What’s up, everybody!? It’s DrunkWooky back with another Action Figure Review! Today, I’m taking a look at the new Hasbro Star Wars Black Series HyperReal Darth Vader. Darth comes to just above 8″ and retails for around $80.00 depending on where you buy him. He’s available for order from the following fine retailers:
In general, I do like this figure, but I think the price is a little steep for what it is. Darth Vader, though iconic as a villain, was a strange choice as the first release from this line. Based on my understanding of the new HyperReal line, it’s supposed to provide similar articulation to the Black Series without the exposed joints. While that’s a laudable goal, Darth Vader, a bulky, armor-clad, half-machine man, is probably not the best character to show this off. Where the articulation could really shine, it’s limited by his armor and costume. There are also some quality control issues that really should be paid attention to on an $80 figure. It pains me to point out these failings as a life-long Star Wars fan, but I have to be objective. This figure isn’t bad, just not as good as it could be.
Hopefully, Hasbro irons out the wrinkles on this figure line for the HyperReal Bespin Luke release and they get off an running because I am a fan of what this line is trying to accomplish. Bespin Luke is available for pre-order for a May 2020 delivery from the following retailers:
Some of the strange choices start with the packaging. The box is a rhombus shaped a bit like something from a gymnastics studio. There is a nice big window for Darth, however it’s half concealed by the cardboard flap. Opening the flap gives you a bigger window, but any decent look at Vader is obscured by the plastic tray and angle of the window corner. The extra hands are all laid out nicely for you to see on the opposite flap. This box isn’t very display friendly for the mint in box collector, however.
Then, for the out-of-box collector, the tape becomes an issue. To get both Darth and his hands and laser blast effect out of the box, you need to either carefully remove or cut at least five pieces of tape or adhesive closures. Packing Darth’s extra hands in a separate cardboard flap essentially added 33% more risk of package damage. It is possible to remove Darth without damaging the packaging, but it will be a long, frustrating road.
I’ll be referring to the image of the HyperReal endoskeleton from Toyfair above throughout this articulation section. The image above came from toyark.com.
Darth’s inner skeletal structure is covered in a rubbery sort of plastic which provides both the main sculpt for his body and a sort of guiding/limiting factor for the articulation.
The neck has a ball joint at the top and another joint at the bottom of the post where it attaches to the torso. I can’t tell whether it is a ball joint or just a swivel, but either way that bottom joint mostly provides a slight forward and back rock to Darth’s head.
Darth’s shoulders are a ball at the torso attachment and a swivel at the arm attachment. He has single jointed elbows, but that is surprisingly less limiting than you’d think. His wrists are a single ball joint that attaches into his interchangeable hands.
The metal ball joint on the wrist alleviates any concern you may have about breaking a peg like some other figures out there, but it does come with a trade-off. Because the metal ball joint gives far less than a plastic ball joint, pushing the interchangeable hands onto the wrist is a pretty extended struggle each time. Although, I haven’t actually done it, I think breaking a hand is more likely than breaking a wrist peg just because of how hard you have to push the hand on.
The double-ball jointed waist provides some ab crunch and swivel, if limited by Darth’s tunic, chest-plate, and body suit.
He has double-ball-jointed hips, single swivel-jointed knees, and a single ball joint on each ankle.
One of the reasons I say Darth is a strange choice to premier this HyperReal line is because all of the neck articulation is hidden or limited by Darth’s helmet. Hopefully the Bespin Luke figure can show off this feature a little better, but all of Darth’s head articulation is mostly limited to small amounts of tilt. His head can do a full 360 degree swivel, but the backward and forward rocking permitted by the bottom ball joint of the neck is completely limited by the helmet. Rocking Darth’s head forward does help sell the kneeling pose shown below, but the kneeling pose has other issues to contend with.
Darth’s shoulders can life surprisingly high. That’s because his shoulder armor is attached to the chest through small pieces of fabric underneath. Although it looks strange in the picture above, it’s nice to get that amount of swing from a figure depicting such a vicious swordsman.
The single-swivel elbow and knee aren’t limiting at all. That’s because the rubbery outer suit squishes and moves away from the joint as it bends, giving you well beyond 90 degrees of bend.
Finally, the ankle is somewhat limited by the shin armor as it bends up in front.
Darth can (sort of) pull off the iconic kneeling pose, but it only really looks right when viewed from his left. This is a little disappointing because the packaging clearly shows a digital Darth kneeling to show off the endoskeleton’s capabilities. Maybe I didn’t pull his right hip to the side enough of push his left leg back enough, but this is about as good as I could accomplish.
When it comes to other poses, however, Darth can show some mean attitude! I wouldn’t say the articulation is better or worse than the normal 6″ Black Series Darth, but it’s about on par with him. Most of the limitations Darth has in articulation come from his armor which is nothing new for a Darth Vader figure. Therefore, I’m not going to knock the HyperReal line itself for this. I would deduct “points” for the lack of a decent kneeling pose, though. If it’s on the box, make sure the figure can do it well. Having said that, Darth’s kneeling capability is a touch better than the 6″ Black Series, so that’s a step in the right direction.
