Monday, September 24, 2007

Figure of the Day: Day 506: Darth Vader

DARTH VADER with Removable Helmet
Power of the Force Collection 3
Item No.:
Asst. 69705 No. 69836
Number: n/a
Includes: Helmet, Lightsaber, Cape, Freeze Frame Action Slide
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $5.99
Availability: March 1998
Appearances: Return of the Jedi

Bio: Luke Skywalker removes his father's head gear so that Anakin may look at at his son with his own eyes for the first time. Darth Vader became one with the light side of the Force when he rescued his son from the clutches of the Emperor. (Taken from the figure's cardback.)

Image: Adam Pawlus' toy shelves.

Commentary: This figure was a huge deal in 1998. As the first "new" version of Darth Vader to be done after the line launched, finally bringing down that muscular build we got used to by that point. (It's worth noting the 1995 Darth Buffman was widely available until the end of 1998.) This figure was great-- it introduced removable hands, added articulation, and a removable helmet that actually looked great to the line. It brought the gunmetal silver markings to Darth Vader's shoulders, and it essentially made you feel good about re-buying the character. (You might not feel that way 20-some Vaders later, though.) It still looks good today, even though it isn't perfect, and it's better than many later figures in several respects. The detail is good, the stance is excellent, it's one of the finest figures of 1998. If you're collecting milestones, this is a turning point in the overall quality of the entire line, and it's well worth owning for that reason alone. However, the 2005 Evolutions (which is due out again late in 2007) Darth Vader has similar features, more articulation, and a better overall sculpt-- so if you just want a nice Darth Vader, you do have options.

Collector's Notes: Around 1998, a lot of the red lightsabers had a habit of "fading"-- basically turning pink, and then, eventually, nearly clear. Beware this when buying this or any Freeze Frame-era action figure. This figure originally appeared on official Hasbro documentation as early as 1996, but was not released until 1998. Anecdotes from Kenner employees indicate that the original vintage line wanted to include the figure but the idea was ultimately rejected by Lucasfilm, wanting to keep Darth Vader's face a surprise for as long as possible. By 1998, the world knew how the story went; it's hard to imagine a time when the identity of the character was still something of a mystery.

Day 506: September 24, 2007

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