#1345: Star Trek Minimates

CAPTAIN KIRK, SPOCK, DR. McCOY, KHAN, & GORN

STAR TREK MINIMATES (ART ASYLUM)

I’ve spoken twice before about the original, larger-sized Minimates, the important stepping stone on the way to getting us the licensing behemoth that we now have.  Today, I’ll be touching on them yet again, this time looking at the one property to have graced both styles of Minimate: Star Trek.   After doing ‘mates from Crouching Tiger and some music ‘mates, and even some Bruce Lee ‘mates, Art Asylum turned their sights onto Trek mostly because they already had the license (they produced a Dark Angel Minimate for the same reason, but with less success).  Anyway, I’ve got a bunch of them, and I’ll be looking at them today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These five were released in the first (and only) series* of the larger-scale Star Trek Minimates from Art Asylum.  There was also a Mugato in the series, as well as an accompanying ToyFare-exclusive “Trouble With Tribbles” Kirk, but I don’t yet have those two.  Maybe some day.

All of the figures featured here are built on the 3-inch Minimate body, which is a little different from the smaller body in terms of construction, mostly around the elbows and knees.  The assembly can afford to be just a touch more complex at the larger scale, and that’s really the source of most of the changes.  Nevertheless, it works the same as the smaller body from a basic functioning stand-point, and it has the same 14 points of articulation.

CAPTAIN KIRK

This was the first of the 14 MInimates of James T. Kirk.  He’s most prevalent of the Trek characters by far, though he’s got nothing on the likes of Spider-Man and Iron Man.  Anyway, this is the one that started it all.  This figure has three add-on pieces: hair, and both pants cuffs.  The hair was new to this guy (though it was also shared with the ToyFare variant, and would have presumably been used for the Mirror Universe version in Series 2).  I gotta say, I like this piece a lot more than the initial smaller Kirk ‘mates.  It’s still a bit more simplistic than more recent ‘mates, but that’s certainly not a point against it, and it’s definitely in keeping with the other ‘mates of this time period.  The paint work on Kirk is about on par with the rest of the earlier ‘mates.  It’s all pretty clean, but also rather on the simple side.  All of the important things, like the face and various uniform elements are there.  The face has a pretty decent likeness of Shatner (honestly, I think it was a bit better than later attempts), and the uniform details seem to be pretty accurate.  The colors are generally pretty decent, but once again, far more basic than later ‘mates would be.  Kirk was packed with a phaser (painted in all silver, rather than the proper silver and black), as well as one of the goofy puzzle pieces that they threw in with all of the early guys.

MR. SPOCK

Spock’s not too far behind Kirk on the variant front, with a whole 8 Minimates under his belt.  There does seem to be a little less variation to his, though.  Like Kirk, this figure has add-ons for his hair and pant cuffs.  Spock’s hair piece is fine, but I find his style of hair doesn’t translate quite as well to this sort of figure.  Later pieces worked a fair bit better, I feel.  I think his hair just needs more detail to it, otherwise it just ends up looking like a skullcap or something.  The paint on Spock is rather similar to Kirk’s, but once again, I don’t think it works quite as well.  The face definitely tries for a Nimoy likeness and, while it isn’t horribly off, I think the lack of any sort of line work for the cheekbones is really holding it back.  Most characters can get by alright without the cheekbones, but not those played by Leonard Nimoy.  In addition, the shade of blue chosen for the shirt is several shades too dark and far too greyed out for the blue shirts from Classic Trek.  This shade almost looks like something from the JJ Abrams films, which wouldn’t be released for 7 years after this.  Spock includes an extra right hand, doing the Vulcan salute, as well as a tricorder and the puzzle piece.

DR. McCOY

McCoy’s important because he finished out the show’s core trio.  Sadly, he always seems to be the one who gets overlooked.  It’s a shame, really.  But hey, he got this ‘mate and a few others, so that’s pretty good for him, right?  This guy is very similar to the other two, with the exact same cuffs on the legs and then a unique hair piece.  The hair falls somewhere between the other two, being not quite as strong as Kirk’s, but a fair bit more recognizable as hair than Spock’s.  It’s definitely not bad.  In terms of paint, he’s almost identical to Spock, overly dark blue and all.  On the plus side, the likeness on the face is the spitting image of DeForrest Kelly, surly country wisdom and all.  He includes the same tricorder and puzzle piece as Spock, but obviously loses the saluting hand.  It would have been nice to get one of his medical gadgets or something, but the tricorder’s enough, I suppose.

KHAN

Khan’s pretty popular for a guy who was only in a single episode of the show.  Oh, right, and there was that movie thing, I guess.  That might have helped.  Khan’s had a few Minimates, and not a single one of them has been in the same outfit.  This is one of his red outfits, likely chosen for it’s contrast with the rest of Series’ color schemes.  He’s got a hair piece and a skirt for the bottom of his tunic.  Both pieces are pretty solid, so that’s good.  Khan has one of the more complex paint schemes in the set (though not *the* most.  That comes later), and it’s generally pretty nicely handled.  My only real complaint is that his face is slightly off-center, which is a problem that occasionally cropped up with these early ‘mates, due to the hair peg being near the back of the head.  On the plus side, the likeness on the face is pretty decent.  Khan’s only accessory is the puzzle piece.

