Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Improved Upon Later, The Darth Vader With Removable Helmet Still Stands Tall!

The Good: Well-sculpted, Decent detailing, Great concept
The Bad: Less articulate than later versions
The Basics: Despite a slight lack of articulation, the Darth Vader with removable helmet realistically captures the final moments of Darth Vader in an action figure!

There is, arguably, no more iconic and recognizable character in the Star Wars Sextet than Darth Vader. However, as far as merchandising goes, there are fewer characters from the original Star Wars Trilogy with which less could be done. There are so few permutations to Darth Vader: he either has his helmet on or off. The differences on screen between the A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back Darth Vader costumes are virtually impossible to translate meaningfully into a 4" action figure. So, when Kenner made the Power Of The Force Darth Vader with removable helmet action figure, they were pretty much doing all they could that remained of the villainous character. Even so, this is a pretty impressive sculpt of the character and the only real improvements that come to future versions of it come from greater articulation.

Darth Vader, of course, is the armored, cyborg villain of the original Star Wars Trilogy. At the climax of Return Of The Jedi (reviewed here!), Luke Skywalker takes his battered body and removes Darth Vader's helmet in order to let him die more of a man than a machine. The Power Of The Force Darth Vader with removable helmet captures that moment well which a human head which may be covered by the helmet accessory. Those who have only seen the DVD version of the film, though, might be surprised to discover that Hayden Christensen was not the original face behind the mask! This figure captures the Sebasian Shaw Darth Vader!

Even so, the 4" Darth Vader figure is a slight disappointment in that it is not nearly as articulated as later versions of the same concept figure. Still, because this one is so easy to find, it makes it very easy to recommend.


The Darth Vader is the buff, black-clad servant of the Emperor. The figure stands a full 4" tall to the top of his head, and only a few millimeters shorter when the helmet is off. This version of Darth Vader has a significant amount of surface details and coloring details, from the reds and blues of the chest panel to the green lights painted onto his belt (very subtle in the film!). Even the helmet has the slight silver accents to the nose that the actual character had. As well, it has both the full cape (from the shoulders) and the waist-length cape (like a skirt).

This toy is a decent sculpt, looking precisely like the villain and with the helmet off there is a surprising amount of detail. The face looks like the withered head we saw at the end of The Return Of The Jedi, including the facial scars and dead eyes. The breathing apparatus of the character is also evident and this is a wonderful amount of detail included for a figure only true fans would be hunting down. This is one of the best Darth Vader figures Kenner (and Hasbro) ever did . . . until Hasbro did it even better later on!

A neat little feature of this Darth Vader is that it includes a removable right hand as well! Fans of The Return Of The Jedi might recall that Luke lops Vader's hand off, which causes the Sith lord to collapse. The figure may lose his lightsaber-wielding hand by simply tugging at the wrist!


The Darth Vader figure comes with two accessories and a Freeze Frame action slide. The figure comes with the removable helmet and a lightsaber in addition to the slide. The helmet is a 1/2" tall hallow replica of Darth Vader's helmet which slides neatly over the human head of the figure in order to create the non-dying version of the character.

Darth Vader, now a Sith, comes with a lightsaber - which, unlike Anakin, he never seems to lose. This is a two and three-quarter inch plastic red lightsaber that is translucent like the one in the movie. It easily fits into Vader's right hand only as the left hand is molded in a motion Vader makes when doing his Force choke.

As part of the Power Of The Force toy line, Darth Vader comes with a Freeze Frame slide as well. The Freeze Frame slide features an image with Darth Vader on it, with his helmet off, looking at Luke Skywalker. The reference will make fans appreciate the quality of the figure even more!


The four inch toy line was designed for play and Darth Vader is decent in that regard. The figure is poorly articulated, but could be better (and later was). On the plus side, the figure has excellent balance. Flatfooted, Darth Vader does not tip over and he has peg holes for both feet to keep him solid on playsets.

Darth Vader is fairly low on articulation, though he is better than most of the Kenner figures in this regard. The Darth Vader figure has eight points of articulation, all of which are simple swivel joints, at the shoulders, groin socket, neck, right elbow, right wrist and waist. The legs have a ridiculously low range of motion due to Darth Vader's "skirt." That lower cape may make the figure virtually untippable, but it also makes it impossible to sit the figure down or do dramatic leg poses.


Darth Vader is part of the Power Of The Force four-inch series, a series of Star Wars action figures that was incredibly common. While most figures were incredibly overproduced, Darth Vader was harder to find, possibly because it was so popular. As the only figure at the time that had Darth Vader without his helmet, this made for an intriguing figure. Even though there is a newer casting of the same concept figure, this one has never deflated in prices back to its original issue price, so it seems like a solid investment for those who might find it cheap.


Despite the articulation problems, this is too cool of a figure to not enthusiastically recommend to Star Wars fans. The idea is cool, the execution is fairly impressive, and one does not need a super-articulated Darth Vader anyway.

For other "Power Of The Force" figures, please check out my reviews of:
Nien Nunb


For other toy reviews, please be sure to visit my Toy Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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