Medicom RAH Darth Vader

For those of us in the U.S., Hasbro has been the company producing 12" Star Wars figures.  And they've produced them for kids, under the dreaded theory that kids don't mind if their toys look bad, have crappy articulation, and lousy outfits.  They're just kids, after all.

But the world doesn't end with the U.S.  Star Wars fans in Japan have been treated to two new 12" Star Wars figures from Medicom, under the heading of their Real Action Heroes line.  The first was Luke Skywalker, which was guest reviewed awhile back.  Now they've released Darth Vader, and he's truly impressive.

Unfortunately, the price tag is even more impressive.  Prices range from $150 if you're lucky, to $200 if you're particularly unlucky.  With shipping costs from Asia, you can assume you'll be spending at least $175 on this figure, which is no small potatoes.

After I had purchased this figure, Sideshow announced they were taking over the 12" Star Wars line from Hasbro.  At first, I was disappointed I'd spent the money on this figure, now knowing that Sideshow would be producing high quality versions.  But did my feelings change once I got it?  Let's see...

Packaging - ***
I skipped a photo of the box - it's a very large, very black, box.  Not much to see, and besides, I figured you'd like more photos of the figure.  It's also somewhat flimsy, and mine arrived fairly crushed.  When you spend this much money on a figure, you really should get something better in the packaging department.

It is collector friendly though, and if yours survives the trip to your house, you can put the figure and all it's stuff back in at a later date.

Sculpting - ***1/2
I shot several photos of the unmasked Vader head, knowing that it's the most important aspect of the sculpting.  This is the face we remember from the original films, not something re-imagined by George years later.  Give him time.

The scarring is detailed and deep, with realistic wrinkles and texturing around the eyes.  The scarring continues down the back of his head, and the overall appearance is extremely accurate to the film.

The sculpts on the body armor is also fantastic.  The helmet looks dead on to me, particularly for ROTJ, and the three pieces fit together tightly.  They are easy to take apart however, no simple feat.  The lower half even includes the little breathers for his nostrils!

Scale is an issue though.  He is taller than the Jedi Luke they produced (a big thanks to Jeff Parker for sending along a comparison photo!), but not by much.  And he's only 12 inches tall, making him much smaller than most other sixth scale figures, especially for a character like Vader.  You won't be able to put this guy with your Hasbro stuff or your Marmit figures either.  This is a whole new scale, and I'm sure this Vader will be too small to stand next to the Sideshow versions as well.  That's too bad, since I suspect it will be some time before Sideshow does a Vader, and it would be nice to display them together.

I deducted slightly from this category because of the scale issue, but it might not be as disappointing to you as it was for me.

Paint - ****
Most of the detail paint work is on the head, helmet controls, and belt/chest controls.

All the detail work is excellent, but the face and head are particularly well done.  The shading, skin tone, and coloration of the scars looks extremely realistic and matches the film.

The is a large number of brightly colored doo-dads on Vader's uniform, which is a nice contrast to the all black.  They don't look silly or cartoony however, and there's absolutely no slop anywhere.

Articulation - ***1/2
There's no shortage of articulation on this figure.  Even the tight fitting uniform doesn't restrict many of the classic poses.

It's not an easily removable outfit though, so determining exactly how many points there are and of what kind is a tad tricky.  There's all the obvious joints, like ball jointed shoulders and hips, double jointed keens and elbows, etc.  He also has rather interesting wrists.  They can turn and flex, and the ends are flat.  These flat ends are designed to slide into the various gloved hands included with the figure, rather than round pegs.  This system works pretty well, and seems to be much more sturdy than the peg alternative.

The outfit is a little restrictive, and I didn't want to stretch it out too much anyway.  But you'll have no trouble finding several excellent poses for your Vader, all of them quite formidable.

Accessories - ****
Vader is loaded with extras, including his light saber hilt and blade, and two additional sets of hands along with the two he comes with.

