Sideshow Collectibles | Star Wars | Darth Vader (EP VI)
Every person in modern civilization that was born before 1990 knows about Darth Vader. He’s about as iconic as Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, Godzilla and Pikachu. You have to go into the rain forest to find people who do not know about this incarnation of the Dark Side. With that recognition comes a high standard that is expected of companies when they produce product of the man in the mask. Failure is not an option. You have to get it right.
Sideshow Collectibles has held the Star Wars 1/6 license for quite some time. In the early 2000’s their work was quite impressive in a landscape that really consisted of dolls being dressed up. But time has not been kind and soon their work, especially those of humans, were left in the dust as Hot Toys and Enterbay really set the bar high. Still, I give credit to Sideshow for hanging in with the big dogs and even teaming up with Hot Toys to become their North American distributor. Smart business move.
Unfortunately, their work is still below the bar that has now been set. In 2013 they released their second Darth Vader figure and I had high hopes for it. Sideshow has shown to still be a player with armored figures so expectations were high. Early production photos showed promise, but in my opinion, while the end result was decent and from afar it’s a very nice product, Hot Toys quality it is not. If I didn’t collect any other figures and this was my only Darth Vader figure then I would be completely satisfied. But that scenario is not my reality. If this figure was released in 2000, I would be enamored with it, but it’s 2014 now and was released only a year ago at a high price point with other more complicated figures out in the marketplace like the Hot Toys Batman (take your pick which versions) and Thor.
The figure. Yes, it looks like Darth Vader. But it’s not perfect. Whenever I look at it, there is always something lacking about it. The only way I can accurately describe it as it stands next to my other figures is that it looks like the fat guy who decided to cosplay and become Darth Vader because he was told to since he was tall. It just looks like it’s lacking and more of an imposter than the real deal.
It’s a great attempt and I know how much love and effort went into it, but it’s just not good enough by today’s standards. He just really looks like a doll that was dressed up to be Vader. It looks like a high end Hasbro 12″ figure. The helmet is nice and shiny, but somehow I feel like the shape of it is not right. It’s too “triangular” for me. I think the mask is fine, but the dome is off. It’s better than their Episode IV version, but it’s still off if my eyes. Because of that, in certain photos, it doesn’t look quite right.
I will give points for the LED effects, but they’re almost an afterthought considering all the other issues. The outfit is also average. For one, the pleather Sideshow uses has crumbled on me before with Anakin Skywalker’s tabards. I was not happy about it and to this day I refuse to even go back to the figure. I’m not sure how this one will survive but we’ll see. Naturally, it’s unfair for me to judge on what might happen, but if history is any indication, it’s not going to be pretty.
Then there is the cape. The material is fine and has a nice weight to it and I love the black chain which is something nobody else has really done well with. It’s the collar of the cape that annoys me. In some of my Hot Toys reviews I talk about how close they stitch their outfits with less room for error but a much better appearance. Sideshow doesn’t do that and play it really safe here. As a result, the collar is just too big for this size and is just too noticeable.
The body suit is also decent, but not great. For me, it just basically looks like a suit tailored to dress up a doll, rather than a suit form fitted for a character. It looks just like what I’d expect from Hasbro. Hot Toys tends to tailor their outfits to be form fitted and have even sewn the figures into the suit which gives it a much nicer appearance. The armor is nice and shiny but a tad bit too large. And then on top of all that, you throw on the cloak, and suddenly Vader looks like he’s drowning in his own garb. Finally, you have the gloved hands and boots and they’re really a bit oversized for the figure which when you add it all up, looks like a doll. A very expensive doll.
There really isn’t much paint other than the upper armor, and I’m assuming they did some paint on the helmet in addition to the silver nose and tusks. I don’t think they need to adhere to the opposite paint scheme on the mask though. I’m not knocking them for it, but at this scale it’s really not necessary.
Vader can accomplish a lot of poses, but is not even close to being as good as a Hot Toys or Enterbay body, or for that matter most of the generic bucks on the market. It’s adequate but not built to handle to weight and girth of the armor.
A lot of stuff comes with this figure. You have a number of different hands, an alternate head with the unmasked Anakin head, a lightsaber hilt and a bladed version, a display unit for his mask, and a light up base with stand. I would’ve been more satisfied to give up some of these with a better job on the outfit and armor. Still, not bad for the value.
He’s a pretty solid figure, but a bit top heavy as you’d expect. The armor pieces are a bit loose though and gives me that doll-like feeling. Still, I think he’ll hold until something better comes along and he gets stored away. But that pleather is the biggest area of concern for me.
Overall: B (89)
If this was the only thing on my shelf I think people would be impressed. Instead, my Bruce Wayne figure looks better than this figure. I really wish things were more form fitted but sadly I’m just waiting for Hot Toys to produce the ultimate Darth Vader figure. It didn’t need to be perfect, but if you have the Medicom Vader you’ll see how well the suit fits on the figure which can make all the difference. It was a valiant effort and I like the figure, just not as much as I would expect to.