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The Black Series [Phase III]

Darth Vader - TBS [P3] - Hyper Real Figures

Name: Darth Vader
Collection: The Black Series [Phase III]
Number: N/A
Scale: Hyper Real
Source: The Empire Strikes Back
Availability: September 2019
License: Hasbro

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When we think about all of the time and effort Hasbro sacrifices to make a new scale of figures that the collecting community doesn’t necessarily need, it makes us sigh quite a bit. Shouldn’t efforts be spent on what is already a success? Before we talk about the Hyper Real Darth Vader figure, which looks wonderful by the way, can we ask you to ponder if The Black Series Hyper Real line should exist? Why does Hasbro distract itself from the limited resources they have today when the time is needed to develop further The Black Series 6” line and The Vintage Collection lines? Obviously, they’re creating this line of figures so that an outside foreign company doesn’t make this format part of its repertoire and create competition, Hasbro now entered the world of metal endoskeletons and malleable rubber body parts and developed an all-new scale of figures, called Hyper Real. This line will serve as more of an annoyance to the faltering Star Wars brand than as something exciting or desirable. Years ago, an “outside of the box” new product like this would have gone over extremely well. But in a collecting environment where everyone waits for clearance, and where the number of collectors is shrinking exponentially daily because of overall disinterest in the brand, we think the days of developing higher-end products like this have passed us by, and they’re not worth introducing any more.

The Hyper Real Darth Vader retails for $79.99. That’s a ridiculously-priced product for the general marketplace for Star Wars toys of today. Every time Hasbro attempts to produce “more expensive” collector-focused items, they quickly fail. Remember The Black Series [Phase III] Centerpiece Figures collection? Yeah, stick a fork in that line. Even deluxe-styled figure and vehicle or creature sets in The Black Series 6” line are underperforming. And those are only $49.99. Taking cues from S.H. Figuarts and Kotobukiya and a little bit from Hot Toys, it appears that Hasbro is desperate to add an intricately-designed, yet “affordable” line of figures like Hyper Real for the collecting community. but specifically, Hyper Real is Hasbro's answer for Mezco, almost as if they're protecting themselves from them taking over this scale. Sadly, many in the collecting community won't see this line as affordable. But this Hyper Real line is starting to cross over into areas that longtime Star Wars collectors have little to no interest. The territory of endoskeletons is quite perplexing (for action figures), and we don’t think that the line will have success because of its complexity. The cost has been an issue with collectors for the last decade, and especially since Disney took over Star Wars. Many had to forgo the HasLab Jabba’s Sail Barge (The Khetanna). And many, many more 6” collectors wait until figures are pennies on the dollar before they add them into their collections. Does Hasbro truly believe that a new $79.99 line that NO ONE asked for will become an instantaneous hit? Maybe. But we feel the likelihood is that it will fizzle out because it doesn’t meet expectations.

So, now that you know our opinion is that we don’t see a need for a line of figures like this, what do we think about it? Well, it’s a nice line of figures (based solely on Darth Vader). Darth Vader is gorgeous right out of the box. It’s not a perfect representation of the character, but you can tell that Hasbro did their absolute best to accurately recreate the unforgettable presence of Darth Vader in a brand-new scale of super-articulated action figures. We wonder if collectors will refer to the Hyper Real line as action figures because they don’t feel like action figures. This figure has excellent aesthetics and proper scale. Darth Vader has a stunning portrait. It’s one of the nicest we’ve seen Hasbro produce to date. They seem to have mixed up the likeness from Episode IV and Episode V as there are alternating panels of silver and black, which is exclusive to the Episode IV helmet. Darth Vader possesses a complete metal endoskeleton with an unprecedented amount of articulation. The endoskeleton is then wrapped with a pliable rubber body that is as bizarre as it is intriguing. It’s also inhibiting as it is freeing if that makes any sense. You can’t be afraid to pose the endoskeleton underneath the rubber parts. Otherwise, you’re going to believe that Darth Vader doesn’t move as nearly as much as he should. He moves quite a bit. You can push the figure “far” with movement, but it does have limitations. Sometimes, it feels like the rubber will tear or the joint will internally break, but your bravery is what will allow you to pose the figure in an inordinate amount of ways. Don’t be afraid to push the limits. The posing possibilities feel endless.

Darth Vader has beautiful premium soft-goods too. The cape is stunning, as are the inner robes. It has a beautiful drape and hangs where it should at the bottom of Darth Vader’s boots. There is no denying Hasbro did the most they could while working with the mixed media of this figure. There are many aspects which make Darth Vader look better than a standard action figure. The hiding of all the joints, articulation and seams are especially noticeable here. Hasbro makes the $79.99 MSRP a little more friendly with a host of accessories, including a lightsaber hilt, lightsaber blade, a display stand, and seven interchangeable hands, most of which we couldn’t be bothered to try because of the monotony involved switching them out. The most interesting accessory, the blast effect, is based on the explosion that takes place in the dining room at Cloud City when Darth Vader and Boba Fett ambush Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Chewbacca. The only accessory missing with the blast effect is Han Solo’s DL-44 blaster, unfortunately. Hey, if The Black Series [Phase I] Darth Vader (#06) figure can come with the blaster, so can this $79.99 figure! It attaches via a plug into the hole in the outstretched right hand already attached and stays in place nicely. The display stand is a bit dull, but it’s functional and serves a purpose here. Hasbro added foot hole pegs on the display stand's underside so that you can place Darth Vader is various places and in varying poses with the assistance of these footpegs. They’re not much different than the once that came with the Titanium Series 3.75” figures.

So, what is the overall verdict on the Darth Vader Hyper Real figure? In our opinion, it’s still an unneeded collectible from Hasbro. That doesn’t mean we’re unable to appreciate it. There is no doubt that it’s a figure unlike any other we’ve received in the line to date. Its construction is executed beautifully. It has more articulation than what one could count, but the rubber body encapsulates the metal endoskeleton and doesn’t freely allow you to pose the figure any way you want to maximize the articulation of the endoskeleton. Also, we should note that our figure “broke” in half when we tried to force some of the poses we thought the figure could achieve. The waist ball-socket joint popped out of the top of the figure’s body. We managed to get it back in, but it was more difficult than we expected. So, it has some design flaws in that regard. Darth Vader looks gorgeous. But so do their 3.75” and 6” versions of Darth Vader. Did we need a “bigger” one? And the number of accessories are more than adequate for what the figure provides to collectors. The soft-goods are so beautiful you’ll be overwhelmed with tears of joy. So, there is that too. Oh, and let’s not forget about the $79.99 MSRP. It’s not an “unforgivable” price, but we know not enough collectors will support it at this price to deem the line a success. Sadly, the Hyper Real line might boil down to a lot of wasted time and energy, which is a bitter pill to swallow. We wish the line success, but we've also "been there and done that" many times with Hasbro too.

Collector Notes

Darth Vader

Status: Darth Vader is an all-new figure.

Features Count: 6

Feature Details: seamless joints, highly poseable, highly detailed character likeness, metallic endoskeleton, ultra premium textiles, character inspired accessories

Accessory Count: 11

Accessory Details: lightsaber hilt, lightsaber blade, blast effect, display stand, 3 interchangeable left hands, 4 interchangeable right hands

Date Stamp: N/A

Assortment Number: E4384

UPC: 630509773930

Retail: $79.99 USD

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

The Black Series [Phase III]

All Products

Added: September 16, 2019
Category: Black Series [Phase III], The
Reviewer: Paul Harrison
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