedi Vader, since his robes go under his shoulder armor.  Of course, even the original Vader, who was released to coincide with the first movie, had the robes under the armor, so I think it’s less an accuracy thing and more a “they just never really noticed” thing.  The figure stands 4 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Vader’s not only taller than his compatriots, he’s also just generally larger.  This is Vader if Star Wars had been made in the ‘90s and he’d been played by Jeep Swenson…the ‘90s were a strange time.  Apart from the overall Swenson-ness, the sculpt isn’t terrible.  The quilted pattern on his undersuit is nice, and most of the important details are there.  The helmet’s a little off, but it was a marked improvement on the vintage version, and it’s not like anyone would ever confuse it for anything but Darth Vader’s helmet. The one notable omission on this guy is his lack of the bottom section of his robe.  However, as with the handling of the shoulder armor, this is something consistent with the vintage release, so maybe Kenner/Hasbro just hadn’t learned yet.  The figure’s topped off with a plastic cape, which makes the already bulky Vader even bulkier.  It’s not a bad piece, but it definitely has a flair for the dramatic.   Vader’s paint is fairly straightforward stuff.  Mostly, he’s just molded in black, with a few little spots of detail work.  Nothing spectacular, but it’s fair enough fore the time.  Vader’s one accessory was his lightsaber, which, like all of the early figures, came in short and long variants.  Mine no longer has his, but I’m fairly certain it was one of the short ones, given the basic time period of when I would have gotten this.  

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I don’t know 100% how this guy came into my collection.  I know how he *didn’t* come into my collection.  Let me ‘splain: the first time I saw this figure, it was just after seeing The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the theatre.  After the movie, my parents took me to the KB Toys in the same mall so I could get one figure.  It came down to this guy or Phoebus from Hunchback.  Having just seen the movie, it was Phoebus, and not Vader, who went home with me that day.  I know that Vader was given to me by my parents shortly after.  Now, if I had to guess, using my much more fully-formed and adult investigative skills, I’d say my parents more than likely bought me both of these figures that day and just gave me Vader a little later.  I can’t know for certain, of course, but that’s certainly the type of thing they’re prone to do.

#1425: Darth Vader & Imperial Probe Droid

DARTH VADER & IMPERIAL PROBE DROID

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

“Tenacious hunters and searchers, Probe Droids (or Probots) have a variety of sensors and the ones employed by the Empire are armed with powerful blasters and, in some models, shields.”

Remember when I was mentioning the Empire Strikes Back stuff that hit with The Last Jedi product?  Just yesterday?  Well, hey, here’s some more of that.  This set pairs another variation of one of the franchise’s juggernaut characters with a fan-favorite design that actually hasn’t seen a new figure in almost 15 years, which seems a little crazy.  Onto the review!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Vader and the Probot are one of the two “creature” sets released alongside the Last Jedi product.  Interestingly, the two characters included here never actually share any screen time or even reside in the same general area over the course of Empire, but I guess that Vader’s the Probot’s boss, so that sort of makes a little sense.

DARTH VADER

So, I was discussing yesterday about how the whole Star Wars line would fall into disarray were there not a steady stream of Boba Fett figures offered.  That goes double for this guy.  Despite dying at the end of Return of the Jedi, he’s managed to find his way into every movie line launch since Episode 1 in some way or another.  This figure stands a little over 4 inches tall and has a whole 6 points of articulation (thanks to a cut joint at the waist).  This Vader is based on his appearance from Empire, which was slightly changed from A New Hope (and, by extension, Rogue One, which used the ANH design), but not terribly different from the one seen in Return of the Jedi.  Essentially, this figure’s sculpt is the later film equivalent to the fantastic Rogue One Vader we got last year.  At first glance, I actually thought this figure was mostly re-used from that one, but it’s its own wholly original work.  This means there’s no real compromises made, which is nice to see after lots of years of Vaders based indeterminately on several different movie’s designs.  It’s a very strong sculpt, and were it not for the RO Vader from last year, it would easily be my favorite Vader sculpt to date.  As it stands, it’s a definite top two.  I enjoy this just as much, but for differing reasons.  Interestingly, the helmet is a separate piece from the mask and head, but it’s not removable or anything.  I was sort of expecting this to be a “reveal” figure, showing the back of his head like we see in his chamber, but it wasn’t the case. It’s not really a big deal, though, and I honestly prefer a Vader with all of his pieces connected.  This Vader gets another plastic cape piece, which is a different piece than the one on the RO Vader, but still very nice.  This one drapes over the shoulders a bit more, which is certainly appropriate.  Vader’s paintwork is pretty solid all around.  There’s a lot more going on than might be evident at first, especially with all the differing shades of black.  I like that they’re putting in that sort of effort.  Vader includes his lightsaber, which this time around can be held in either of his hands.  He is also ForceLink compatible, though I still don’t have the wrist thing to try him out, so I don’t know what sounds he makes.

IMPERIAL PROBE DROID

In a movie full of distinctive things, the Probe Droid actually manages to stick out, being one of the very first things the audience sees on the screen.  The Probot’s only had two figures before in this scale; both were actually made from the same mold.  It’s long been a favorite item amongst the fan base, so an update was certainly much appreciated.  The Probot is about 5 inches tall (when placed on his stand, of course) and has an astounding 16 points of articulation.  Those arms really help him out on that front.  The sculpt on this guy is all new, and definitely top-notch.  Like Vader, it’s very accurate to the film prop, and offers a lot of really great little details.  Obviously, it’s a little less detailed than the real scale-model of the thing, but it’s far from “basic.”  The head in particular just perfectly captures the shape and sizing of the in-film design so well, and I love how well his large camera eyes have turned out.  In terms of paint, there’s not a *ton* going on with the Probot.  He’s largely just molded in a very dark grey plastic.  hat being said, it’s a good shade of grey, and there’s still nice paint work on the lenses of the cameras.  He’s also got a number of silver scuffs all over him, befitting the used-future look of the OT films.  It’s subtle, but it definitely adds a lot to the figure.  Since the Probot we see in the film is always hovering and doesn’t really have an easy way of standing, this figure includes a clear stand to help him “hover.”  It’s a fairly basic piece, which just plugs into the base of the figure’s body.  I do quite like the little Imperial insignia that’s molded into it.  It’s a fun touch.  There’s also a missile launching component worked into the figure, but in a less obtrusive way than the prior Probot mold.  It’s just one small panel on the body, and it’s not really noticeable when it’s in place.  Lastly, there’s the ForceLink feature, and this time around, I do actually have an idea of what sounds it makes.  It just makes the transmitting sounds from the movie, which is a feature I really look forward to trying out when I get the chance.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like yesterday’s set, I didn’t pick this pair up on Force Friday.  I didn’t even pick them up the next week when I went back.  In part, this was due to my thinking that the Vader was actually a lot more similar to the RO version than he ultimately was.  But I saw some photos online and I was really digging the Probot, so I decided to try and grab one.  Of course, I forgot that this set’s packed one for every three Rapthar packs, so it wasn’t super easy to track down.  I did eventually manage to find one at Walmart, so yay for that.  This is definitely a strong set.  Sure, a figure other than Vader might have been nice, but at least it’s a good Vader figure.  And at the end of the day, the Probot’s definitely worth buying another Vader figure to get.  And that wraps up the small-scale Force Friday offerings that I’ll be reviewing.  Not a bad assortment at all.

#1150: Darth Vader

DARTH VADER

STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE

vaderro1

I don’t have any specific numbers off of the top of my head, but if I had to hazard a guess as to which Star Wars character had the most action figures, I’d probably go for Darth Vader.  Something about this guy speaks to the fans, and that results in a lot of merchandise with his face (or mask, I guess) plastered all over it.  It’s not really a huge shock that Rogue One found a way to include good ol’ Darth in the film, especially since getting him in there didn’t take too many insane jumps of logic (I mean, I think.  Still haven’t seen the movie).  Vader has found his way into a few of the toylines for the film, because really, what licensee in their right mind wouldn’t take advantage of his latest appearance.  Today, I’ll be looking at his newest 3 3/4 inch figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

vaderro3Darth Vader is another figure from the second series of Hasbro’s Star Wars: Rogue One line.  The figure stands about 4 1/4 inches tall and has a whopping 6 points of articulation.  Waist articulation FTW!  Can that become standard again?  Believe it or not, Vader’s actually an entirely new sculpt, which is a pretty big deal.  He’s based specifically on his Rogue One design, which is itself just a slightly cleaned up version of the A New Hope design.  Believe it or not, ANH-accurate Vader’s are few and far between, which means this guy offers up something pretty darn cool, despite just being another Darth Vader.  On top of the ANH accuracy, the sculpt is also just one of the best Vader sculpts out there, especially when compared to Hasbro’s last few attempts at the character (including the less than stellar Black Series figure).  The scaling is right, the proportions are well matched, the details are sharp, and his left hand is doing his ANH force choke (which was slightly different from later films).  I suppose the lightsaber grip on the right hand could be a little better (his hold on the hilt is a little loose and awkward), but that’s really the only major complaint I can come up with.  He even gets a nice sculpted cape, which is much nicer than the mediocre cloth capes included with the last few Vaders.  Even the paint’s pretty good on this guy.  The color work is all pretty tight, and there’s some nice variation on the finish of the different blacks of his costume (to be truly ANH-accurate, the helmet should really be matte finish, but it looks like the shiny helmet was kept for Rogue One, meaning this guy’s still accurate).  Vader includes his lightsaber, as well as a big missile launcher, which is really, really goofy, especially with Vader.  He makes missile launchers goofier.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, oddly enough, Vader was my most wanted figure from the second series.  It’s strange, because it’s not like I don’t already have a handful of smaller-scale Vader figures, but I guess after getting the Rogue One Stormtrooper, which was such a great rendition of that design, I just really wanted a version of the big boss man himself that was of a matching quality.  Like the last four figures I’ve looked at, I picked up this Vader figure from Target late on Black Friday, and I was quite happy to find him.  The figure really turned out well, and this is definitely my go-to Vader moving forward!

