Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader

Matt Kayser steps in tonight with a great review of the Evolutions set highlighting the descent of Anakin into Vader.  Takei it away, Matt!

Hey guys and gals, it's Matt “VENOM” Kayser here with another one of my very sporadic reviews. I'd been looking forward to the Star Wars Evolution sets since I saw photos from the various toy shows and recently had the “Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader” set given to me as a going-away gift from a friend at work (which shows that I either talk too much about Star Wars, toys, or both). The set includes Episode II Anakin, Episode III Anakin and Episode IV Darth Vader. To differentiate between the two Anakin figures, from this point on, Episode II Anakin will be referred to as “Bratakin.” But anyway, so what did I think? Read on...

Packaging - ****
To be up-front, I don't really care about packaging. I like to display my stuff, so packaging just goes into the recycling bin anyway (or in Hasbro's case, the trash, since none of their Star Wars packaging is recyclable. What's up, guys?). This is however, a very impressive box, with four windows that spotlight the three figures and when you lift a flap, the accessories. On the opposite side of the flap is a cool graphic of the movie representations that the figures are derived from and some cool explanatory text for those who don't know that Anakin becomes Vader (if I spoiled that for anyone, shame on you for living in a cave). The box is good for display and can be put back together pretty easily for those who would like to do so. The best part? Other than two (count 'em, “2”) tiny clear rubber bands, everything is free, but sitting tightly in the plastic tray. No twisties! Not one! Whoo hoo! That alone brings the box from three stars to four for me. I hate twisties!

Sculpting - 
Bratakin: ***

The score in this category reflects it's own evolution from figure to figure, which is a trend that will continue as this review goes on. Bratakin has a pretty good head sculpt that I believe is the same one from the Jedi vs. Sith pack with that Ventress woman (I don't have it to compare) It's not perfect, but it's not terrible either. Oddly enough, it looks a lot like Ryan Phillippe who was rumored to be the new Anakin before it was announced that Hayden Christensen had the part. The leather part of his tunic is a very thin faux leather that is a separate piece from the figure, but attached to a small cloth skirt. This helps to distinguish this figure from the other Anakin, and bumps the score up a notch (even though it's not really a part of the “sculpt,” it helps the overall aesthetic when looking at the figure, so I included it here).

Anakin: ***1/2

This is the best head sculpt for Anakin that I've seen, and that includes the 12” figures they've done of him. It looks so much like him that I'd even bet that it's a laser-scan of Hayden Christensen's face. If it isn't, I'm even more impressed with the likeness. The leather part of the tunic on this figure is sculpted on and looks great, in my opinion. Underneath it is a cloth identical to Bratakin's for the skirt. My only complaint with this one that keeps him from being four stars, is that the sculpted piece cuts off some of the articulation for the legs, but I'll get to that later. Otherwise, it's perfect. It's worth pointing out that Anakin's robotic hand is very well done and looks great with both gold and black paint-ops to show Anakin's updated look. Easily the best Anakin yet.

Vader: ****

To paraphrase the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons...Best...Vader...Ever! A little over the top, maybe, but this Vader is awesome. When I first opened the box, I thought that I had broken Vader's head off, but realized soon after the best-kept secret of this set (at least from me). Vader's helmet is removable, revealing a very good (if not the best) likeness of deceased actor Sebastian Shaw as Anakin. Unlike other Vaders, the neck piece of the helmet is separate from the head inside, making for a very realistic appearance, as opposed to the sad representation that we had in the last version to have a removable helmet (The one with the operating table), where the head just kind of flowed into the neck piece and looked weird. The removable helmet makes the figure a more accurate representation of Vader from Episode VI than IV, but I'm not complaining. The Sith Lord's tunic and cape are made from a thin material and look surprisingly good. He's much bulkier and imposing than his Vintage Original Trilogy Collection predecessor, and looks great because of it. The VOTC Vader was always a little too skinny, in my eyes. No complaints here from me, and he easily scores the four stars in this category.

None of the figures' articulation gets in the way of their sculpts, in my opinion, but if you like your figures with less articulation and more attention on the sculpt, these scores might be different for you. Also, other than the possible exception of Bratakin's head sculpt, I'm pretty sure that these are all new sculpts. This is nice, because they could have very easily just stuck the VOTC Vader in here, for instance, but Hasbro went the extra mile and really made this set unique, and not just another “collection of old figures” set.

Paint - ****
None of my figures had any slop at all. Even the eyes look good, which is difficult in this scale (or any scale, in some cases). Not much I can say here. Very well done. In any case though, these are mass market figures, so check yours out before you buy them. I may just be very, very lucky.

Articulation - 
Bratakin: ***

Bratakin has a ball jointed head with decent movement for such a small scale, but it could be better, ball jointed shoulders and elbows, cut wrists, a cut waist, T-Crotch, and ball jointed knees. What keeps him from having a higher score is that there is no articulation at the ankles, which impedes posing a bit. Besides that, the other Anakin has hinged ankles, so I don't understand why they didn't just re-use that sculpt since his boots are the same. Still, it's great for a Star Wars figure, just an odd choice in the exclusion of ankle articulation.

