Updated: Nov 24, 2018
Review : Darth Vader (Emperor's Wrath)
Star Wars Black Series (Hasbro)
Wave/Series : Walgreens (US) Exclusive 2015
Released : November 2015
Price : £29.99 (imported price average)
Walgreens are emerging as a major player with their Hasbro exclusives. The Emperors Wrath Darth Vader is their 2nd Star Wars Black Series release after the Prototype Boba Fett and of course they have also carried a number of Hasbro Marvel Legend exclusives. UK fans have had to resort to importing this figure, which has not been offered for sale directly in the UK. Our review copy here is a Takara Tomy import from Japan.
Box wise, the exclusive mirrors the usual Black Series releases with a gloss black design overlaid with grey lined Star Wars logo and a character portrait in the bottom right. The left hand spine is the bold red, but without any numbering . Round the back is a repeat of the grey scale artwork and a four language paragraph - and this doesn't just repeat the text on the original Vader figure, but instead talks about his final moments in Return of the Jedi.
Out of the box and Vader stands an impressive 7 inches tall, putting him a good head higher than most of the other Black Series human characters.
Essentially this is the same figure as released in phase 2, but with a different head option added. Everything about the body sculpt is nicely done with the textured arms and legs covered in glossy black armour and trimmed with silver panels. The belt is in place with its green and silver controls as is that iconic chest box. All of this is essentially cast in black plastic, but where paint applications are applied these are done quite crisply.
The inner skirt and outer cloak have been done with soft goods, and the material flows really well on these with the cape sweeping out impressively tot he sides and behind Vader. The skirt extends up through the belt and to either side of the chest panel and terminates under the shoulder armour. The cloak is held by a real metal chain but is also stitched into the shoulder at either side. This feels like it fits better than the original, so whether there has been some tweaking?
The right hand pops off at the wrist, a feature that is not advertised anywhere on the box. And under this is a clever socket that is disguised via paint applications to look like Vader's severed hand with green and red wires exposed.
Vader is supplied with his light saber, which comes assembled in the box - but you can separate the hilt from the blade if you wish - there is however no option to hang the unlit hilt on Vader's belt. The light saber will fit cleanly into Vader's right hand.
Articulation is identical to the original and being an older figure he retains some added extra's over the phase 3 figures. The head (which I will talk about in a moment) is on a ball joint and moves up, down and side to side. The ball jointed shoulders move fully out to the side and above the head, supported by the shoulder "pad" being a separate piece to the main shoulder armour.
Elbows are a single joint with a rotation, and this means that two really key poses can be achieved. The first of these is the double handed light saber stance. The other requires the leg articulation to kick in, which it does with jointed hips that bend a full 90 degrees, and double jointed knees which can go out to 90 degrees and beyond. With the ankle rockers this means Vader can kneel, either on one knee or both knees - and as you can see by my images he can therefore kneel before the Emperor and (here is the other key pose) he can cradle his severed wrist in his hand while he waits for Luke to finish him.
I have purposely left the helmet to the end, so let's look at this new part in depth. First off the sculpt is new, this isn't just the old head glued together as a solid piece. And it is a massive improvement! It fixes the droopy "sad" eyes that plagued the original and has a much slimmer and more angular profile around the cheeks and breather mask. The helmet swoops down better and there is a clearer definition between the face section and the helmet, where as the older figure it looked like the helmet was jammed down too tight.
All of this is obviously great, but this is not a perfect new Vader as the helmet is not painted black (I suspect this will come) but is cast in a clear purple plastic. Under this translucence plastic you can make up the scared head of Anakin, with veins and scars easily visible through the helmet. With the translucent effect the eyes have been painted still, I think from behind, so are still dark and emotionless.
As an "effect" however it doesn't quite work as you would really need to light the figure to see the detail clearly, and I'd have liked some kind of lightening effect that we could choose to use if we wished to show Vader mid attack by the Emperor. There is also the issue with any clear/translucent figure in that you can also see the inner workings - so around the Anakin head there is also a big rectangular panel - obviously some kind of sticky pad or similar used to assemble the head in the factory.
Had this been a revised Vader with standard head, then I would tweak the score of the original figure up by one to a 4 out of 5. Instead, and as good as they've got the head and the translucent effect, it doesn't quite work or make sense - even Mini-Meph had to ask "what's happened to his head" and didn't make the connection. Had this been a 2-pack (or a double release that interconnects) with Palpatine and lightening effects then yes, it would have had better context. I score the Emperors Wrath Darth Vader a 3 out of 5.