Saturday, September 8th, 2018 at 1:41pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
[Source: Nuju Metru]
We've been a lot behind in posting reviews of the Star Wars buildable figures, but today we're starting the process of catching up. BZPower Forum Assistant Nuju Metru has taken a look at 75534 Darth Vader, the second version of the infamous character to appear in the constraction series. Read on to see if he's worth a purchase or if it's more of an example of a sad devotion to an ancient religion.
Hey guys, and welcome to BZPower's review of LEGO Star Wars set 75534 Darth Vader! As always, I'd like to thank TLG for sending us at BZP a product to review. Read on to see my thoughts - captured for you in both a video and a text/image format - on this new Constraction figure. Will this Sith Lord "choke you up" with joy, or does it belong on the Dark Side of the shelf? Let's find out!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The front of the package is pretty standard, but with a little interesting deviation. On this box we see Darth Vader, set against a vague background (is he storming the Rebel base on Hoth? Bridging the Tantive IV? In the Carbonite chamber on Bespin? I'm having surprising trouble placing this location), posed imposingly, his red lightsaber activated for battle. In an unusual turn, a play feature - his removable helmet - is actually advertised on the front of the box, too. Maybe they've added this call-out so prominently to further distinguish 2018's 75534 from 75111, the 2015 iteration of Darth Vader.
Yes, in case you were wondering why we're reviewing a set from 2015... we aren't! This is the 2018 Darth Vader. That's right: LEGO has only waited three short years between rereleasing a classic character in Constraction form. I feel like it's a bit too soon for such a remodel, but then again, I'm an old man now, and the years just feel shorter to me.
The helmet removal feature is reiterated with an almost identical image on the back of the box, too, along with the figure's lightsaber-swinging arm. The rest of the back-box doesn't break from the mold for LEGO Star Wars constraction figures from the last few years. It's actually kind of surprising how standard the back of these packages have been, with very little format or even aesthetic deviation since the very first sets in this sub-theme.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
When you open up the box, a few crinkly bags an instruction manual fall out. Just from a first look, you can see 75534 features a bunch, even an overwhelming amount, of black!
I won't show you the build process for 75534 in pictorial form for two main reasons: one, I don't want to spoil any in-build surprises - the kinds of things I enjoy most about a new product - for you; and two, I never really look at build-in-progress shots myself when reading these kinds of reviews.
That all said: the most interesting part of the build is the torso. Not an unusual state of things, on a complex constraction figure. There's a lot of interesting interlocking elements, a big Technic knot that supports the myriad panels and constraction shells that contribute to our finished Sith Lord.
Anyway, let's have a look at the finished product.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Before we critique the set from every angle, let's take a look at the new/interesting elements included in 75534 (forgive me if I've missed anything, or added something here that isn't new/interesting!). They are:
SW-style shoulder armor pieces, in gunmetal gray (x2)
5-link chain, in silver (1x)
Coveted "T-bars," pneumatic T's, in black (3x including spare)
1x1 round tile with up-facing bar nub, in black (3x including spare)
Old Anakin Skywalker head, in white and black - more depth on this later (1x)
Darth Vader helmet, in black - more depth on this later (1x)
DV print SW torso shell, in black (1x)
3/4 round 8L shells with DV bodysuit print, in black (2x)
5L shells with DV bodysuit print, in black (2x)
5L shell with DV belt buckle print, in black (1x)
2x2 curved slopes with DV life support print, mirror images of each other (2x)
So all told, a lot of Darth Vader specific parts with a few other constraction/system bits in some new or rare colors. Everything is printed; there are no stickers in the whole set, which comes as a nice change. There are also a few new cloth elements (cape and skirt) which I neglected to photograph but which are also, of course, new.
But enough about parts. Here's the finished model! Instantly recognizable, quite tall and quite black, this recreation of Darth Vader looks pretty good at first glance. Let's take a look, though, in more depth...
I'm gonna come right out and say the biggest issue with this design up front: this version of Darth Vader has really, really, really small feet. And small hands. An evil overlord with tiny hands isn't so impressive! The proportions just feel off, to me, when you look too close. In fact, I think the arms are a little short as well. The detailed, properly-sized head looks too big for the figure, which is a real shame because it's one of the strongest points of the design.
