Japanese Takara 12-Back Darth Vader: In Japan, Takara issued the first Star Wars figures on blister cards very similar to those released in the States. The only real difference was in the presence of a small cream-colored sticker that you see here applied to the lower right corner. However, if one looks closely at the bubble, just where its glued to the card surface, he'll notice that the glue lacks the waffle pattern so evident on the U.S. figures. Collectors should keep this in mind, because, frequently, these Takara figures turn up with their stickers missing, and its easy to mistake them for their American counterparts.

The most notable thing about this piece is, of course, the plain white color field behind the figure, which is a reddish-orange hue on other 12-back versions of the figure. I don't know what the reason for this change was, but this area is not white on all 12-back Takara Vaders. Furthermore, there appears to be some correspondence between the appearance of the white area and that of a significant sculpting variation with respect to the head. I don't know if you can tell from this photo, but the head of this figure is slightly different from that of the U.S. version. From what I've seen and been told, most of those Takara Vaders that have a standard red area behind the figure do not feature this sculpting variation.

By the time The Empire Strikes Back rolled around in 1980, the Japanese Star Wars license had passed into the hands of the Popy company, which issued a nice series of figures in little cardboard boxes.

Description: Ron Salvatore
Photo: Ron Salvatore
From the collection of Ron Salvatore