When searching for that “perfect” 6-inch Darth Vader figure, there are plenty of options to choose from, but somehow each has come up short in some way. Perfection is an elusive goal, so sometimes you have to find that one figure that hits enough goals to satisfy you, while leaving you with that niggling feeling that the future might provide something a little closer to the goal.
I will say upfront that the MAFEX Darth Vader is not that “perfect” Vader. He’s not without flaws, and initially I wasn’t sure I was going to bother getting him. But, since I was knee deep in 6-inch Vaders already, what’s one more? As it turns out, despite not being perfect, the MAFEX Vader ends up being the most fun of all the various Vader choices out there.
There are elements of other Vaders that are better than the MAFEX Vader. The model kit has the better helmet. The Black Series has the better heft to the limbs. But the model kit also features a hard plastic shell for a cape, and the Black Series features a horribly sad helmet. The Revoltech is too stylized, and the Figuarts is unfortunately undersized. The MAFEX Vader is just good enough so I can ignore the minor imperfections and appreciate him for everything he does right. He poses great, he’s got a nice fabric cape that has a bit of poseability to it, and he’s got some great, expressive alternate hands. He’s so much fun to pose and play with that I don’t mind the thinner arms and legs in-hand.
This Vader scales perfectly with both the Figuarts selections and the Black Series selections. The ball-jointed wrists mean he can get into much more realistic lightsaber poses than the Black Series Vader, and the fabric cape with poseable wire in the edges really gives him that extra cool-as-Sith touch.
In trying to narrow down my choices for Best of the Year, I ended up with two Darths: Figuarts Darth Maul and MAFEX Vader. While the Figuarts Maul was a stellar figure, I already had a pretty decent option for him with the Black Series Darth Maul. I needed a better Vader. I needed a fun version of the original Sith Lord. I needed to fill in that playetic gap in my collection that no other Darth was quite fulfilling. MAFEX Vader surprised me and filled that gap.
While it may seem cheating to assign a “Best of the Year” status to a toy that probably isn’t truly the best of the year, I had to give this Vader high marks for doing so much right that the negatives are overridden. I was beginning to run out of choices for 6-inch Vaders, but this underdog came from nowhere and finally delivered the fun, poseable, and playable toy that I had been hoping for all along.