Updated: Nov 26, 2018
Review : Darth Vader Star Wars Black Series (Hasbro) Wave/Series : Wave 12 Released : September 2017 Price : £24.99
Pros : much improves on the original, the helmet is very well executed Cons : perhaps one extra hand away from being a knockout figure
It is fair to say that the original Black Series Darth Vader, released in 2014 in Wave 5, was not received to widespread applause. While the figure had some great features, particularly that removable helmet, there were some visual issues around the helmet and costume.
In 2016 Hasbro confirmed they would update the Vader figure with what they badged as "Ultimate" Vader. The figure made it's debut in the 40th Anniversary Legacy pack alongside the homage to the original 1977 Early Bird display base. The Vader here was on a Vintage Card back.
Roll forward a few months, and the same figure is now repacked in the more familiar Phase 3 packaging and is part of Wave 12 - the launch wave for The Last Jedi figures.
While some figures look brilliant in the Phase 3 packaging, we can't say the same about Vader. His all black outfit gets lost against that black box and even the red backdrop does little to show him off - it even obscures his lightsaber as a feature in the box.
The box is consistent with the latest changes in design with the larger bottom rail and the brighter Star Wars Black Series Logo. The artwork is updated from the Blue Line version and the character name is a bold red - and simply "Darth Vader".
What this means is that you can take your Vader and drop him into most displays - from Revenge of the Sith, through Rogue One and anywhere in the Original Trilogy. In reality, Hasbro have given us the Rogue One / A New Hope Vader - identifiable by the green and red buttons on his chest box and no chain for the cloak. By the time we hit Empire the chest piece now shows blue on the buttons and in Return of the Jedi the chain has appeared.
If you are therefore a stickler for detail - you can use this Vader in the early movie displays and the original release for Empire or Jedi.
The side panel is gloss red as usual, and Vader is numbered #43 in this 3rd phase of figures. The card back talks more about his early life as a Jedi Knight (Anakin and how he was seduced and now serves the Empire. This again puts him in Rogue One / A New Hope territory by talking about a "fledgling Rebel Alliance". Heck, you could even use him in a Rebels display alongside Ahsoka.
As usual the bio is repeated in three other languages. The rest of the card is taken up with a larger illustration of Vader's helmet and the usual safety and legal notices.
Vader slides out of the box by the top or bottom flap. He is not strapped into the box, but there is a secondary insert behind the main tray which is keeping his cape spread out in the box. Be careful not to yank him straight out without losing this part and feeding the cape through the slot.
The sole accessory is his lightsaber which sits to his right.
It is evident that the helmet is a huge improvement on the previous version as he comes out of the box. It is much better proportioned and sleeker and more angular around the mouth piece, The eye lens are a dull red/brown on our review version. There are some variants out there in the 40th Anniversary set in the main with bright red lens.
While the helmet is a gloss black, there is some paint apps on the mouthpiece and under the chin with a transition to a gunmetal colouration
Vader remains a daunting figure, standing just over 6 1/2 inches high. The body is a ribbed black undersuit, and on to this we get the shoulder and torso armour. Under here is the chest box which as we said earlier is from the Rogue One / A New Hope era with its green and red buttons. Each section of this is neatly painted - as are the two boxes on his belt. The Codpiece is still there as are the knee high boots - both a glossy black finish.
The cloak is tailored and attached really well around the shoulders and it is of a material that hangs and drapes naturally. The same material is then used from the shoulders and down the chest, tucked under the belt and then out to form the inner skirt area. There is a kick to the fabric where it comes out from under the belt but nothing that you can't smooth out down the side.
Articulation starts with the head which will rotate but it has to move with the profile of the shoulder panel rather than have any ability to look up and down.
Shoulders are ball jointed and they borrow from the armoured trooper design where the shoulder armoured pad slides away into the torso when the arm is raised. There are single joint rotating elbows and the wrists also rotate and pivot to a small degree.
I had speculated the left hand was positioned in the Force Choke pose - but sadly it isn't, and Vader preferred the right hand in the Briefing Room scene anyway. For me adding in a Force Choke hand would have raised the bar even further on this figure and truly established this as the ultimate Vader figure.
The legs are pretty articulated for such a big bulky figure. The ball joint hips allow for Vader to kneel or even sit down. This is helped by the double jointed knees and the cleverly designed knee pad which is actually part of the boot and therefore hides the joint when not in use.
If you compare the new Vader to the original version it is clear that Hasbro have re-done most, if not all, of the new figure from scratch - there is very little evidence of re-used parts. The helmet is the main change, but as you work down the body the torso armour, chest box, belt devices, code piece and legs are all different. If there are any parts carried forward then these would be the shoulder armour plates and boots - both of which look almost identical to the original release (although my eye isn't the best).
The new version is a touch smaller than the older version. The material used on both is very similar in how it flows out around the body.
The lightsaber packed with Vader is brand new also - having been blown up in size by at least 20% from the original version. It is a very nice replica of Vader's saber with the black hilt with silver ridges and the black emitter with silver loop and red ignition button.
The blade is removable and is a deep translucent red and is longer than the original version too by about 5mm and the red is darker.
While getting Vader to hold the saber in two hands isn't a problem, he does look a bit wooden in this pose. The better pose is the saber out ot the side - either hand can be used for this.
As always, he looks brilliant flanked by Stormtroopers.
In summary this Darth Vader is a huge improvement on the original, while not necessarily replacing the first Vader as you can use them for different versions of the Dark Lord. He will fit into a number of display focus - including Revenge of the Sith, Rebels, Rogue One and A New Hope - and the articulation restrictions are not a huge issue as Vader was never the most agile or athletic of characters.
While the only build I could give it would be a swap out hand as a force pose, that doesn't take anything away from this being an awesome figure and I award it 5 out of 5.
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