Monday, December 1, 2014

Toy Review – 6” Star Wars Black #02 Darth Vader from Hasbro

I’m not collecting the 6” Star Wars Black figures. I am collecting the 3.75” Star Wars Black figures. So far this makes two 6” SWB reviews and zero full 3.75” SWB reviews, though I did review a batch last Friday.


Well, I can explain the 6” reviews – I actively collect anything Fett and I will pick up Darth Vader items that catch my eye. So I had to get the 6” Boba Fett that I reviewed (as well as the Walgreens Exclusive version, which I won’t be reviewing other than to say it’s just as good as the regular one except white). When I was still hunting in stores for that white Fett I found the wave he comes in – Vader, Jedi Luke, and Chewbacca. Luke looks great, Chewie not so much, and I really liked the Vader. But I thought it was Revenge of the Sith Vader because that’s what Hasbro has been giving us for the past several years. I figured the helmet didn’t come off and that they would make a new one with a different head later down the line.

Side Note: I don’t like the Chewie because his mouth is open (not a neutral expression, which is what I prefer on my figures) and I think the way they tried to conceal the joints with his hair looks really weird.

Then Schweck told me that it was a Jedi Vader and that the mask and helmet do come off, which I could have discovered for myself if I had just looked at the back of the box. So then I felt dumb for not buying it and figured it would be a while before I saw another one. Fortunately I found one in Walmart the other day (they had Luke and Chewie, as well) and bought it. Along with another Vader:

I’ll review him later this week. Or next, depending on the schedule. But soon.

As far as Darth goes, when I was a kid I thought he was a robot. I mean, until 1983 when Return of the Jedi came out. Even when he *SPOILER ALERT* told Luke that he was his father in Empire; I don’t know if that didn’t penetrate or if I just thought Luke had a robot dad (which Kevin Hart is shooting as the sequel to Ghost Dad), but when I saw Sebastian Stan’s pale, decrepit face it blew my little mind. That was always the big reveal to me and probably why I put so much importance in whether or not a Darth Vader figure’s helmet is removable.
I was never really scared of Darth Vader. As a matter of fact, here’s a list of ten things from the Original Trilogy that scared me more than Vader did:

The Dianoga
Jawas
Everything on Dagobah
Lobot
Ponda Baba
The Tusken Raiders
CZ-3
Bib Fortuna
Ugnaughts
Pote Snitkin

Okay, I probably didn’t even notice Pote Snitkin. But he is pretty creepy and his name is fun to say. Try it.

FIRST GLANCE

There’s no denying that this is an impressive looking action figure. It’s large in the box and, well… it’s Vader. 
 
PACKAGING

I like these fancy-pants window boxes for a couple of reasons. First, they’re easy to spot. Second, they just look nice. But I dislike them because they are hard to photograph. The plastic is so glossy that if you use a flash it looks terrible, but if you don’t it looks like that up there.

This is the part that I should have looked at that first time to see that this was Jedi Vader. I like the combination of a brief scene description and a quote, though it might be more appropriate for a line that was likely to see many versions of the same character. I’m shocked we’ve already gotten three Lukes. And I still don’t understand why they made pilot Luke first. I suppose a 6” scale X-Wing isn’t out of the question, but it seems very unlikely to me.

I still haven’t gotten used to seeing “Disney” on all of the Star Wars stuff.

LOOKS

Is it just me or is this Vader a little skinny? Maybe it’s just his voluminous cloak. Because that is a lot of cloak:

I also need to go ahead and get this out of the way because I am terribly confused by it and you’re going to be seeing it in all of the pictures – I do not understand what’s supposed to be going on with Vader’s tunic and his codpiece. Both are clearly cut to interact with each other, but I cannot figure out how. The right side looks correct to me here:

But it is difficult to get it to stay that way and it doesn’t seem to be the way it’s supposed to be. I don’t understand the purpose of the notched cuts on the tunic because in every picture I can find – and on other figures – the tunic just hangs straight down over the codpiece. IT’S SO WEIRD AND IT’S DRIVING ME BANANA.

Okay. Sorry.

Everything else about this Vader figure is fantastic.

The head sculpt is about as perfect as I could have wanted. The first massive win is that this is Sebastian Shaw and not Hayden Christensen. I hope hope HOPE that Disney has done away with George Lucas’ insane retro insertion of prequel stuff into the OT. I could make a list of things that are absolutely stupid, but those lsits are all over the internet. Instead I’ll continue with a review of this Darth Vader figure, which I’m sure you can only find here on Needless Things.

Ahem.

Vader’s pale, scarred head looks gruesome and wonderful. I’m sorry my flash washed out the detail (buy me a camera), but the scarring and paint deco are just fantastic. The eyes are painted well and are oddly haunting. The respirator is thoroughly detailed. At first I thought it sat a bit low, but the only time we see Vader’s face is when he is laying down on the boarding ramp of the shuttle, so it would have been pushed up further.

