Darth Vader
Sideshow Collectibles Star Wars

Darth Vader Star Wars sixth scale action figure from Sideshow Collectibles
Darth Vader Star Wars sixth scale action figure from Sideshow Collectibles

When AFI (American Film Institute) did their top 100 villains of all time, I felt Darth Vader was stiffed. Coming in at number 3, beat out by Norman Bates and Hannibal Lector? Seriously? He would have had those guys for breakfast, with room for a Sausage McMuffin.

While the Star Wars films had their share of great heroes and slimy scum, none can compare to the iconic Vader. While I'm no great fan of the first three films in the chronological history of the film universe, they did give us a unique look at the rise and fall of a driven, powerful, interesting character.

Sideshow Collectibles first announced their Star Wars line of sixth scale action figures almost exactly 4 years ago, at the 2005 San Diego Comic Con. And ever since, THE figure on the top of everyone's list has been Vader. Finally, after the long wait, the figure is in our hands. There's both a regular edition figure (limited to 6500), and a Sideshow site exclusive (limited to 1977 - cute, eh?). I'll be looking at the exclusive version, which includes one additional accessory.

Both the regular and exclusive sell for $125 through Sideshow, but they were sold out long, long ago. These are at U.S. retailers now though, and I have a number of options at the end of the review. However, huge price breaks on this figure are unlikely - retailers now the demand is likely to be there even at full price.

Packaging - ***1/2
While the box may be bigger, it's still the same basic - and well designed - arrangement. There's the wrap around cover which adds several interior panels for photos and text, the cool magnetic closures, and once again, it's completely collector friendly. No twisties, no ties, no rubber bands - you can take Vader out of his prison without damaging any thing, and it's a snap to put him back later.
Darth Vader Star Wars sixth scale action figure from Sideshow Collectibles
Darth Vader Star Wars sixth scale action figure from Sideshow Collectibles
Darth Vader Star Wars sixth scale action figure from Sideshow Collectibles
Darth Vader Star Wars sixth scale action figure from Sideshow Collectibles
Darth Vader Star Wars sixth scale action figure from Sideshow Collectibles
Darth Vader Star Wars sixth scale action figure from Sideshow Collectibles
Darth Vader Star Wars sixth scale action figure from Sideshow Collectibles
Darth Vader Star Wars sixth scale action figure from Sideshow Collectibles
Darth Vader Star Wars sixth scale action figure from Sideshow Collectibles
Darth Vader Star Wars sixth scale action figure from Sideshow Collectibles
Darth Vader Star Wars sixth scale action figure from Sideshow Collectibles

Sculpt - ***1/2
While Vader stuck with the Johnny Cash look through out the films, there were minor changes from movie to movie. This figure is based on the original look from A New Hope.

I'm going to stick with largely the head here, since I'll be discussing the armor in greater detail in the Outfit section.

Over the course of the four films in which we saw Vader, the costume changed in subtle ways, especially the helmet. This is supposed to be the Episode IV helmet, but I'm not enough of an expert to get down with all the hairy details.

I will say that it does look a little off to me in a more general way. The slope of the helmet seems a bit too steep, without as much flair away from the jaw and neck. This tends to accentuate the height of the helmet and forehead, but I think the overall size of the helmet and head is pretty close to proper scale.

The small detail sculpting on the helmet is excellent, however. The smooth, cold eyes, the grill over the mouth, and even the slight texturing to the grayer areas (which is really due to the paint, rather than the sculpt) all lend a very realistic, screen-like appearance to the portrait.

One thing everyone is going to notice right away is that this guy is HUGE. He stands a full 14" tall in the costume, and while this might seem extraordinarily large at first, in reality he's only slightly oversized. He IS too big, don't let anyone tell you different, but it's not extreme.

Prowse was around 6' 6" tall, depending on who you ask. Add in the funky helmet and big boots, and I'd say 6' 9" or 6'10" was pretty likely when he was fully costumed up.

At 14" in 'true' sixth scale, this figure would be 7' tall. However, that's a six foot man coming out at just 12", and most modern sixth scale lines are a little bigger than that. Normal Sideshow males tend to be closer to 12 1/4" tall, or even a smidge bigger, depending on what they're wearing.

To me that means this guy is maybe...maybe a 1/2" too tall, max. I can certainly live with that, and it's much, much preferred to being too small.

Paint - ***
This category would be an easy four star score, if not for ONE small issue. But while the issue is small in size, it's larger in impact.

But let's talk about all the great first. Vader likes to keep a shine on his armor to rival any car in Jay Leno's garage. There's a whole Stormtrooper battalion who's only job is to wax his helmet. They don't like to talk about it much, though.

Sideshow has given the helmet, eyes, greaves and other key areas a high gloss finish that is even, consistent, and very reflective. This gloss finish is offset perfectly with the more matte appearance of the boots, chest armor and general clothing.

