Name: Darth Vader
Collection: The Black Series
Source: Revenge Of The Sith
Availability: September 2014
After undergoing life-saving cybernetic reconstruction, Darth Vader stands on the bridge of a star destroyer to watch the construction of a powerful new battle station.
It’s extremely rare in post The Vintage Collection climate when Hasbro produces a figure that brings us to our knees. But without exaggerating at all, that’s exactly what emotion overtook us with The Black Series Darth Vader (#26) action figure. We need to let you know up front that if you pass on this figure, it will be the worst collecting mistake of your life. Darth Vader is pure action figure joy and restores hope that had been bleeding out of us like a stuck pig since the demise of TVC. It’s fact. There was little to no anticipation for this figure when it was announced and revealed, but that’s because Hasbro didn’t tell us they were making the greatest Darth Vader figure of their career. And because they didn’t promote this as their greatest effort (or even an all-new sculpt for that matter), the collecting community shrugged their shoulders with apathy when we all saw it because we thought it was more of the same. To our defense, Hasbro has milked the Darth Vader teat in a nonstop fashion where it’s become painfully raw. And with opinions still circulating that there is room to grow on the Original Trilogy versions Hasbro has already produced, it didn’t seem too wise to develop another Prequel Trilogy version, no matter if there was a need to produce it or not. (The last one was 2005’s ROTS Darth Vader (III 11) figure.) We’re not going to defend or criticize Hasbro’s motives, but we can tell you that The Black Series Darth Vader (#26) figure has us speechless, flabbergasted and generally welled up with tears because it’s one of the most gorgeous interpretations of Darth Vader we have ever seen. Ever. And we’re having great difficulty organizing our thoughts on it because there is just too much goodness here to write about it. We honestly are struggling with where to begin. This Darth Vader figure is the consummate interpretation and execution of Darth Vader we have ever seen in the basic figure line. You’re going to have to get over the fact that this figure is based on the Prequel Trilogy because if you pass on action figures for such reasons, you will experience an unknown loss in your collecting life like no other. Put down your foolish pride, and embrace what may eventually hail as one of Hasbro’s finest achievements of all time.
Hasbro has approached this version of Darth Vader very, very carefully. It appears they have actually listened intently to both hardcore collectors as well as customizers believe it or not. Darth Vader has the rare ability to be stripped down to just his bare essentials. By this we mean that all of his gear is removable and yet he still looks "complete" (whole) without it. How many Vader action figures do you have that can do that? Um, the answer is none, save for the 1978 Kenner figure. The soft-goods cape, the soft-goods skirt and the removable cod section/belt combination piece come off beautifully without compromising the natural form of the figure (i.e. no skinny waists, etc.). (Oh, before we forget, he also comes with an all-new lightsaber and lightsaber hilt as well. The lightsabers have chunkier hilts this time around and look fantastic.) But even with all this gear removed, Darth Vader looks pretty darn cool and we have to admit we enjoyed playing with him without all of that extra stuff included. In fact, our hearts were warmed when we displayed Darth Vader sans accessories because he looked just like an incomplete vintage Kenner Darth Vader figure from 1978, just completely modernized. How cool is that? This gift of interchangeability given to us is not something we can take lightly and we should be very thankful for it. Not only does Darth Vader offer versatility on how you can pose this figure, it also offers options to correct it should your soft-goods be off center or if there is a need to replace them say for instance if you’re a customizer and want to add something better and more realistic. For example, the skirt on our sample bowed out terribly and was off to the left, but we were able to futz with it easily thanks to Darth Vader’s design and we were able to make the figure look better. A customizer however would have a field day with these options. Darth Vader can easily split at the waist thanks to an all-new ball-joint design. These "disco ball styled" ball-socket joints (they look like a geodesic spheres with plenty of sides instead of the typical smooth ball texture – you know, it looks like Epcot). These give the joint incredible friction so the figure can hold complex poses yet allow effortless movement and are found on the neck and waist of this figure. Close-ups of this new joint can be found in our photo gallery. As you can see we’re thoroughly impressed. Hopefully we are articulating it well enough that you’ll obsess about it to the point of buying it. We're ready to buy a solid case of this figure now.
One aspect of this figure that will likely stop collectors in their tracks in the head sculpt and we don’t mean to imply that they’ll think it’s terrible. It’s different and as longtime collectors seem to be, many resist change. Remember 2011’s TVC Weequay (Skiff Master) (VC48) and how we complained about how his head was too oblong even after seeing proof from stills that it was correct? We felt this way because the 1983 vintage Kenner figure left an indelible mark on our memories of what the proper shape this character’s head should be. Well, be prepared for a similar experience with Darth Vader. You will adapt to it quickly however as it is an incredible accomplishment in the 3.75" scaled line. We personally absolutely adore it and we think its one of the greatest sculpts Hasbro has ever given us on a Darth Vader figure, so that's our opinion. We believe your opinion will be similar. But some will need to get used to it. As stated above, it too has this newly styled geodesic sphere ball-socket joint and gives Darth Vader’s head a range of motion we have NEVER been able to attain in the past. Again, how exciting is this? Check out our photo gallery. See what we were able to do with his portrait. It’s incredible. How wonderful is it that we finally have a Darth Vader figure with a helmet that has incredible wide-ranged movement? It may not be completely flawless, and the design's functionality may not be entirely perfect, but you won't care because of the movement it does give you. Clearly, it is still great nonetheless. There is a 'well' area and if you turn the head too far in any direction, it will pop off of the ball-joint, but regardless the enhanced articulation is very exciting. Hasbro also revisited the way they have added Darth Vader’s chain. Gone are the awful thick silver soft-goods strands. They actually sculpted the chain onto the figure and it’s been done with grace. The cape has a hole that goes over the ball-joint and then it creates a faux chain effect for the cape which works better than you think. Aesthetically it’s brilliant. How could Hasbro not have thought of this technique for super-articulated Darth Vader figures in recent past? You should also know that the helmet isn’t removable to show Anakin Skywalker’s battle-damaged head sculpt thank goodness, so proportions are accurate and in general look simply amazing. As you can see Darth Vader is loaded with fine enhancements and we haven’t even really gotten to the enhanced articulation yet.
Status: Darth Vader is a stunning all-new figure.
Articulation Count: 26 points (14 areas of articulation)
Articulation Details: ball-socket head (1), ball-jointed left shoulder (2), ball-jointed right shoulder (2), ball-jointed left elbow (2), ball-jointed right elbow (2), ball-jointed left wrist (2), ball-jointed right wrist (2), ball-socket waist (1), ball-jointed left hip (2), ball-jointed right hip (2), ball-jointed left knee (2), ball-jointed right knee (2), ball-jointed/"rocker" left ankle (2), ball-jointed/"rocker" right ankle (2)
Accessory Count: 5
Accessory Details: lightsaber, lightsaber hilt, removable soft-goods cape, removable belt/cod section combination piece, removable soft-goods skirt
Date Stamp: 2014
Assortment Number: A5630/A5077
Retail: $9.99 USD
Market Value: Click here to check the latest prices based on listings.
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