Anakin: ***1/2

Back to that evolution again as this Anakin is a step above the other. Anakin has a ball jointed head with just a tad less movement than Bratakin, but the head sculpt makes it worth it, ball jointed shoulders, angle-cut elbows (to allow for the interchangeable right forearm, I guess), cut wrists (or with the alternate gloved forearm, one cut wrist and the other cut at the end of his glove), cut waist, T-Crotch, ball jointed knees, and hinged ankles that can also swivel left and right. The hinged ankles give Anakin better movement from the knees down than his counterpart, but his sculpted tunic gets in the way of the hips quite a bit. Also, the ankles move toes-down easily, but pretty much stop in the normal standing position without much room for pointing them up. He's not immobile by any means, but you can't quite get some of the poses that you might like. Overall though, I still prefer it over Bratakin simply because the ankles do make up for any stiffness he might have in the crotch on...

Vader: ****

This Vader is one bad mutha when it comes to articulation. He takes the best aspects of his set-mates and runs with them like a naked Wookie in heat. Vader has a cut neck (allowing for the awesome removable helmet, so it's more than forgiven), ball jointed shoulders and elbows, cut forearms (at the glove line), cut waist, T-Crotch, ball jointed knees and hinged ankles that swivel left and right. You can easily get this Vader into poses unlike any other Vader figure and it can be quite impressive. Also, his ankles have much better movement than Anakin's and it helps more than you might realize. This is the most “Super-poseable” Vader we've ever gotten in this scale, and I have a feeling that he'll be claiming that spot for some time. 

Overall, I wouldn't have minded ball jointed hips, since they would have been hidden nicely, but it's hard to complain when this set is so well put together.

Accessories - ****
I'm putting the accessories all together, rather than per figure, because..well...I'm lazy and I want to. The set comes with a cloth robe for Anakin (or Bratakin, I guess), Vader's helmet, if you want to count it among accessories, two silver hilts, but only one blue blade, a red light saber for Vader that is all one piece (which I prefer), an alternate cyber-hand for Bratakin (but it fits Anakin, too) to make him resemble his Clone Wars self, an alternate forearm and hand (all one piece) for Anakin with the long black glove he had in Episode III, and a chain-cuff thing that I guess is for recreating the arena scene from Episode II. The robe, like all of the cloth robes in this scale, doesn't quite fit and looks odd when he wears it. Also, I could have sworn it was black both in the film and in the prototype pictures. Why it's brown here, I don't know. It's not offensive at least, just not great. I don't use it. Vader's helmet is...Vader's helmet. It fits loosely at first because of how it's packaged and I swore that I was going to lose it, because it kept falling off. However, after leaving it loose off of the figure for a few days, it fits much better now. It still falls off sometimes, but not nearly as frequently. The lightsaber hilts for the Anakins are identical and fit onto either of their belts and the blue blade fits into either one of them. If you want to get real picky, it's two of Anakin's saber from Episode II, when it should have included both that saber and his saber from Episode III, but I have spares so it doesn't bother me. Vader's saber we've seen before, as with the others, but it's worth noting that all three figures can hold their weapons very well. No fear of dropping them, here. The cyber-hand for Bratakin looks great and is a nice touch, since they didn't really need to include it. I'm glad that they did. Anakin's alternate gloved hand is great too and it's what I usually display him with. The chain is pretty useless though. Because the set came with so many extras, I feel that I have to give this category a perfect score, because even without most of this stuff, it still would have been a great set. The accessories are just icing on the Star Wars cake.

Fun Factor - ****
Whether this set is for your kids or the inner child that you might hide from your friends, this set is great and has hours of playtime (or pose-and-display time) ahead of it. These are some of the most fun Star Wars figures I've seen in years.

Value - ****
At around $20, this set is great. The articulation and sculpts are as good or better than the VOTC figures and those were over $10 each at some stores. Since you get three here, and more accessories than you can shake a lightsaber at, this is a pretty solid deal.

Overall - 
Bratakin: ***

Bratakin is a good figure with a great sculpt and paint ops. He's just a little hindered by his ankles, which keep him below his counterparts, since the exclusion of articulation just doesn't make sense, as the other Anakin has them.

Anakin: ***1/2

Easily the best Anakin we've gotten thus far. For some reason, I just can't give him a perfect score when I compare him to the Vader in this set, though. I can't place my finger on anything specific, it's just that the Vader is SO good.

Vader: ****

This is the best 3 3/4” Vader ever. Even if you don't like the prequels, buy this set for the Vader. I command you.

Until next time!

Where to Buy - 
If you're looking for anything Star Wars, Andrew's Toyz should be your first stop.  They have just about everything, including the Evolution sets and Battle Packs.

Figure from the collection of Matt Kayser.

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