TOY REVIEW ARCHIVE    LIVING WITH LATE FEES    FEATURES    LINKS    BIO    MISSION    EMAIL    MAIN PAGE >


Medicom ROTS Darth Vader

Jeff Parker is back tonight with another terrific review of a high end 12" Medicom figure - the ROTS Darth Vader!  He's done a terrific job reviewing the figure AND comparing it to the earlier version.  Tell us all about it, Jeff!

Back again with another Medicom review, this time for the Ep III Vader, I know he's been out for a while but 'this R2 unit has a bad motivator' and Michael already wrote a great review for the original trilogy 'Classic Vader' and in truth this is little more than a variant on that figure. But to be fair to Medicom the attention to detail in all the variable 'areas' is as always spot on. And as both the original and this version were made in ltd ed's of 1000 and there being more than 2000 Star Wars fans out there, I guess two versions would never go amiss. We're still all waiting with baited breath to see what Sideshow come up with on the Vader front, and how many variations they'll give us. I hope when they get round to Bespin/Dagobah Luke (or should I say 'if they get round to') we might get the loose Vader Helmet (half blown away) showing Luke within....who knows, but even if they do it'll probably end up with the exclusive version. So I'll not get my stinky mit's on it unless I want to sit up till 'ridiculous' o'clock ( I'm in the U.K so the time difference isn't friendly) waiting to hit a computer key on the off chance I might be lucky. So until they make the exclusives available through their E.U web-site I shall pass....we've been ignored this side of the pond long enough!














Packaging - ***1/2
Pretty much identical to the last version, only real area of difference is this version has gold foil blocking as opposed to the silver for the classic. And then the inside tray has a different configuration as this guy comes with some additional hands. Those being the two fists for the cringe worthy 'Noooooooooooooooo' scene, of Vaders inception, and the innovative two joined gloves for the arms folded pose seen at the end of ROTS. So nothing new or exciting to report, but consistent to the range and shows the figure off well when the flaps are open for the MIB'ers.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Many of the elements on the costume fall into the sculpting arena, but I'll cover those later. So the main areas being the new hands and the all important new head. The head is great, and having compared it alongside the photos in the new 'Chronicles' book it looks almost spot on. Now I don't know how good the continuity of the crispy Anakin / Vader make up was, suffice to say, all the scenes he was seen in were dark and moody. So if I was going to be really picky I'd say the ears needed to be a little more charred, but that's about it. The scars match up nicely with those of his later incarnation, but if I was to be honest the sculpt on the classic version is better, it's probably just that I'm biased in thinking the original trilogy was better, but the general quality of that first sculpt just seemed a little higher. The new hand sculpts are a nice addition as well. the fists are great, looking better in a pose with hands down by his side as if he's trying to hide the fact he's so freaking angry he gonna go nuclear any second, rather than the fists to heaven 'Noooooooooooooooo' I mentioned earlier. The gloves for the folded arm pose are my faves though. You'll have to play around a while and be pretty firm pushing the arm posts up into the relevant glove holes but once you're there it looks fantastic. They've got rid of the hand paddles that the last version had as well, and this seems to make the gloves stay on better.

Paint - ****
The paint work on the face is to Medicom's usual high standard. With great attention being paid to the charred and scarred lines on his face and very fine detailing on his yellow 'dark side' eyes. The over all effect of this making it strikingly close to the reference material. All in all I think it would be hard to get a better 'mass produced' paint job. The gauntlet has in deed been thrown down to Sideshow, and having read Michael's Jedi Luke review I think there's a good chance they'll pick it up and deliver.... when they get round to it!I'm as glad as the next person that SST have got the Star Wars license, but do fear it may have been the death knell for Medicom's future Star Wars releases (and lets face it, as SST are now 'official' distributors for Medicom in North America, was a deal cut?). No announcement has (so far) been made on the continuation of the line, and I had hoped they would at least give us Fett and a couple of Clone Troopers...I suppose there's still time as Medicom releases are famous for there tardiness, but I'm not gonna hold my breath that we'll get any more.

Articulation - ***3/4
As Michael wrote in his review, this figure is more than capable of striking any of his signature film poses. But (as I also said in my medicom Stormtrooper review) this outfit would severely hamper your range of movement in the real world, so that reflects on this scale model translation. But the base figure is the RAH 301 so any restriction is purely down to the outfit. I think of all the 1/6 base figures Medicom's is still my favourite, I know people take issue with this actually being 1/6 scale, and as this is Darth Vader (Dave Prowse is 6'7") I take their point. But lets not forget nearly all manufacturers have a standard stock body, based on an average height, very few can afford to design a new body for each release. So your average North American male height is 5'9" (175.5 cm) where as your average Japanese male weighs in at 5'5' (165.5 cm). So I guess we really needed a manufacturer from the Netherlands to take up the mantle as their males average 5'11" (178 cm) pretty tall for an 'average'. Mind you I can't complain I'm 6'5', so I think a trip to the Netherlands might be in order so I can get some trousers that are actually long enough.

Accessories - ***3/4
No real complaints from me on this level....well maybe just one. This figure comes with all the same hands as his predecessor plus four more (admittedly two of those are joined so count as one item) but that adds up to ten hands (5 pairs) pretty good by anyone's standards. So my one and only complaint is about the Light-sabre. It's just not quite as nice as the previous one. I'm sure it's based accurately on the movie (otherwise they would have just re used the old one) but its falling down is that it has no loop to fix it to the belt, and even worse it is hollow, with the non-igniting end having a hole, making it look rather cheap and nasty. But maybe I'm getting too picky as a few years ago I was quite happy with Hasbro's over sized stuff, and looking back now they were laughable!

