20 Dec 2014

Review of Bandai Tamashii Nations Samurai Taisho Darth Vader

The excitement leading up to the release of Bandai Tamashii Nation's Samurai Taisho Darth Vader was palpable amongst hard core Star Wars fans. The designs based on the ancient Japanese culture aren't for everyone, but those that enjoy the history behind the inspiration of Star Wars really love the look.

Before the Vader figure was released, hype was whipped up with photos of the accompanying troopers at an Asian convention, that showed images of the Stormtrooper, Sandtrooper, Biker Scout, and an amazing Royal Guard. Displayed together in this unique style makes for one helluva beautiful Star Wars display!

I received my Vader a few days ago, and posted images of the box art and packaging here:

Bandai Samurai Darth Vader boxart

Beautifully packaged and all very collector friendly.

I've also done a full video review that you can view on the channel here. Hope you can check it out, subscribe, like, and comment with your thoughts on this great figure! For a detailed written overview of my thoughts, keep on reading further below :)



As soon as you take the figure out of the box, the incredible detail and paint application is immediately obvious, as is the build quality which I'll touch on a bit later. The sculpting is really amazing on this figure across all the various textures.

The helmet and face mask are the first standout features. It is great that the back of the helmet flares out nicely, but is molded in a softer plastic that actually has gaps between each level. This allows the material to bend and adjust as you articulate the head to look upwards and to the sides. Add to that the beautifully done purple and orange highlights, it makes for a stunning helmet.


Moving to the front of the helmet, the crest is a great touch and again is nicely painted in a rich gold that contrasts well with the black. In true Samurai style the mask is intended to be grotesque to generate fear in the enemy, and the little silver teeth lining the mouth piece are a great touch in that spirit. The purple and orange highlights continue to the chin piece, which together with the top and back of the helmet truly make for a unique take on Vader's visage.



If the detail on the helmet wasn't enough, the rest of the sculpting and paint application on the body armour really bring it home as to how well built this figure is. There's a lot of intricate detail that hopefully my photos below can show, and there's a lot of intricate paint detail to go with that.

There's great use of different shades of black, grey, and silver, with the use of bright colours like the blue and reds to bring out the detail in Vader's iconic chest plate. The kama around the waist is a separate piece over the figure to allow flexible articulation, and is also a very detailed piece.

The purple and orange highlights continue the theme down the kama, with the golden crests on each side too. At first you think it would really restrict the articulation, but it's relative soft plastic that moves very well with the figure, and the ball jointed hips have lots of room to move.


I thought that this little piece at the front of the waist was meant to the the sheath for the kitana saber, but I've been told it's actually a small dagger. The Samurai apparently carried this dagger as the last resort in close combat, or for use in seppuku (or ritual suicide). It's a nice little touch that adds a lot to the detail.

To cater for the unlit saber, there is a piece below the dagger that acts as a ledge. The unlit saber hilt then simply sits on that ledge, and it looks great if you want him posed with his hands free.


The excellent sculpting continues to the arms and legs too. The different styles to mimic different textures is really well done. And you'd think with this type of armour that articulation would be restricted, but in fact it's the opposite.

This figure is so well built that none of the joints felt too tight or loose, and all move freely and hold their pose. The shoulders can be lifted up to a very high angle, with the shoulder plate and upper arm armour not affecting it at all.

The double jointed elbows also allow a great range of motion, and the forearms can be tilted in slightly too. The hands swap out very easily with no feeling that I would snap the joint at all. And again, all the various hands are well sculpted and painted to fit in exactly with the figure.


The detail continue to amaze even down to the boots, with that unique Japanese stile. The upper legs are hard molded plastic to maintain that flared leg look, but the lower legs are a softer molded plastic that allows for rotation and bending at the double jointed knees.

The ankles don't have the nice ankle rocker articulation, but move up and down nicely and firmly. This is one bit of articulation I can forgive with all the other amazing features of the figure.


The saber hilts are beautifully sculpted too, and the paint app has no slop at all. The details are sharp and defined, unlike the Hasbro sabers of late. But I guess that is to be expected at this price point.

The blade is a nice translucent plastic that seems to change colour depending on the angle that light passes through it. So it can look blood red from some angles, and look almost clear in others. It's a great design, and together with a slight curve to the blade, makes for a beautiful rendition of a Samurai kitana.


The cape is molded fairly well, and is a soft plastic. I wondered if a fabric cape would have been a better choice, but I think it wouldn't have flowed over the figure well. The molded option allows for a nicely sculpt that includes folds and the tattered look at the bottom edges. This would have been lost with a fabric cape.

The cape also attaches to the body via a ball joint in the upper back area of the figure, so you can clip the cape in and have a little articulation to move it around slightly. Another nice touch.


Overall, this has to be one of my favourite Star Wars figures for 2014. It's almost fitting that I started out the year with the awesome Sideshow Collectibles Darth Vader, and now finish the year with this incredibly well-built and unique Samurai Darth Vader.

It's pretty much sold out at all Asian retailers, and most other retailers too. I think Big Bad Toy Store may have reopened their preorder listing for the figure, so if you're looking to get this figure and the troopers in this style, definitely jump on board now! The price of these is going to skyrocket very quickly! Follow the link below to check out the BBTS details:


I highly recommend this figure. We normally get so many versions of the regular Darth Vader and trooper figures. This unique take of the characters from the very source that inspired them truly brings a breath of fresh air to this scale of Star Wars figures! Don't miss out!! :)