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Darth Vader (Battle Damage)

SW: The Force Unleashed
by yo go re

Since Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was all about Vader recruiting and training his secret apprentice, it makes sense that the assortment of Force Unleashed toys included a Vader as well.

A fierce battle with the newfound Rebel Alliance aboard the Death Star has pushed Darth Vader to the brink of defeat. Beaten and broken, the Dark Lord of the Sith is the closest he's come to death since Obi-Wan Kenobi defeated him on the burning shores of Mustafar.

One of the highpoints of the game is getting to kick the ever-loving crap out of Vader. Come on, who hasn't wanted to do that since he started choking security guards on Leia's ship? A couple of lethargic fights with Obi-Wan and Luke weren't enough: we deserved a full-on Darth Maul style beatdown, not just a few clumsy and half-hearted swings. And sure enough, Force Unleashed came through.

The gimmick of this figure is removable armor, to simulate the redheaded beating he takes in the game, so we'll start by reviewing the figure with all his accessories on: he's packaged with them separately in the tray, so you can see what you're getting, but since the stuff gets stripped off during the fight, it wouldn't make much sense to start there, would it? With everything in place, Vader stands a daunting 4¼" tall. Even fully "dressed," he's still pretty beat up, with sculpted damage to both the technological and textile portions of his suit, and holes in his softgoods cape. Patches of his skin show through the tears, and the knuckles on his prosthetic left hand are scraped. He didn't even look this rough after his brief fight with Palpatine.

The removable armor comprises four pieces: a sleeve, a boot, the helmet and a section of the chest plate. While the helmet and chest fit seamlessly, the boot leaves a section of leg and foot exposed, and the sleeve barely attaches to the figure at all, yet still manages to screw up one of the joints. That's not good. A low point among what are otherwise decent pieces.

With all the pieces removed, the bulk of the damage is on Vader's left side. His leg is exposed from the thigh down, giving us a glimpse of organic stump and how it connects to the mechanical replacement. The foot is too big to have ever fit inside one of Vader's boots, which has really annoyed some fans, but that seems like a minor complaint. The arm is similar, in that we see a bit of bicep, terminating where it's clamped into a prosthetic arm. The side of his chest and ribs are exposed, as is the top of his head: it's clear that he hasn't just removed the top of his helmet (like some Vaders can), but that it's been cut away; a single lens from the mask remains in place.

Like the foot that's too large for a boot, the remnant eyepiece doesn't actually line up with Anakin's eye level - it's above his eyebrow! Does he have to perpetually look upward to see anything? No surprise he's always in a bad mood. Go on, try it: look as far up as you can without titling your head back, and try to walk into the next room. Angry yet? Admit it, if you could choke someone with your mind right now, you would.

The battle damage hasn't really cost Vader any articulation. He has a swivel neck, waist, gloves and hips, and balljointed shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles. It's enough to have the figure cowering in lots of defensive poses, as he ineffectually holds his lightsaber in front of him in a vain attempt to protect himself from Galen's furious attack.

Darth Vader (Battle Damage) was originally released in 2008 with the other Force Unleashed figures, but was almost immediately re-released in the new Clone Wars packaging as part of a Build-A-Droid series, and keeps showing up there every few months with different droid pieces, so getting him won't be an issue. The attachable armor isn't the greatest example ever, but the toy is still fun, and there's never been a Vader like it before.

-- 05/17/09


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