Thursday, April 25, 2024

Star Wars Figure of the Day: Day 3,128: Darth Vader (Epic Hero Series)

Epic Hero Series Basic Figure
Item No.:
Asst. F9405 No. G0100
Manufacturer: Hasbro
Number: n/a
Includes: Cape, lightsaber
Action Feature: n/a
Retail: $9.99
Availability: January 2024
Appearances: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Bio: Seduced by the dark side of the Force, Sith Lord Darth Vader led the Empire's eradication of the Jedi Order (Taken from the packaging)

Image: Adam's photo lab.

Availability: Click here to buy it at Entertainment Earth now!

Click here to buy it at Amazon now!

Click here to buy it at eBay now!

Look - they can't all be amazing and fun. I'm pretty open to new things, toy things, kid things, things for that ever-growing class of toy collectors who seem to be ashamed of buying toys for children. I want to see stuff that is the very best example of what it can be in my toys, be it a perfectly-executed gimmick, an amazing sculpt, or a figure that's satisfyingly made to fit in a pilot's seat. This Darth Vader exists in a unique spot where you can go down the checklist of the things it does well, while not arriving at a satisfying finale. The same is true for most Darth Vader figures - there are some good ones, but think about it - how many were truly great figures that can stand, sit, be posed properly, with a correct lightsaber, good deco, and capes that don't get in the way? There really weren't many - quite a few get the job done, to some extent, and I would say my all-time favorite one was the 30th Anniversary Collection Darth Vader [FOTD 1,163] from 2007 (and 2006.) 

We've seen better sculpting, but for its time and place 2006-2007 figures satisfied fans of all ages with a good accessory, a nice gimmick, robes that just plain worked, and tip-top articulation featuring legs you could swing forward and it didn't have that weird codpiece that would flip up sometimes when he sits. There's so much going on right with that figure that it was easy to take for granted, and people hand-wave away things like sometimes getting the hilt wrong (I've done this) or heads falling off (you know who you are.) This new figure excels in no specific way. It is mid. Not Mid, the kid from Final Fantasy V, but middling. The other figures in this line show signs of refinement. Not Darth Vader. (Also not the Stormtrooper.)

I should make an aside to tell you that this Darth Vader appears to be based on his appearance in Obi-Wan Kenobi, which makes him the only figure in this entire line to date that comes from a timeline before the first movie from 1977. How can you tell? The gloves are the ones with the horizontal ribbing across the hands, rather than parallel to the arms. You'll see those in Rogue One and Star Wars as well. The other tell is that his shoulder region does not have his robes draped over it, but rather, under it. In the two aforementioned movies, the robes are on top. This combination of robes below the armor with these gloves is unique to this series, although Disney has used it in spots since 2019 (if not earlier) despite it not having appeared anywhere yet. I'm nitpicky.

His pedal extremities really are colossal. Darth Vader has unusually big feet, yet has problems standing - the center of gravity is off, the capes do him no favors. The other figures in this line are easy to pick up, pose, and place on a table. Vader may stumble over - the only figure in this line to do so. You really have to get his arm out front just-so in order for him to not flop over backward, which is really an upsetting thing if you're a child and this is your favorite bad guy. You can swing his arms and legs forward, but the cape is cut oddly - like some of the ForceLink-era figures - with odd cuts that may help him squeeze in a ship, but there's no ship in this scale as of yet. So what's the point? The figure has no ship, no playset, no action feature - is his purpose merely to be collected? Does he need to exist? He fills a space in an assortment and no doubt makes people in suits who make decisions happy, but there's a lack of creativity here that stings a big, especially after over 60 Darth Vader figures from Hasbro alone.

Darth Vader's sculpt is mostly great. The detail doesn't get lost at all (like spots in 2022's The Retro Collection Darth Vader [FOTD 2,961], which had some pretty soft gloves and underdefined helmet detail. The factory made this figure sharp - which I assume means a lack of understanding what "Retro" really means, and some nice work on the toolmasters here. The quilted sleeves look good, and the armor is shiny. The helmet seems assembled off-center, with the crest on the top not quite lining up with the nose - also the lenses aren't painted here. Numerous chest details are left off, as are some elements on his belt. Hasbro also integrated the wrist sockets to snap in accessories from other figures, and thanks to the design and coloring they blend right in.

I'm not fond of the cape, either - it's kind of a hassle to get the peg lined up in his back, but once you get it in there it is sturdy. If it were a bit longer it could help prop him up without having to balance him exactly perfectly. The lightsaber feels short, but isn't - it might just be an illusion from his size, and the decision to make the hilt silver rather than all black or silver with black highlights. It seems wrong - no doubt to keep costs low, which I can appreciate, but it's not going to win him any beauty contests.

While Mando and Ahsoka were largely well-executed affairs in Epic Hero Series, doing what they should do without any real caveats, Darth Vader seems like a bad first handshake to this new line. I could see this figure turning off fans from buying more, not because it is terrible but because it's just below average enough to throw off the curve. I would say this is my least favorite figure in the entire line, and experiencing it in 2024 certainly made me think back to all of the Darth Vader figures. So many of them do interesting or weird things, but I don't think any of them was a favorite toy. I would invite Hasbro to try Darth Vader again, perhaps as a deluxe with an interrogation droid or some sort of wrist-mounted Force blast, with the goal of making a figure who could fit in a ship with no problems and who can stand without fuss. Also with a centered helmet - mine might be a special case, but I can't un-see it. I would nudge you toward the other, non-Imperial figures from the first wave as places to start.

Collector's Notes: I got mine from Entertainment Earth.

--Adam Pawlus

Day 3,128: April 25, 2024

1 comment:

MisterPL said...

All good observations about past Vader figures. He's always been a tough cookie. [insert Force choke joke]

Seem like soft goods would be better options than hard plastic capes for pilots like Vader and the upcoming Din Djarin that comes with the N-1 but that cost might blow a figure right out of this $10 price point.