The small detail work on the chest plate ("which one of these buttons do you press to call your mom to come pick you up?") and belt controls is excellent, with clean lines, no bleed and no slop. These small details are crucial to giving Vader some color and to breaking up the consistent black.

I also like the use of lighter gray in some areas of the neck and face of the mask. In the film, the lighting created lighter and darker areas, but in this scale it's hard to reproduce that. Sideshow has done a surprisingly good job of using more than one shade of color to get the same effect.

So if everything is so perfect, what's my beef? While it might seem minor at first - the right fennel (that little post that sticks out from the corner of his mouth) isn't painted silver. At all. It's not broken off, it's just not painted. Yep, it's just one little dot of silver paint...but it's right there, out in front, like a pimple on prom night.

It appears as though this isn't an error, but done on purpose. Now, I've never seen a still of Vader with one unpainted 'tusk', and it just doesn't look right in person, so even if they did it for some obscure film accuracy, I would have preferred that they not.

EDIT: I normally don't add after a review is posted, but I'm making an exception since this is such a topic for debate. Yes, the 'tusk' ended up black at some point in the film. Somebody screwed up, somehow it got black paint on it, and it didn't get noticed. It's supposed to be silver in the movie, but there was a error during filming. I stand by my score and my opinion - I'd rather they not perpetuate an error, and had both painted like the Premium Format did. Your mileage may vary.

Articulation - ***1/2
I'm really liking this new body. Yes, it's new - for God's sake, the thing is huge! - but without striping him completely down, it appears that it's very much like the new armored body (for a great nekkid shot, check Rebelscum). There's a couple notable exceptions, however.

First, no floppy joints at all, alt least with mine. Part of this might be that the more restrictive clothes means less trouble with the knees or hips being floppy, but the arms and shoulders are nice and tight, able to hold any pose without 'wilting'. That's a big plus, and I certainly hope that translates into future releases with the smaller Pro body.

The other big change is the hand attachments. This is NOT - I repeat, NOT - a ball with posts between the hand and arm that can be removed, like just about every other current sixth scale figure out there, including the Pro. Instead, there is a post buried in the gloved hand, in a perfectly centered position, that snaps into the forearm.

At first glance, I was very happy with this situation. The hands pop on and off cleanly, they stay in place, and it felt like there was far less chance of damaging the pegs.

After swapping the hands a few times, I did get concerned that the peg might eventually pull loose or end up forced into the hand. I'm not counting this as a negative right now, but more as a warning. Be sure the peg is lined up properly before putting too much force on it - it really does pop in pretty easily when it's in the right spot, so you shouldn't have to use your large muscle groups to get it attached.

The outfit does restrict the articulation more than usual, particularly with the neck, waist, wrists and ankles. But after playing around with this guy for the photos, I have to say that I'm excited with the potential of this new, much larger body.

Accessories - ***
Vader doesn't come packing a whole lot of stuff, but don't tell him that.

He has the lit and unlit sabers, which are both scaled nicely to fit in his gripping hands. The unlit version hangs on his belt by way of a metal loop, and the sculpt and paint work on both is terrific.

Regular Vader also has three extra hands, while the exclusive includes a fourth. He comes wearing the two gripping hands, but also has a right and left fist, to shake at his Stormtroopers in frustration. He rounds things out with a choking hand, perfect for gripping poor Antilles by the neck.

The exclusive also includes a 'choking' hand, but this one is for when Vader doesn't want to bother walking across the room to kill you. This is is force choke hand, which can double as a general pointing hand as well.

There's the usual display stand of course, but Vader stands great on his own, and so the only reason to use it is for display consistency.

Outfit - ****
Darth Vader's sartorial style has always ran toward black and imposing, and Sideshow has done a terrific job capturing the look.

Ignoring the gloved hands and mask/helmet, which we've already discussed in detail, the remaining outfit consists of the outer cape, inner 'robe', boots, belt, shoulder armor and chest piece, cod piece, and underlying 'jumpsuit'.

Every great look needs a great foundation, and Vader starts out with his leather-like jumpsuit. It fits tightly, but is stretchy enough to allow the arms and legs some room for posing. It matches the look from the film quite well, and is very high quality.

The thin inner robes drape over the shoulders and down the front. He comes with these wrapped over the shoulder armor, which I *think* is the correct look for ANH. However, in later movies, I believe he wore this piece under the armor.

The outer cape is made from a soft exterior material, with a thin nylon liner. There is no wire in the cape (something I would have really liked), but there is a metal chain used to clasp it around his neck. This is not normally visible though, since the chain and collar are tight enough to rest underneath the neck of the faceplate. Again, I believe that's the accurate look for ANH.

