Playskook Jedi Forces
Darth Vader

Hasbro hit on a winner last year when they released the mini and oh so cute Galactic Heroes.  These pint sized versions of Star Wars characters were aimed at the under 5 crowd, but were a big hit with those silly collectors too.

This year, Hasbro decided to try the same thing with a slightly different formula - Star Wars characters done in the Playskool line.  Similar to Rescue Heroes, these big, but lovable characters are also aimed at the younger set.

The first wave includes C-3PO (with R2-D2), Chewie, X-wing Luke, and Darth Vader.  The only one that I absolutely had to have was Vader, and I picked him up at Target.  They run around eight bucks, and seem fairly easy to find with the exception of the man in black.  He appears to be both short packed and in greater demand, but be patient and you should have no trouble finding him.

Packaging - ***
There's nothing spectacular here, and you can tell there was no real attempt at the spectacular.  They are mass market cardbacks and bubbles, designed to show off the figures and allow you to light up the saber on the shelf.  They are attractive enough though, and fairly sturdy.

Sculpting - ***1/2 
I'm a huge fan of the Galactic Heroes, and have everything they've released so far including the vehicles.  That scale is just so much fun for kids, and for those of us that like Playmobil, Legos and others, they are perfect.

These larger scale figures are fun too, but are a tad bulky for my tastes.  Certain characters also work better than others, and I think both Vader and Chewie look great.  Others, like Luke, seem a tad too silly to even make it with the toddler set.

The sculpt on Vader has solid detail, with a surprising amount of work on the costume.  The cape is cloth, permanently attached at the neck, and without any hems.  The use of cloth though was a good idea in this scale, as any solid plastic cape would have just been in the way.

The style accentuates the oversized feet and hands, with a relatively small head.  With Vader's boots and gloves, it works pretty well, and is more fitting than it might be for some characters.

Paint - ***
There aren't a lot of paint ops - certainly not nearly the level of detail as in the sculpting - but what's here is clean.

The figure is predominately black of course, with with silver and red used to highlight certain areas.  There's a little bleed with these detail colors, and coverage in some spots like the shoulders is a little spotty, but considering the intended audience I think Hasbro did an acceptable job.

Articulation - ***
The plan for the articulation on these is very clear - give kid's enough to have some fun, but don't go nuts.  They managed to do that perfectly.

Vader has neck, shoulders, wrists, hips and knees.  That's not enough to go nuclear, but it's enough to get things charged up.  He can pose well, and the joints are both tight AND sturdy, capable of standing up to lots of rough play.

The oversized feet also mean that he stands great on his own, and can even take some running/action type poses.

Accessories - ***
Vader comes with two accessories - his lightsaber, and a small droid.

The lightsaber actually lights up when you press the bottom, and it does work although you won't be doing any late night reading using its glow.  I think that the blue of Luke's saber simply shows up better than the red of Vader's.  Still, as action features go, it's not so bad.

The droid is, well, some sort of goofy looking little droid that must have some purpose, but I'm not sure what Vader would do with it.  It looks like some sort of repair or mechanic droid to me, but kids can have some fun with it.  The droid has his own action feature - press the red button on the top of his head, and his legs open and close like pinchers.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
These are definitely some fun toys, although not as fun as the Galactic Heroes stuff.  With the larger size comes less possibilities with play sets and vehicles, but there is already a speeder bike out for Luke.

While the Galactic Heroes are more geared for the 3 - 5, I think these larger versions are hitting that 5 - 7 range, which might be a tough sell.  These are kids who already play with the regular Star Wars figures, so getting them interested in these is probably dependent on their interest in other Rescue Hero type toys.

Value - **1/2
Six bucks is really all these should be, but in today's market there seems to be so few action figures any more, even those aimed at young kids, that are under the eight dollar mark.

Overall - ***
These figures are fun, no doubt about it.  Whether the actual character translates well or not is going to be a very case by case basis, but Vader is certainly an amusing subject for such a line.  Even with goofy big feet and funky hands, he still looks pretty damn intimidating.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Make sure you check that lightsaber battery at the store, since you don't want to grab one that's already been juiced out.

Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt - ***1/2 
Paint - ***
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***

Where to Buy - 
Target, Toys R Us, Wal-mart and other major retailers are all carrying these for around $8.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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