Hands-on With Hasbro’s “Hyperreal” Darth Vader Action Figure

Hands-on With Hasbro’s “Hyperreal” Darth Vader Action Figure

For toymakers, the impossible goal has been to make an action figure that is fully articulated but has no visible joints. Many a company has tried it, and most often it results in tacky, rotting rubber that gets sticky and attracts dirt. Another major difficulty with flexible material is that it really can’t be decorated. So for example, we saw a WWE line in this style where none of the wrestlers could have their signature tattoos. Hasbro‘s Hyperreal Star Wars line has many challenges to beat — which is probably why they sent the first figure, Darth Vader, to toy bloggers. We’ve seen and remember the lesser efforts. Can it meet our standards?

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It’s too early to absolutely know for sure, because seeing how the material holds up over time is key. But in every other aspect, this Darth Vader is superior to all the prior attempts at this kind of thing I’ve ever encountered. Often, skin-on-frame construction features clicky, ratcheting inner joints. This, however, has a metal inner skeleton that moves exactly where you position it with no resistance. That’s the first big innovation. The second is that they get around the color issue by only having his base bodysuit be made of the rubbery skin. Boots, capes, gloves, helmet, shoulder armor and chest panel are all add-ons in plastic that ranges from hard to flexible, as needed.

Many collectors won’t be happy about a whole new scale. Star Wars figures already come in at least three different sizes from Hasbro already. Plus larger versions from other companies. But the eight-inch scale is interesting in that it makes this the first Star Wars figure compatible with Mego-style retro figures. So if anyone wants their NECA retro horror icons to swing a lightsaber, here’s an official one in the right size.

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Vader includes multiple hands: pointing, fists, lightsaber grip, and open palm. The last one of these, on the right hand only, features a hole to plug in a large blast-deflection effect. Which may be in anticipation of a future Han Solo figure? This is Empire Strikes Back Vader, after all (no red eyes!), on part of a Bespin floor base which comes with a clip to attach future bases. The next announced figure, unsurprisingly, is Bespin Luke. Several holes on the base allow the collector to place foot pegs wherever. Three pegs come stored in clips on the underside of the base.

It’s difficult to tell exactly how much articulation is under the skin. But it’s enough to strike pretty much any Vader pose you can imagine. It’s not like the Sith Lord was a contortionist. Vader struck fear into opponents’ hearts by being able to do a whole lot with relatively simple and effective moves. He can kneel, he can grip the lightsaber double-handed or single, and he can look around. He can even shrug his shoulders, totally out of character though that is.

The packaging looks collector friendly but it isn’t, entirely. Even allowing for slicing through the circular bits of tape to open the box, the figure inside is held in with paper and plastic ties that need cutting. The cape is bunched back into a narrow spread. So it doesn’t naturally pose with a wide sweep out of the box. It may take a few practices to get it to drape over his shoulders.

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Care instructions are included, but they’re ridiculously simple. Dust the figure with a cloth. Don’t leave him in an over-extended poses. And you don’t have to put him on the base! Common sense stuff.

As to value — is he worth $80? NECA and Mego figures in this scale run $20-$40, but they rely on reuse of the same base body. Vader is an all-original sculpt with multiple accessories and a base. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hasbro does variants down the line just to save on costs. A removable helmet Vader, or red-eye New Hope Vader, say. But presuming that none of this can get recycled into other characters, and given that the skeleton has metal parts, it’s equivalent to Masterpiece Transformers of the same size in quality and price point.

Whether it holds up as long, we do not yet know. By the time Bespin Luke comes out, I’ll report back and let you know if Vader shows wear and tear yet.

Check out the full gallery below for a few more poses.