GORN

Okay, so I freaking love the Gorn, and this is like my whole reason for buying this set.  Because I desire to own every Gorn figure in existence.  I’m actually pretty close on that, so, yaaaaaay.  Gorn FTW!  This guy uses add-ons for his hands and his skirt.  There’s no piece for the head, which leaves the peg hole exposed, but it’s not huge issue, given the placement.  The add-ons are nicely sculpted and pretty cool looking overall.  The skirt piece is a little thick, so he splits at the middle a lot, but it’s a minor issue.  Gorn gets the most complicated of the paint jobs.  It’s still pretty simplified, but I actually really like it.  The face is pretty neat, and I like how they’ve translated his design onto the basic head block.  They’ve also done a nice job with the pattern on his tunic, so that’s cool.  He was packed with a spike, a translator, and that freaking puzzle piece.  Mine is lacking these, sadly.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I always wanted to pick up a set of these back when they were still new, back when they would have been my first Minimates, but for whatever reason, I never got any of them.  I’m the reason the line failed, you guys.  I’m sorry about that.  I’ve been on the lookout for a set for a little while now, and I ended up finding these guys at Amazing Heroes, which was a cool toys, comics, and games store that my brother found just outside of Seattle.  I was actually pretty happy to find an almost complete set in one go.  I kinda dig these guys.  Kirk and the Gorn are the definite stars, and translate really well to the more simplistic style.  The others are pretty solid as well, if not quite as stand out.  Now, I gotta get that second Kirk and a Mugato….

*There was a proposed second series, which would have rounded out the main crew and given us a Klingon, but, like all of the 3-inch lines, Trek never made it past Series 1.

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#1052: Classic Star Trek Bridge Crew

KIRK, SPOCK, McCOY, UHURA, SCOTTY, SULU, & CHEKOV

CLASSIC STAR TREK (PLAYMATES)

bridgecrew1

Fifty years ago today, Star Trek premiered its very first episode, “The Man Trap”.  Now, here we are, all these years later, and it’s become a whole lot more than the simple three-season, hour-long  science fiction drama that it started out as.  The franchise has, admittedly, cooled off a bit in terms of popularity, but it’s still kicking, and Paramount and CBS are doing their very best to make sure it doesn’t totally fade away.  This year saw the release of Star Trek Beyond, the franchise’s thirteenth film (which was AWESOME, by the way), which was pretty awesome, and there’s even a new TV series in development. Over the years, there have been quite a few lines of action figures based on the property.  In honor of the franchise’s anniversary, I’ll be taking a look at my real introduction to Star Trek, the Playmates versions of the original bridge crew.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The seven Original Series bridge crew members were released in 1993 as part of a special Bridge Set, which served to launch Playmates’ Classic Star Trek line.  All seven figures were exclusive to this set, though many of the molds would be later used on various single-release figures from later in the line.

KIRK

bridgecrew2Kirk was one of Playmates’ favorite characters to release during their run with the line.  And who can blame them?  He’s one of the signature characters from the series.  This isn’t the first Kirk Playmates released, but he was the first of the classic Kirks, so there’s that.  The figure stands about 4 1/2  inches tall and has 12 points of articulation.  Those were both standard counts for the line, and they hold true on just about all of the figures in this set.  Like almost every figure from Playmates’ Star Trek run, Kirk suffers from the strange V-hips.  I’m not really sure what their purpose is.  I mean, sure, they give him extra movement, but it’s not really good for anything, since even a basic sitting pose is virtually impossible with these hips.  They do allow him to do a fancy jig, so I guess that’s better than nothing.  Kirk’s sculpt is about par for the line, which is to say it’s not anything amazing.  You can tell who he’s supposed to be, but nothing about him is really spot-on.  Most of the details are rather soft and bold.  “Lifelike” is not really a quality this guy possesses.  He almost feels like someone flattened him just a bit, especially on the torso, and the head seems rather large compared to the rest of the figure.  The paint on Kirk is generally pretty basic.  All the colors and such look about right, and most of the application is pretty clean, which is certainly a plus.  On the plus side, the paint on the face is remarkably sharp and well-detailed, which actually does quite a lot to save the figure.  Kirk was packed with a phaser and a communicator, which seem slightly large, but are otherwise very nicely detailed.  He also included a display base, which is patterned after one of the badges, and has the Command symbol to match Kirk.

