A long, long time ago, in a country far, far away, Yoshitoku Taiko made its first doll. Founded in 1711, the company’s history goes back to a time when Japan was ruled by a shogun, and the country sealed off from the rest of the world.
More than three centuries later, Yoshitoku Taiko is still in business, but Japan is now part of the global community. That’s why the company’s latest offerings are two exquisitely crafted dolls of Darth Vader in samurai armor.
In Japan, it’s customary to celebrate May 5, known as either Boys’ Day or Children’s Day, by decorating the home with a doll dressed in a suit of armor. Known as gogatsu ningyo, or “May dolls,” the figures are supposed to represent parents’ desires that their sons grow up to be strong and wise, like the samurai warriors they’re modeled after.
▼ Simpler displays feature just the helmet.
Speaking of samurai, it’s been said that Japanese armor was a major inspiration for the iconic design of Star Wars’ Darth Vader. There are definitely similarities, such as the way Lord Vader’s helmet covers the back of the neck, or the face plate he wears that resembles those samurai often went into battle equipped with. So, seeing as how there’s a new Star Wars movie coming out in December, Yoshitoku Taiko decided to make an addition to their traditional line of May dolls fashioned after historical figures such as Date Masamune, Uesugi Kenshin, and Sanada Yukimura, with these Darth Vader gogatsu ningyo.
Or, if the whole suit of armor is a bit much, you could opt for this Vader helmet set.
There’s also Yoshitoku Taiko’s Darth Vader bushi ningyo, or warrior doll, which forgoes the volcanic backdrop.
▼ And yes, of course the katana scabbard is red.
While the noble Jedi knights might seem like more appropriate symbols for the virtues of bushido, they don’t wear armor. So Yoshitoku Taiko’s other Star Wars creation doesn’t draw from Luke or Obi-Wan, but the Imperial Stormtroopers.
All of these items are currently sold out, despite prices ranging from 140,400 yen (US$1,180) for the Darth Vader bushi ningyo all the way up to 356,400 yen for the full gogatsu ningyo Vader set. But hey, as any collector will tell you, high-grade Star Wars figurines don’t come cheap, and if and when Yoshitoku Taiko does restock the items on its website, you can be sure they’ll be selling out quickly once again.