Star Wars Transformers Toy REviews: Darth Vader (TIE Advanced)

in 2005, Action Figure Review, Star Wars Transformers

Star Wars Transformers

General Information:
Release Year: December 2005
Retailer: General US (Toys R Us, Target etc.)
Price: $15.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Accessories: Red Lightsaber/missiles x 2, Darth Vader mini-figure


Tech Specs:
As a sinister Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader is on a mission to crush the Rebellion and bring young Luke Skywalker before the Emperor. Using hte power of the dark side, Vader changes into his Advanced TIE Fighter mode and combs the galaxy for Skywalker, destroying all Rebel ships, pirate fleets and asteroids that get in his way.

Strength: 10  Intelligence: 10  Speed:Endurance: 10
Rank: 10  Courage: 9  Force Knowledge: 10

Darth Vader is not just a popular villain in the Star Wars saga, he is one of the most iconic villains in Hollywood history. This, coupled with the emphasis on the character with last year's release of Star Wars Episode III made him an ideal choice for being one of the first wave of Star Wars Transformers.

Each of the first wave Star Wars Transformers were given write ups on The Official Star Wars web site, Vader's read as follows: Darth Vader could give Megatron a run for his Energon when it comes to evil leadership, and he isn't likely to stomach dissention in his ranks -- Starscream would likely find himself the victim of a throat-crunching Force throttle. This mecha-fied Dark Lord transforms into his TIE Advanced x1 starfighter mode, and comes equipped with two lightsaber missiles that really fire.

The mini-figure of Darth Vader included with the vehicle is a nicely sculpted piece of work. So much of Vader is made up of his cape and cloak that a lot of flowing lines are used in the sculpt. The detail does not stop there however. His head has the round eyes and triangular mouth piece. The arms have some wrinkling details sculpted in to replicate the look of his leather outer garments. The chest has the familiar computer panel and the belst is sculpted as well. Color-wise Vader is fairly simple, with silver and red used for the chest panel and silver used on the belt. The figure bends at the waist and the arms can move up and down. This is a tiny version of the Sith Lord.

Vehicle Mode:
Darth Vader's TIE fighter is a larger version of the ones first seen in Star Wars Episode IV. The central section has extra machinery in the back and the side panels are longer and angled on the top and bottom. The TIE Advanced was the perfect choice for Vader's transform.

When I first saw this vehicle, I was impressed by how much detail work was put into it. I had semi-expected the transformation aspect of the toy to subtract from the details sculpted into the vehicle. From the front to the back, the designers did not skimp. The front cockpit section is round with the spoke shaped window. The are around it has layers of detail including cut lines, rectangles, quarter circles and more. The back engine section has line details and small tech details sculpted on the top, especially down in the middle. Each of the wings on the sides have the small grid details on the insides with the proper frame details on the outer sections. Even better, the insides of the wings have tech details such as tubes and vents.

The inside of the vehicle is also detailed. Inside is a piece sculpted like a chair on the back. To the sides are details that look like control panels.

The only detail that involves a bit of creative licensing is the location where the Lightsabers are stored. These stow away underneath the struts that connect the wings to the cockpit. In this form they act as missiles. Press the small buttons on the sides and the Lightsabers launch. This does work out visually as they are not very obtrusive, and even when you do see them you could see them as exhaust trails from the engines.

Color-wise the TIE Advanced is spot on. Mostly dark grey, with black used on the wings. The blasters on the underside of the cockpit have red ends with a bit of silver and black. This may seem rather simple, but the original was not full of color either.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. To prevent possibly losing them, detach all the Lightsabers and set them aside.
  2. Detach the wings.
  3. Flip the cockpit cover up and flip the robot head out. Attach the neck to the cockpit window.
  4. Swing the robot arms out to the sides.
  5. Slide the fists out.
  6. Rotate the arms around.
  7. Swing the sides out to reveal the robot legs.
  8. Swing the legs down.
  9. Flip the robot feet out.
  10. Flip the small panels back from the rear of the vehicle.
  11. Fold the middle panels forward.
  12. Take the right wing and splay the ends out, then attach it to the back using the hole at the top of the cockpit section.
  13. Place the Lightsabers in the robot fists.
  14. Attach the other wing to either arm.
  15. The mini-Vader figure can fit into the cockpit in this form.

Robot Mode:
Vader's mech uses two different design principles. On the one hand many of the well known features of Darth Vader had to be incorporated into the design of the robot mode, but at the same time other aspects are purely new and robotic in nature.

Most of what I would define as "quintessential Vader" design aspects. The head is completely based on Vader's classic head design, with the dome shaped helmet which swoops out to the sides a bit. The central face has the round eyes and triangular mouth piece. On the back of the head are some very tech designs etched into the sculpt. Hasbro has had extensive experience sculpting the Vader head, so I would have been very surprised if it had not been done well.

The next aspect is the torso and waist section. The chest is shaped much like a humanoid chest and includes the central computer panel on the chest. The panel has rectangular and square buttons. The waist piece has small control panels as well, resembling those found on Vader's belt.

The rest of the robot mode look much more like traditional Transformers robot mode parts. The arms are very rectangular and angled in design. I sort of wish the arms had a bit more detail on them. They have a bit, but since they were not trying to replicate Vader's arms, perhaps some extra tech detail would have been nice. The upper legs curve at circles on the top and end in rectangular shapes. The lower legs are right angled but angle outwards as you get to the feet. The legs have lines sculpted into the upper legs and raised details on the lower legs.

The use of one of the wings as a pseudo-cape is kind of amusing yet creative at the same time. Vader certainly would look odd without something on the back, so this works well. Having the other wing serve as a shield just makes sense (indeed, early incarnations of the Empire's Stormtroopers for the original trilogy showed them holding shields). I'm also rather fond of the way you can either have Vader hold his Lightsabers or insert them into the wrist mounted launchers to use as arm mounted weapons.

My only problem with Vader has to do with a matter of proportion. The robot head winds up resting on the top of the fighter's cockpit window. The shoulders are made of the struts that connect the main section to the wings. However, they look very low and should be higher to make him look "right". One way to solve this would have been to have pieces on the shoulders slide upwards to bring them closer on level with the top of the chest. Something like this was employed with Armada Unicron's shoulders.

Darth Vader's mech has eighteen points of articulation in robot mode. This includes five points of articulation on each arm. You get some great poses out of this, if he had waist articulation it would have been awesome, but still it looks great.

The mech's colors are what one would expect. Black, silver, dark grey, red and blue all come together to make up this mech's color scheme. Silver is used on the head, chest and belt section. The blue and red primarily come into play on the chest control panel buttons. The Lightsaber blades are done in translucent red with silver and black handles.

Final Thoughts:
The Vader mech's vehicle mode is spot on and done perfectly. In robot mode I think a bit more effort could have been made in the design especially with regard to the shoulders and the details on the arms. However, this is still a neat toy and I think kids especially will get a kick out of it. Recommended.