Darth Vader The evil and much feared military commander, Darth Vader seeks to bring young Luke Skywalker over to the dark side. As the two battle on a precarious outer walkway on Bespin, Vader reveals a shocking secret that shatters Luke’s world. – blurb from the action figure package.
Character Background: Darth Vader: Bespin Duel
Of all the characters from the six-film Star Wars series, perhaps none other is more interesting than Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith. Two meters tall and encased in a life-sustaining suit of armor topped off by a Nazi-looking helmet and gargoyle-like breath mask, Vader was initially thought to be the personification of evil itself. In Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope he was presented as one of the Emperor’s sinister agents; a fallen Jedi Knight who had once been Obi-Wan Kenobi’s pupil and was seduced by the dark side of the Force. And although writer-director George Lucas revealed that Vader had various Force-derived powers (such as being able to sense other Force users or to strangle people from a distance), he didn’t give Vader too much depth of character in the first movie.
In The Empire Strikes Back, we saw a more developed but still mysterious Vader. He dominates the film (perhaps a bit more than Lucas intended) with his dynamic presence, and it is his pursuit of Luke Skywalker and his friends that basically drives the storyline along to its stunning climax in the bowels of Cloud City. As written by Lucas and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, Vader is not only shown to be the Emperor’s main enforcer and most dreaded commander, but as a man with a secret plan: on the surface he says he will bring Luke to the dark side to serve Sidious/Palpatine, but what he really wants to do – consistent with the nature of the Sith – is to train his son as a Dark Lord and overthrow the Emperor:
VADER: There is no escape. Don’t make me destroy you. Luke, you do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover your power. Join me and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.
LUKE: I’ll never join you!
VADER: If you only knew the power of the dark side. Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.
LUKE: He told me enough. He told me you killed him.
VADER: No, Luke. I am your father.
Shocked, Luke looks at Vader in utter disbelief.
LUKE: No. No. That’s not true! That’s impossible!
VADER: Search your feelings. You know it to be true.
LUKE: No! No!
VADER: Luke. You can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny. Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.
Now that the sextet of films is complete, of course, we are aware that Darth Vader was more than just a very evil dude behind that imposing suit; as Lucas himself has said in the commentary tracks in the Star Wars DVDs, he is, in the end, a tragic figure, a fallen hero whose human frailties are manipulated by Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine until he chooses the “quick and easy path” of the dark side and consumed by it, only to be redeemed by the love he has for his son Luke.
Darth Vader: Bespin Duel: The Figure
Coinciding with the release of George Lucas’ Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones in 2002, Hasbro released a wave of 3.75-inch scale action figures featuring characters from both Trilogies as part of the company’s revamped Star Wars collection of figures, vehicles, and playsets.
Darth Vader: Bespin Duel was figure No. 30 in the 2002 collection, and was intended to be the companion figure for No. 29 – Luke Skywalker: Bespin Duel. As a set, the two toys were designed to recreate the climactic lightsaber duel between Vader and Skywalker in the Cloud City Reactor Control area and its dramatic revelation scene
Darth Vader: Bespin Duel captures the very moment when the Dark Lord of the Sith is standing in apparent triumph in front of Luke Skywalker on a very battered walkway near the Cloud City Reactor Control Room. His left hand is extended outward as if he was saying Join me and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy. His right (sword) hand is at his side; in the package it is empty but can be made to hold his red-bladed Sith lightsaber (which is included).
Special Features/Extras: As is usually the case with figures featuring the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader: Bespin Duel comes with his deadly red-bladed lightsaber. Like most Jedi or Sith laser swords issued with Star Wars figures since the mid-Nineties, the “energy blade” is made of translucent plastic that allows light to pass through to simulate a glowing lightsaber effect. Also, the saber’s handle is nicely detailed; unlike 1997’s Darth Vader with Lightsaber and Removable Cape figure’s all-black laser sword handle, Darth Vader: Bespin Duel has a more authentic silver and black handgrip. (This part of the weapon has to have some metal content, for it is designed to be Force-attached to Vader’s left hand.)
Darth Vader: Bespin Duel has a button on the figure’s back that triggers what Hasbro calls “Slashing Lightsaber Attack.” Push it, and the Dark Lord’s right arm will move in a slashing motion. This goes nicely with the other “extra” that comes with the figure – part of the Cloud City Reactor Control area’s walkway and its vertical support. The latter comes in two snap-together pieces that “break” when the lightsaber blade “cuts” it. This allows young (or young-at heart) owners to recreate the pivotal scene where Vader uses the distraction of cutting the support column to slice off Luke’s right hand during their fateful confrontation.
Detailing: Although you’d think that Darth Vader is one of those characters whose 3.75-inch replica wouldn’t need too many changes, advances in toy-making technology and collectors’ desire for scene-specific figures have spurred Hasbro to tweak the main characters’ replicas by adding more fine details and extra features. If one compares, say, Darth Vader with Lightsaber and Removable Cape to this figure, even the most casual of observers will note vast differences between the two toys.
The biggest difference between the Darth Vader with Lightsaber and Removable Cape figure (which is grossly bulked up as though the Man in the Suit had taken steroids) and Darth Vader: Bespin Duel is the amount of costume detail. Whereas the ? figure is mostly a glossy black with only a bit of detail painted on his iron lung’s chest control box (which looks for all the world like a 1970s-era tape recorder) and belt buckle, Darth Vader: Bespin Duel is richly detailed. His armored breastplate now has silvery panels, there are metallic highlights on the breath mask itself, and the eye lenses are rendered in a subtle shade of red to give Vader a menacing glaring look. The belt is also more detailed and attaches to a skirt-like waist cloak which wasn’t present in the Darth Vader with Lightsaber and Removable Cape figure.
Even better, there’s a visual distinction between Vader’s solid armor and the more leather-like “armor-weave” materials that cover his arms and legs. Almost all the detailing is carved into the plastic rather than painted; this will increase the figure’s durability (at least looks-wise) because constant play or casual handling won’t wear off the details easily.
Finally, this is one of the few Vader figures I’ve seen with his fingers spread out; this not only makes the come with me pose more realistic, but it was also mandated by the tiny magnet cleverly hidden in the figure’s left hand.
The figure has fewer articulation points than I expected. The head can swivel at the neck, and the arms can be moved at the shoulders but have no elbow or wrist joints. Also, the figure doesn’t have knee joints but is, however, posed in a natural stance that is appropriate for the scene being recreated.
Final Thoughts: This excellent rendition of everyone’s favorite Star Wars baddie is worth getting, not only because it’s uber-cool but because it can be posed with its Luke Skywalker: Bespin Duel counterpart to recreate one of the saga’s most intense sequences.
As with all the Star Wars action figures, Hasbro recommends this toy for children 4 and up since the small parts pose a clear and present choking hazard, especially for children under 3 years.
Amount Paid (US$): 15.00 (eBay)
Type of Toy: Action Figure
Age Range of Child: Kids to Teens