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Star Trek

Spock Star Trek action figures from Playmates

May is going to be a HUGE month for movies goers, with a major release every weekend. It all starts with X-men Origins Wolverine on May 1st, Star Trek on May 8th, Terminator: Salvation on May 21st, and Pixar's next film, Up on May 28th. And you know what that means - tons of new toys at the local store.

I've already covered a couple of the XMOW figures, and I don't have any plans to cover any others at this point. But for the next couple weeks, I'll be hitting both the Trek and the Terminator lines pretty hard.

I'm starting tonight with half of the new 3 3/4" Star Trek wave 1. There are a total of ten in this first wave, and tonight I'll be looking at Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Original Spock, and Nero (the bad guy in the new film). Obviously, these figures are based on the characters in the film, not the original series. The other five are Scotty, Sulu, Pike, Cadet McCoy, and Cadet Chekov.

The new film has only had a smattering of advanced screenings so far, but the enthusiasm has been overwhelming. Color me surprised, since this kind of 'reboot' is almost always destined to crash and burn. As a huge fan of STOS, I can't wait to see the film (in IMAX, of course), early buzz or not, but I can't say that hearing good things about it is making me less enthused.

Playmates is also producing playsets in this smaller scale, a 6" line with ten figures in the first wave, and a 12" set with four figures in the first release. I'll be looking at a number of these in the next couple weeks as well.
Spock Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Nero Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Old Spock Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Uhura Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Spock Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Kirk Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Uhura Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Old Spock Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Nero Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Spock Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Kirk Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Kirk Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Nero Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Spock Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Kirk Star Trek action figures from Playmates

These smaller figures are going to run $6 - $7 each, depending on the retailer, slightly cheaper than the current crop of Hasbro figures in this same scale.

Packaging - ***
The packages are attractive, and have a good description of the other figures in the series as well as the accessories. However, there's not much personalization here, as the cardbackers are all identical, and the only specific text is included on the small inserts on the bubble.

And while the package is attractive, there's a bit more wasted space than I'd like to see. Some of this is due to needing the same bubble to handle all the various extra playset accessories (more on that in the Accessory section), but a bit better design might have trimmed some of the excess. Oh, and while they aren't truly collector friendly by my definition, you can detach the sides by cutting the tape, cut the bottom free, and remove the interior tray without pulling the bubble entirely off the cardback. That means you could put it back together for display in the package on the wall, for example, if that's how you roll.

Sculpting - Nero, Old Spock ***; Spock, Uhura **1/2; Kirk *
Obviously, I haven't seen the film yet, so judging the likenesses has to happen by comparing to stills, and there aren't a whole lot of them out there yet.

The series has several major issues across the set. The male heroes have square, flat, boxy torsos, with skinny arms and legs. This weird design effects all the male figures, but it's most noticeable and ugly on Spock and Kirk.

All the figures are also very small. Yea, they are done in 3 3/4" scale...but today's 3 3/4" scale is really more like 4". These are exactly 3 3/4" tall, with skinny thin limbs and bodies, making them look puny even next to Mattel's weak DC Infinite Heroes line. It's not so much the height - I've included a shot with a Stormtrooper that shows the height isn't as awful as you might think - but the weird proportions make them far less substantial overall.

Sadly, the character I know nothing about is my favorite of these five. Nero has a very good head sculpt for the scale, and the body hasn't gotten the goody appearance of the rest of the line. The long coat covers up the oddly shaped torso, and there's some nice texturing on the clothing. 

The Old Spock is also pretty good, with a reasonable head sculpt (although there's no way yet to be sure it looks anything like this in the film), and another long cloak to cover the oddly proportioned body.

Uhura has the most potential, with a pretty head sculpt, and good torso. But she suffers from similar proportion problems, with really skinny arms and oddly shaped tubular legs.

Spock has the best head sculpt of this set, looking very much like Quinto's Spock. Unfortunately, from the neck down, he has a truly ridiculous body. He also has a permanent tilt to his head that the simple cut joint can't correct.

Kirk has that same odd looking body, not just unheroic but inhuman. Worse, the head sculpt is atrocious. He reminds me more of Miles O'Brien that James Kirk. Well, if Miles O'Brien had pissed off a head shrinker - look at that pinhead! I have a bad feeling about all the Kirk's no matter the scale.