The bodysuit is textured very nicely. The quilted squares are asymmetrical and conform to the various folds and wrinkles in the suit. It has the right level of gloss and is uniform across all of the body.

I remember the first time I realized that Vader’s armor had silver in it. It wasn’t from watching the movies, it was when Kenner’s Power of the Force 2 Darth Vader with Removable Helmet figure came out. I think it was the first Vader to feature this detail, but I know it was the first I owned that did. I thought it was some kind of error or weird design decision. I don’t recall how I resolved it, but of course over time it became clear that it was correct.

Don’t even get me started on the red lenses in his mask.

Vader’s control boxes look good. All of the little buttons and indicators are raised and clearly defined by sculpt. The paint apps are extremely tight. I’m amazed that there’s no slop. 
 
I love how wide the tops of the gauntlets are. They are distinct pieces of the costume. The quilting detail is as good on these as it is on the bodysuit and the seams and fingers are defined well. Vader’s right hand is sculpted to hold his lightsaber and the left is in what I would say is not quite a Force choke. It looks okay in profile from the figure’s left side, but it’s a little odd when you’re just looking at the hand. 
 
Vader’s boots and greaves look good. For some odd reason I’m really impressed with the definition of the soles.

The soft goods on this figure work well for the most part. The huge cloak has thicker fabric sewn into the corners:

This weights the relatively light material down and causes it to drape properly. Very clever.
While the edges of the cloak are hemmed (thought the bottom is not), the tunic is just cut fabric. My figure already had some fraying right out of the box:

So obviously that’s a problem.

I’m not crazy about how the cloak is attached to the figure. I’m glad we got actual metal chain links on it, but the cloak is attached to the figure’s shoulder armor with two unsightly threads that are looped through two unsightly holes. It isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be, but it’s kind of weird looking. 
 
There were a few little nitpicky things that bothered me, but overall this is a fantastic looking Darth Vader. It’s very tall and full of details. Various glosses of black were used to define various parts. It looks great and intimidating just standing around, which is something Vader needs to do.

If you want some truly insane details about Vader’s get-up, read this – Darth Vader’s armor – Wookieepedia
 
Also, this:


ACCESSORIES

This Darth Vader comes with a lightsaber, a lightsaber blade, a mask, and a helmet.

The lightsaber and blade fit together snugly and – much to my surprise – stay that way. It’s just a simple plug-in with no ridge or anything to keep it in place, but it works. The detail on the grip are accurate and painted well. The blade is a vibrant, translucent red and is very clean – no edges or anything like some of the smaller scale sabers have had.

The mask and helmet are both nicely detailed on the inside.

They fit together perfectly and fit snugly onto Vader’s mutilated noggin:

Also, Vader looks really dumb without his mask:

The accessories are great, but I really would have liked another left hand posed to hold the lightsaber in a two-handed grip. And for the hand we have to look more Force-chokey.

FUN

This Vader probably beats every other Vader ever released in this category. I’m not going to run down the articulation joint by joint, but suffice it to say that the figure is able to pose in every way that a seven foot tall, half robot man covered in ten (yes, ten) layers of armor might be able to pose. Probably a bit more.

The range of each joint is very good. I was really impressed with how much the head could move. The shoulders are slightly limited because of the shoulder armor and the plating on the shoulders themselves, but the pieces were designed to work together and definitely have more range than the actual Vader probably would.

Between the excellent posability of the figure and the interaction it has with the included accessories, I spent a lot of time playing with this one. No human being in a Darth Vader suit is ever going to be able to achieve the same kind of poses this figure can, so Hasbro went far above and beyond what was necessary. The helmet and lightsaber fit and attach in exactly the way they should and everything stays securely in place.

OVERALL

I was really hard on this figure and I know that. I suppose it was because for all intents and purposes this should be the greatest small scale Darth Vader action figure ever made. I won’t compare it to Sideshow’s incredible sixth scale Vader for obvious reasons (although it trumps that one in the removable helmet department), but as far as little plastic guys go this should be the gold standard. I may not be actively collecting the 6” Black figures, but the line is certainly noteworthy and in an odd way important to me.

The 3.75” scale will always be my home. That’s where I started. And in 1995 when Kenner relaunched the Star Wars line was when I returned to collecting in earnest. But McFarlane Toys and Toy Biz changed everything with their 6” lines and this scale will always be my favorite for franchises that don’t interact with vehicles. It’s nice to see great figures of characters I love in that scale.

This is a great figure. It could be better, but it’s a must-own if you’re a fan of Vader or a collector of the scale.

4 out of 5

Go buy one!:



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