Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Star Wars Vintage Collection 3.75" Darth Vader

When it comes to Star Wars figures, I'm the king of not opening them.  It's not that I have no intention to, but that I tend to procrastinate--either the latest Marvel Universe figures come in or the latest DC Universe ones and I put the relatively newly acquired SW stuff aside until they become oldly acquired.

I've come to a point that I realized if I open every Star Wars figure I've gotten in the past 2 years, I'd have an instant display.  After all, I was building up towards doing an Endor battle scene complete with Ewoks hanging off hang-gliders, swinging off branches, tackling AT-STs, and humping Han Solo's leg.  Ok, maybe not so mch the last one, but I digress...

One of the figures I got because I had to get the perfect version of him was Darth Vader.  I had snagged over the last 3 or so years the Power of the Force version of him on card for S$10, as well as later getting the album-plus-medallion 30th anniversary release for just S$5 complete with album.  But neither of these I opened because I was told by a reliable source (aka the Rangerlord) that they weren't the best versions anyway.

So when they released a Vintage Collection Empire Strikes Back version I immediately got him...And kept him for quite a bit because, well, sometimes Hulk or the Avengers, or SDCC sneak peaks or Batman or Zatanna got in the way.  But no longer!  It's hard to resist the power of the Dark Side succumbs eventually, and it has finally compelled me to open the Dark Lord of the Sith himself!

A mask is always great protection against dust.
Like: The very fancy removable helmet and mask.  It's a three-piece ensemble starting with the bottom piece held in place by the swivel head, followed by he mask that covers his face and most of his head, and topped off nicely with that helmet we've all come to know and fear.

It goes without saying that this means you can have Vader in any of his unmasked "modes."  And you could even do the Dark-Side-cave-on-Dagobah Luke! :)

Like: The fantastic head sculpt underneath Vader's helmet and mask.--it's comes complete with scarred visage!  Check out the lesions on his head and face, the gray skin and those blue eyes.  This face was a very important part of Vader for me when I was growing up, especially when I first saw what Anakin looked like underneath.  I remember not finding Vader's face scary like I imagined, but kind.  And for many viewing s of the OT after that I just couldn't picture the kindly face beneath that cruel black visage.  I couldn't pity Vader while he was all out to kill his son, daughter and their playmates.  But yet I knew I would pity the guy in that final scene on the Death Star in ROTJ.  Besides looking like a harmless old man, the dude was bluish-gray! Poor guy.  This head sculpt captures that look perfectly.

Dislike:  That the helmet and mask assembly falls off rather easily.  The mask actually fits snugly in the helmet, but its the mask fitting on the head that is a little loose.  This is the only issue I have with this otherwise fantastic figure of Vader.

Like: That the cape is made out of this gauzy/nylon-like cloth that's rather flowy and loose.  At first I thought it looked kinda like a giant see-through scarf but then I realized the material was crucial to giving the cape a full "real life" cloth quality.  So this went from a dislike to like.

Like: The articulation--great shoulder hinges allow him to hold his lightsaber two-handed as he's wont to in the movies.  He may only have swivel legs, but he does have swivel hinge knees with good 90 degree (or thereabouts) bend and similarly effective swivel/hinge ankles as well.  Although I always like me a pair of swivel/hinges for the legs, swivels can prove to be more stable and help figures in the 3.75" scale balance better than they ordinarily would otherwise.  And in Vader's case, the guy doesn't pull a wide stance across all three movies of the Original Trilogy.  Why should he?  The ability to do splits is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

Vader's also got great swivel/hinge elbows that bend more than 90 degrees, along with glove top swivels!

Like: The excellent paint on his chest unit, shoulder guard/chest armor, and doodads on his belt.  All the little red, green, and silver bits are picked out neatly and I do like the silver effect on the armor.  Though it's supposed to be all black in the movies, this variation it does give Vader's armor some flash, kinda like he pimped it out for the ladies.

Like: His hands!  The right one is molded in the classic choke grip--all the better to Force choke you with! (What else? Lol.)  Able to resist the power of the Dark Side?  Then he'll cut you with the lightsaber in his left paw, which hold the 'saber nice and tight.  Without the lightsaber, his hand looks like it's in mid-crush or beckoning a slacking Storm Trooper over.  Expressive hands for the win!


Aesthetics: 9.5/10 - Like many other iconic characters that have figures, Vader's form has been perfected after yeas of re-molding, re-tooling, and re-releasing!

The detail on this figure is phenomenal, both in sculpt and in paint.  That his leathers look like leathers and his armor looks like the hard, plastic looking stuff it's made of in the movies.  And the part the blows me away is the head of the man underneath.  Darth Vader is a thing of beauty and gets a close to perfect score to reflect that!

Poseability: 9/10 - I just love his arms!  Though he's supposed to be stiffer than a board as more machine than man, ol' Darthy boy is really articulate with his arms in 3.75" form--they rotate 360 degrees like they should but they also hinge all the way up--that's almost 180 degrees!

It doesn't stop there.  A swivel waist, some great hip/leg hinges (more than 90 degrees backwards (!) and 90 forwards), fully functioning swivel/hinge knees and ankles, and some of the tightest yet most flexible joints the Star Wars line has to offer and I have to say I'm just stumped how well he turned out!

Also, they get the height of the figure spot on, so that he's in perfect scale with Obi-Wan Kenobi in their final fight scene!  Just look how much he looms over Ol' Ben!

Fun: 9/10 - A villain doesn't come more classic than Darth Vader.  The best thing about him is that you'll ever only need one to represent in every scene/display you want to re-enact or set up.

