Star Wars Darth Vader Customs - Tue Oct 02, 2018 2:27 pm

Update: some additional (mostly old) photos in Post 6 below.

The only sixth-scale Darth Vader boxed set that I've ever purchased as such was Sideshow's Return of the Jedi Vader from 2014 (and not the deluxe version you can see HERE ). That was a great set, and at the time seemed quite perfect. Sure, there were some minor areas where it could have been improved, and some of these have been addressed by Hot Toys' relentless string of Vader releases (two A New Hope versions, a Rogue One version, and now an Empire Strikes Back version). I wasn't about to spend the increasingly excessive sums to purchase more Vader boxed sets, but I put together a kitbash ANH Vader from Sideshow and HT elements and did some modifications to the body and the helmet/mask, including lining the inside of the translucent lenses with bare metal foil so that you can see the amber color when you focus strong light directly on them.

Now that they have released their ESB Vader, I picked up some of the parted out parts to kitbash one on the basis of a damaged ANH Vader figure I had stumbled upon for a remarkably low price some time ago, plus some more Sideshow pieces. By far the most important parts to achieve the different look were the helmet/mask and the chest box, although I did get another couple of pieces too, and several gloved hands (the patterns on the ANH and ESB/ROTJ gloves are different). Once again I modified the inside of the lenses so that you could get a reddish glint with the right light (although for some reason it is less obvious -- which is not a big problem, but somewhat disappointing). Most of this was done weeks ago, but I only got the illuminated chest box yesterday, so snapped a couple more photos before boxing things up. So here they are, side by side. Except for an additional part or two (unless I use the Sideshow ones), I feel that my ESB kitbash would work for ROTJ, too. (And please forgive the quality of the images -- black does not photograph very well, besides every speck of dust showing up.)

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As you can see, the ESB Vader's armor is darker and shinier, as it should be based on the onscreen appearance. The helmet is redesigned not only to be removed from the mask so that you can see the damaged scalp underneath (sorry, I forgot to take photos of that), but also to sit a little differently, slightly tilted back. I noticed they altered the sculpt on the mask, making the "nose" shorter. I could have sworn they made a mistake, but I did manage to see what looks the same in at least one ESB scene, so I am guessing they got it right. (Of course, they could very well have used different helmets and masks in different shots in the film.)

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The transparency and/or tint of the lenses appears to be different, and it is much harder for me to detect and photograph the reddish glint on the ESB Vader than the ANH one, even though I used the same process and materials. I am particularly proud of getting the figure to kneel -- sorta (keep in mind that is an older ANH 2 Vader body and outfit in there, not the one that comes with the ESB boxed set). I will be looking at ways of enhancing the articulation at some point in the future.

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Unlike the ANH Vader, the ESB Vader's chest box is illuminated, and alternatively lights up different combinations of the little horizontal red lights. In both cases, this is film-accurate. The little container for the batteries is probably supposed to be attached to the chest box strap around the back of the figure, but I found it more convenient to let it hang loose in the back, so that I don't need to undo the belt to turn it on or off every time.

The last two photos show the mask before the modification, with backlighting to show the translucent amber lenses, and also the patterned inside of the mask (although it is not designed for you to see it). Speaking of which, removing and especially replacing the scalp was incredibly difficult. And yes, that is a Swiss Army Knife corkscrew drilled deep into Vader's scalp to assist in the process (no harm done, as that part is not visible when you put the top cap of the mask in place).

Hope you liked them.

#darthvader #starwars #anewhope #empirestrikesback #returnofthejedi #hottoys #sideshow #kitbash #custom
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