vaderro2

#0860: Star Wars Mashers

LUKE SKYWALKER, HAN SOLO, DARTH VADER, STORM TROOPER, & SCOUT TROOPER

STAR WARS HERO MASHERS

ROTJMashers1

For a guy who’s not a huge fan of Hero Mashers, I sure do seem to be picking up a lot of these guys, don’t I? Yeah, I don’t really have an excuse. I’m a bit of a push over when it comes to certain things. But, hey, it means you guys get to keep reading about these figures. Isn’t that a plus? No? Well, sorry…

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This five-pack of figures was released not long after the onslaught of Star Wars-merch in September. It initially appeared to be a TRU-exclusive set, but has recently begun to show up at other retailers. All of the included figures are based on Return of the Jedi.

LUKE SKYWALKER

ROTJMashers2Luke makes his second appearance in the Mashers style here, based on his Jedi look from….Jedi. Specifically, he’s based on his look from towards the end of the film, after he’s ditched the vest and unbuttoned one side of his chest-flap-thingy. The figure stands 6 inches in height and he’s got 18 points of articulation. He’s got the same reduced shoulder movement that all the more recent Mashers have gotten, but I’ve really stopped noticing at this point. The figure shares his head with the Bespin version of Luke from the two-pack. That’s nice from a consistency standpoint (even if Hamill does look different in the two films…) and the actual sculpt does a pretty nice job of tweaking Hamill’s likeness to fit the style. The rest of the sculpt is unique to this figure, and it’s a pretty sharp sculpt. This particular design definitely transfers well to the Mashers aesthetic. Like every Mashers figure, Luke can be disassembled at the neck, elbows, hips, and knees, and his parts are interchangeable with the rest of the line (if you’re into that sort of thing…). Luke’s paintwork is generally pretty simple; it’s limited to the face and chest, with some slight finish variance on the glove and boots. There’s an odd spot of silver on one side of my figure’s collar, but aside from that, the application is pretty clean. Luke is packed with his green lightsaber from the movie, which is so far unique to this set.

HAN SOLO

ROTJMashers3After getting his styling jacketed look in the two-packs, this Han returns him to his classic vested look (albeit the slightly less classic variant of it from Jedi). Han’s sculpt is mostly the same as that of the two-pack figure, with only a new torso piece. The re-use isn’t too terrible, but it does mean Han’s got pockets on each arm, which isn’t accurate. The overall sculpt isn’t bad, but Han doesn’t seem to have translated as well to the Mashers style as Luke. The head in particular just seems far too generic for Harrison Ford. Also, this figure’s hips seem particularly wideset. An additional note: Han’s hands are separate pieces from the forearms. They aren’t designed to be removable, but they might pop off if you aren’t paying attention. Han’s paint is a bit more complex than Luke’s, and it’s handled pretty well. There are a few fuzzy lines, but nothing really terrible. Han is packed with his signature blaster. It’s got a blaster bolt permanently attached, which looks a little odd in a basic pose, but does add some nice flare in an action set-up.

DARTH VADER

ROTJMashers4I’ve actually reviewed a lot of this guy before. Vader, unlike the others in this set, goes for a very scene specific look. Namely, the scene where he’s getting electrocuted by the Emperor. That seems a little morbid for a kid-aimed toyline, but okay! The torso, upper arms, legs, cape, and skirt are all exactly the same as the single-release Vader. Same sculpt, same paint, same everything. What’s new are the head and lower arms, which take the previously used pieces, add a bit of “electricity” detailing to them, and cast them in a cool translucent blue. Of course, to be truly accurate to the scene, he should be missing his right hand, but I guess that would be too morbid for the kid’s toy. Vader is packed with the same extra as his single-packed counterpart, a lightsaber, as well as two electricity effect pieces.