SPOCK

bridgecrew3Spock was another of Playmates’ favorites.  As perhaps the most recognizable character from the franchise, you kind of expect him the show up a lot.  Like Kirk, this was far from the first figure he had received from Playmates, but it was his first classic figure.  Structurally he’s very similar to Kirk.  He stands a little taller, but he has the same articulation scheme, for better or for worse.  Surprisingly, there are no shared parts between Kirk and Spock.  Spock has been sculpted to be a little thinner than Kirk, which works alright.  He still looks a bit wider then he should, and I can’t say the head has a particularly good Nimoy likeness, but you can see who it’s supposed to be.  Spock’s right hand is sculpted giving the Vulcan salute, which was a nice touch that really gave Spock a nice bit of uniqueness.  Spock’s paintwork is very similar to Kirk’s, which I suppose is good.  The uniform is still very basic, and the face still very nicely detailed.  On the downside, the blue of Spock’s shirt makes the paint wear on the gold sections far more noticeable than it was on Kirk.  Spock also included a communicator and a phaser, as well as a badge-shaped display stand, this time sporting the Science symbol.

McCOY

bridgecrew6McCoy was a far less common character than the other two, but he did still get his fair share of figures.  Which is good, because this guy’s just the best.  McCoy is very similar to the other two figures in terms of structure.  His closer to Spock in terms of height, which is appropriate.  I find that he’s got one of the better sculpts in the set.  He’s still a bit too wide, but his torso feels less flat and more organic than the other two.  In addition, I think his head has one of the better likenesses in the set.  It’s still not spot on, but it’s not awful.  His noggin’s still pretty huge, McCoy’s paint is more of the same.  That’s good from at least a consistency standpoint.  McCoy included the standard phaser and communicator, as well as the display stand, once again with the Science symbol.  It would have been nice to get a tricorder for him, since he’s a doctor and all, but you’ll have to grab that piece from one of the later McCoys.

UHURA

bridgecrew7Here’s where we start to get into the figures that Playmates was a bit more lenient on, though Uhura was far from absent from the line.  Uhura’s probably the most unique figure in this set, being the only female and all.  That being said, apart from the more obvious changes in sculpting, she’s still more of the same in terms of construction.  She has the same articulation scheme and is roughly the same height as the others in this set.  The hard plastic skirt kind of limits the movement on the legs, but that’s really it, and it’s not like it was particularly useful movement anyway.  On the plus side, Uhura probably has the best sculpt in the bunch.  She’s still a little squatter than she should be, but she doesn’t feel as flat and wide as the others in this set, which is a definite point in her favor.  Uhura’s paint is pretty much the same as what we’ve seen on the others, which isn’t bad.  She included the same three extras as the others, though this time the stand had the engineering symbol.

SCOTTY

bridgecrew4I’m givin’ this review all she’s got, Captain, but I think I’m running out of intros for these guys.  Here’s Scotty.  He was the engineer, and he was very Scottish.  This was his third figure from Playmates, but, like the others, it was his first classic figure.  Scotty is noticeably stockier than the others in this set, which actually isn’t too bad, because it means his head doesn’t look quite as out of scale.  He’s also got a pretty decent likeness, so that’s a plus.  The paint is similar to the others, though the red does help him stand out a bit.  He had the same phaser, communicator, and stand (once again with the Engineering symbol).

SULU

bridgecrew8Oh my!  It’s Sulu.  After getting totally overlooked by Mego, this was Sulu’s second figure from Playmates, though it was the first one that a lot of people were able to find.  He’s very similar to the other figures.  Still no re-used parts, which is actually kind of surprising, but good for them.  Sulu gets another of the better likenesses.  It’s still far from perfect, but you can definitely see some of George Takei in there.  The paint’s more or less the same as the others, which is kind of expected six figures into this review, as is the accessory selection, which includes the same three extras as the others.

CHEKOV

bridgecrew5Like Sulu, Chekov was totally left out of Mego’s selection of figures.  What’s more, despite being one of the three original series cast members included in the Generations line, he was really hard to find, meaning this was the first chance that most people had to get a Chekov.  That’s a pretty big deal.  The figure is probably the weakest in the set, if I’m honest.  The head is absolutely huge, and the hair looks totally fake (even more fake than it should…).  He also doesn’t have the greatest likeness (and mine’s even got a chip missing from his chin).  At the very least, the paint is still pretty good, so he’s got that going for him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This set was a gift, I’m pretty sure from my parents, for either my birthday or Christmas.  I know my dad had one of these first, and I really liked it, so he and my mom made sure that I had one of my own.  I think I still have the actual bridge diorama they were packed in somewhere as well.  That thing got some pretty serious play time.  What I don’t have is my original Uhura figure.  She went missing not long after I got the set.  It was only in the last few years that I got a replacement, courtesy of family friend (and Star Trek author and script writer) Howie Weinstein.  There’s no denying that my love of this set is mostly based around nostalgia.  The figures are hardly on par with even the figures being released alongside them.  That said, it was the first time the whole crew had ever been available, and that’s pretty awesome in and of itself.