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Review : Star Wars Black Series Carbonized Darth Vader, The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary

Following on from the first Carbonized Exclusives in 2019, three more figure were released in the Carbonized metallic paint finish and box in 2020 to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. Alongside Carbonized Darth Vader (reviewed here) were figures of Boba Fett and an Imperial Stormtrooper. This is the first Darth Vader from The Empire Strikes Back released.


The 2020 Carbonized figures continue with the design principles laid out in 2019. The box is the same as the Phase 3 packaging, with the small addition of a circular panel cut into the window that confirms this as a Carbonized release.

The box is presented in a metallic foil with two contrasting colours of deep metallic blue and silver for Darth Vader. This metallic finish makes the box very striking in terms of a look, and the shades and artwork do look very different and appear to change depending on the light. Being a 40th Anniversary release for The Empire Strikes Back a silver foil log sits on the top of the box.

The 2019 Carbonized figures kept the numbering system from their corresponding general release, while these new 2020 figures do not and the silver side spine has the usual dotted box we associated with exclusives.

Front and back carry the same Gregory Titus artwork, with the back also carrying a short piece of background text.

"Once a heroic Jedi Knight, Darth Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force, became a Sith Lord, and led the Empire's eradication of the Jedi Order"

The figure is set against a gun metal silver backdrop, and while the combination of this and the deep blue do work, it is less of a contrast and Vader perhaps does not "pop" as much against the backdrop as say Boba Fett.

Paint & Sculpt 5/5

Like all Carbonized releases, Vader is presented in a metallic finish. As opposed to going down the route of metallic black, Hasbro have chosen a deep metallic blue which is an homage to the earlier illustrations of Vader by Ralph McQuarrie that are done in this deep blue colour. To that end the colouring means more than perhaps it does on other Carbonized figures - and I suppose it is a pity that this wasn't a full on Ralph McQuarrie concept Vader figure.

The figure uses the existing Vader sculpt which has a well proportioned helmet and body, and the height is sufficiently scaled so Vader towers over the other 6 inch figures. Most of the figure is simply cast in the metallic blue, with paint work sparse and added only around the chest box, shoulder armour, belt and a touch on the mouthpiece of the mask.

Being metallic in finish, the armour does take on a life of its own under various lighting and is much more visual than the usual dull black. Even though it is a stylised finish, it is sympathetic enough to work in a display with other more accurately coloured figures - it simply looks like Vader under some blue lighting.

The soft goods are well done and soft enough to flow and hang naturally as both the skirts and cape of Vader. There may arguably be a bit too much of the cape when gathered up. I do also wonder if the addition of a posing wire in the cape would have taken Vader to another level altogether for display.

As mentioned, this is not so much a new figure as a revised version of the Darth Vader released in 2017 for A New Hope. This new 2020 version has seen the chest box updated to that seen in Empire, and the cloak has now been set under the shoulder armour and not over it.

The Empire version will be released in standard colours towards the end of 2020.

Accessories 3/5

Vader is packed with his lightsaber which has also been recoloured, the black arts now moving to a metallic blue. Like all Black Series sabers, a removable blade is included and this slots into the hilt via a socket at the emitter end. The fit is not overly snug and the blade can look k like it is leaning or bent, mine also arrived misshapen which also doesn't help the overall look.

This is the same saber hilt as the previous Vader release. The blade does seem to have been shortened slightly on this 2020 release.

We are still waiting on a Darth Vader release with Force Choke swap out hand... The hands fitted work OK with the left hand looking like a force pinch, but a full on force choke or push hand would have been brilliant.

Articulation 4/5

Lord Vader has a total of 16 points of articulation, a standard set for the Black Series.

Head : ball joint with pivot

Body : waist ball joint

Arms : ball joint shoulder, single rotating elbow, writ pivot

Legs : ball joint hips, thigh swivel, double joint knees, ankle rockers

All the joints work extremely well, even with Vader's armour configuration. The shoulders raise fully with the shoulder pauldrons withdrawing under the torso piece. The elbows, despite being a single joint, bend to well past 90 degrees for some impressive gesturing and light saber poses.

Vader can knee and sit with double joint s built in to the knees behind the armour of the boots. The hips do feel a bit loose, an issue with the original Vader figures, and with his height and weight Vader can slide off into the splits with some poses.


As an Amazon Exclusive, the initial problem with Carbonized Vader is getting hold of him and getting hold of him in a mint box if you wish to keep him boxed. And I suspect may collectors will be retaining the Carbonized Collection boxed on display.

As a figure he is well sculpted, well articulated and with soft goods that work well with the scale. The saber blade has some issues arriving warped and not fitting too securely into the hilt. And I am still waiting for Vader to get some alternative hand options - particularly the force choke.

I score the Carbonized Darth Vader a 4 out of 5.

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About Me : As a child of the 70's and 80's I grew up in a golden age for action figures and in my youth bought and sold myself through collections of Star Wars, G.I. Joe (Action Force) and M.A.S.K. while also dabbling in He-Man, Transformers and Ghostbusters. Roll forward and I am now reliving that Youth with the action figures of today and am a collector and fan of the larger 6-8 inch figures from my favourite movie and TV licences - including the ones mentioned above, but also the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Who and the Aliens. I launched The Mephitsu Archives in 2015 with a view of creating a UK focused site or these figures where fans can pick up the latest action figure news, read reviews and get information on where to buy their figures and what is currently on store shelves. I hope I am delivering that to you guys...

action figures, reviews, review, articulation, star wars, black series, carbonized, darth vader, the empire strikes back, 40th anniversary, hasbro

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