STORMTROOPER

ROTJMashers6And now for the set’s one straight re-pack, the Imperial Stormtrooper! Yes, this guy’s the same exact figure as the single-packed version. But come on, it’s a Stormtrooper! You can’t have too many of these guys, right? The design definitely fits the style very well, and he’s helped by the totally armored look. He’s easily got the sharpest detailing of the figures included here, which definitely helps the overall look. The one major nit with the sculpt is more an articulation issue than anything; since his elbows only swing forward and back, he can’t actually hold a blaster two-handed. Also, like Han, the hands are separate pieces, glued in place. The Stormtrooper’s paint is generally pretty decent, though the black is a little sloppy in a few spots, and there are a few bits of slop. It’s all relatively minor, though. He’s packed with a standard trooper blaster, which, like Han’s, has a blaster bolt permanently affixed. Consistency!

SCOUT TROOPER

ROTJMashers5Last, and very much not least, it’s the Scout Trooper! By far my favorite Trooper design from the OT, and also the one totally new figure included in this set. The Scout Trooper’s design is already pretty chunky and blocky, so it translates very nicely to the Mashers style, and doesn’t look quite as cartoony as some of the other figures. The general quality of the sculpt is pretty great. Some of the details are a bit on the soft side, especially on the torso, but he’s no worse than other Masher figures. The one thing that knocks this figure down a peg is his paint. It’s not terrible or anything, but there’s definitely a fair bit of bleed over, and the edges of the white paint are all pretty fuzzy. From a slight distance, he looks fine, but up close he’s a bit off. The Scout Trooper includes a small blaster, which has the affixed blast, just like the other two. Three for three!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

“Ethan, if you aren’t a huge fan of Mashers, then why did you buy this big set of figures?” The answer is simple, hypothetical reader: Scout Trooper. I have an unhealthy addiction to Scout Trooper action figures. It was just my luck that this guy had to be part of a big boxed set. Due to the slightly high price tag of the set, I actually passed on it several times. However, last month, I was at Target, and they had this set for half-price. For $25, I figured it was worth it. I don’t regret this purchase in the slightest. The Scout Trooper is definitely my favorite, but the basic Stormtrooper and Luke are pretty awesome too. Han’s not really my preferred version and I can take or leave Vader, but the overall set is actually pretty fun.

ROTJMashers7

#0748: Darth Vader

DARTH VADER

STAR WARS HERO MASHERS

VaderMasher1

So, hey, there’s like a Star Wars movie or something coming out this year. Did you guys hear about that? With a new Star Wars movie come new merchandising opportunities. That’s why Star Wars is showing up on everything, from kitchen timers to cans of soup. And of course, it wouldn’t be Star Wars merchandise without a healthy helping of toys. Hasbro, the masters of all Star Wars toys, have decided to add the Star Wars characters to their recently launched Hero Mashers brand. They’re starting things off easy, only tackling the pre-Force Awakens characters right now. Let’s have a look at the baddest dude to come out of the Star Wars universe, Darth Vader!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

VaderMasher2Vader is part of the first assortment of Star Wars Hero Mashers. There are three different “levels” of Mashers and he’s one of the basic figures, which seems fair enough. The figure is 6 inches tall and has 18 points of articulation. Unlike previous Mashers figures I’ve looked at, Vader’s shoulder joints are just simple cut joints, rather than the usual disc and pin style joint. The downside is that the joints look virtually the same aesthetically, but these are just lacking a whole range of movement, which is a bummer. And, judging by the Ant-Man figure I recently picked up, this appears to be something that’s happening across all the Mashers lines, which kinda sucks. Structurally, Vader’s very similar to just about every other Mashers figure. He takes the traditional Vader design and tweaks it to fit the line’s style a bit more, so he’s a fair bit chunkier and much more angular. It’s actually a look that works pretty well for Vader. Following the established Mashers gimmick, Vader can be disassembled at his neck, elbows, and knees, and his parts are completely interchangeable with all the other Mashers figures. I noticed that his pieces seemed to swap out a bit easier than previous Mashers, which is nice. Plus, they weren’t so loose as to ruin his integrity as a proper action figure, either, which is also nice. His cape and skirt are both separate add-on pieces; the cape plugs into place, but the skirt just sort of balances on his hips, which can be a bit frustrating. The paint on Vader is pretty simple, but effective. He’s got a few details for his various armor bits, but he’s mostly just black. Fortunately, the black has a multitude of different finishes, which helps to bring a bit of visual flair to the figure. Vader’s one accessory is his signature lightsaber, which has had its proportions tweaked to match him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After passing on the Star Wars Mashers for a few weeks, I finally broke down and got this guy at Target. For whatever reason, he just spoke to me. I don’t know. I do think that he’s the best Mashers figure I’ve gotten. His design just translated very well. Don’t know that I’ll pick up any more characters, but this guy was fun!

VaderMasher3

#0350: Darth Vader

DARTH VADER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

DarthVader1

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

DarthVaderWilsonDarth 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.

DarthVader3 DarthVader2

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?

DarthVader4