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Darth Vader & K-3PX (Droid Factory)

SW: The Iskalon Effect
by yo go re

In order to complete the Build-A-Droid C-3PX, you had to spend $60 on figure two-packs: that's not so bad when the figures in the two-packs were any good, like Han Solo and R-3PO, but not all the pairings were so good.

The protocol droid K-3PX is in the service of the evil Darth Vader who is determined to crush the Rebel Alliance.

This Vader is a repack of one from 2005's Revenge of the Sith line, which is a shame: "Lightsaber Attack!" Darth Vader is a shoddy piece of crap, quite possibly the worst Vader of the past half decade.

If you want to get all super-nerdy-technical (and what Star Wars fan doesn't?!), this particular version of Darth Vader is meant to show the Dark Lord immediately after his big "do not want" moment, but it's not like he changed costumes during the films. Black suit, black helmet, black cape... you know the deal. And since they can't eff around with his outfits the way they can with Luke or Leia, Hasbro loves giving Vader different action features.

The action feature ruining this particular crap-lump is the formerly titular "lightsaber attack," which means he swings his right arm when you squeeze his legs. Or turn his waist. Yes, it's the ever-beloved "articulation-ruining action feature!" Score! Dink Vader has a swivel neck, swivel right shoulder, balljointed left shoulder, swivel right bicep, swivel gloves, swivel waist and peg hips. Wow. What an assortment. The bicep is where the action feature does its work, and the legs are solid for no good reason. The figure's head is oversized and his legs are stupid scrawny, so not only can't he move, he doesn't look good standing still.

Vader's cape and skirt are cloth, which works out just as well as you'd expect it wouldn't, and there's a silver cord at his neck. His only actual accessory is his lightsaber, and it's a single molded piece - no removable blade. He holds it tightly, but overall the entire presentation is lacking.

Luckily for Vader (and for fans wanting to complete the Build-A-Droid), he's paired with a decent droid. His electronic buddy is K-3PX, the spy Vader planted on Gamandar in an effort to capture any Rebels who came looking for the stolen Death Star II plans.

K-3PX was a creation of Mary Jo Duffy, and never appeared outside of the Marvel comics - no walk-on in the movies, no unlockable videogame skins, nothing. Even people who have kept up with the current Star Wars comics haven't necessarily gone back to read the Marvel books, so no one will blame you for not knowing who this particular droid is. He posed as the property of Tay Vanis, the intelligence agent who received the Death Star plans, knowing that eventually other Rebels would come looking for them.

This figure shares most of his mold with 4-LOM, but gets a new head and torso. The 3PX series has a harsh, angular face, which contributed to it never being as popular as the 3POs. There are large bug-eyes, a smashed flat nose and exposed circuitry on the cheeks - definitely not some something pleasant to look at. The eyes are glossy, but the rest of the droid is black; in the comics, he was often colored blue, but just as a limit of the technology at the time, not because he was actually meant to be that shade.

Articulation is very nice. K-3PX gets a swivel neck, balljointed shoulders, elbows, torso, knees and ankles, and swivel wrists and hips. The shoulder cuffs are actually separate pieces that rotate with the arms, so hey don't block the range of motion in any way. Just like 4-LOM, his legs are slightly uneven, so he leans to the left. Threepi... ecks doesn't have any accessories, but the set does include the BAF left arm, so you're one step closer to building the whole thing.

Among the Wal*Mart-exclusive "Droid Factory" offerings, Darth Vader and K-3PX are one of the weaker pairs, but it's not the droid's fault: Vader is the suckfest in this set. It's worth it to buy them to build C-3PX, but if you're not planning to do that, K-3 can't carry this one by himself.

-- 04/05/09

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