We first saw Hasbro‘s Star Wars the Black Series Hyperreal Darth Vader on display during Toy Fair New York earlier this year. At 8-inches tall, Hyperreal is a new scale for Hasbro’s Star Wars collection, which typically includes 3.75-, 6-, and 12-inch-scale figures in addition to the recently launched 5-inch-scale Galaxy of Adventures line. Officially, this version of the galaxy’s most famous Dark Lord of the Sith is based upon his appearance in The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and the costume elements reflect that.
There’s some long-running weirdness when it comes to continuity with Vader, as his appearance changed from film to film and, in some cases, even scene to scene. For casual viewers, those changes are most obvious with the buttons on his chest plate, his belt, etc. For the Hyperreal figure, the Hasbro design team did a great job of keeping those consistent with the versions in Empire. The materials used look and feel right, and the soft goods — an area that can be hit or miss — are excellent. The weight of the cape and how it can be folded and flow feels like an actual costume.
What makes this figure truly special is its inner construction. Built atop a metal skeleton, the Hyperreal Darth Vader is covered with “real feel” rubber skin to achieve a jointless appearance — like a human, or one that is now “more machine than man,” but with a human appearance. This allows the figure to be super-poseable so fans can mimic Vader’s actions in the films. Along with interchangeable hands, a Sith Force-effect accessory, and a lightsaber with a removable hilt, the possibilities are vast.
My two concerns are both related to the long-term durability of the figure. In some spots, the metal skeleton can be felt when posing the figure, and that makes me wonder if the skin will eventually break down at the joints, or perhaps be punctured if too much pressure is applied. My other concern is in regard to swapping the hands onto the steel balls at the end of each arm. They’re tight and can be hard to pop on and off, so take a cautious approach when deciding where to apply the pressure. Since we’ve never seen an action figure crafted of this material before, could it start to break down just like the actual costumes from 40 years ago have deteriorated? Hopefully, that won’t be the case.
Of course, deterioration should be of less concern for those who prefer to keep their collections in their original packages. The hinged window box that this comes in looks fantastic, complete with glossy flourishes that create a stunning look.
As for the future of the line, Hasbro plans to release its Hyperreal Luke Skywalker (in Bespin Fatigues) just in time for Star Wars Day on May 4. Both figures can be combined for display thanks to the matching base plates that recall the catwalks of Bespin.
Overall, we like the Hyperreal Vader so much that we included it in our Holiday Gift Guide Pop 20 list this year!
Photos: Hasbro, the Pop Insider