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Darth Vader Voice Changer/Count Dooku's Saber

Drunken Fist is back tonight with a unique review of a couple cool items.  I'll let DF tell you all about it...

Iím only a casual Star Wars collectorĖ under normal circumstances, that is. But the upcoming "Revenge of the Sith" is a movie Iíve wanted to see ever since I was a little kid. I had no idea that prequels would one day be made, but I desperately wanted to see a movie that showed exactly how Vader was born. So naturally, my anticipation for Episode III has been far, far greater than it was for the previous two films, and Iíve been buying merchandise accordingly. On the agenda today are the Darth Vader Voice Changer Helmet and Count Dookuís lightsaber.






Packaging - Dookuís Lightsaber: ***Ĺ, Vaderís Helmet: **Ĺ
I really like the packaging for all the Episode II stuff in general; it looks very cool and is quite eye-catching, and itís pretty much the best packaging Iíve seen in some time. The same basic look is present on both of these items, but it is utilized in different ways on each. I think the light saber packaging is a bit more attractive. There are some rather large photos of the great Christopher Lee as Dooku, with a window displaying the item within. The plastic window behind Dooku is tinted red, with the cardboard crisscrossing the plastic in such a way that it looks like a window frame. Hence, Dooku appears to be standing in front of a large red window. I have to give Hasbro a couple of extra kudos for using different photos and layouts on both sides of the box. Aside from increasing the overall attractive look of the package, it gives retailers more options on how they display the light sabers in their stores. Great work here. The cardboard insert slides out on end of the box. Get rid of one twist tie, and your light saber is free. If you so desire, you can easily place it back in the packaging and display it in the box. Iíll mention here that there are 3 labels on the light saber hilt, displaying various safety warnings. Fortunately, the peel off without much trouble. This is good news, since Iím pretty sure Count Dookuís light saber doesnít have little stickers on it warning him not to poke anybody with it. 

Vaderís Helmet looks pretty good on the shelf, but it will be rather tough for you MIB collectors to find one that doesnít have at least some slight damage. The open design of the package is necessary for the "Try Me!" feature, but it definitely isnít very sturdy. The process of opening this thing is pretty involved, and I sat staring at it for a couple of minutes trying to decide the best way to go about it. I finally just gave up and cut every piece of tape I saw, then completely disassembled the box from around the cardboard insert. There were three twist ties to remove, and I was in. 

Sculpting - ***1/2
I didnít surround myself with photo references to compare these items with their onscreen appearances, but they both look pretty damn accurate to me. Aside from the screws necessary for the battery compartment and such, Dookuís light saber is pretty much exactly how I imagined it to look. The button that activates the sounds and light blends in pretty well. Iíve heard a couple of people complain about it, but honestly, if youíre swatting people with a plastic toy and pretending youíre having an epic Jedi battle, having a button on the side of the hilt isnít gonna bring the fantasy crashing down. ;) 

Vaderís helmet looks like it ought to. Obviously, the speaker is at the front, as well as the ventilation so you can, you know, breathe, but these are necessary, and donít really detract much from the look. Iíll point this out here, since thereís really no better place to do it. The lenses over the eyes are very lightly tinted, and people will be able to see some of your face underneath the helmet. This is permissible, however, since you need to be able to see while wearing this thing. It will fit just about any size head. There is an adjustable headband on the back side of the mask, and the helmet snaps into place over it. Iím sure there are some people who can point out a dozen little flaws here and there, but that would really be nitpicking. Itís immediately recognizable as the big bad ass, and for just about everyone, itíll pass muster.

Paint - **1/2
The paint is pretty standard fare for a mass-marketed item, so no big surprises here. With so few paint apps, however, it is a bit disappointing to see slop and bleed on these. Thereís plenty of slop on the hilt of Dookuís light saber, but fortunately, none of it is really bad. You wonít notice it unless youíre looking at it very closely. Vaderís helmet is a mixed bag. The little red and silver buttons on the chest plate are done perfectly on mine, but the silver bars running down both sides of the buttons had considerable over spray. The silver portions on the actual helmet are almost perfect, fortunately. 

Action Features - Vaderís Helmet: ***Ĺ, Dookuís Lightsaber: ***
I was reeeeeaally tempted to give Vaderís Helmet a perfect score, but looking at it as impartially as I could, I couldnít really do that in good conscience. The number of movie phrases is pretty limited, and they left out some pretty damn good lines in favor of a couple of head-scratchers that they chose to include. Vader says:

"Donít make me destroy you."

"You donít know the power of the dark side!"

"There is no escape."

"The Force is with you."

"Your powers are weak."

