19 Feb 2014

Sideshow Collectibles Darth Vader Deluxe exclusive version

Darth Vader is undoubtedly one of the most iconic villains in cinematic history. His entrance during the opening scene of Star Wars was pretty much his entrance into the subconscious of millions of fans around the world, where the sight and sound of him would be forever ingrained into our pop culture hungry brains.

No Star Wars collection is complete without a Darth Vader collectible of some sort. The character has been released so many times in so many forms, it's almost a given that a fan would have some incarnation already. Sideshow Collectibles had already released a 1/6th scale Vader figure a few years ago, which still holds up very well today. But times and toy technology move on, and it was time for Sideshow to up the ante again in the 1/6th scale arena. And if there was ever a Darth Vader collectible that is a must-have in any Star Wars collection, it is this new Darth Vader Deluxe package.

In this scale, Sideshow (and everyone else for that matter) have been in the shadow of Hot Toys in recent years. But with this new figure, Sideshow have shown that they can at least improve and keep up with the best in the business. The figure certainly doesn't match the amazing quality of the best from Hot Toys, but it's pretty damn close.

PACKAGING:
For this figure, the packaging is definitely one way in which Sideshow have tried to match the look, feel, and quality of Hot Toys. This is definitely the biggest box of any Sideshow figure I own, and it's needed to hold the numerous accessories. The outer cover has a nice matte black finish, embossed with the outline of Vader's iconic visage.




The back of the box has a great shot of the figure in his well-known "look into the distance" pose. It's shown with the Death Star window background, which would have been an incredible accessory to have, but unfortunately a backdrop diorama was not included.




Upon opening the shoe box styled package, there is another piece of great artwork on the cardboard insert, this time showcasing the alternate headsculpt accessories. This again is very much like how Hot Toys present their figures in the packaging, so it's definitely obvious Sideshow are following their lead.




ACCESSORIES:
Once you take everything out of the box, it's obvious this release is very deserving of the "Deluxe" moniker. The package is absolutely filled to the brim with accessories. The set comes with two stands that include red LED lightup features which give a nice red glow when turned on. One stand is the larger main stand for the figure itself, and the other a smaller stand on which to display the separate pieces of his helmet.

It should be noted that the separate head piece doesn't have to be used on the stand, and can be used when posing the figure with the unmasked headsculpt. The main mouth and face section of the separate helmet piece is very nicely detailed and painted. The unmasked headsculpt itself doesn't really seem to be an accurate representation of Sebastian Shaw from Return of the Jedi, but I'm not sure if that was the intent. It looks as though Sideshow tried to make the sculpt a combination of both Shaw and what an older Hayden Christensen might look like. Either way, it's done quite nicely, although the paint application is not of the lofty Hot Toys standard.




The figure also comes of course with Vader's lightsaber, both in the lit and unlit versions. Note that there is no actual light up feature in the saber, which is something I prefer as it's one less tiny electronic feature that can go wrong. Hot Toys went that route as well with the DX07 Luke Skywalker figure, and I think Sideshow made the right decision to follow suit here.

And then we get to the hands! There are more swap out hands here than most figures I've seen. From finger pointing, to hand waving, to fist pumping, to force chocking, whatever hand you could want is here! You'll have plenty of fun trying them out and thinking which scene from the movies to pose him in. The best thing about the hands is that Sideshow have included wrist pegs in each one, which is a huge bonus. A major gripe with Hot Toys figures is that each hand sculpt does not include a wrist peg, so you have to be extremely careful not to break the delicate wrist pegs. Spares are given, but it's nothing compared to having them inbuilt into each hand as they are here, so huge kudos to Sideshow for including that!

Note that for the Sideshow Exclusive version, the extra accessories included are the severed arm and hand from the final duel in Return of the Jedi. It's a nice touch, but probably not the best exclusive accessory they've done.

FIGURE:
Sideshow's first Vader figure from a few years ago apparently had issues with it being too tall, and the fandom weren't too impressed with supposed inaccuracies with the helmet. I love Star Wars, but not to the extent where I'll pour over the minute details on a 1/6th scale figure. With this new Vader, I'm pretty sure most collectors will be extremely impressed when its taken out of the box!

The body this time is slightly smaller than the previous Vader, correcting the height issue somewhat, but he still towers over most other figures such as the Hot Toys DX07 Luke or Sideshow's own Boba Fett figure. That to me is perfectly fine, and he certainly doesn't look oversized on display.

The helmet is a great representation of his iconic look, and the black shiny dome looks pretty great to me (despite some QC issues that I mention later in the review).  The cape and inner skirt are the other stand out feature, and are made of an extremely fine and delicate material. This allows the cape to perfectly drape over the shoulders, but still be able to be placed in strategic positions. It's so fine and soft in fact that I'd probably warn of making sure your fingernails are trimmed in case it catches on anything and you tear it.




The body suit itself is a nice leather-like material which covers the arms, body, and legs. The only issue is that it tends to bunch up around the crotch area, causing some unfortunate creases which can't really be straightened out. The suit around the legs tuck into the boots, which effectively push the suit back up into the crotch, so there's not much that can be done about it. But with a bit of futzing and creative posing or draping of the cape, it still looks perfectly fine.

The shoulder armour is nicely done, but is a little delicate so be careful where you press when swapping out the head. Articulation is pretty good, and isn't too hindered by the outfit apart from the ankles which don't really have much movement at all due to the hard boots. But apart from that, you can definitely get him into some decent dynamic poses.

The last major feature of the figure are the lightup features of the chest plate and belt. Out of the box, you'll need to use a screw driver to undo the battery compartments and pull out some plastic to allow the batteries to contact their electronics. The screws are rather tight, so this part of the unboxing can be rather frustrating, but go slow and carefully and you should be OK. Once done, the lights flash quite nicely and add another level of realism to the figure.

Swapping out the hands to get the pose you want is fairly straightforward. Straight out of the box you'll probably have to futz around with the chest plate, belt, inner skirt etc just to make him look as movie accurate and cool as he can be. But once all setup, he definitely has a huge presence in the display cabinet.




A big of angst:
I mentioned above that the helmet is a nice glossy black. There have been many reports of scratches and scuff marks on the helmet, and on closer inspection, I found some pretty obvious scratches on mine under the LED lighting. Apart from scratches, many people also had the silver tips of the mouth piece broken off, which is a shame since it really tarnishes the first impressions of the figure.




But with the usual excellent Sideshow customer service, I was sent a replacement helmet immediately and received it a few days later. Unfortunately, even though it was better than the first helmet that I've got pictured here, there were still some scuff marks since the helmet was scratched by the clamshell plastic in which it was housed!

So Sideshow have indicated that they will send out another replacement, and hopefully that one will be perfect. The QC issues with the helmet have been widespread enough such that Sideshow have run out of their initial stock of replacement parts, and are waiting on a new shipment of replacements. So people should be getting their parts in the next couple of weeks.




SUMMARY:
Darth Vader is one of the most iconic villains ever to grace the silver screen, and Sideshow really have done the character justice with this Deluxe release. The likeness, both quality and quantity of accessories, and special touches like the lightup features, all combine to make this a must-have for most collectors. This package really shows that Sideshow are pushing themselves to keep up with Hot Toys at the forefront of 1/6th scale collectibles.

I highly recommend it! If you're still looking to get it, click the link here - Sideshow Darth Vader Deluxe - to go directly to the Sideshow website with all the details to order.

Also, here's the link to the video review on the Kool Kollectibles youtube channel. I hope you can check it out, subscribe, like, and comment with your own thoughts! :)