Would the original Star Wars trilogy have been better if George Lucas had steered closer to its samurai movie inspiration? It certainly would have looked cooler, as demonstrated by Bandai’s Tamashii Nations Meisho Movie Realization Boba Fett and Darth Vader figures.

We’ve been drooling over the sculpture work of Japan’s Takayuki Takeya for ages. He’s applied his unique style to action figures, statues and even video games—he designed Yoshimitsu’s look for Tekken Tag Tournament 2. The man makes beautiful things, and these definitely qualify.

Ronin Boba Fett and Samurai Taisho Darth Vader, distributed in North America by the fine folks at Bluefin, are two figures in the Takayuki Takeya-designed line that bring the original Star Wars trilogy more in line with the classic Akira Kurosawa films that inspired it. Basically they take the samurai influence already present in the Star Wars films and dials it up in the most wonderful way.

Samurai Taisho Darth Vader in Death Star Armor is a revamp of the original General Darth Vader figure, replacing the Imperial insignia design of his hood ornament (not the correct term) and lower armor with a stylized Death Star. Purple cord accents on the skirt and chin have been redone in a rusty red color. In keeping with the Death Star motif, the chest plate has been changed from an ornate rounded design to one resembling a skeletal rib cage.

Here’s the original:

And here’s our boy (mind the underskirt protective plastic I hadn’t removed yet):

As much as I love the classic Vader look, the skeletal accents here make for a much more imposing figure.

Though I can’t imagine Han Solo seeing that big shiny circle on his head and not making fun of it relentlessly. Of course that’s where the weapons come in. It’s hard to poke fun when your victim is busy poking you with a blade of glowing red light.

The figure comes with both the lightsaber and an unactivated hilt that clips into his waist. And in case that fails General Vader always has his backup piece.

In terms of backup pieces Vader’s got nothing on Ronin Boba Fett.

He’s got a flintlock rifle (note the removable forearm blade).

A rocket-firing (doesn’t actually fire) backpack.

Five removable blades on his legs.

A short katana with sheath.

And for maximum weapon holding and posing he comes with four extra pairs of hands. That’s ten hands total.

But more importantly than all of these little bits, he’s got the best armor in the Movie Realization line by far. Just look at the detail here. Go on, expand the picture.

The scratches, dents and imperfections in the green armor and helmet evoke ancient metal. As iconic as the base style is, I could easily imagine finding a worn version of this in a Time-Life book on ancient civilizations.

Of the two figures, Boba Fett has the upper hand in terms of both design and firepower. Black is a great color and Vader wears it well, but Boba Fett really pops with his green, maroon, brown and gold. Plus he’s got better toys. I can appreciate that. Both six inch figures run $89.99, so collecting the whole set might be out of the question for some. If you can only get one remember: Always bet on black—unless Boba Fett is involved.


Now I just need the Taiko Drum Master Stormtrooper (not its name) and I’m good to go.

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