The hands on all the figures are sculpted to hold the accessories, and work pretty well. Both versions of Spock come with an extra hand already in the 'live long and prosper' pose, but the mold/sculpt on these is pretty rough.

Paint - Uhura, Nero ***;  Spock, Old Spock **1/2; Kirk *1/2
The paint work isn't awful, but much of it is triple M - mass market mediocre.

Most of the major body parts are cast in a base color with small details added. These include eyes, eyebrows, insignia, and the tricorder, which is not removable from the belts.

The best figure of the bunch is Uhura. Considering the scale (let's remember these are less than 4"), the small paint details are better than average.

The other figure with decent paint work is Nero. Again, the new villain that I have no real interest in (yet) is the one that looks the best. He sports some funky face tattoos, and these are done very cleanly and evenly. There's not much detail paint work on him other than the face, but they did do that quite well.

The others have various paint slips, googly eyes, stray marks and sloppy insignia. Poor Kirk gets saddled with very pink lips - pinker than the color used for Uhura!

One area that's a consistent problem across the line is the hands. The paint is gloppy and thick on all of them, except for Uhura since she lacks painted skin there. However, they added painted nails, and didn't do it particularly well.

Articulation - Kirk, Spock, Old Spock, Nero **; Uhura *1/2
The figures all have very similar articulation, although it works a bit better on some than others.

They all have a simple cut neck, which doesn't allow for much posing. There are pin/post ball jointed shoulders, jointed only at the torso. There's no other arm articulation for Uhura, hence the lower score.

The boys have pin/post elbows, as well as cut wrists. There's pin/post knees and ankles on all the figures as well, which allow the joint to turn, as well as move forward and back. Unfortunately, the design of the elbows and knees doesn't allow for much forward and back movement. They also all have a cut waist, although it doesn't do anything for any of them, since the clothing hinders it.

That leaves the hips. No ball joints here, just the old style T joint. Again, the shirts and coats interfere with the hips, not allowing any of the figures to sit down properly - a huge problem, since they can't work very well with the bridge playset. As you'll notice in the one group photo, the Stormtrooper and Jason have no trouble sitting in the bridge chairs, but none of these five could manage it.

Even getting them to stand can be a problem, since the limited hips force the legs very close together. I'm betting most folks will use the included stands to keep them upright.

Accessories - Spock, Kirk ***1/2; Nero ***; Uhura, Old Spock **1/2;
The series redeems itself a bit with this category. In fact, it's the accessories that go with the various playsets that make these figures much better than they would be otherwise.

All the figures come with some sort of display stand. Kirk, Spock and Uhura have a Trek insignia base. You remember the old Playmates figures? They had a similar base...but these are so cheap as to be embarrassing. Soft cheap plastic, a poor sculpt, and no paint details make them just plain ugly.

They do have a small cheap clip that can be attached to the back of the base so you can clip it on a front pocket. If they were actually good looking - at least as good looking as the old stands - that might be cool. But these stands look like something you'd get with a dollar store figure, and certainly not something you'd wear.

Old Spock and Nero come with a small black circular display stand. Nothing special here, but it does the job.

Spock and Kirk are both loaded up quite nicely. They both have removable belts (they slip on over their feet, and can slide right up their legs into place), and there's a sculpted/painted non-removable tricorder on one side, with a holster for their phaser on the other side.

They both have a phaser of course, and this fits nicely in the holster or in their hand. They come rubber banded in place, but even after you remove the band, they can still hold it easily.

Spock comes with a second right hand, too, posed in the 'live long and prosper' Vulcan gang sign. Take a little care swapping hands, since the posts are very tiny.

Both figures also come with additional pieces for the Bridge Playset. In fact, there are fourteen - yes, fourteen! - figures that come with bridge pieces. Since this first wave only has ten figures, and three of the ten have Transporter Room pieces instead of Bridge pieces, you can see that you'll need the full second wave to get a complete bridge.

Kirk and Spock each come with a bridge chair (one red, one blue), and a chunk of console. The stickers on the top indicate that these two console's are not designed to sit next to each other. Also, all the bridge pieces have a number printed on the bottom ("B1", etc.) so that you'll know what they are and where they go once you get the whole set.