Darth Vader is a deceivingly simple character design that is really easy for figure companies to get wrong. Having said that, Hasbro have had a lot of practice at this and they have nailed the most important parts of the sculpt here. The helmet looks in proportion to both the body and with itself. Sometimes a Vader helmet can come off as too snooty or too snub-nosed, but this one is right in that middle sweet spot in terms of length. There may be some debate about the width of the bottom of his respirator traingle and the width of his cheeks, but I think they look fine. Now that I’ve pointed it out, you probably noticed for the first time too and are taking a little bit of an issue with it.
The body suit imitates that textured leather of the original costume probably better than anything else I’ve come across on the 6″ scale. The only figure outclassing this body suit is probably some of the Hot Toys or Sideshow 1/6 scale offerings. The reason it puts on such a good show is because it really is a rubbery, textured material, not hard plastic molded to look that way. The best way I can describe it is like memory foam or a stress ball. When you push it, it moves away from the pressure, but reverts back to its form when a rest.
The shoulder armor seems spot on and so does the chest plate. If anything, I wish the chest plate included LED lights at this price point.
Darth’s cod piece might be slightly too large, but otherwise sculpted well and his shin guards and boots look the part.
My one final gripe is that some of the interchangeable hands are where this figure looks a lot like a “toy”. Especially in the fists, I wish there were more delineation between the fingers to give more of an impression that these weren’t shiny molder pieces of plastic. Other than that, sculpting is probably where this figure earns the highest marks.
As usual with Darth, accessories are not his strong suit. He’s more the spartan, simple, all-black type of man. Having said that, Hasbro pulled out what they could to add some value here. He has nine interchangeable hands. Five right; four left. He has a pair of balled fists, a pair of index-pointing hands, a pair of lightsaber-wielding hands, two different gesturing hands, and a hand deflecting Han’s blaster bolt.
Speaking of that blaster bolt, a deflection effect also comes with the figure. It attaches to the deflection hand through a peg in the palm of the hand. If not entirely convincing, it’s a nice addition.
Darth also comes with a base. However, he doesn’t attach through a peg or any other short of apparatus. This is just set dressing. Bespin Luke looks like he’s being solicited with one as well. These might connect, however, I’m not seeing how at this point.
Finally, Darth of course comes with his lightsaber. The hilt of my saber came a little bent or warped which was disappointing. The blade of the lightsaber is also a little wide making it look stocky. It;s not an issue of the saber being too short. It’s just a little wide and doesn’t quite look right. The hilt of the saber hangs gingerly from a hook on Darth’s belt, but that hook is a soft plastic like his 6″ counterpart. This leads to a hilt that can be knocked off the belt relatively easily when re-positioning. The lightsaber is another element that could have done with a simple LED to make this figure more worthy of the price point.
The paint on Darth is limited, as always, to mostly silvers and matte blacks. What is there on his body is well-applied and free from smudges or painting outside the lines. With the added 2″ of scale, finer detail was possible here. The lightsaber does have some ham-fisted paint application, however. Splotchiness and lack of accuracy abound on the hilt unfortunately.
The soft goods hang nicely with a good amount of weight and their opaque enough to fit Darth’s menacing persona. The stitching on the outer edge of the cape is a little too big and does kind of take you out of the scale, but that’s a minor nit-pick. What I really wish is that the cap came with a wire inside to pose it. At this price point, that should be possible.
It really breaks my heart to say it, but this figure probably doesn’t deserve its $80 price tag. While I understand the engineering that went into the endoskeleton must have cost some R&D overhead, the benefits don’t outweigh some of the drawbacks to this figure. Hasbro is trying to convince collectors old and new to jump onto a brand new scale with a price point higher than they have ever asked for a single figure before. In order to justify it, this figure needed to have more bells and whistles like some LEDs, a posing wire in the cape, and some other perks. As it stands, collectors could save a couple extra bucks above the retail price here and buy a Deluxe Sideshow Darth Vader 1/6 Scale Figure and have all of that plus an interchangeable head sculpt, lighted display base, and helmet stand. This figure needs to not only compete with what is currently being produced, but what is also still out there on the secondary market.
As I said before, Darth Vader is also a strange figure to show off an articulation-centric newly engineered endoskeleton. A more nimble character with less armor in the way would have represented the goal of the line much better. Take Darth Maul for example. Maybe less iconic and universally loved, but definitely more nimble than half-machine Vader.
I have hope for the HyperReal line. I’ll take a look at Bespin Luke to see if they iron out the wrinkles, but this is not the strongest start imaginable.
For now, enjoy the gallery below and check out these pre-order links if you want to check out HyperReal Vader for yourself: