#3213: Darth Vader – The Dark Times



Though he may have died at the end of Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader, as perhaps one of best villains of all time, has still remained a fixture of the Star Wars universe.  After Jedi, the character tended to have some of his menace removed from him in subsequent appearances, but starting with Rogue One, there was a very definite attempt at returning him that menace.  Obi-Wan Kenobi takes that even further, giving us quite possibly the most imposing, powerful, and generally terrifying version of the character yet.  There’s a rawness to how he’s portrayed, and it really works, again with the themes of merging the stylings of the Prequels and the Original Trilogy.  And, as per usual, it gives us another go at basic Darth Vader figures, so that’s pretty cool.  Let’s look at one of those today.


Darth Vader (The Dark Times) is the second figure in the Kenobi themed series of Hasbro’s Star Wars: Retro Collection, which is the line’s fifth assortment overall.  He’s the third version of Vader in the line, following the straight re-issue of the vintage Vader, and the Target-exclusive “prototype” Vader.  The figure stands closer to 4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  In contrast to the other two Retro Collection Vaders, this one is a new sculpt.  The head is pretty consistent stylistically with the original Vader sculpt, though it does appear to actually be a unique piece, with a slightly different shaping, and a little bit more detailing.  Below the neck, he’s totally new, updating Vader to the later film stylings.  His right arm is no longer has the extending saber built-in, and both hands are now designed for gripping accessories.  He also gains the inner robes that original figure lacked, albeit worked in as the usual split-leg set-up like the others from the vintage line.  Instead of the vintage vinyl cape, this one gets a cloth one, which sits more properly on the shoulders.  It’s a rather thin piece of cloth, but otherwise works out pretty well.  Vader’s paint work is again a little more involved than perhaps a true vintage release might have been, with full detailing on his chest panel, and extra silver details on his belt, as well as red lenses for the eyes.  Again, more of an idealized set-up, but one that still feels pretty true to the original feel.  Vader is packed with a recoloring of the Bespin Luke saber, but in red this time.


Vader is one of those characters whose lack of major changes in design makes for less need for updates.  In the vintage line, that translated to only the one single figure.  It’s a distinctive figure, sure, but it’s also a kind of limiting one, compared to how the rest of the figures evolved over the course of the line.  Going back and doing an update is something that I’ve kind of wanted to see since this line launched.  This one’s pretty fun.  He’s similar to the original, but with enough changes to make him feel worthwhile.  I’d love to maybe see an unmasked Vader come out of this mold as well, but until then, this one’s certainly not bad.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website.

#3106: Darth Vader – TIE Fighter Gunner Station



Back in the far off times of 2018, I reviewed two figures from the “Gunner Station” sub-branding of Kenner’s Power of the Force II line.  The gunner stations served as a more concise and themed continuation of the Deluxe sized figures for the line, and Luke and Han in their respective stations from the Millennium Falcon‘s dogfight in A New Hope were a pretty logical choice.  I guess Hasbro felt that they hadn’t quite heavy hitter-ed it up enough, though, so there was one more figure in the set.  It’s a Darth Vader, whose “Gunner Station” comes in the form of the cockpit of his TIE Fighter.  Yeah, it’s definitely a bit of a stretch.


Darth Vader with the TIE Fighter Gunner Station was added to Power of the Force in 1998, alongside the previously reviewed Han and Luke.  Where the other two have designs very much dialed into a very specific moment of the first film, this version of Vader continues the PotF Vader trend up to this point of being a loose amalgamation of Vader’s look in all three of the films.  The figure stands a little over 3 3/4 inches tall and he has a whopping 8 points of articulation.  Yes, in addition to the usual articulation for the line, this Vader also got knees.  It’s so much movement, you guys!  Structurally, he’s very similar to the other Vaders of the early run for the line, with the notable difference of having the knee joints, as well as a slightly more rigid stance.  Han and Luke both had some slight sculpting improvements from earlier releases, and this figure also came out the same year as the one with the removable helmet, which sported a far improved sculpt of its own.  So, this one feels a little behind the times, comparatively.  Beyond that, I guess he’s alright.  He keeps all the detail work, and swaps out the plastic cape of the prior figure for a cloth one, which is admittedly better for sitting in a cockpit.  The figure’s color work is generally pretty basic, with mostly molded black.  There are a few smaller accents, which follow the look from the movie closely enough, and keep him from being *too* drab.  Vader includes no smaller accessories, so there’s not lightsaber or anything.  He instead gets the Gunner Station thing.  It’s meant to look like the cockpit of his TIE Figher, which I guess it does alright.  There’s no upper half, of course, nor are there wings or anything.  There’s part of the window, and a weird handle thing, so that you can, like, hold it as a gun or something?  I’m a little confused about the exact intended use, to be honest.  It gets some missiles, which you can launch from the front of the “vehicle.”  And that’s really about it.


