For a character that hasn’t had more than a couple of outings in the Star Wars Vintage Collection, Darth Vader is certainly one that I didn’t feel the need to get once again. However, the latest offering by Hasbro does represent a fairly needed update for the character.
Hasbro has pretty much perfected the way Darth Vader is sculpted as an action figure in the last few years, so much so that most of the versions released since 2004 are based off the molds used since the debut of the Vintage Original Trilogy Collection with minimal alterations. Some of the changes addressed the slight variations in the costume as it appeared in the movies, but for the most part the focus was on improved articulation and increasingly complex removable helmets.
The removable helmet issue became just ridiculous right at the start of the current Vintage Collection, when Hasbro made a three-piece helmet for Darth Vader (VC08) that was an absolute jewel of a collectable, but a rather poor plaything because the mask and helmet pieces would simply fall off with infuriating ease whenever one dared to pick up the figure.
The new Darth Vader (VC93) goes back to the non-removable helmet type of figure, which I found to be incredibly refreshing. The costume is as completely new sculpture and it is as perfectly detailed as one would expect at this point, combining fabrics with sculpted plastic pieces. The fabric they chose is rather thin and the light does tend to shine through the weave, but it looks just fine when cloak and skirt are layered over one another.
Since the costume is based on the way it looked back in Star Was: A New Hope, the plastic tunic is sculpted over the upper chest armor and the cape lacks the silver chain at the neck that was added for the sequels. Supposedly, the helmet also was developed to mimic the slightly asymmetrical appearance of the prop used in the original film, but to be honest, at this scale I find it simply impossible to differentiate between a piece that is asymmetrical on purpose from a piece that simply got bent because of the packaging.
The real lure for me to get this figure was yet another tweak done to the articulation, of which this Darth Vader has plenty:
• Pegged hinge shoulders.
• Pegged hinge elbows.
• Swivel forearm cuts.
• Swivel waist.
• Pegged hinge hips.
• Pegged hinge knees.
• Pegged hinge ankles.
All of the joints feel nice and tight, and the new hip design is tremendously more useful to obtain dynamic poses than previous implementations. There is really no way to cram a ball joint either at the torso or the neck areas, given the character design, so there is really very little that Hasbro could do to improve this figure.
There is very little paint on Darth Vader. Most of it is reduced to the lights in his chest-box and some silver used for buttons and armor panels. A very discrete coat of gloss was applied to the helmet, gloves and boots and the eyes on the mask are painted in a reddish bronze hue that works really well to convey the appearance of colored lenses at this scale.
Darth Vader comes armed with just his lightsaber, although the cape can be removed by simply popping the head out. This is a handy feature if one wants to switch the capes for variety, but the head itself cannot be replaced with that of any previous Vader, because the neck plug in the new one is male and goes into the base of the head, while on the older figures the plug is part of the head piece.
I wasn’t really chomping at the bit to get his figure when it was announced, and I would probably have passed on it if I had found the other, more desirable figures in his wave hanging in the pegs besides him, but I must say I was completely blown away at how good this figure turned out.
Not only this Darth Vader is a truly great figure on it’s own, it also managed to transport me back to the real vintage days when I didn’t know the face behind the mask and all I needed was a toy of the bad guy from that movie I liked so much.