These bridge pieces are really nice, much better than the figures themselves. The stickers look great, and this concept (adding in extra playset pieces) is a terrific one for this scale.

Uhura's belt isn't removable (at least not easily), so I'm not counting it as an accessory. Her phaser is the same as Kirk's and Spock's, and she holds it fine.

She has a section for the Transporter playset. There are only four pieces to add to the Transporter set, and three of them come with this series of figures. In fact, I'm reviewing those three tonight - Uhura, Old Spock and Nero.

All three have large, translucent blue hunks of plastic floor. They don't connect to each other, but to the set itself.

Old Spock gets the lowest score, because other than the Transporter piece and stand, he only has his swappable right hand. He comes wearing the V fingers, with a grasping hand in the package.

Nero does better, with two cool weapons. They (like the phasers) are made from a VERY soft plastic though, making it easy to tear and certainly prone to wilt.

Fun Factor - ***
The figures themselves are weak, but the accessories and playsets manage to save this category for them. In fact, as disappointed as I am in the figures, I'm going to end up buying the others as well as both playsets. Yep, I like playsets and vehicles when they're well done, and what I've seen so far indicates the quality of the sets will be much higher than the figures.

Value - Kirk, Spock ***; Uhura, Nero, Old Spock **1/2
If the quality of the figures themselves was as good as the current Hasbro Star Wars or XMOW stuff, this score would be another full star higher. These have a nice assortment of accessories, and they are around a buck or so cheaper at most places.

Unfortunately, the figures themselves are pretty weak, and part of that is what's contributing to the lower cost, and also the average score here.

Things To Watch Out For
Watch the paint when you're picking them off the peg, but that's about it. Of course, you should take some care when swapping the right hands on the two Spocks, but that's about it.

Overall - Nero ***; Old Spock, Spock, Uhura **1/2; Kirk **
For the most part, these figures are disappointing. Smaller than most other figures in this scale, with oddly shaped bodies, poor sculpting, and weak articulation, they remind me of 1995. Only Nero and Uhura were half decent.

Ah, but the saving grace here is the accessories. I like the playset items, and a couple of the figures, like Spock and Kirk, had a nice assortment of goodies for just six bucks.

Without those accessories, or if you aren't particularly interested in one or both playsets, you can drop another half star or more off the figures. While I still have hopes that the playsets and vehicles might turn out great, none of these figures are going to end up on anybodies best of lists for this year.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - Nero, Old Spock ***; Spock, Uhura **1/2; Kirk *
Paint - Uhura, Nero ***;  Spock, Old Spock **1/2; Kirk *1/2
Articulation - Kirk, Spock, Old Spock, Nero **; Uhura *1/2
Accessories - Spock, Kirk ***1/2; Nero ***; Uhura, Old Spock **1/2;
Fun Factor - ***
Value - Kirk, Spock ***; Uhura, Nero, Old Spock **1/2
Overall - Nero ***; Old Spock, Spock, Uhura **1/2; Kirk *1/2

Where to Buy -
These are popping up at mass retailers right now, including Target, Toys R Us and others.

Related Links -
I haven't covered any of the other new stuff yet, although I will be covering a lot over the next couple weeks. Til then, check out the older stuff:

- DST has done their share of larger scale figures, including these from TNG.

- DST did others from TNG, including Barclay and Geordi, and the Riker and Worf wave.

- the last wave released to general stores included the Gorn and Kor. I also reviewed Vina, but separately, since it took me awhile to find her.

- check out the second wave of TOS figures to see how things used to look.

- there's a great guest review of the first wave, along with a guest review of some of the Trek mini-mates.

- Enterprise wasn't left out - they were actually some of the first figures done by Art Asylum. 

- Art Asylum did their first yellow shirt Kirk as a SDCC exclusive.

- and let's not forget that long ago, Playmates did their Trek line, including the 9" figures like Amok Time Kirk and Spock.

Discussion:
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Reader Ratings!
Here's your chance to weigh in!  Select your rating for this figure(s) to the right.  Yea, it's a five star system and not a four star system like mine, but it's the best I've been able to come up with so far.  You can only rate once from any particular IP.  My score converted to a five star system for comparison: 3

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Star Trek action figures from Playmates
Uhura Star Trek action figures from Playmates



Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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