This is one of those items that’s so nonsensical and far reaching, that I actually don’t think I even realized it existed when I was a kid.  I remember the other two, of course, but this one just slipped from my radar, at least until I had reason to really look into it again, after digging more into the whole line.  I got one when it got traded into All Time, because, well, I didn’t have it, and it’s also just really cheap.  It’s an odd piece.  It just feels very forced, like they really just wanted another Vader on the market, but didn’t know exactly how to get to that point logically.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website.

#2869: Final Jedi Duel



“Under the evil gaze of Emperor Palpatine, the lightsabers of two Jedi Knights – a father and son – clash furiously in a final duel between the light side and dark side of the Force. Slowly, the young Skywalker is lured closer to the rage of the dark side, and Palpatine sits confident of the Rebellion’s defeat and the acquisition of a new emissary to fulfill his evil legacy! But the young Jedi’s resistance appears to be growing…”

Though its later years saw Cinema Scenes switch more to getting out never before released characters and obscurities out in a quick shot, Kenner launched it with a focus on actually recreating distinctive scenes directly from the film.  It doesn’t get much more distinctive than Luke and Vader’s duel on the second Death Star during the climax of Return of the Jedi, so it’s not a terrible surprise that this scene was one of the ones more specifically recreated.  In fact, they technically recreated it twice, if you count the Power F/X figures.  But this was the only time they did it in Cinema Scenes.


The Final Jedi Duel was added to the Cinema Scenes sub-line of Kenner’s Power of the Force in 1997.  It was the only Jedi-based set from the first year, though many would certainly follow.  The set included a stand, like all of the Cinema Scenes, but this time it was a far more integral piece, since the Emperor’s chair is permanently affixed to the stand.


Jedi Luke was no stranger to this line, although at this point, he’d only had one version, and it was iffy on screen accuracy, since it amalgamated a few looks.  This one was unique in Power of the Force in that it was actually a Death Star II version of Luke, specifically sans the vest.  In fact, it was the first ever non-Endor Luke to not sport the vest, so that’s pretty cool.  The figure stands about 3 1/2 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  While the core line was moving from pre-posing at this point, they had really translated it into the Cinema Scenes figures, which remained quite pre-posed in their first year.  Luke is one of the most impacted by this, with a deep lunging saber dueling pose.  It looks impressive when the whole set-up’s there, but on his own, it can be a bit limiting.  Notably, it makes him really hard to keep standing, which I’m not big on.  That said, the actual sculpt isn’t a terrible one.  Notably, it introduced a new head, more specifically tailored to Jedi than the one on the prior Jedi Luke.  It’s honestly not a bad likeness, especially for the time.  The paint work on this figure is pretty basic, but in keeping with the line.  He does get shiny boots, so that’s fun.  He’s packed with his lightsaber, which he has a little trouble holding.


Vader was also no stranger to the line.  This marked the third version of him for the line, each one being slightly more pre-posed than the last.  It was another amalgamated design, keeping with the other two.  The figure stands just over 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  This Vader sculpt actually got re-used a few tomes, mainly for the wonky colored repaints that Hasbro liked trotting out for anniversaries and special occasions.  Like Luke, he’s rather pre-posed, though this one’s a little more stable, and he can actually stand on his own.  Generally, he looks a lot like the prior two, but the one notable improvement here was the inclusion of his skirt beneath his cape.  That marked a first for a Vader figure, so it’s kind of a big deal.  His cape has been re-worked here so that it’s not actually removable.  It’s connection is kind of weird, but otherwise I guess it’s not bad.  The paint on Vader pretty much matches the other versions from the line.  It’s not like he really had any major change ups in the films, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Vader is packed with his lightsaber, which he holds a lot better than Luke.


