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The Black Series [Phase III]

Darth Vader (Emperor’s Wrath) - TBS [P3] - Six Inch Figures (Exclusive)

Name: Darth Vader (Emperor’s Wrath)
Collection: The Black Series [Phase III]
Number: N/A (Walgreens Exclusive)
Scale: 6"
Source: Return Of The Jedi
Availability: November 2015
License: Hasbro

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Unable to watch his son Luke Skywalker die at the hands of the Emperor, Darth Vader received a lethal blast of Force lightning as he hurled his master to his doom.

Meh. It’s very, very hard to get excited about a unique and novel version of character that was used for case assortment filler in the 3.75” line (that actually excited us) when it becomes a hard-to-find retailer exclusive in the 6” line (that makes us loathe collecting). We’re specifically talking about the release of the Walgreens exclusive Darth Vader (Emperor's Wrath) figure. In all of our years of collecting, did we ever not consider a Darth Vader (Emperor’s Wrath) action figure one of the laziest gestures from Hasbro – save for maybe its inaugural release? Admittedly, when this version of Darth Vader was attempted for the very first time, it was a breath of fresh air and the figure was actually desired and lauded by adult collectors. First introduced as 2001’s POTJ Darth Vader (Emperor’s Wrath), it was the first action figure to present us with a skeletal visage of Darth Vader underneath the helmet while showing what Force lightning can do to you. An almost exact version of this figure was updated with a few extra enhancements and paint operation updates and was released as 2006’s TSC Darth Vader (SAGA 045) figure. We shrugged our shoulders a little bit over that one. But the real gem of an update was released as part of The Vintage Collection when Hasbro finally went with a super-articulated version and was released as 2012’s TVC Darth Vader (VC115) figure. What made the latter extra special however was that Hasbro packaged the figure on a Return Of The Jedi Darth Vader card back art. This style of packaging was released during the vintage Kenner era. We digress. The thing to note about these successive releases is that although they became progressively better, they were nonetheless lazy “repacks and repaints” that were peppered into the line to help round out a new wave of figures. It’s not that we didn’t want the updates and upgrades, but it’s just that they quickly became unable to wow us after multiple releases. So why go 6” now?

Well, apparently, collecting is all about 6” scale figures now. Did you get that memo? We didn’t. Anyway, now that we entered the era of 6” Star Wars action figures (all billed under The Black Series banner to date). After an extremely weak effort of a Darth Vader based on Return Of The Jedi (2014’s TBS [P2] Darth Vader (#02) figure) in this scale, Hasbro thought it was wise to quickly reuse most of the sculpt to make a literal a-few-seconds-long interpretation of Darth Vader while sustaining the aftereffects of Emperor Palpatine’s angry and deadly Force lightning. It’s hard to appreciate a figure like this when so many other characters have yet to be made in 6” scale. However, we equally understand why Hasbro NEEDS to reuse previously tooled sculpts to make slightly different versions of the same characters in order to save the tooling budget. We’re not completely unreasonable here you know. We understand why they produce Darth Vader (Emperor's Wrath). It’s just that we don’t think it was the greatest choice and certainly not ideal for a store exclusive. Besides, they could have done more wonderful things with the newly tooled head sculpt. We’ll hopefully prove our point to you. As you know, the helmet on the original The Black Series [Phase II] Darth Vader (#02) figure was a tragic hot mess. Most criticized the figure for looking like Ken in a cosplay outfit, which is what is exactly looked like. In order to do the Force lightning effect, it required Hasbro to tool an all-new (and proportionate) head sculpt without having to worry about fitting a human head underneath of it. (They did place a skull inside the helmet for effect to be clear here.) But what resulted is an excellent head sculpt without distortion or disproportion. The problem is that it has been cast in translucent purple plastic. Hasbro should have cast the head sculpt normally and given us an “Episode V” Darth Vader. Or if they were really brave they should have retooled the costume a little bit to give us a version of him from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Clearly, better options exist.

Interestingly, the new head sculpt does come apart in two pieces. We’re not sure if it is meant to split into two pieces, but ours did and we were able to be put back together again. But more simply put, the dome of his helmet separate from the face mask portion with a little twist. Darth Vader (Emperor's Wrath) did receive a few other upgrades that we’re happy about as well. The figure has much tighter joints than the 2014 version. Darth Vader (Emperor's Wrath) is able to hold his poses so much better and you can actually feel how much tighter the joints are when you articulate them. For us, the original Darth Vader was a disaster (with loose joints) and we were very disappointed by how weak the articulation points were. If that wasn’t enough, we’ve also noticed that the cape has been tailored better. It’s still a tad too long, but it’s not nearly AS long as the 2014 version, which really assists the aesthetics of this costume in a very screen accurate and beneficial way. We’re thankful to see some tweaking here. It’s definitely noticeable. The same old lightsaber has been included with this figure too. The lightsaber blade is detachable from the hilt which is always a nice construct for these types of accessories. And not really another accessory, Hasbro gave Darth Vader (Emperor's Wrath) a newly tooled left forearm which includes a removable hand. When you remove it you can see very simple cybernetics painted onto the stump (which really doesn’t look like what we saw in the film), but we appreciate the gesture nonetheless. Although a Walgreens exclusive, Darth Vader (Emperor's Wrath) is part of the basic The Black Series [Phase III] 6” assortment (as evidenced by the product number). This figure may have been scheduled to be part of the main line but ultimately bumped out of it and given to Walgreens instead. Not a terrible figure by any means, Darth Vader (Emperor's Wrath) comes with some pretty good updates. It’s not our first choice, but it’s certainly a welcomed figure for fans of The Black Series 6” line.

Collector Notes

Darth Vader (Emperor’s Wrath)

Status: Darth Vader (Emperor’s Wrath) is a repaint and retool of 2014's TBS [P2] Darth Vader (#02) figure. This time the figure has been given an all-new head sculpt and a new left forearm with swivel and removable hand.

Articulation Count: 27 points (16 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-jointed torso (2), ball-socket left hip (1), ball-socket right hip (1), swivel left thigh (1), swivel right thigh (1), double hinge-jointed left knee (2), double hinge-jointed right knee (2), ball-jointed/”rocker” left ankle (2), ball-jointed/”rocker” right ankle (2)

Accessory Count: 2

Accessory Details: lightsaber hilt, lightsaber blade

Date Stamp: N/A

Assortment Number: B3896/B3834

UPC: 630509371044

Retail: $19.99 USD

Market Value: Click here to check the latest prices based on Click here to check the market value on eBay! listings.

Darth Vader (Emperor's Wrath)

The Black Series [Phase III]

All Products

Added: November 18, 2015
Category: Black Series [Phase III], The
Reviewer: Paul Harrison
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