Color-wise, this version of Darth Vader is impressively dark. Even certain Technic and "logistical" elements, like the aforementioned T-bars and standard bushings, come in black so as not to upset an illusion of complete corporeality. Well-armored from most angles, this Darth Vader at least feels substantial, and his cape and skirt (this skirt a new addition since 2015) mask any gaps in a standing pose.
One of my favorite views of 75534 is from the back, actually, where the long cape hides most of the proportion issues, and the gleaming helmet gets a chance to shine!
I think another strong point of this design is the complex, well-proportioned torso. The print on Vader's pectorals, abdomen, belt buckle and utility panels recreate the signature details of Darth Vader's body, all while coming across less cartoonish/triangle-torsoed than the 75111 Darth Vader figure. A lot of this problem on the initial DV figurine came from its broad shoulders, which used bulky Hero Factory armor on the upper arms. The 2018 version, on the other hand, uses smaller shoulder armor in a completely different orientation, attached to the torso as loose flaps that dangle over the arm sockets. It's a good solution that, I think, looks far better than the 2015 one. The sides of the torso also get Technic panels to round them out.
I love the clever way the chain is attached to the cape: it's held in place through holes in the fabric by those 1x1 round modified plates!
The biggest update from 2015 to 2018 has come in the form of Darth Vader's head. The 2018 version, 75534, features a removable helmet, mimicking the functionality of Vader's signature headpiece in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Beneath his gleaming helm and iconic mask, Anakin Skywalker appears - courtesy of some pretty excellent printing - scarred and wrinkled. The most impressive bit of printing here is the delicately detailed scars which run around Anakin's chiseled (it is, after all, still a SW Constraction figure, they have a style to maintain) skull. Note as well the intricate multi-textured molding on the back of the neck. My goodness!
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
When you start to move Darth Vader from his box-endorsed "long, tall and stoic" posture, you recognize a few flaws in the figure's poseability and some gaps that appear, particularly around the figure's legs. 75534, while featuring legs armored front and back, still has a pretty egregious knee gap once that joint gets bent; plus, the legs can't even make it to a 90-degree angle because calf armoring hits up against thigh armor. Darth Vader's ankles suffer a similar problem, simultaneously being more armored and less poseable than normal.
I do like how you can make his cape flutter in the wind, though. It's very I-am-your-father.
This version of Darth Vader also one-ups the 2015 iteration by having a certifiable play feature beyond just poses and capes. Using the same mechanism we've seen on constraction figures since the BIONICLE reboot, turning a gear on the back makes the right arm slash up or down, moving lightsaber with it. Nothing new, but an easily incorporated and very appropriate gimmick.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
Well, that's the lot of it. Let's tally things up...
What's to like?
- Second iteration of the character in constraction form brings new scale, detail, and function to an iconic Star Wars favorite.
- Some Technic/brick staples in new and useful colors.
- Torso solid and well-proportioned, unlike the 2015 version.
- 2 capes #accuracy
- That helmet! Such detail! Such removability!
- Wonderful printing - and only printing, no stickers - on specialized parts elevates the look of this model.
- Lightsaber gear function we didn't have in 2015.
What's not to like?
- Only 3 years have passed since we got a constraction Darth Vader. Too soon?
- Tiny hands, tiny feet, short arms throw off body proportions.
- Big knee gaps when posed, with limited poseability in knees and ankles.
All told, the 75534 Darth Vader improves upon 75111's original iteration in several ways. In terms of size, level of detail - 75334 has a removable helmet, detailed printing, an extra cape/skirt - and character accuracy, this figurine certainly eclipses its predecessor. While some proportion issues, gaps, and posing limitations make 75334 a more mixed bag than I'd like, this version of Darth Vader is an impressive display piece and fun collectible.
Many thanks to Aaron for putting together this review and to LEGO for sending us this set. We'd love to hear your thoughts on it in the Talkback! And of course, keep coming back to BZPower for more LEGO news and discussion!
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