Bandai 1/12 Darth Vader

KIT #: 914088
PRICE: 2592 yen
DECALS: One options

Darth Vader appeared out of the smoke during the opening scene of Star Wars and right into the collective cultural consciousness. His black armor and immense height screamed he was the Big Bad and a major threat to the Rebellion as the Empire's main henchman doing the dirty work of Emperor Palpatine. He clung to the “old” ways of using the Force including choking out those who disappointed him or disobeyed him (which seemed to be often) and his use of the Jedi's primary weapon, the elegant lightsaber. Darth was the terror of the first three Star Wars movies and deconstructed (IMO badly) in the three prequels (his final NOOOOOOO! became an internet joke meme.) Vader is one of the most recognizable/famous villains of all time and in 2012 become the property of another Empire, Disney, who purchased Lucasfilm the rights holders to everything Star Wars.

The famous black armored suit was originally designed by famed concept artist Ralph McQuarrie. It originally designed without a helmet and based on Samurai armor, but soon added the famous helmet because Star Wars creator George Lucas figured that Darth Vader could use his armored suit as a space suit (an idea that was not followed through in the movies.)

Darth was originally played in person by 6 foot 6 inch tall bodybuilder David Prowse. Prowse actually wanted to voice Vader, but his West Country English accent earned David the nickname from the crew of “Darth Farmer.” Instead Lucas hired James Earl Jones to voice Darth because he wanted someone with a deeper voice. James was George Lucas' 2nd choice after he abandoned his original plan to hire Orson Wells because he realized that Wells' voice was too well known.


This Bandai Kit comes with six sprues of black plastic. The breakdown of the sprues are as follows:

A: Multicolor sprue with the gloss black parts for the head and torso plus metallic grey shoulder plate, clear green lenses and florescent red lightsaber.

B: Flat black sprue with all the limb parts.

C1: Cape and accessories sprue in semi-gloss black plastic.

C2: More capes, weapon and feet parts in semi-gloss black plastic.

SWB3: Bandai's standard figure base

PCP: Bandai's standard figure polycap pieces

Aside from always present mold markings that need some clean up, there is absolutely no flash. The details are up to Bandai's high standards and the detail is accurate based on Darth's look in Star Wars so no issues about accuracy. As per usual, the kit comes with decals and stickers for those who view this as a model kit or an action figure to satisfy both the modeller and the casual fan.

The instruction booklet is typical Bandai as it shows all the detail and where to place the parts but entirely in Japanese. No knowledge of Kanji required as the pictograms provide all the information you need to assemble it. It includes a color guide for those who want to paint Darth Vader in all his glory.


I followed the instructions and built all the various body sub assemblies as per usual. The legs and arms needed to have their seams filled. Instead of ruining the excellent detail by sanding/filling with CA glue, I used Vallejo plastic filler to fill in the seams and then removed the excess via damp Q-tips.

As per my usual I left the elbow and knee joins alone because they contained some ribbed detail that I did not want to redo. I left off the limbs and head till after due to the construction order and the fact that I needed to paint certain details before adding them. Lastly, the lightsaber was easy to assemble. I had the choice of making the version that hung from the belt or one that was hand held and active. As you can see from the photos I opted for the fun version.


The first area I used an airbrush for painting were the steel colored shoulder plate where I masked off the steel areas and sprayed them with Tamiya gloss black which looked better than the provided decals. I ended up spraying the limbs Tamiya flat black to cover up the white filler I used to fill in the seams. Finally, I sprayed the skin portions on the back of Darth's head a mix of 80% flat white and 20% flesh and then I hand painted the giant scars using a light coat of Tamiya hull red.

The rest of the model I left the plastic color alone in particular the polished gloss black plastic because it's shine was better than whatever I could reproduce via painting and hours of polishing (hint: I was being a combination of practical and lazy.) Most of the detail decals were replaced by hand painting those areas including lights on Darth's chest plate, the gold connectors on Darth's faceplae and the lightsaber's metallic areas which were painted using Vallejo metal coat white aluminum.

I added a couple of decals to Darth's body because I didn't think I could achieve the sharp detail/demarcation lines via hand painting. Darth Vader does not need to be weathered.

The head, capes, hands and lightsaber were added to the figure and placed in a suitable action pose on the supplied stand.


I had a fun time building Darth Vader. It's simple construction and reduced painting requirements made it fast fun kit to build. It makes for quite a nice looking model even if you opted not to paint it at all. For me, the fun (and devil) is in the details so I did what I could to do the Sith Lord justice. Another standout Bandai figure model.

I learned recently that Disney has allowed Bandai's vehicle model kits to come to North America which is why you suddenly see them readily available at North American Hobby stores. However, I am told that the ban still applies to Bandai's 1/12 figure kits so you will still need to find a model kit smuggler who can do the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs or failing that a Japanese/Asian online retailer who will happily sell you one.

Dan Lee

2 November 2017


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