I've also avoided entirely any
of the new phasers, communicators, etc.
But the same can't be said of the replicas being produced
based on the original show by Diamond Select and Art Asylum. I picked
up the latest release, the Tricorder, for tonight's review.
This guy is at quite a few online retailers for $40 - $50, but Entertainment
Earth has an exclusive version (it's the medical version
rather than the science version) for just $40.
Packaging - ***
I mentioned, I'm looking at the Science Tricorder, so there's a spiffy
shot of the original Mr. Spock on the front, with lots of decent info
on the back. There's even a complete list of the lines that you can
expect to hear said when you push the buttons, and the usual 'try me'
Sculpt - ***
exterior of the tricorder is a rough plastic, designed to look like the
prop itself. The plastic is sculpted with a texture, to set it off from
the silver colored 'metallic' areas. In person, it doesn't really look
like much more than plastic though, not quite capturing the look of
leather or metal.
Pop open the top of the
tricorder and you're
treated to a view of the screen, which has a curved plastic cover, as
well as three buttons, three lights, and a small speaker grill. These
look excellent, especially the screen. Being the science version, it
shows the location of unidentified lifeforms and other pertinent data.
There's amber lights behind this screen, which give it a very retro
Open up the first door, and you
will see the sculpted
'discs' on the left, with the spinning moire wheel on the right. These
aren't super detailed, but this smooth style is very much in line with
the basic design of the original props.
Open up the second door,
and you will see an open slot to store the small scanner, and more of
the sculpted half disks. These disks are a door themselves, and pulling
down at the top will reveal the battery compartment, as well as the
'try me' switch. This fit on this door is very tight, ensuring that it
won't flop open at that critical moment when you're impressing da
ladies with your new tricorder at the next convention.
have the door pulled all the way down for the photos, this second door
can actually stay propped half open, like it did on the show, due to
the two plastic arms on either side.
The scanner with the science
version isn't as nifty as the medical version. Hey, Spock's toy wasn't
as cool as McCoy's, what can I say. This scanner has a small on/off
switch on one side, which activates a LED light on the end. The sides
of the scanner are otherwise pretty basic, but the sculpting is nice. I
do think they could have hidden the on/off switch for the light up
feature a bit better, but that's a minor complaint.
strap is made from a leather-like material, and is sized perfectly for
me - but I'm just 5' 9". To adjust the strap, you have to pop off the
plastic bottom of the case. That hides the adjustment feature extremely
well, and since I don't have to do anything with it, I think it's
great. But if you have to adjust the strap, you may find the extra
effort a bit frustrating.
While the sculpting is fairly
the basic build quality and hollow plastic end up making this replica
feel cheaper and lighter than I was expecting.
Paint - ***
The basic quality of the application is good, but doesn't do a whole
lot to reduce the slightly cheap feel.
I know, the props weren't exactly expensive. But the tricorder just
doesn't have the same feel of quality that the communicator and phaser
The best work here is behind the
screen, where there's a cool
looking display showing the location of the landing party and other
possible lifeforms. This is different from the medical version, which
shows various patient life signs.
Light/Sound Feature - ***1/2
Like the previous releases, it's really the sound and light features
that are the highlight of this prop replica/toy.
tricorder has three lights as well as the turning moire. The lights
blink in different sequences and at different rates depending on which
of the three buttons (from left to right, button A, B or C) is pressed.
first sound you'll hear is a 'click' whenever you open or close the top
of the tricorder. Yes, this is an actual sound being reproduced, not
just a mechanical noise.
When you first open the top, the
lights behind the screen turn on, as do the other three lights. The two
blue lights remain on, while the amber light blinks. The moire wheel
does not yet turn. This will continue for a couple minutes until it
goes into 'sleep' mode, or until you press a button.
button C plays one of six Spock phrases. For the Medical Tricorder,
these are replaced with McCoy phrases, of course. The phrases are:
- "Impossible to calculate. We
lack the data to analyze."
- "Captain, impulse in that
direction. Very weak, possibly a survivor."
- "Getting another life form
reading, Captain.Azimuth 93 degrees, range 1570 yards."
- "An alien metal of some kind,
an allow resistant to probe."
- "Seems to be some disturbance
coming from that cave."
- "Strange - readings indicate a
life form in the area, apparently human."
button B activates the scanning noise, and the moire rotates. Mine
sometimes has a little trouble turning, as though it's getting hung up
on something, and by pressing down on it slightly it frees it up. The
lights will also flash in a pattern, recreating the scanning function.
You have to press B again to stop this action, as pressing A or B will
have no effect.
Finally, there's button A. This
is the hailing
function. Pressing A will cause the three lights to blink in order,
left to right, until you close the lid. Now be patient, and wait about
5 seconds. One of two scenarios will occur. In the first, you will hear
the hailing beep. Opening the lid will cause the lights to blink in
another pattern, and you will hear Spock say "Captain, tricorder
picking up very faint life readings approximately 700 meters from
here." In the alternate scenario, you will hear the sound of the
tricorder short circuiting. When you open the lid, you will hear Spock
say two phrases with a short pause in between. First, he'll say
"They've locked on to my tricorder!" followed by an explosive noise.
Then Spock finishes with "Very ingenious. They fed back my own impulses
and built up an overload."
As I mentioned earlier, the
small scanner has a light up feature as
well, activated by an on/off switch on the side. The small battery
compartment is on the end, hidden from view. Once activated, this light
switches between several colors automatically, going from color to
color every couple seconds. The pause between color changes seems a tad
long, but the LED is quite bright, and the color change is a nice
The lights are all quite bright, and the various blinking
patterns make it seem far more realistic. Spock's voice is loud and
clear on all the clips, although some of them sound less like him than
others. I suspect this is because of the transfer from the old show.
I've heard others complain that the McCoy clips all sound like him
either - again, I'm betting this is because of the transfer from the
old show, but I haven't heard the medical version in person yet.
Fun Factor - ***1/2
No away team is complete without a tricorder. Now that Star Trek is
cool again, you won't look nearly as weird wearing your blue shirt and
vulcan ears, carrying this baby by your side. Yea, you just keep
telling yourself that.
Value - **
At $40 - $50, I gotta say that this feels a bit overpriced. Something
about the plastic makes these seem far more toyish than the previous
communicator and phaser, and there isn't quite the 'wow' factor with
the lights and sounds. Something in the $30 range feels much more
in line with what you're getting.
Things To Watch Out For
Not much. The construction feels a bit cheaper to me than the previous
releases, but I didn't have any issues with breakage or any of the
sounds or lights not working.