Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 2,613: Darth Vader (Prototype Edition, The Retro Collection)

DARTH VADER Prototype Edition
The Retro Collection Target Exclusive
Item No.:
   No. E6271
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Lightsaber, cape
Action Feature: Lightsaber slides in and out of arm
Retail: $12.99
Availability: July 2019
Appearances: n/a

Bio: 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.

Inspired by 1970s action figures, the Star Wars Retro Collection features original Kenner figure design and detailing!  Imagine the excitement of the 70s when the Star Wars original trilogy had just begun , and Kenner began releasing classic Star Wars figures for avid fans of the space saga.  Continue your collection from the galaxy far, far away! (Each sold separately. Subject to availability.)

Experience the excitement of engineers and designers seeing the first product samples of their designs with this Darth Vader figure!  Inspired by prototypes that are often produced with whatever extra resin is in the machine at the time, colorful prototypes enable the development team to look past the deco and focus on the sculpt, analyze mold alignment, and make adjustments for quality. (Taken from the figure's packaging.)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability:  Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Commentary: The Darth Vader (Prototype Edition) was, at one point, theoretically an infinite quantity of variations.  So far about 18 flavors have surfaced, but the directive could have allowed for thousands of different versions.  I've got this one.

The figure is slightly modified from the 1978 original design in a few interesting ways.  The cape is posed and folded just-so, around the shoulders, tucked in under the sides, with the "hood" folded back.  Mine as a child was mostly an unfolded taco shell.   The lightsaber can still slide up and down in the arm, and there are minor tooling tweaks like new copyright dates molded in the back of the legs.

This Darth Vader feels like the original, but doesn't smell like it. The arms, legs, and neck all swivel just like those original figures but this is more of a collector piece or weird art item than anything else.  The colors pop nicely against the prismatic cardback, itself a glorious mash-up of vintage Marvel-era comic book art - complete with dots! - and old Kenner style.  Most unusual about it, it's all in English.  You get a real, full bio and there's no other languages on it.  It's legit - and it does remind me how much I miss things like upsells, bios, and one package for the US market.  It's weird, it's pretty, and it's entirely possible each one is potentially one of a kind.

The "fake prototype" gambit is nothing new - heck, even I pushed to make a fake prototype of The Monarch for The Venture Bros. action figure line - but this level of randomness is certainly not one I can say I've seen before.   With no deco and lots of color, Hasbro did something really neat - the question is, will they have the foresight to do it again and if so, will it be easier to get next time?  I hope so.  Everybody should snag a couple of these if they can swing it.

Hasbro, if you're reading - I'd love to see an all-gold version as a nod to the prototype Darth Vader carry case and the cover of Steve Sansweet's From Concept to Screen to Collectible book.   Maybe 2027?

Collector's Notes: I got mine Entertainment Earth's booth at San Diego Comic-Con 2019.  

--Adam Pawlus

Day 2,613: August 20, 2019

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