Darth Vader - Sideshow Star Wars

   "The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Ryan Kelly is back tonight, and he's looking at the Sideshow Darth Vader, which I checked out a little while back. Let's see what Ryan has to say about him - take it away!

Thanks as always to MWC….

I’ve been waiting a long time for this one. A sixth scale Vader is a must-have for Star Wars collectors, and yet until now our options have been severely limited. Medicom treated us to a fantastic Vader a few years back, but as is often the case with Medicom figures, he was too small and too expensive…way too expensive. Collectors have been foaming at the mouth waiting for Sideshow to release their Vader, and recently it finally arrived. FINALLY! Unfortunately he’s quite expensive as well, but as can be expected when comparing Sideshow to Medicom, your wallet won’t take nearly as much of a beating in proportion to the quality of what you’re getting. I had this guy on preorder and then cancelled due to shortage of cash. But a couple of weeks ago I finally snagged one on ebay for a little cheaper than I would have paid had I went through with the preorder, so no regrets.

I’ve gotta admit that after seeing pics of this thing on Michael’s review, I had second thoughts about getting this figure. Just by looking at the photos, he didn’t look nearly as detailed or nice as the Medicom version which I already own (I included a couple of pictures of them side-by-side, mainly to show the height difference). Was getting another 1:6 Vader worth it? Let’s have a look see…

Packaging - ***1/2
Once again, Sideshow does a bang-up job on packaging. If you’ve gotten any Sideshow figures before, you know what you’re getting. Held closed by magnets, the cover wraps around the whole box and opens up to reveal the figure on one side and accessories on the other, with plenty of background info on the character (giving a summary of the Sith on the far left and of Vader himself in the center). My only problem with Sideshow packaging is pulling out the flaps at the top of each side to slide out the trays without bending/creasing them. If you’re a stickler for box/package condition, this may annoy you. Otherwise, the packaging is perfect as usual.

Sculpting - ***
This is the Shaquille O’ Neal of sixth scale figures. Tall and intimidating, this Vader stands at a cool 14” tall, and will just about stand head and shoulders above your other Sideshow Star Wars figures. Yeah he may be just a tad bit too tall, but who cares? Like Michael, I’d rather have him too tall than too short. This guy could pick up your Medicom Vader with one hand and throw him across the room, and could easily defeat him in a game of one-on-one while sipping a cup of tea (or Jawa juice, whatever his preference) at the same time. No, his helmet and mask don’t come off like Medicom Vader’s, but this is Episode IV Vader, and at this point we don’t even know that Vader is Luke’s father yet, much less what he looks like underneath that scary mask (not counting the prequels, which certainly didn’t exist when Episode IV came out in 1977—thank God).

I’m not docking this guy anything for his height, as I have absolutely no problem with it. In fact, when standing beside Sideshow Luke, the proportions look just about right to me. What I do have a small problem with, though, is the width of the helmet/head. It should be narrower, and the eyes should be a bit smaller. The square with the buttons on it in the center of his chest should be a little smaller as well (I’m sure there’s a more technical term for it but it escapes me at this moment so thus I’m going with “square with buttons on it”). The control boxes (sound a little better?) on his belt are a little oversized too, but the hands, feet, arms, and legs are all sculpted well and in good proportion.  

Paint - ***
The paint work is good overall, but the buttons on his chest piece and belt make them look too fake. The Medicom Vader is far superior on those in their paint work and sculpt (the toyish-looking buttons on this chest piece remind me of when Triumph the Insult Comic Dog asked a Star Wars fan who was dressed like Vader which of those buttons called his parents to come pick him up—update: I actually thought of that before noticing that Michael referenced the same thing in his review; great minds think alike I guess…)

Michael talked a lot about the unpainted little ball on the bottom right part of the triangle on the mask and how it makes the other one stick out like a pimple on prom night (of course I don’t think a guy that looks like Vader would get any dates for prom night anyway). I totally agree, and after watching the first few minutes of the movie I noticed something else…the silver arch-circle at the top of the triangle is too big and needs to be darker. To me, that sticks out more than the “pimple.” And it is true that when Vader first comes out in Episode IV the right circle is black and the left silver, but I agree with Michael that this probably was an error on the filmmakers’ part and one that Sideshow should not have imitated. Otherwise, the paint on the helmet, belt and armor looks good. I think it’s particularly cool how the eyes have a dark reddish tint to them, just like in the movie. Overall, I think the Medicom Vader has a better paint job, but only slightly.

Articulation  - ***
This is quite a step up for Sideshow. The articulation on this new large body is really good, and so much better than that freakin’ Buck body. The joints are really smooth, and none of them are loose on mine. His arms have a wide range of movement, but his legs can’t move very far due to the outfit. Considering that Vader’s movement in that suit/armor is restricted in the films anyway, a little restriction in articulation is pretty much expected. I do wish that the legs could move a little more (he can’t even kick at waste-level) and it would be nice if the feet could move up and down and rotate. You won’t be able to get any major action poses out of this guy, but we’re talking about a character that’s half-man, half machine anyway, so it’s no big deal.

They had a great idea with the interchangeable gloved hands—having pegs built inside of them that fit into small holes/sockets at the ends of the arms. They are easy to put on and take off, and they stay on easily. Overall, this figure is very well-articulated, and has better articulation than the Medicom Vader since the Medicom Vader has the same restrictions with the legs while having less freedom for movement on the arms.