Throw him in a TIE Advanced, have him fight old Obi-Wan, have him revealing his identity to Luke Skywalker on Bespin, have him leading Snow Troopers into the Hoth Rebel Base, have him saving the Emperor from Luke's killing stroke, have him throwing the Emperor down a shaft in the Death Star, have him dying in Luke's arms--there isn't a thing that Vader can't do!  And with the removable helm and cape and the lightsaber (of course) this Vader is really hard to put down!

Value: 8.5 - Vader's removable helmet, mask, and collar pieces, along with his removable cloak and the lightsaber already make for great value. To say nothing of the excellent sculpt and the great job with the paint.  I'd have liked him to come with a non-lit saber though, just for those moments when he can let it all hang loose on his belt, while he opts for Force-choking people instead.

Overall: 9/10 - I'd take an arm and a leg for this figure! (He's done it himself...) - This is the best version of Darth Vader out there--until the next better one comes along.  But even if one does, the only thing I can imagine they'd improve is adding hinges to his hips/legs, which he doesn't really need.  Of course, they could also make the helm and mask fit better but that could just be inherent in my figure and not everyone else's.  When previous versions of Vader were released, I'm sure everyone thought that it would be hard to make a better one.  Well, this Vintage Collection has proven that it can be done and has consistently done so for all its figures, not just Vader!


  1. You finally reviewed this!!! This is a totally amazing figure,except the helmet... but i got him last year during the $13.90 OG offer ;)...gonna get Bespin Luke, Mace Windu and Kit Fisto next!!...the funny thing is that 2 minutes before visiting your blog...i was hoping you would review this figure..and WALA!! my Jaw is still wide open now....

  2. I remember finding the five dollar darth vader with coin!

  3. I also got a commemorative Darth Vader and C3PO for just $8!! I would highly recommend the Darth Vader also later repacked in the 30th Anniversary A New Hope wave, a great alternative head sculpt of Haden instead of the late Shaw...and both of its hands could hold the lightsaber!!!

  4. @TPS - That truly is a funny coincidence...or perhaps the power of the Force! ;)

    You wouldn't believe the backlog of stuff I haven't reviewed! Lol. Thanks for he tip on the Hayden head Vader. But Shaw's my fave Vader all the way. ;)

    Yeah, get Bespin Luke for sure! Mace and Kit I'm sure will also be really good, especially at $13.90. ;)

    @Mel - I rem buying it for $5...was it at Ricky's? And Come home quick! ;)

  5. Best looking Darth Vader i have seen in this scale so far. Might have to get one and i don't even collect Star Wars lol.

  6. Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you. Would you please consider adding a link to my website on your page. Please email me back and we'll talk about it.


    Joel Houston

  7. This is probably the best Vader for collectors, but it really fails as a kids' toy. That loose helmet just can't stand up to any normal kind of play.

    Since I'm not a kid though, I love this guy!

  8. In my opinion for 3.75" inches to have so many articulation may not be a good thing. Having a vintage card design, taking out the toys may consider it a lost. I once wanted to get this vader but I have too many vader in my collection already and so I gave up getting this.

  9. @SDTB - Isn't he? ;)

    @jboypacman - Do it! :P

    @Bill White - Too true! A kid could choke on the helmet or swallow it whole. And that would be the end of Vader. Lol. Glad you like this guy to!

    @LEon - Sell the old ones and re-invest into the guy! ;P Forget the packaging, man. Open the toy!!! Articulation FTW! ;)

    @Joel- Continued on email! :)

  10. I bought a great Vader back in 2006 that came with a coin. Same articulation, with removable helmet (except in the removable part is just one solid piece, and the scarred head looks younger). However, it stays in plays very well. So well that I had him out of the package for a couple of days before I realized it came off. I wonder if these share a body?

  11. I thought I was the king of not opening my toys. Very cool pics. Love Darth Vader.

  12. @clark - Lol at discovering the removable helmet. I think the articulation is the same for that figure but I believe this version has new hinge joints at the shoulder. If you look at his left shoulder in the articulation pic you might be able to compare that to your Vader. I have the coin version too but I guess I'm not goiong to open it anytime soon since I have this guy. ;)

    @John - Thanks! Isn't not opening toys even more frustrating when you want to open them but can't find the time? Heh. ;P

  13. Hey, thanks for the in-depth review! I've got an unopened one of these sitting in my spare room, but it's unpunched and in a starcase, so I'm keeping it there. The great write-up and amazing pictures make me think I should get another one however... Someone's gotta kill my Blu Ray Kenobi!

  14. You're welcome, William Jay. Glad you liked the review. Yeah, you should just go pick up one on clearance somewhere. Like you say, someone's gotta kill Kenobi! ;)

  15. Is this Darth Vader different (in terms of articulation, accessories, and such) from the Darth Vader that comes in the blister pack with Darth Maul's picture in the upper right-hand corner? The latter is on sale at the neighborhood mall and I'm thinking of getting one before Hasbro jacks the price back up now that Disney's gone and bought Lucasfilms.

    1. I'm not quite sure about that Vader because I don't have it but I think the helmet on that one doesn't come off. He also looks like he has a plastic "skirt" as opposed to a cloth goods one. I can;t see the articulation from the pics online, but I suspect they might be worse. Also, if anyone wants to jump in here to correct me, that Vader may be an older sculpt, something like 10 years old...

  16. I checked it again and you appear to be right, Sir Dragonbane. The Vader in the Darth Maul blister pack appears to be less articulated as the one you reviewed above.

    By the way, have you ever seen this Star Wars figure anywhere in Singapore? I've been looking for it for a while now but it's nowhere to be found in Manila. Unless the neighborhood mall suddenly puts it on sale in December.

    1. Oh wow, that's a rare one, even back in the day, no? I can; say that I have, at least not recently. Sorry. :/

  17. I wish they had made the green button on his chest plate blue.


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