« on: April 27, 2006, 09:01 PM »
Jedi Defender Image Database- TSC 013 Darth Vader
(As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words)
Ahh, I seem to be developing a habit of reviewing these figures which are often heralded by yawns and grumbles from all you real collectors What can I say, I buy them because of my mostly wimpy POTF2-era collection, and since no one else seems to review such things I figure why not.
So, without further ado (except this paragraph), the perhaps biggest repack monster this year with the Saga Collection, a figure abounding in seemingly every case of figures since the Hoth Wave first appeared, and one which is planned to reappear in at least one more wave in the near future- and on top of that, one of the biggest main characters ever likely to become a pegwarmer!
This figure, originally released as 500th Figure Darth Vader, is perhaps one of the best-looking Vaders I've ever seen, challenged only by Evolutions Darth Vader. In this incarnation Vader has lost his breathing chamber set/diorama/whatever you call it, and his second right hand which I believe was in a more open position so he could rest it on his knee.
Vader looks darned good- the texturing on his suit is all highly detailed, with wrinkes in all the right places and his chest tunic piece "droops" very nicely. Everything seems to be in the right proportions and is very crisp and cool-looking. Especially great is Vader's helmet, which is about as close to the real thing as a figure on this scale can get.
But Vader loses a half a point- which most readers familiar with the figure are probably thinking is darned generous- for some play flaws that stick out. For one thing, Vader's helmet is even worse than POTF2 "Escape the Death Star" Vader's removeable helmet in the way it doesn't stay on his head at all. Basically, all that holds it there is the clear plastic, and once you take him out the only thing keeping it on is gravity.
This can be fixed by a number of customizer-ish methods- in my case, I used a small lump of this product called "tacky stuff", which is easily attached/removed to things without permanent damage and is relatively sticky, placing the lump right in the center of the top of the helmet. This holds it on very nicely and all my complaints were gone, but some collectors might not want to risk sticking such foreign substances to their figure. *shrugs*
The other problem is Vader's right hand- it looks good and is sort of in a grip, but it's very loose and tends to drop the included lightsaber quite easily. I haven't found any really good trick for this; I just try to squeeze his hand shut (it's very soft plastic, almost rubbery) when nothing's in it, then stick the saber in carefully and have him grip the bottom half. With a little care he can hold it okay, but it's still a noticeable flaw.
When I saw pictures of this guy I thought he looked okay in this department, but not great. Upon closer inspection I discovered ball-jointed knees, and once I got him out of the package I'm really kinda impressed. Vader has 14 articulation points: standard neck, shouders, angle-cut elbows, turning gloves, standard waist, hips, ball-jointed knees, and swivel boots. The points are all somewhat easy-to-use and well-placed, so this means a great poseable Vader.
He's not super-articulated or anything, but the articulation is a lot better than many of the new figures in The Saga Collection, and the fact that they reprinted him directly and so largely is both kind of nice, and at the same time makes you question any excuses about why figures like Carbonite Han are as articulation-challenged as they are.
Vader is one of those characters who doesn't need a lot of paint, and as such he looks pretty good here. I don't know if it counts under paint or not, but the gloss on the boots and helmet is very nice as is the dullness of the libs. However, Vader's facemask seems a bit too dull next to his helmet for some reason, and I'm no sure if it's really accurate. It's not very noticeable unless you look at him in really good lighting though. Vader's chest panel and belt are also pretty nicely painted, with light colors and silver applied in the right places.
So what am I complaining about here to give the paint an average score? The chest armor and "shoulderpads." I'm not 100% sure it's inaccurate, but it doesn't really look quite right here- the left shoulderpad is completely black, the right one has a strange streaky silver paintjob, and the chestpiece is a lighter, solid dark silver. Isn't this thing supposed to be all one color, and- while it would cripple the figure's poseability- technically, isn't it supposed to be one piece?? I believe 500th Vader also had a different paintjob here, with a slightly lighter shade. I'm not sure rather the darker or lighter shade is more accurate, but the shade this Vader has isn't bad- it's just the way the shoulders don't match up.
Vader doesn't have too much in the way of accessories: his removeable helmet and his lightsaber. I think they've used an older sculpt of Vader's saber here, though it might be the same one that was used on 500th Vader; but's definately different than ROTS Vader's. It looks pretty good and accurate, but the handle seems a little short and makes two-handed lightsaber poses that much trickier with this figure, which was already a little tedious with his loose right hand grip and his open left hand. It's not bad enough for me to really chastise though, just something of note.
The removeable helmet is always fun, but as I noted under sculpt, this one is kinda lame straight out of the package because of the way it doesn't stay on Vader's head.
And then we have our old TSC pals, the stand and the hologram figure. My Vader came with a stormtrooper Holo, and I have to say that while I'm not much of an armybuilder, this is my favorite of the holos I've gotten so far. The details are pretty good, the pose is accurate, and overall he's pretty nice... although I'd still like him better if he were painted.
The stand is great, and compatable with this Vader! It has a nice ESB Logo embossed on it, an simply reads "Darth Vader" on the front (as it should). This makes it nice and versatile at the same time- if you wanted you could stick nearly any Vader (not Death Star Clash Vader or a ROTJ removeable helmet Vader, but others) on here and it'd look fine standing there. Handy
I'm pretty fond of the TSC packaging, and Vacer's is as good as any, and I really like his backdrop- though it's sadly a little hard to see thanks to the way his cape is placed- of Snowtroopers. Vader looks great on-card, in each variation I've seen (mine was in the action-pose).
But for openers, Vader's packaging is somehow a huge pain that most figures aren't. For starters, they've taped his cape to the plastic in four places to make it furl out a lot- it's amazing that it hangs okay on him once you get it out, isntead of being stuck in a Batman-esque posture like ROTS Vader's had. There's also a clear rubber band around Vader's ankle for no reason I could figure out except, I think, to further hold and manipulate the cape. The cape is also fed from Vader's neck through a hole in the back of the plastic, and it's a little small and so you kind of feel like you might rip it as you try to pull it out.
My Vader was also packaged pretty dynamically in the plastic, and that can't be good because it means he's all the harder to push out. The combination of these issues makes Vader very hard to pull out of his case, and is why he loses half a point next to other Saga packaging I've reviewed.
I don't think most people would agree here, but I think this Vader is a pretty good figure. He's full of poseability and with a little loving handling, he can look pretty darn good. He's not awesome for a lot of playing with, especially with that right hand grip and the helmet, but with "TLC" he can be messed around with and displayed a number of ways very nicely.
He's definately satisfied what I was wanting: a not quite ultimate (that's what Evolutions Vader is for), but very good Vader to have in my collection and eventually have as a second Vader, so I can put my coolest one with my ROTJ stuff and this one with my ESB stuff
Is he worth your $6-$7? It depends what you want. If you want an ultimate Darth Vader figure, ignore this and get an Evolutions set or at the least the real 500th Vader. If you want a Vader for kids to play with, also pass over this one. But if you want a pretty nice-looking Vader to fill in displays/dioramas, or a Vader to primp and pose and carefully play with and display at your own musing, or perhaps a Vader to customize with, this guy can be great.
For me, he's good, I think.