#1150: Darth Vader




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!


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.


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!


#0860: Star Wars Mashers




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…


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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!


“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.


#0748: Darth Vader




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!


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.


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!


#0350: Darth Vader



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.


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.


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?