The shoulder armor is done in a slightly different way that is not movie accurate, at least as far as I know. As I recall (and I'm sure a reader will correct me momentarily if I'm wrong), the shoulder armor always went completely across the body as one piece, from shoulder to shoulder. Sideshow has made the outer shoulder sections separate pieces from the inner section that covers the upper back and chest. This is one of those smart changes, altering the costume slightly to better work in this scale. By doing this, they've allowed a much greater range of movement in the shoulders, and yet, when the arms are at rest at the sides, the overall appearance is close enough to the movie to satisfy most folks.

Attached to this armor is the chest control box, held in place with leather straps. Below that, he wears his belt, complete with control boxes. The belt connects in back with Velcro, allowing you to easily adjust where it hangs and how tightly it fits.

Below the belt is his codpiece. This is only held in place with straps on the sides, which attach in back with Velcro, just like the belt. Again, it's easy to adjust, but without any strap to hold it in place at the crotch, it rides up on him constantly. It's a good thing that it's easy to adjust, because I found myself adjusting it constantly. Playing with Vader's codpiece is not one of my Star Wars fantasies, but may now be the subject of future nightmares.

I've left the best for last - his boots. There are two parts to his boots, permanently attached to each other. There's the tall, sculpted boots, made with a matte black finish, and then there's the hard plastic, high gloss greaves. Sideshow always seems to do boots well, no matter what character, and once again they've done Vader proud.

Fun Factor - ***
While this figure might be too expensive to give to an eight year old, if you did, he (or she) could certainly put it through its paces. It's a very sturdy figure, with quality materials and plastic. It's certainly as sturdy as most mass market sixth scale toys, and it's a fantastic example of a collectible that maintains its toy roots.

Value - **1/2
Yep, he's expensive at $125. And I really do think that other characters at this price point require more accessories to really hit an average value. But as the first character using the newly developed body, and with the quality of the armor and outfit, I have to say that the price felt about right. If you can get him down around $100, that would be fantastic, but with the demand that I expect for this character, it's probably unlikely.

And let's not forget that the shrmipier Medicom Vader cost $150 or more, and that was 4 years ago.

Things To Watch Out For
The only thing to take care with is the pegs inside the wrists. I didn't have any trouble with them, and you shouldn't either, as long as you make sure they're lined up before putting too much pressure on them. It shouldn't require the strength of David Prowse to get them on, so if they give any real resistance when you push, reposition slightly.

For maximum appeal, you'll also want to use a slightly warm iron on the interior of the cape. The nylon material is sure to wrinkle in the box, and you'll want to hit it with a quick pass to get them out.

Overall - ***1/2
There are minor nits that I can pick with this figure, and for me the worst would be his slightly oversized appearance. But as I said earlier, I'd rather have him slightly too big than slightly too small. It's far more distracting to see a puny Vader on the shelf than one that's simply a bit *too* imposing.

But while he has issues, this is the best sixth scale Vader we've gotten to date. The posability is there, the quality is there, and he fits in well with the rest of the line. There's still a few figures that Sideshow MUST produce before this line ends, but after all these years, we finally have the single most important character in the series to display on our shelves.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint -  ***
Articulation  - ***1/2
Accessories - ***
Outfit - ****
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***1/

Where to Buy -
Online options include:

- Sideshow was the place originally of course, where you could get the regular or the exclusive for $125. You can hop on the wait list now.

- Alter Ego has the regular in stock for $125.

- Corner Store has it at $112.50.

- if your in the UK, Forbidden Planet has him for 70 GBP.

- or you can hit ebay.

- Andrew's Toyz doesn't have this guy, but they do specialize in Star Wars, and have tons of other Vader goodies!

Related Links -
I've covered quite a bit of Sideshow sixth scale Star Wars line, including:

- the recent Utapau Trooper, the new Imperial Stormtrooper, and Captain Antilles

- I wasn't as thrilled with Ki-Adi-Mundi, but Obi-Wan in Clone Armor is easily one of their best. Then there's Aayla Secura, Tatooine Luke and Han Solo.

- Sideshow has had a strong year in 2008 with Commander Praji, the exceptional Palpatine/Sidous and ANH Obi-Wan, and the not quite so exceptional Ilum Padme.

- also in the sixth scale line, I've reviewed Leia and Bespin Luke, the Holo-chess set, Sideshow's Asajj, a terrific figure, Yavin Luke, the Endor Troops, Jabba the Hutt and his throne, Bib Fortuna, Jedi Luke, Darth Maul, Obi-Wan, Bespin Han Solo, regular Anakin Skywalker and Kit Fisto.

- I also have guest reviews of the SDCC Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu, and Qui-Gon Jinn.

- in the premium format line, I've reviewed Slave Leia, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Han Solo.

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Darth Vader Star Wars sixth scale action figure from Sideshow Collectibles

This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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