Ah, Palpatine.  Always the most thrilling action figure subject.  He’s so exciting, right?  What’s this one’s gimmick?  He sits.  That’s it.  That’s the whole thing.  Literally, he takes the overall vibe of all of the other Power of the Force Palpatines, folds him in the middle, and makes him sit in his sit-and-spin chair.  Technically he’s got articulation, and technically you can take him out of the chair, but really, what’s the point?  It’s not like you’re going to do anything else with him.  He’s made for sitting.  I suppose that’s more to the point for the character than other figures, so kudos to Kenner for that.  He’s also got the chair, which does look pretty cool.  Too bad you can’t take it off the base, but it’s still nice.


The Final Jedi Duel is a rather recent addition to my collection.  It got traded into All Time a couple of months ago, sealed.  They’d come through loose a few times, but without the base, at which point Palpatine is actually pointless, so why bother?  So, when it was a sealed one, that was a pretty easy sale for me.  It’s not a terrible set.  It doesn’t have the broader appeal of other Cinema Scenes, since none of them really work outside of the setting.  On the other hand, it makes it one of the truest sets to the actual concept, so I guess there’s that.

#2736: Darth Vader



If I seem uncharacteristically agitated or prone to getting frustrated during today’s review, fear not, dear reader. It isn’t you that I’m frustrated with, or even the figure I’m looking at, just know that at the core of things is a desire to seek out whomever created WordPress’s Block Editor and do something awful to them…like force them to use WordPress’s Block Editor…much as they have done to me. Feels like poetic justice if I’m entirely honest. Or something that the Spectre could really get behind. I feel like I should see what that guy’s up to….or I suppose I could write this review, and try not to focus too much on how frustrated I am by the interface I’m writing it on. Last week, I looked at the second of my Electronic Power F/X Power of the Force figures. Today, I’m looking at another, specifically Darth Vader, who’s stepping up his Power F/X game.


Darth Vader was released in 1997 as part of Power of the Force‘s aforementioned “Electronic Power F/X” sub-line.  He followed the early Vader set-up of being more of a combination of all three of his film appearances, rather than being clearly based on one in particular.  This would work to Kenner’s favor in terms of this toy’s playability, as it meant that Vader could face off against either Luke or Obi-Wan, depending on your fancy.  The figure stands roughly 4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  Like Luke, his movement is somewhat restricted by the inner workings of the figure’s light-up feature, meaning his right arm is largely rendered inert.  He’s been sculpted with something of a walking gait, much like the Shadows of the Empire variant.  It means that, much like that figure, he has a lot of trouble staying standing.  Hence him making use of some sort of prop or stand in all of the photos, because this guy was really not cooperating.  Otherwise, the sculpt is pretty much business as usual for the early Vaders.  If you’ve messed with one Beef Cake Vader, you’ve messed with them all.  He’s certainly got an imposing silhouette.  Due to his larger size, the battery housing is at least less of an issue for this guy, so he doesn’t have the weird hump set-up like Luke did.  Like Luke, Vader’s arm has been built with lightsaber as a part of it, though it’s a lot less rudimentary than Luke’s.  This one actually vaguely detailed to match Vader’s actual hilt from the movie.  The light up feature works pretty much the same way as Luke’s, and is also not terribly bright, but it’s there.  The paint work on Vader is pretty much the same as all of the other Vaders from the line.  It gets the job done and looks pretty decent, even if it’s not terribly involved.  Vader is packed with a large base piece, which is the match for Luke’s Death Star hallway, just meant to be the other half.  It even connects to Luke’s for a more full diorama set-up, and allows for them to “duel” via the arms for moving them around.  It’s actually pretty fun.


As I brought up last week, Luke was the only one of these I had as a kid.  That being said, I always really wanted Vader, mostly due to the whole interacting with Luke thing.  Fortunately, All Time had him and three of the others right as I was really getting serious about this PotF thing.  Vader’s not really all that new when compared to other Vaders from the line, but he goes well with Luke, and there’s no denying that this goofy, gimmicky thing really works best when you’ve got multiples from the set.


#2489: Prince Xizor VS Darth Vader



In the time between Han Solo’s capture by the Empire and his delivery to Jabba the Hutt, a secret struggle for power took place within the shadows of the Empire. A clash between power hungry crimelord Prince Xizor and the dreaded Darth Vader meant certain death for Luke Skywalker. As the Rebel Alliance’s only hope, a band of heroes led by Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and Dash Rendar set out to rescue Solo while protecting the young Jedi from a horde of bounty hunters and assassins.”