The light saber hilt has a removable cup on the front.  You remove this small piece to attach the blade itself.  This is an extremely nice touch, and allows the blade to look much nicer than the traditional Hasbro blades.

The hilt also has a metal ring that can hang on a metal hook on Vader's belt.  The use of high quality materials is another important point to note when assessing this figure.

The additional hands are designed for the most important poses.  There is a grasping right and left hand, designed to hold the hilt either singly or in both hands.  There's a pointing right hand and a splayed left hand which can be used in any combination with the other hands.  And then there is a bent/cupped left and right hand, specifically designed to appear as though he has his hands hooked in his belt.

The hands pop on and off easily enough, perhaps a little too easy.  I had to keep putting them back on as I was playing around with the figure, which is annoying enough.  Still, having such a variety of hands really does increase the display and posing potential.

Outfit - ****
The outfit, from the shoes, to the helmet, is easily the best job ever done on Vader.  I've already raved on about the three piece helmet and the cool gloved hands, so let's talk about the rest.

The material they've used for the body suit looks just like the film version, with a semi-gloss appearance and stitching lines.  The material is also somewhat stretchy, allowing you to pose him more than you'd expect from such a tight suit.

The shoes and gauntlets are nice, and the belt, shoulder armor and codpiece fit great.  But the real stand out is the skirt and cape.  They've used a very thin but high quality material, so that it looks proper in sixth scale.  It hangs beautifully, and the ironed pleats in the skirt look excellent.  The cape even has a very thin wire in the bottom, allowing you to pose the hem!

The cape attaches around the neck with a thin chain, and it's removable if you feel in the mood.  You need some tiny fingers to get it to work, but it is doable.

Actually, the whole outfit is removable if you'd like to spend some time.  The head pops off completely, and the cape and armor is easy to remove.  The feet pop off as well, and there's even velcro holding the back of the costume together.  I'm not pulling mine apart, but if you're looking to do some custom work on him it is possible.

Fun Factor - **1/2
I'm not sure I'd let a kid play with a figure I paid this much money for.  In fact, I'm positive I wouldn't.  But if you're not like me, you'll find that this is actually a pretty fun figure.

The hands come off a little too easy, which a kid might find frustrating.  And there are some things - like the blade and hilt - which could get broken with rough play.  But if you have a young fan of the film that can appreciate the care they should take with something like this, and are looking to display more than play, then they might enjoy it as much as you.

Value - **
I paid $160 plus shipping.  And that was cheaper than most places.  This is a nice figure, but it's $50 - $75 overpriced.  If Sideshow can produce this level of quality, and do it under $80, they'll have a real winner of a line on their hands.

Things to Watch Out for - 
I've heard from other folks that not everyone got a perfect figure.  Jeff Parker who does many guest reviews of high end sixth scale stuff, had several issues with his, including a bad ankle peg and a broken peg on the light saber blade.

Mine was relatively error free, but there's definitely a concern if you get one that has problems.

Overall -  ***1/2
It's impossible to truly explain how great this figure is without holding it in your hands.  The feel of the clothing, the lightweight body with tight joints, the entire experience is very tactile.  There's a quality here that can't simply be conveyed through words and photos.

That being said, it ain't $150 or more of quality.  Yes, this is easily the finest Vader I've got in my collection, and because I've got this one I'm now quite happy that I pre-ordered the Medicom Batman Begins figure.  But it's an $80 - $100 figure tops, and the value score holds him back from four stars.

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

Where to Buy -
That's a sticky wicket - he's an imported figure.  Here's some sponsor suggestions:

- Killer Toys has him for $220.

Related Links -
I have a couple related reviews:

- the terrific guest review on the Medicom Jedi Luke.

- and if you're looking for other expensive Star Wars sixth scale figures, you should check out the Marmit stuff, including the Boba Fett.

Special Thanks to Jeff Parker for supplying the comparison photo with the Medicom Jedi Luke Skywalker.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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