Even if you’re not a Star Wars, fan chances are good you know who Darth Vader is. He is one of the most iconic villains of all time which makes him a must have in figure form. Unsurprisingly, there are actually a few high quality options including Mafex and Star Wars Black. While I will only be taking a look at the Bandai figure in this review, we will closely examine whether this figure lives up to Darth Vader’s status and is a good figure for Star Wars fans.
Pricing and Packaging – At the time of writing, Darth Vader is pushing the $70-$80 price range online which is high for Star Wars Bandai figures. However, according to several Japanese sites I saw, there are more coming. This is great news for those thinking about picking up Vader in the near future and should lower the price as soon as they are released.
The window box is wider than the previous Star Wars figures I have reviewed and the cover is more shiny as well. Darth Vader doesn’t look particularly good behind all of the packaging but thankfully, the actual figure looks great once you break him out of his plastic prison.
Pre-Order Extra – If you’re lucky enough to find an early version of this figure, Darth Vader actually come with a display stand so that you could create a scene where he and Luke fight in Return of the Jedi. The stand on its own goes for around $100 on Ebay brand new and will be very difficult to track down for anyone who wants it. It would be cool if Bandai did some more display options like this in the future though that seems unlikely considering they only did it for the first release in this figure line.
Accessories – When you open the packaging, you might initially be underwhelmed by what you see. Darth Vader comes with an ignited lightsaber and one he can hold. The details on the lightsaber hilt look awesome and accurate to the movies. In some pictures in this review, the lightsaber blade may look a little pink because of all the lighting I use but in person it looks nice and red. Vader also comes with an arm where the hand has been cut off as well as a pair of force-wielding hands, a pair of gripping hands, and a pair of fisted hands. What is unusual and took me a while to figure out is that one of each hand comes with a ball peg already inserted inside. I foolishly thought the ball pegs should come out and stay in the figure as is normal for S.H. Figuarts Star Wars figures, but actually the peg is supposed to stay in the hand and pop out each time you swap hands. Other than that, the hands all work well and surprisingly make Darth Vader an expressive figure which is quite an accomplishment when you consider he is wearing a mask and armor..
It is worth noting that Darth Vader does have a swappable head even though it doesn’t come with this figure. When Luke pulls off his mask at the end of Return of the Jedi and you see his scarred and pale face, that head actually comes with the Return of the Jedi Luke. So if you buy that figure, you can replicate some of the final scenes in the movie.
Torso – Before I decided to get this figure, I checked out reviews on all of the different Darth Vaders and one of the common criticisms of this figure is that Vader is a little short (he doesn’t tower of the Luke Skywalker figure like some fans wanted) and his torso looks a little short or undersized compared to other figures. Even when you have this figure on its own, it is just a little noticeable and you have to be careful not to expose the gap between the belt and his mechanical buttons on his chest when posing. This is one of the few areas where this figure falls a little short and I wonder if one day Bandai might go back and create an improved version of this figure.
Cape and Articulation – Something that sets this figure apart from other Darth Vader figures is that Bandai’s version of Vader has a plastic cape instead of cloth. Having messed around with this figure quite a bit, I can honestly see some advantages to a cloth cape. The plastic one is kind of heavy and it can make certain positions harder to achieve because it is weighing the figure down in the back. The cape also doesn’t have that much flexibility and can only be moved from left to right as you’re posing the figure. Ultimately, I don’t dislike the plastic cape but I do think it might annoy some people who want a Darth Vader figure. If you think that might be you then you might consider getting the Mafex or Star Wars Black version to avoid the plastic cape.
As far as actually posing the figure goes, I was surprised by how many different poses I could achieve with Vader. If you think about the original Star Wars movies, he doesn’t really move around that much and isn’t a dynamic character. This made it hard to find good pictures to reference and try to recreate. Instead, I used my own creativity here and the only pose that let me down is the one below where he has his hands on his belt. This is one way you see Darth Vader stand and it looks too stiff and unnatural to be convincing. Other than that though, I was really happy with this figure and had a great time playing with it.
Closing Thoughts –While Darth Vader has less exciting accessories than some of the other Star Wars S.H. Figuarts figures, it is still well-made and versatile. Vader is one character that every Star Wars fan wants so this figure is a no-brainer in that sense. However, the plastic cape and short torso are factors you should certainly consider if you’re not married to this figure line because there are other options out there. I am committed to S.H. Figuarts because I love every figure I’ve purchased and don’t regret getting Darth Vader and paying quite a high price to get him but I encourage you to follow your gut and do what is best for you. I hope that this review helps you better understand the advantages and disadvantages of this figure so you can make an informed buying decision and get a Darth Vader figure that you will enjoy.