Oh, I bet you thought I was done with Shadows of the Empire, didn’t you?  Well…I wasn’t…so, you know…here we are?  Yeah, I know, I’m not thrilled about it either, but think of it this way: after today, the Shadows figures can’t hurt you anymore.  See?  Doesn’t a little but of optimism go a long way?  Okay, let’s get through this together guys.


Xizor and Vader are the second of the two Shadows of the Empire comic packs, the other being the Boba Fett and IG-88 set.  That one is, admittedly, a little more of an exciting prospect than this one, what with our only PotF2-style IG and all, but this one has value, too….there’s, um…a comic?  And the figures, too, I guess.  While the Xizor was technically distinct from his single-card release, this Vader would also end up single-carded in a Power of the Force assortment later down the line.


“Xizor is the head of Black Sun, an intergalactic criminal empire that supports literally millions of outlaw organizations and activities. Since entering the service of the Emperor, the Dark Prince is widely considered one of the powerful individuals in the galaxy. He controls his operations with cold, deadly accuracy assuring that those who dare challenge Xizor meet with swift death, often by his own hand. His hunger for power has put him at direct odds with Lord Vader, But Xizor is afraid of no one; his hunger for power has driven him to dispatch an onslaught of assassins with orders to eliminate Luke Skywalker. Xizor plots to spoil Darth Vader’s promise to deliver Skywalker to the Emperor alive — a maneuver that would undermine Vader’s reliability and secure Xizor as the Emperor’s most favored ally.”

Prince Xizor was Shadows‘ primary antagonist, and that netted him not one, but two figures in Kenner’s tie-in line.  I’ve already looked at his single-carded release here on the site, but the two-pack was *slightly* different.  He’s only *mostly* the same.  That’s not quite as bad as *all* the same, right?  Well, actually, that’s probably up for debate, because if they were all the same, I’d only need to own and review one of them, rather than two.  Damn you Kenner and your making me right about Prince Xizor twice as many times as I needed to!  Like the single card, this figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  Also like that release, his movement’s incredibly limited by the braids on his head and the thick plastic robe, and even further hindered by the tweaked posing of the arms, which prevents them from being quite as useful.  As far as parts, this guy and the other Xizor use the same head, torso, and pelvis, and he’s got ever so slightly tweaked arms and legs, which now are more pre-posed than the prior ones.  The robe also remains the same as the other release, despite this figure’s more dynamic pose.  In my review of the single Xizor, I remarked that I didn’t feel his color scheme was very Star Wars-y, and I stand by that here.  Application of the paint is at least still pretty good, so I guess he’s got that going for him.  This Xizor trades out the last release’s weird fan blade things for a battle staff, which works a bit better with the pose, I suppose.


“Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, has instilled terror throughout the galaxy since the beginning of the Empire. His devotion to the Emperor and mastery of the dark side gives him more power than any single individual in the galaxy except for the Emperor himself. Draped completely in black and wielding the ability to take a life with a mere gesture, Darth Vader stands as the incarnation of evil. His dislike of Prince Xizor is intense and his distrust well-founded. Though Vader would gladly eliminate Xizor, Emperor Palpatine has need of Black Sun’s shipping operations to speed construction of the new Death Star. Xizor had best watch his back however, as Vader’s control of the dark side of the Force makes him a most formidable foe”

Though a notable player in Shadows, Vader faced the problem of not actually having his appearance change at all from his normal look for the purposes of the story.  That’s a little hard to sell as a separate figure, so Kenner had to figure that out.  Enter the pre-posing.  Effectively, this guy takes the initial PotF2 Vader and sort of bends and contorts him a bit.  Now he’s different!  Yay!  Honestly, it’s not terrible in terms of design, and he balances on those mid-walk legs better than you might expect.  His cape gets a little more flair to it as well, which works out pretty well.  He gets the same saber as his standard counterpart, as you’d expect.


I have trouble fully articulating how little I care about this particular release.  I literally only own it because a) I’m collecting the whole line, and b) it was bundled with the IG-88 and Boba set, which I actually wanted.  Neither of these figures exactly has much new to offer, and furthermore, I just don’t care about Xizor in the slightest.  So, here’s this set.  Cool.  I’m done now.

Thanks to my friends at All Time Toys for setting me up with these guys.  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.

#2475: Darth Vader with Removable Helmet



“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!


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.


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.

#2233: Luke Skywalker & Darth Vader



“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.


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 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.


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.


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



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!


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.


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



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.


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?


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



“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.


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.


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.