VOTC Darth Vader and Lando Calrissian
Sean Teeter is back with a review of not one but TWO VOTC figures - Darth
and Lando! What's the 411, you College Bum?
Between the recent Presidential debates and a well-deserved vacation Iíve been sidetracked from typing up any recent reviews. Tonight however, Iíve got some more Vintage-Style Star Wars figures for you to peruse.
At least in the Pacific Northwest, as well as with Amazon.com, Hasbro seems to be a little uneven in their VOTC figure distribution. The first three figures of the ANH wave hit at the same time, with Luke showing up later Ėquickly followed by a small influx of Yodas and Vaders from the ESB wave. Now the shelves around our local Targets and Fred Meyers are relatively bare, except for Obi-Wan and Han Solo overstock. Iíve yet to see Lando and C-3PO in any store. Looking at Amazon ĖTRUís online outletóevery figure except C-3PO has been listed at one point or another, including the ROTJ wave (although currently out of stock).
Tonight Iíve managed to snag two figures from the still elusive ESB wave.
Darth Vader obviously made his debut in A New Hope, but it was his appearance in the Empire Strikes Back that truly solidified his legendary status among movie villains. Not only did Vaderís suit get a slight overhaul, but he also fought face-to-face with our hero for the first time, leading to one hell of a plot bombshell after Luke had been severely beaten. This movie best defined Vader out of the original trilogy, and I can see why Hasbro chose to release Vader in this wave as opposed to the first one.
Lando is a no-brainer since ESB was his character debut. So far Iíve been really positive about the VOTC series. Many people were hoping for ďultimateĒ versions of these figures, and so far only Luke, Yoda, and Han have delivered. How do Vader and Lando compare?
Iíve pretty much covered this section in my previous vintage-styled reviews. These carded figures are simply the best packaging that Hasbro has ever done, and probably ever will.
Sculpting/Outfit - ***1/2
The VOTC figures are some of Hasbroís better sculpting efforts, but there are still enough flaws present in these two to hold them back from perfect scores.
This is definitely the best-looking, most movie accurate Lando when it comes to the body sculpt. The belt detail, the nice, clean cut to the pants, and the shirt wrinkles are friggní perfect. The real downer here is the head reuse. Except for a little retooling, this is virtually the same head as the Saga Skiff Guard Disguise figure. The likeness to Billy Dee Williams is decent, but could have been better.
The cape is an interesting affair. Instead a complete cloth cape and collar like on the POTJ figure, Hasbro terminated the cloth under a sculpted collar. While this looks a hell of a lot better, Hasbro also messed with cape design itself. The cut is triangular, and doesnít cover the shoulders like the source material. The hem job is very nice though, and the gold pattern on the inside is highly detailed. As with Luke, the peg holes are not as deep as the standard figures.
I will admit up front that I will probably be harder on Vader than any other figure in the VOTC line. Toy buyers have been clamoring for that ultimate version of Darth Vader for years and here was Hasbroís chance to deliver. They fell short.
What we did get isnít bad however and I will say that this is easily the best-looking Vader out there, although the figure from the Masters of the Dark Side two-pack (later repackaged as Death Star Clash Vader in the Saga line) is a close second.
The detail on the body suit is absolutely perfect down to the texture patterns and wrinkles. The boots and control boxes also look pretty accurate and are in proportion. The codpiece is sculpted separately like the Death Star Clash repack Vader, and allows for easy leg movement. The hands are probably the best part of this figure. The left is open wide enough to fit around Captain Antilles throat to recreate the opening sequences in ANH. The sculpt also allows for the scene in Bespin where Vader reaches out to Luke after defeating him. The right hand is sculpted to either mimic pointing or initiating the force choke depending and which angle you turn his wrist at. The cloth capes are very nicely done, but will require effort to look good on display. The inner cape is very nicely hung, but the outer cape is a tad wild. The thing is huge compared to the other cloth-caped Vaders out there and needs to be folded repeatedly to hold the desired shape. But it looks good and thatís the most important part.
