Star Trek The Next Generation Series 4
Dr. Beverly Crusher, Wesley Crusher, Q and Beverly Picard

For awhile there, Star Trek was dead.  We're not talking life support here, we're talking "he's dead, Jim" dead.  But a property the size and value of Trek isn't going to stay dead forever.

Now with the news of the new movie coming Christmas of 2008, produced and directed by J.J. Abrams, there's plenty of talk of the property resurrecting itself.  Whether they can pull it off or not remains to be seen, but at least it's in capable hands.

In any case, Diamond Select Toys continues with their series of action figures based on the entire universe.  The latest release is series 4 of their TNG figures, and includes the Season 7 Dr. Crusher and Wesley Crusher as the two standard figures.

There are two more figures available as part of the wave.  First, there's Beverly Picard, from the popular "All Good Things..." episode.  This figure is a Previews Exclusive, and shouldn't be particularly tough to get.

The other figure is Q, who is a short pack at only one per case.  These are just now hitting online retailers, and you can expect to pay around $12 or so each.

Packaging - **1/2
The cardbacks are certainly attractive, and I like the incorporation of graphics and text.  But I have to be honest - the round bubble design doesn't do much for me.  They're tough for MOCers to store, and don't stand up to shelf wear particularly well.  The graphics and text aren't enough to overcome my basic issues with the shape of both the cardback and bubble.

All the packages say "with Starfleet Gear" instead of listing out the accessories as well, another minor annoyance.

Sculpting - Dr. Crusher ***1/2; Q, Wes ***; Bev Picard **1/2
In this set, Dr. Crusher is my easy favorite.  She's close - although not exact - to the season 7 character look, certainly more so than the Q or Wes figures.  When I first had her out, I liked her better than after working with her for awhile.  The sharpness of the jaw line started to look off to me, but in the end the excellent work on the hair - it's not the usual hair hat - managed to keep her at the top of the bunch.

I also really like the female body sculpt on both Bev's.  The proportions are quite normal and natural, without being overly 'comic book' or blocky.  The articulation works well with the female form, and they haven't completely de-feminized them, like some of the Buffy super articulated figures.  She is posed to stand on one leg more than the other, with the hips to one side, but I like the look.

These are technically in the 7" scale, but that's a tad weird here.  They aren't fully 8" either.  The Bev's are about 7 1/2" tall, while Wes is 7 1/4" and Q is 7 3/4".  They fit in pretty well scale-wise with the rest of the series, and that's been one of DST's strong points.  The Buffy line has seen more issues with scale than any of their Star Trek offerings.

Q's head sculpt is the most disappointing, although I wouldn't say it's awful.  You can still tell it's Q, because he has the forehead and mouth, but it isn't the striking resemblance I was hoping for (like we got with Worf, for example).  I still prefer the old Playmates head sculpt, but I have to admit that it was one of their very best.  In fact, if you look at just Q's eyes and nose, you'd mistake him for Captain Archer.

Wes is probably better than I give him credit for.  There is some of him in this sculpt, but the character was so bland and whiney that I'm not surprised the figure picked up some of the same characteristics.  Oh, the figure isn't whiney (except in the voices in my head), but he sure looks like he would be.

While I ended up really liking the regular Bev, the Picard version didn't do much for me.  Having the hair up over her ears with little bun showing makes her look like a boy from most angles.  The jowls are a tad large, and she ends up reminding me more of Hilary Clinton than Beverly Crusher.

It's worth noting that the hand sculpts are all designed to work with the accessories, and look pretty good without anything in them as well.  Getting sculpts that look good both ways (and work!) is tricky, but they pulled it off.

Paint - Dr. Crusher, Wes, Q ***; Bev Picard **1/2
From the neck down, the paint is great.  The work on the uniform is clean and neat, and quite realistic.  They've used a couple different finishes to differentiate the pieces of clothing, and the cut lines between colors are good.

From the neck up, it's a bit more hit and miss.  I suspect that most of the sculpting issues, at least for Q, are related to the paint.  It's harder to tell with Wes, who's generic appearance may be due in equal parts to sculpt and paint.

The washed out skin tone doesn't do much for me either, especially since these characters weren't supposed to look dead.  On Data I could see it, but here it's simply too pale.

I'm betting the hair color is throwing me a bit on the Q as well.  It seems much too light of a brown for the character, making it a bit more difficult to recognize him.

The worst problem is on Bev Picard, who seems to have some sort of weird five o'clock shadow going on.  The dark color on her chin and lower face is the only actual quality issue on any of the paint ops, but it's a big one.

Articulation - ***
These figures sport a lot of joints, but are good examples of 'a lot of joints doesn't mean a lot of poses'.  Hiding the articulation and keeping the sculpt clean is clearly the priority, and that generally means losing some of the poseability that joint offered.

There's the usual ball jointed neck down at the torso, and on several of the figures (including Bev Picard and Wes) it actually has quite a good range of movement.

There's the ball jointed shoulders (only jointed at the torso), cut biceps, single pin elbows and knees, pin ankles, cut waist and wrists, and the T style crotch.  Generally the figures will be posed standing (which they do well on their own) holding one or two lf the included accessories.  There's no deep fighting stances happening here, but this is TNG after all...not TOS.

Accessories - Dr. Crusher, Wes ***1/2; Q, Bev Picard ***
While there's plenty of re-use here (with each other and with other TNG figures from past series), there are a number of cool new unique items that make up for it.

Although Q's package says he comes with 'starfleet gear', he actually only has the miniature version of the ship.  That's a pretty damn cool accessory though, and while it's all by itself, it helps keep his score up there.

Wes has four accessories, with the PADD, phaser, tricorder (all of which we've seen with other figures) and his unique duffle bag.  The bag doesn't open, but the rubber strap works well over his shoulder and it looks good on his back.

Dr. Crusher also has four accessories.  Again, she has the PADD and tricorder (the medical kind this time), along with a hypospray and the nifty little black computer.

Bev Picard is a smidge lighter, with just the PADD, phaser and tricorder.  Her phaser is a bit different than Wes', but we've seen it before as well.

Fun Factor - ***
Hey, if you have a kid smart enough to enjoy TNG, then they'll have plenty of fun with these.  I suspect that most of the 'fun' will be had by adult fans though, posing these guys on the shelf with the rest of the line.

Value - ***
The $12 price tag ain't too shabby for these, especially since they've been at that price for quite awhile now.  The heavy re-use probably allows DST to keep prices down, but at least they use some common sense when swapping around bodies, heads and accessories.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not much.  If you pick these off the shelf, watch the paint, but even there I think both the good and bad are going to be pretty consistent from figure to figure.

Overall - Dr. Crusher ***1/2; Wes, Q ***; Bev Picard **1/2
I want to love these as much as I loved the Worf and Riker...but I can't quite do it.  I suspect it's largely due to the pasty skin tone across the board, a complaint I also had with the previous wave.

Still, Dr. Crusher is one fine looking woman.  I'm happy with the overall sculpt including the body proportions, and for once, the hip joints on a female figure don't totally ruin the appearance.  She's a bit off if you get too close, but in person the sculpt looks better than the pictures allow.

Q was a bit disappointing to me from a sculpt perspective, because he didn't end up quite as nice as the prototype figure.  I'm still spoiled by the old Playmates Q, which was a head sculpt I think they really nailed.

Ah, and then there's poor Wes. I didn't care for him on the show, I don't care for him as an action figure.  His likeness is the weakest of the set, and the pasty face hurts him more than the others.  Put him on your shelf and people are always going to ask you "who's that?".

But Beverly Picard was actually my least favorite, having a head sculpt that is fairly unattractive, along with a weak paint job.  She doesn't do much for me, and unless you're a huge fan of the particular episode, I'd pass.

Score Recap:
Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt -  Dr. Crusher ***1/2; Q, Wes ***; Bev Picard **1/2
Paint - Dr. Crusher, Wes, Q ***; Bev Picard **1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - Dr. Crusher, Wes ***1/2; Bev Picard, Q ***
Fun Factor - ***
Value -  ***
Overall - Dr. Crusher ***1/2; Wes, Q ***; Bev Picard **1/2

Where to Buy -
There's plenty of online options, although getting Q may require buying the others:

- Toys and Cool Stuff has the set of three for $53 (Canadian), or the single Crushers for $17 (again, Canadian).  They also have some free shipping sales going on right now.

- Alter Ego Comics has the set of three (Crusher, Crusher and Q) for $43, or the two Crushers for $23.49.  You can buy Bev Picard separately for $12.74.

- CornerStoreComics has a slightly different deal.  You can get the Previews Bev Picard for $12, or the set of three figures (two Bev's and one Wes) for $34.

- Amazing Toyz has the regular figures for $12, or the same set of three mentioned above for $34.

Related Links -
There's plenty of Star Trek love to go around:

- I just reviewed the new TOS minimates over at Quick Stop today.

- the other most recent reviews were also 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 have continued to improve.

- 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 (not that long ago), Playmates did their Trek line, including the 9" figures like Amok Time Kirk and Spock.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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