Friday, July 6, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 426: Darth Vader

DARTH VADER Throne Room Duel
Saga Collection 1
Item No.:
Asst. 84851 No. 84978
Number: 0318
Includes: Helmet, lightsaber
Action Feature: Press belt back, arm swings; weapon is Force-attracted to hand, helmet is removable
Retail: $5.99
Availability: Summer 2003
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: Encouraged by the Emperor to fight his own son Luke in a lightsaber duel, Darth Vader discovers his son has become a powerful Jedi. But Vader discovers his son's true strength when Luke puts down his lightsaber to sacrifice himself rather than take the life of his father. When the enraged Emperor turns to destroy Luke, the former Anakin Skywalker has one last chance for redemption. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' floor, in front of a box.

Commentary: On paper, this Darth Vader figure is awesome-- he can throw his lightsaber, he can "use the Force" and grab his lightsaber, and he has a removable helmet! When reality sets in, this figure becomes unimpressive real fast. The sculpt is good-- this is a good thing. The head under the helmet is one of the better pre-DVD incarnations of Sebastian Shaw under the helmet, which is also good-- there's a lot of wrinkles and personality in that face. The armor is excellent. The pose is... uh... this is where things break down. It's hard to make him look good. When he "throws" his lightsaber, the cape falls off-- which in turn bumps the helmet, which also flies off. The magnet in the hand is very weak, which was a common problem with Saga figures from 2002-2004. So this figure had a lot of potential, and tried really hard to be all things to all fans, but it ultimately came up a little short. It looks good in the package, and I probably can't say enough nice things about the head and removable helmet, but a bad action figure mechanism is enough to ruin an otherwise good figure. Cheers for the overall sculpting, but this is one of the few figures I've had non-collector friends by and then complain to me how much they hated it. And let me tell you, most of them aren't picky when it comes to the characters they like, so this is an easy skip for most people who don't want to collect them all.

Collector's Notes: This figure first shipped in the Summer of 2003 in "Saga." In 2004, it was repackaged for the Original Trilogy Collection. In 2007, it's part of a Father's Day Gift set-- we think, I haven't got one myself yet to compare them. This figure came out at the same time as a companion Throne Room Luke Skywalker, which also sucked-- Luke had a very unusual face, was initially painted with the glove on the flesh hand and vice-versa, and had a crappy action feature and an awkward pose. The Throne Room Duel was represented well in 1997/1998 when the Cinema Scene came out, but since then we haven't exactly seen the best of the best come out of Hasbro. Even the Emperor designed to go with these figures had a ridiculously huge hood on his robes.

Day 426: July 6, 2007

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