The helmet is a serviceable job, but looks slightly off for some reason. I think it looks a little too narrow in comparison to the source material. Speaking of narrow, this Vader seems to be a little lanky. Donít get me wrong, I donít want a return to Steroid Vader from the POTF2 line, but Darth was bigger and broader than this. David Prowse is a big guy Ėheck heís a former body-builderóand he filled out Vaderís suit. In fact there are times during the duel sequence in ROTJ where you can tell when a double is wearing the suit, because Vaderís shoulders arenít as broad. I also donít like the silver chain around the neck. This little piece of string never lays flat and is just waiting to be ripped clean off.
Paint - Lando: *** Ĺ; Vader: *** for the average Joe, ** for sticklers
Landoís ops are basic, but clean. I canít find a single bleed point or paint rub on his whole being. The one weird spot has to do with his eyes. I canít tell if this is due more to the sculpt job or the paint application, but Lando looks like heís had one coffee too many. The eyes just look a little too big and staring.
Vader is basically all black, but the ops he has are clean. All the buttons and his belt buckle are nicely detailed and look fine, as does the tint to his eyes. However, this category separates the fanatics from the more casual enthusiast.
Vaderís paint job is inaccurate. If this is supposed to represent the ESB costume changes, the light tint to the eyes shouldnít be there. The mouthpiece is also missing the silver paint on the two lower protrusions.
The paint scheme for the various lights and buttons on his panels are not movie accurate either. Some spots on his belt are silver where thy need to be red, the blues on his chest box should be silver, and the upper red and blue buttons should be reversed (blue on top, red on bottom). The chest armor is not only inaccurate in color (dark gray instead of silver) but is also painted wrong in the middle. While this doesnít really bother me too much, I felt that it reflected Hasbro not paying close attention to source detail.
Articulation - ***3/4
These two were just a hair shy of receiving perfect scores in this category.
Lando has fourteen points of articulation: ball-jointed head, shoulders, knees, and ankles, as well as cuts at the waist, wrists, and elbows.
Needless to say this is one highly poseable figure. The cut elbows are a low blow after seeing the excellent ball-jointed ones on Han and Luke. I donít know why Hasbro took this step backwards. Ball-jointed hips also would have been nice, but the elbows are where itís at baby.
This is even more evident on Vader. You could argue that he only has twelve points of articulation, but upon closer inspection, the final count is really fourteen as well. He has a ball-jointed head, shoulders, and knees, along with cuts at the waist, elbows, and wrists. Below the knee joints are also boot-top swivels.
The ball-jointed head is the best surprise of this figure, just as the lack of ball-jointed elbows is the biggest disappointment. However the cuts allow for some straightened arm poses, and arenít as restricting as Landoís or
Obi-Wanís. The shoulder joints are really well designed and are almost hidden in the paint scheme. Best of all, Vader can mimic most of his key poses, including kneeling in front of the Emperor. Numerous fight poses are possible as well and while Iím slightly peeved about the whole elbow issue, Iíll still say that these two figures are top of the line for Hasbro in this category.
Accessories - Lando: **; Vader ** Ĺ
I had issues with most of the accessories in the ANH wave. All of Obi-Wanís and Hanís toys were repacks, and Leia came with an Imperial blaster as opposed to her sporting pistol. Yoda and Luke gave me hope, but now Iím worried again.
Lando comes with the same Imperial blaster as Leia. Youíll see the same gun again with the ROTJ wave
Stormtrooper. For a series that demands at least $10 a figure, packing the same single gun with three of them seems like a cheap move. Even though Lando never held any other gun in the movie, I would have preferred a Bespin styled pistol. The sculpt of the blaster is fine and much more accurate in size and detail than previous releases, but weíve seen it before Ėand weíll see it again. A removable cape would have been an easy accessory to do, but Hasbro left it permanently attached to Landoís collar.
