So it's finally time for the Dark Lord of the Sith, is it Lars?
As I have mentioned many times previously (apologies for the repetition and also the repetition... wot?
), what appeals to me personally with loose figure variants are ones which are visually different from one another. There are a lot of Darth Vader variants to be had, but not very many of them are different enough to interest me. However, the exception for me has always been the Takara variant.
As many of you will know, when Star Wars figures first came out in the 70's, for some strange reason in Japan, Takara (the company with the toy license there), made their own unique sculpts of the Stormtrooper, C-3PO and Darth Vader figures. They are all very close to their Kenner counterparts, but they are all also completely unique sculpts, with different bodies and heads. There are many small differences to be found between them, however the most obvious one is the fact that unlike the sonic-welded Kenner figures, the 3 Takara sculpts are held together by a screw in the centre of their backs. And this leads to a problem, because whilst this is very easy to spot on the Stormtrooper and C-3PO figures, Darth Vader's cape completely covers the screw, and since for added difficulty the Takara Vader sculpt is also the closest to its Kenner counterpart out of the three Takara figures, it can make spotting a Takara Vader figure extremely difficult. Add to that the fact that the unique Takara sculpt was only released in Japan, and only saw a limited release even there before being replaced by the Kenner sculpt, and it means the Takara Vader can be an extremely tough variant to track down!
The Japanese sculptors did a very good job of copying the Kenner version, but it isn't a perfect copy, so what are the differences between the Kenner and Takara Darth Vaders apart from the obscured screw? Well for starters, the Takara version is a fraction shorter. It also has a slightly more rounded top to its helmet, and the figure generally has a slightly more shiny finish (at least when new) to the black plastic. Also the cape is very stiff with a smooth inside and a rough textured outside. Lastly, the COO clearly reads 'JAPAN'.
Anyway, here are my two loose ones. In all photos, the Takara variant is on the right. Perhaps it's the black plastic, or maybe my camera, but photographing the surface details of the figures can be quite tricky, so I have included multiple shots in some cases.
Lastly, I also have a Palitoy 12-back reseal.