Darth Vader. You know him, you love him (well, unless you fear him). You’d be hard pressed to think of a more iconic villain in any book, TV or film series. And if you’re a toy or action figure collector, your Star Wars collection probably isn’t complete without one of his miniature likenesses.
For many years, Sideshow Collectibles has been the go-to provider for Star Wars action figures. Their only real competition has come from Hot Toys, and they didn’t even start making top-notch figures until The Force Awakens brought the series back with a bang.
In spite of Hot Toys’ creditable work, Sideshow hasn’t shown any sign of slipping or feeling intimidated. They just keep rolling along and delivering quality work. Which brings us to the subject of this review: Sideshow’s new Darth Vader figure. This new figure actually marks Sideshow’s second go at the iconic Sith Lord. Their first Darth Vader came out all the way back in the early 80s, when Return of the Jedi was the hot new Star Wars flick. Let’s take a look at both Darth Vader figures and see how the second manages to improve upon the first.
Sideshow’s Original Darth Vader
When Sideshow put out their first sixth-scale Darth Vader figure, it came in a tricked-out deluxe edition. You had the figure itself, of course, and you had his red lightsaber and a few hands. But on top of these, it included a helmet without the scary face mask as well as a cool base and a helmet display, both of which could light up.
It was good work overall, but it had its share of shortcomings. For one thing, Darth Vader felt a little slim when you picked him up and held him in your hand. He just seemed a little too scrawny to be truly menacing.
Also, the figure’s hands were decent enough, but particularly picky collectors could have felt that they were just a little bit off too. They didn’t always seem to match up with the Darth Vader you saw on the big screen (or the TV screen).
Of course, collectors probably couldn’t complain too much back in the day—again, Sideshow was the best game in town. Still, some folks might have secretly hoped for a little bit more.
Return of the Sith
Now let’s switch over to Sideshow’s new Darth Vader figure. He may not have all the first version’s trimmings and trappings, but the Padawan learner-turned-Imperial enforcer is a good deal more imposing this time around.
For starters, this Darth Vader’s body is suitably pumped-up. You really get the feeling that this guy could pound you to hamburger. Well, if he were life-size and not a miniature, anyway. And if he didn’t feeling like just using the Force to crush your larynx (not to mention chop you in half with his lightsaber).
Anyway, here’s the main point: The added bulk to the body is probably Darth Vader Mark II’s biggest improvement on Darth Vader Mark I. It gives the figure more of a presence and conveys the power of the Dark Side better.
In addition to the excellent work on the body, the tailoring on the new Darth Vader figure is impeccable. Granted, Vader isn’t exactly known for his flamboyant fashion sense—he’s got his black helmet, his black face mask, his black cape, his black leather gloves, his black armor and his black boots. All the same, Sideshow’s new figure nails Vader’s minimalistic menace quite nicely.
The chest and belt parts of the new Darth Vader figure are especially noteworthy. The figure has a battery pack on its back. Just reach under Vader’s cape and flip the little switch—you’ll see his chest and belt light up. This adds an extra bit of ominousness to Sideshow’s latest Vader.
The battery pack isn’t too noticeable either—the cape hides it really well. At the same time, you don’t need to manhandle the new Darth Vader figure too much if you’ve got it set up on display.
As for the lights themselves, they follow a relatively uncomplicated cycle. It’s nothing fancy, but most manufacturers don’t even think to add stuff like this to their sixth-scale Darth Vader figures. Besides, would it really make sense for Vader to light up like the Fourth of July? He’s on the Dark Side, after all.
The new Vader’s hands—all of which are sculpted from the cuff to the finger—match the proportions of his body better than the old Vader’s hands did. Gestures include fists, the accusatory you-are-part-of-the-Rebel-Alliance finger-point and (what else?) the Force-choke. The figure also has hands designed for holding Vader’s belt or lightsaber.
Last but not least, Sideshow’s latest Darth Vader figure comes with the classic bad-guy red lightsaber. Some collectors might find this one a little too pointy, but it’s still well-designed. The figure also comes with a switched-off lightsaber that attaches to the belt.
Bottom Line: The Force is Strong with this One
Even if you have Sideshow’s first Darth Vader figure, you’ll want their new one too. They’ve revamped it enough to justify the investment. You can buy it on Sideshow’s website for $229.99.