Outfit - ***
This Vader comes pretty close to perfection in this category i.m.o. with the exception of a few minor nits. I love the way the cape hangs loosely (and thus realistically) instead of having the wire running through the bottom for adjustment like Medicom Vader, and it’s big enough to fully wrap around him. The cape and cloak are made from the same thin cloth material that looks and feels pretty cool. The shoulder pads can go up or down, allowing for more arm poseability. His suit fits tightly and doesn’t restrict at all, except around the upper thighs (it will likely tear if you try to move the legs too far apart).

The belt is easily adjusted and removed, held together by Velcro, which I don’t think was the best choice in the world, since Velcro can easily wear out and stop holding over time. But unless the belt is taken off and put back on frequently or adjusted a million times (none of which there’s really a need for), it shouldn’t be much of a problem. My other minor issue is the chest control piece (I guess that sounds a little better than “square with buttons”…) which, unlike the one on midget Medicom Vader which can be moved around and slightly adjusted, is glued right on to his suit. I think Medicom’s way is a little more professional, but this isn’t really a problem for this Vader unless you happen to get one with a chest piece that’s off-center.

My final issue with the outfit is the chain on the cape which, instead of being outside the helmet like it’s supposed to be, runs underneath of it. Medicom actually got this right on their Vader, putting a tiny hook at the bottom of the helmet to hold the chain in place.

Like I said, all of my issues with the outfit are minor nits, but all of them together hold it back from a perfect score in this category. If I could only fix one issue with the outfit, it would be the use of Velcro on the belt (and codpiece), but even that’s not really a huge deal.

Accessories - **
Vader doesn’t come with many accessories, but then again he really doesn’t need that many, since he could easily kill you from the other side of the room (or the other side of the galaxy via satellite while simultaneously carrying on a pleasant conversation with your replacement) without any. He comes with five hands in all (six if you got the exclusive): two sculpted fists, two gripping hands, and an open gesturing hand (in case you want him to reach out for Luke after giving the devastating news or choke Captain Antilles for taking his Death Star plans—whichever you prefer). And reserved especially for his most irritating employees, there’s the “force choke” hand that comes with the exclusive.

And for Vader’s most challenging and deadliest enemies—a feeble old man who lets him win and a teenage boy who has barely reached padawan status—there is his lightsaber, one lit and one unlit, which can hang on his belt (and does so a little better than the Medicom version I might add). With this weapon he teaches his son—and Batman—that pissing him off leads to the loss of a hand.

Medicom Vader has a slight edge in this area since he has three sets of hands (though it’s a tie here if you have the exclusive version) and the blade can be removed from the hilt and replaced with a small cap if you don’t want the blade extended—a little more professional than simply having a blade glued on to a hilt and then just adding an extra hilt. However, Medicom Vader is missing the one accessory he would need most if he went up against Sideshow Vader—a ladder.

Fun Factor -  ***
This would be a fun figure for a kid to play with, though unless you want a $100+ figure to end up looking like it just got chewed up and spat out by the Sarlac, I doubt you’ll let that happen. After getting sliced, diced, and deep fried on Mustafar, I think Vader’s been through enough.

Value - **
Hey I love this figure, but $125 is pushing it. A few more accessories—at least more extra hands—could push that up to an average value, but this is a little too much (though not nearly as overpriced as midget Medicom Vader which apparently ran at $160 and above upon its release—mine was $140 on ebay). Some places had this guy at $112, but most of them have long since sold out I believe. The best chance at this point would be ebay, where I got mine for $115 and free shipping (a definite plus since a figure/package this big is bound to run at least $10 shipping). At that price I think he is an average value, and anything below $100 would be quite a deal. 

Things to Watch Out For -
Like Michael said (I think…) be careful when replacing the hands. Make sure the peg is completely set in the hole before pushing them down. Also, don’t try to make Vader kick too high or you may split his pants, and I’m sure he won’t like that. Neither will you, considering how much he costs.

Overall - ***
Impressive…most impressive. I had my doubts about this figure at first (and he found my lack of faith disturbing), but after getting it and messing with it awhile, this is definitely may favorite sixth scale Vader, and my favorite overall. In terms of overall quality and detail, I believe it’s really a toss-up between Sideshow and Medicom (remember that Medicom Vader’s mask can be removed to reveal a fantastic ROTJ Anakin head sculpt), but the size difference is really what puts Sideshow over the top for me. It’s like Rocky standing beside Drago, or Danny DeVito standing beside Conan O’ Brien. I’ve gotta admit that after getting this Vader, I kept it out, while Medicom Vader went back in the box. He’s tall, dark, and menacing (not handsome, though), and all the other figures standing around in my room—except Don Corleone—almost look intimidated.  While I think Indiana Jones is still the best figure Sideshow has done so far—followed closely by Gandalf—this Vader definitely makes at least the top five in my book, and he’s certainly a must-have for any Star Wars fan. Sideshow is definitely stepping their game up, and Medicom with their ridiculous prices and lack of quality to match is becoming a distant memory.

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

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.

- 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!

Figures from the collection of Ryan Kelly

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