Outfit - ****
As Michael wrote in his review, this is really where this figure shines. I will be amazed if Sideshow manage to better this. Again I hope they do.....well to be honest at Sideshows price-point I'd be ecstatic if they could just rival it. It is a small masterpiece and I'd advise you to go back and read Michael's comments and count these as an update. So lets cut to the nitty-gritty, just where does this figure differ from his 'older' self. The most obvious as mentioned above is the face sculpt, but what comes after that? The most apparent thing is the chest and shoulder guard, it's a different configuration and the chain (now black) hangs from it (now without the small hook) so the cape is attached by a small ribbon hidden from view under the neck brace detailing. This means the cloak can be pushed back over the epaulets exposing them as they were in the movie. This leads down to the chest control panel. This is no longer attached to straps going round his back but is now attached directly to the body suit, the detailing here differs again slightly. We then come to the belt, both the detailing on the buckle and the two boxes either side are again different. Next is the undershirt/tunic/skirt garment, this is tailored in the same way as the older version but now hangs down much further, almost to the floor, this hangs over the cod-piece which again is slightly altered. Lastly the finish/paint job on the helmet is different. On the old version they rather cleverly painted matt varnish onto some of the helmets face details, giving it the appearance of catching the light even when it wasn't. On this version the whole face is just one dense black. I know Lucas briefed Trisha Biggar (Costume designer on the new trilogy) to make Vader look even darker and more mechanical for ROTS and these subtle changes seem to answer that brief.

Fun Factor - ****
It's fair to say not many kids will get there hands on this guy and that's a shame. I would have sold my very soul to Beelzebub for this as a ten year old, and played with it virtually non stop......and sadly that would show, as it would now 'even with careful play' be wrecked. But can you put a price on a child's happiness.........hell yeah! and this baby's way too 'spensive, give em your old Hasbro version.

Value ***1/4
I know I've given him a big score when really it's a price only an insane person would pay for a toy. I got a great deal on all my Medicom Star Wars figures so far (Luke, Vader Ep 1 & Classic Vader $150 inc shipping and Stormtrooper 130 inc shipping) but I've built up a good rapport with my suppliers over many years. I often try to buy multiple items at the same time and all these factors can bring your prices down, not by enough to retire on but enough to make you stay loyal to a few suppliers. I guess if you were paying between $180-200 I would knock off at least one star.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Just be careful with all those fiddley little details. Especially attaching and detaching the Light-sabre ends. Where to buyI'm sure some U.S on line traders have it, and probably around the $200 mark plus shipping. But as far as I'm concerned it'd have to be eBay. I got mine from Andy or Popsalute as he's known to most eBayers. He was as always (in my experience) totally reliable, the item was well packed and arrived quickly. 

I think at this point it's worth pointing out a few safe guards for all people who buy on eBay. Firstly always check your dealers profile, see how many deals they've done and what their positive feedback is. As a rule of thumb I tend to steer clear of anyone with less than 95% pos feedback and consider most with above 98% to be a virtually safe bet (obviously the math of this situation is dependent on the amount of deals a person has done e.g 98% ain't so good if they've only done 10 deals, if they've done 500 plus it's pretty good). The problem with any kind of retail through the post/courier services is that by a law of averages some people will be in some way let down. 

Which leads me to my next fail safe, set up a Pay-Pal account and always do your deals through it. Next, NEVER EVER EVER buy on pre-order unless the product is being released on a time frame that allows your supplier to ship it to you within 45 days of placing your order. This protects you through Pay Pal as within 45 days (it used to be 30) you can lodge a complaint with them and unless your trader can give proof he has shipped the item you should get a full refund. So even if it's a trader you've used before, you trust, and you think the item will show up, get the complaint in. You can always cancel a dispute at any time. So if you have a no show make sure your complaint is in before those 45 days have elapsed. Always try to communicate your grievances with your vendor and give them plenty of chances to put the situation right, as if you shoot off negative feedback too soon it can back fire on your eBay profile! If you are worried an item will run out unless pre-ordered contact the seller and enquire about setting up a private sale and pay a minimal deposit. If you stick to these rules your eBaying SHOULD be trouble free. I've only had to lodge complaints twice in four years of eBaying, both times with U.S vendors and both times the items eventually arrived with legitimate reasons for their lateness. I've always had more problems with so called 'legitimate' on line stores, don't even get me started on Andgor toys!!!

Overall - ***
I'd love to give this figure four stars and in a lot of ways it would be deserved. in fact if there was an attention to detail category I'd give it five but the price is the ONLY issue, so my recommendation is if you've got the readies, get it while you can as even when Sideshows version comes out I think these Medicom ones will stand out as true classics (but as I always say, don't count on then appreciating in value as markets can change in a minute).

Score Recap- 
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - ****
Articulation - ***3/4
Accessories - ***3/4
Outfit - ****
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ***1/4
Overall - ***3/4

KEEP SCROLLING DOWN FOR MORE COMPARISON PHOTOS OF THE FIRST AND SECOND MEDICOM VADERS!



Figure from the collection of Jeff Parker.

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour Hosting.com