500th Edition Darth Vader

Our own College Bum, Sean Teeter is back tonight with a great review of a great figure - the 500th Edition Darth Vader.  Take it away, Sean!

Hasbro’s been feeling the love for Darth Vader these days. While there’s certainly a wide variety of Vader figures to choose from in the Hasbro line, under the Episode III series there has been special attention paid to the character –especially in the evolution of the Sith Lord from Jedi Anakin Skywalker.

In other words, it’s certainly no surprise that Hasbro chose Vader as their showcase 500th figure release. For their presentation, Hasbro went with Vader in his meditation chamber from The Empire Strikes Back. This was an excellent idea since we haven’t had a true meditation chamber since the Star Destroyer set in the vintage line.

In the past year there have been three specially marketed figures of the Dark Lord: the VOTC Vader, the Evolutions Vader, and the 500th figure Vader. All of these are above and beyond Hasbro’s regular releases –but there can be only one.

So the main question is –does this version of the Dark Lord outshine the other two contenders? 

Packaging - ****
The special packaging on this figure is probably one of the simplest; most well-done I’ve seen from Hasbro in a while. The chamber is wire-tied to a trapezoidal cardboard base with the Imperial insignia and the 500th figure label in front. A hard clear plastic shell with the top of the meditation chamber painted on the outside covers the set. A slot in the back still allows MIB’ers to still play with the helmet crane. This is a pretty sturdy set and it’ll take some abuse without showing it.

Sculpting - ****
I have to say that this figure looks better than the VOTC version. The detailing in the suit is much finer –as opposed to some of the rough areas on the vintage-styled Vader. The belt, chest plate, and shoulder armor are all perfectly rendered down to the last lines and buttons.

The lower robes are cloth, which work out okay. The cod piece is separately sculpted just like the VOTC figure, but might tear off due to excessive stress from constantly reposing the figure in sitting and standing positions. Choose one position and leave him that way to avoid this. His legs are also spaced kind of wide to accommodate his sitting pose, but it’s not too awkward when standing. The peg holes in his feet are extra big to accommodate the pegs in front of his seat. In other words, he doesn’t work too well with regular figure stands.

The real highlight here is the head sculpt. The detailing on the inner helmet and back collar are excellent and match up to the source material very well. This is easily one of Hasbro’s most impressive head sculpts to date. 

Paint - ***1/2
Since Vader’s almost all one color, there isn’t too much to muck up here. All his buttons are painted correctly (unlike either the VOTC or Evolutions versions), his silver ops match the ESB armor, and the uncovered sections of his helmet mimic the ROTJ shots at the end of the movie quite well. There’s some black bleeding onto the back of his head, but it’s not too bad. 

Articulation - ***1/2
The VOTC and Evolutions Vaders were designed to look good and pose well. Here, Hasbro concentrated more on the 500th figure’s looks as opposed to versatility. Lord Vader has fourteen points of articulation: cuts at the neck, shoulders, elbows, forearms, waist, hips, and boot tops, as well as ball-jointed knees.

While he can certainly affect a fighting pose or two, the lack of ball joints at the shoulders and elbows really limits his action poses. Of course, he’s meant to sit in his chair and look menacing –which he does well. The cut joints at the shoulders blend in better with the armor sculpt, so I can see why Hasbro went this way –especially with a figure who’ll probably going to be cape-less most of the time.

Durability - **1/2
The quality’s pretty high all around, but I don’t think Vader’s crotch plate is going to survive too many ups and downs at the seam. Also the elbow and wrist joints come apart a bit too easily.

Accessories - ***1/2
Vader comes with an alternate right hand, a removable outer helmet, his light saber, a removable cape, and his meditation chamber.

The light saber is basically the same one from the VOTC Vader without the drooping plastic blade. The paint ops around the tip of the hilt are sloppy and bleed onto the clear red plastic. The extra right hand is also from the VOTC figure as well. The cape appears very similar, with the difference being its removable nature. There’s an elastic strap at the neck as well as the ridiculous silver string found on the recent Vader figures. The cloth seems a bit thin, but with some folding it will hang pretty well. I do like the removable option since Vader’s never shown wearing the cape in his chamber.

The outer helmet is nicely done, but it only sits on Vader’s head. There should be some sort of way to snap it on as it can be dislodged pretty easily.

The meditation chamber is the obvious highlight here, and the main draw of this set. The small details are excellent –from the tubing on the floor to the Imperial insignia stamped on the cushion of Vader’s seat. The crane works pretty well. It raises, lowers, and has two swivel points: one at the helmet clamp and one at the main body. The main body swivel point is a bit tight, so be gentle when turning it.

I only have two complaints, and one of them is pretty minor. The chamber is smaller in scale than the film basis –there are less wall panels, and barely any room inside. I can forgive this easily, since it’s being marketed as a figure accessory as opposed to a play set. However, what I really wanted was a proper top as opposed to the clear plastic packaging cover. In the end though, I’m pretty pleased with this set and I’ve been waiting for a meditation chamber for a while. Thanks Hasbro. 

Value - ***
I paid $14.99 for this figure at Target and feel I got a decent deal. He certainly stands out from the other Vader’s while parked in his chair, and has a decent assortment of accessories to boot. Some places are charging $20 for this guy; I think that’s a bit steep. If you can find him in the $15 to $17 range, you should be doing fine. You can find him for those prices at TRU, Target, and Walmart, K.B. and K-Mart.

Overall - ***1/2
So in the end, how does this figure fare in the search for the Uber-Vader? Well I have to say that he’s only second best. Despite having better articulation, I feel that the VOTC Vader just doesn’t look as nice or have as much going for it as this figure does. This figure looks a heck of a lot better in design and execution than the VOTC one. 

However, the Evolutions figure still ranks as the best 3 ¾” Darth Vader out there. In the end, if you’re buying only one Vader –get the Evolutions set. If you want two, get this one as well. The unique helmet sculpt and design are almost worth it alone, but the addition of the meditation chamber surely makes this guy a must buy for Star Wars collectors. This figure does beat the other two in the paint department hands down however. This is the only Vader out of the top three contenders with a complete film accurate paint job. Also the application is easily the cleanest out of all three as well. If you’re a Vader fan, you’ll have all three of these guys already, so I guess I don’t need to really make an argument for one over another. 

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ****
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ***1/2
Value - ***
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy - 
Check out Andrew's Toyz for just about any and all Star Wars figures!

Figure from the collection of Sean Teeter.

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour