Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Not Quite The Ultimate Darth Vader, The Power Of The Jedi Dagobah Darth Vader Rocks!

The Good: Good sculpt, Decent features and accessory
The Bad: Balance and articulation issues
The Basics: A good sculpt and interesting concept, the lack of flexibility robs this Dagobah Darth Vader of perfection!

Star Wars toy collectors need another Darth Vader action figure the way they need another five holes in their heads. Darth Vader, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker have been so milked to death by the Kenner/Hasbro toy manufacturers that in order to impress collectors now, the Darth Vader has to be something truly amazing. So, when the Power Of The Jedi toy line produced the Darth Vader Dagobah figure, collectors had limited incentive to buy it. After all, unlike the overproduced Luke and Han figures, Darth Vader has one costume the entire series (at least in the original Trilogy. So, what makes the Dagobah Darth Vader special? Well, it's his spectral appearance and detaching head. And it would be perfect, were it not for the balance and articulation issues.

Usually, I just collect the 12" Star Wars bounty hunters but I recently acquired a lot of the 4" Star Wars toys and decided to review some of them. For those unfamiliar with the concept of the Dagobah Darth Vader figure, while training on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back (reviewed here!), Luke Skywalker sees an apparition of Darth Vader. Luke decapitates the spectral Vader and the face plate on the bionic Sith blows off to reveal Luke's own face! This figure, then, fills a very specific niche of collector who is happy to collect even the unreal Darth Vaders.

This 4" Darth Vader figure is pretty cool and it fully realizes the concept of this particular Darth Vader, which makes it impressive in its details. Unfortunately, the figure falls down (literally) when it comes to the balance and articulation of the toy.


Darth Vader in this form is an embodiment of fear that Luke Skywalker conjured up while training on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back. The figure stands 4 1/4" tall to the top of the helmet. Darth Vader is appropriately armored that there is no skin showing, which makes him inscrutable and a fearsome adversary. The figure is made of hard plastic and has stiff plastic capes, though the "skirt" cape is fairly flexible. All of the figure is cast in a translucent black plastic that gives it the appearance of a phantom. So when held up to light outside the package, light passes through all of Vader's capes, body, appendages and helmet - save the face plate.

This toy is a wonderful sculpt, looking precisely like the Sith Lord. Darth Vader is amazing in his coloring detail and the translucent plastic is a wonderful touch. The control panel on the figure's front is appropriately detailed, as is the face of Luke Skywalker that is visible under the helmet when the faceplate is removed (see Accessories). This is one of the best detailed and colored Darth Vader figures Hasbro ever produced.


Darth Vader, armored as he is, requires very few accessories, mostly because his purpose as a vision on Dagobah was mostly to get decapitated and disappear. As a result, this figure has a detachable plastic cape, a detachable head and faceplate and a lightsaber. The cape is translucent like the rest of the figure and it easily slides around the neck of the figure, which actually offers this Darth Vader a little additional support when it comes to standing up. It is stiff and supportive and is formed in such a way that inhibits some of the figure's arm motion backward.

As for the head, it is a rare thing to consider a figure's head an accessory, but in this case, it is a decent way to describe it. Dagobah Darth Vader's head pops off by pulling the head straight up. The "neck" then is a tab that otherwise hooks into the base body and keeps the head on. The faceplate with the beautifully detailed translucent red eyes of Darth Vader may then be carefully pulled off to reveal Luke Skywalker's face within the exploded helmet frame. The face is well-detailed and colored, including Luke's recognizable blue eyes. The faceplate has two pins which easily fit into the sockets in the helmet and keep the plate on for normal play. This is a great detail and truly defines the Dagobah Darth Vader.

Darth Vader, like a true Sith, comes with a lightsaber. This is a two and three-quarter inch plastic red lightsaber that is translucent like the one in the movie. It easily fits into either hand and is appropriately menacing.

As well, Darth Vader comes with a Jedi Force File, a little eight page magazine that unfolds with statistics about Darth Vader on Dagobah. It includes his enemies, strengths and pictures. This is a nice touch for collectors.


The four inch toy line was designed for play and the Dagobah Darth Vader is not bad in that regard. First, the head removal is great for play. As well, with the head and long cape on, this Darth Vader may easily be posed stable with the cape to support him if he falls back. This Darth Vader is blessed with ten points of articulation and that is something of a letdown for play enthusiasts or even those who pose the figures in dioramas. The figure has joints at the groin socket, wrists, biceps, shoulders, neck and waist. There is no articulation in the knees or ankles, presumably because the stiff "skirt" cape that descends from the waist is stiff plastic and would not allow posing with it. But Vader must either stand flatfooted and lurching or kick up like a Rockette and that is fairly ridiculous.

There are almost no limits to the arm's range of motion, despite not having articulated elbows or ball-and-socket shoulder joints. Still, Darth Vader can hold the lightsaber in a two-handed slashing position. Darth Vader can turn at the waist, which further increases his poseability. Sadly, though, this Darth Vader is poorly balanced! When posed in a flatfooted position, Vader lurches forward because of the way the skirt is formed around the legs. As a result, this Darth Vader is easy to knock over. Still, the wrist articulation is decent for playing, even if this is not the most stable toy for posed displays.


Darth Vader is part of the expanded saga Power Of The Jedi four-inch series, a series of Star Wars action figures that was fairly common. As a result, Darth Vader was pretty well available in the cases of this product and as a result is still widely available on the secondary market today. In other words, this Darth Vader is a poor investment and is more ideal for collectors and children who actually want an interesting Darth Vader to play with!


Darth Vader in this Dagobah variation is a well-considered action figure that has a good concept and a generally decent, but not perfect, execution. Most Star Wars toy fans will want one!

For other Power Of The Jedi figures from The Empire Strikes Back, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Bespin Escape Lando Calrissian
Bespin Capture Han Solo
FX-7Bespin Guard


For other toy reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

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

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