Between battle damage, holograms and concept art, Hasbro went hog wild with Darth Vader figures for the 30th Anniversary Collection. You won’t hear this fan complaining. Darth Vader is the Saga. The two are inextricable. We’re rapidly approaching the 20th anniversary of the modern Star Wars line (how old do you feel now?) and in that time I’ve accumulated 578,996,204 Darth Vader action figures. And I want more. Despite the aforementioned three new takes on Darth Vader, Hasbro was virtually mandated to also release a core Darth Vader figure for this commemorative line. As we had just received a then definitive Episode V/VI Darth Vader in the Evolutions line, Hasbro did the wise thing and delivered the first ever super articulated take on an Episode IV based Darth Vader. Well technically the commemorative tin version this exact sculpt reached retail first, but since they’re both 30th Anniversary Collection products, lets call this a tie.
I don’t want to go into detail of the costume differences between the episodes for what feels like the one hundredth time here Banta Skull, so I’ll give the Cliff Notes version. The key differences are to the color of the lights and switches on the chest box, the stitching pattern of gloves and the placement of the inner robes relative to the upper chest and shoulder armor. Hasbro got the gloves and robes correct on this release, but tripped on the chest box. That green switch does not belong here. The root of this figure is the 2005 Evolutions Darth Vader with new tooling to make it episode correct. As mentioned above, that figure was considered definitive at the time, so that is a strong basis for this Episode IV Darth Vader. Since 2007, the increased use of ball jointed hips and wrists have relegated this mold to near definitive status. The Cadillac for an Episode IV Darth Vader is now the outstanding Vintage Collection offering. Still this figure very much has a place in your collection.
There are two aspects that make this figure unique. The first is actually considered a negative by many collectors myself included. Unlike the Vintage Collection offering, this 30th Anniversary Collection release has a removable helmet that reveals a younger Hayden Christensen likeness underneath. Removable helmets are never as aesthetically pleasing as a sculpted solid helmet. The one piece removable helmet on my sample never seals completely leaving a noticeable gap along the jaw line. Still if you want to imagine an unmasked Darth Vader in the early years after Revenge of the Sith, this gives you that option. The other item that makes this unique is that it includes the final physical reminder of Obi-Wan Kenobi after he sacrificed himself during the Death Star escape. The crumpled Jedi robes and fallen lightsaber hilt can serve as a base for the figure as it probes the vestments to see if Kenobi is still there. Vader probably wondered if old Ben had perfected Force miniaturization. It would have been a good trick. Due to the shallowness of the foot peg hole on the Evolutions sculpt, the figure never attaches to the robe base with a lot of conviction, but it will hold for your display. Despite the figure itself being thoroughly upgraded in the Vintage Collection, I feel the 30th Anniversary Collection version has place in your collection for what makes it unique and it earns a still viable 8 out of 10.