And thatís all she wrote. I really think they should have included about twice as many lines, including one of my favorites, "I have you now!" That one is all in the delivery, itís such and ominous declaration coming from Vader. The breathing noises sound perfect. But honestly, everyone is gonna buy this thing for the voice changing feature. Weíre in luck, since it works pretty well. The mask is in demo mode when you open it up, and there are 3 settings for the voice changer. Youíll have to experiment with them to find the best one. I have to use the first setting, and I sound almost exactly like Vader. I tried the other settings, and on the lowest, I sounded like Satan himself. The microphone inside the mask is adjustable, and is essential to getting the voice changer to work properly. Get the microphone as close to your mouth as possible for the best results. It would be nice if you didnít have to press the button whenever you want to use the voice change feature, but thatís how it is.

This thing is a pure delight. I was already singing the praises of the animatronic Yoda, telling my friends I no longer needed them now that Yoda had arrived and swearing to keep him on my dashboard to talk trash to cops at roadblocks. The Vader voice changer has joined him as one of my greatest purchases ever. Iím not gonna start a cult centered around the helmet or anything, but weíre not too far from that. The thing is just great. I probably tell one of my friends to go to hell or to kiss my ass at least once a day, but when I tell them in Vaderís voice, itís totally different. When they hear that in Vaderís voice, they feel compelled to OBEY. People are just afraid to defy a guy like Vader, even if they know in their hearts that its just a guy in a plastic helmet. I havenít paid for a meal since I got this thing, all I have to do is command people to "BUY MY FOOD" and they know they must do as Vader says. The power is mine, muahahaha.

Dookuís light saber doesnít exactly take me to the same giddy heights that Vaderís helmet does, but itís pretty cool for what it is. I had several light sabers to choose from, and I chose Dooku because 1. I love Christopher Lee, and 2. I really like the unique design of his light saber. Simply press the button and you hear the light saber "ignition" sound, and the blade lights up. It makes sounds when you move it, and makes crashing sounds when it hits something. When you press the button again, it makes the power down sound, and the light goes out. I should mention that the light bulb is included, but the 2 size C batteries you need are not. Make sure you pick some up at the store when you get this. 

Fun Factor - ****
Anything that makes a grown man who is unaccustomed to surrendering his dignity by wearing plastic helmets gush like this has to be loads of fun. Theyíre a bit large for small children, but theyíll tolerate that in exchange for playing with this great stuff, believe me. Iíll probably pick up another helmet and a Vader lightsaber for my nephewís birthday, because I know heíll be drooling over this when he sees it. These two are tremendous fun for people of all ages. I bet even my grandma would be all over these if she knew about them.

Value - Vaderís Helmet: ***3/4 Dookuís Lightsaber: ***
Being as impartial as I can be, I must give these two items less than perfect scores here. Iím damn close to giving Vaderís helmet ****, but I still think there should have been more movie phrases included, particularly at this price. Still, at $25, itís essential for even the casual Star Wars fan. Dookuís light saber is less of a solid value, as youíre paying for something that you can buy a generic version of for about $10 less. Granted, those arenít quite up to the same quality as this one, but I still think this is a few dollars too high. Iím well aware that the Star Wars license must cost a bundle, but I really feel these electronic light sabers should be around $12, rather than $15. Of course, theyíre $20 at Toys R Us, so maybe I should just shut my mouth and be glad I didnít buy it there.

Overall - Vaderís Helmet: ****, Dookuís Lightsaber: ***Ĺ
Minor issues aside, I happier with these purchases than I have been with anything Iíve bought in a while. The light sabers all have the same basic features, so you canít go wrong as long as you pick whichever one you like the most. Without shelling out $150 for the Master Replicas light sabers, these are about as close as you can get. Vaderís helmet is an absolute must-own. If you collect any kind of Star Wars merchandise whatsoever, YOU HAVE TO BUY THE DARTH VADER VOICE CHANGER HELMET. Itís just too damn good to pass up. I tossed on the cloak from my old Skeletor Halloween costume and modeled my these for you all. I had to take the photo myself, mainly because I didnít want to ask any of my friends to take pictures of my wearing a velvet cape and a plastic mask. Youíll have to forgive the T-shirt, but Iím convinced that if Vader lived in America, heíd wear a Shaft T-shirt. 

Things to watch out for: 
Look over you Vader helmet very carefully before buying. Items packaged in an open box frequently get damaged, and I saw several damaged Vader helmets when I bought mine. Make sure you pick up some size C batteries for the light saber before you leave the store, to avoid having to make a special trip later. 

Score recap
Packaging - Dookuís Lightsaber: ***Ĺ, Vaderís Helmet: **Ĺ
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - **1/2
Action Features - Vaderís Helmet: ***Ĺ, Dookuís Lightsaber: ***
Fun Factor - ****
Value - Vaderís Helmet: ***3/4 Dookuís Lightsaber: ***
Overall - Vaderís Helmet: ****, Dookuís Lightsaber: ***Ĺ

Where to Buy -
EVERYWHERE! Iíve seen these pretty much everywhere I been that sells toys, so finding these shouldnít present the slightest problem.


Figure from the collection of Drunken Fist.

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