Vader only needs one accessory: his lightsaber. Hasbro did something I wanted to see done with the Luke and Obi-Wan figures here: Vader get both an activated saber and a hilt that he can wear. Those of you who are absolute sticklers for detail are going to groan ĖVaderís hilt is attached the wrong way. Unlike Lukeís hilt, the ring is located near the emitter, not the butt, meaning that the saber hangs right-side up. Instead, the peg is located near the bottom of the saber, so that it hangs down like Lukeís. This was clearly a stylistic choice on Hasbroís part, since the peg would have really looked ridiculous at the top. The best part about the hilt is that the top is hollow. You can take the blade from the Bespin Duel Vader and easily insert it if necessary.
The ignited saber is made from a bendy plastic, causing the blade to curve slightly. The paint job is a mess as well, with heavy bleeding from the hilt to the blade. The accessory choice is fine here, I just felt Hasbro could have made the quality of these items a little better.
Durability - Lando: ***; Vader **
While Landoís pretty solid, Vader has some issues. The small chain around his neck is just waiting to rip on something. Also his elbow and wrist joints are kind of loose. Loose, hell, I just popped Vaderís left forearm out of itís joint!
Value - **
Most of the price is attached to the special packaging of this figure. For those who want to keep their figures on the card for display, the price isnít as bad, but for those of us who like to display them loose as well, the average pricing on these figures is pretty damn high compared to $4.99 for the basic line. I feel that if Hasbro had done a better job on the accessories, I could have easily bumped the score up.
So far the cheapest Iíve even seen this particular line going for is $9.99 in store. Look around at Targets and
TRUís. They might not show up for a little bit though due to Hasbroís horrible distribution.
Amazon.com is probably the cheapest and easiest way to go online. You can find the ESB and ROTJ waves at $10.99 apiece, but there are currently out of stock on most of them. Keep checking back.
Action-HQ is even worse at $24.95 each.
As always thereís also Ebay, who should be paying me a percentage for the amount of times Iíve shilled for them in the past.
Overall - ***1/2
What can I say? While I think these two figures are among the best ones ever produced by Hasbro, theyíre still a step backwards from the work done on Luke, Han, and Yoda.
Hasbro has the chance with this series to produce definitive versions of twelve characters, and so far theyíve been hit and miss in that respect. We wont need another ANH version of Han Solo or Luke Skywalker ever, and Yoda is pretty perfect except for his darkened skin tone.
Leia, Obi-Wan, Vader, and Lando could all use improvement however. From what Iíve heard over the net, the upcoming Chewbacca and Stormtrooper figures are the best, so weíll see what the end ratio will be.
Lando is almost there. A better head sculpt and ball-jointed elbows would have put him close to perfect, but Iíd also like to see the full cape on him.
Vader has so much going for him, that in the end itís a bit of a heartbreaker to see him fall short of a perfect score. The versatility of his hand sculpts, the multiple pose variation, and the cloth capes are all really excellent. He works well in numerous scene specific dioramas.
Vader is easily the most popular character of the entire trilogy. I know some will argue for Boba
Fett, but heís a fringe player compared to Darth. Hell, Vader oozes his evil coolness just by breathing! Hasbro could have really knocked one out of the park here, but they got sloppy. Source accuracy has become more and more important to collectors over the years, and to some extent, I think kids are more into it too. Of course, kids arenít going to argue over Vaderís paint job too much, but your harder fans of the trilogy will. Hasbro just shows theyíre not paying attention. While itís not such a big thing for me with the lights and buttons, I was a little miffed at the mistakes in color and misplacement on the chest armor.
Maybe Hasbro dulled it down to try and combine the ANH look in the armor with the ESB & ROTJ look. Still, I could have overlooked that in the end. The lack of ball-jointed elbows strikes again here, and this is a figure that really needed them. I will say that Hasbro did the best possible job that they could have with the cut joints, but the poseability could have been so much better. The lightsaber material and paintjob is also lacking in quality.
In the end I easily recommend both of these figures to Star Was collectors everywhere, but thereís still room for improvement.
Figure from the collection of