Johnny Lightning
Star Trek 1701

When it comes to Star Trek, I'm a TOS guy all the way. Oh, Picard wasn't a bad captain, and I could tolerate Janeway, but nobody could come close to Kirk when it came to diplomatic relations. His was a simple policy - if you can't sleep with it, kill it.

I'm also a sucker for TOS merchandise, although not such a big sucker that I actually paid almost $300 (or even the $240 at CostCo) for the entire three seasons on DVD.  I have no idea what the hell Paramount is thinking when it comes to selling Star Trek dvd's, but I'm not biting.  And no, I don't have either of the quarter scale figures of Kirk or Spock on pre-order with Sideshow.  Even I have my limits.

But when Johnny Lightning, makers of nifty die cast cars and vehicles, announced they were doing various Trek ships in a nice, small scale, I figured I'd be buying.  And I was right.

I found the first full series of eight ships at Meijers and Toys R Us so far.  They retail for about $4, and I'm reviewing the classic NCC-1701 tonight.  Fans of JL vehicles know they usually do 'white lightning' versions, painted in a pearlescent white, as chases, and the Trek set is no exception.  I've included a shot of the white lightning shuttlecraft as the packaged shot for comparison.

Packaging - **1/2
The package sports some nice graphics, and each has a shot of the specific vehicle.  The logo is done in gold, and there's even a little sticker inside the bubble.  But the cards tend to warp on their own, and aren't going to hold up to shelf wear (or store easily) for long periods.

Sculpting - ***
There's not a ton of sculpt detail here, although that's probably not surprising considering the scale.  The sculpting is solid if not remarkable, and you won't confuse this ship with any other.

Most of the detail is from the paint, not the sculpt, and the ship is fairly smooth.  All the important stuff is here, but the lack of textures and detailed lines is still a little too obvious.  Whether it hurts other ships in the line depends on the look of that ship on the show.

Scale across the series is not even a consideration here.  The ships are all about the same size, which means the Galileo is about 1/64, but the others are a much, much smaller scale.  Still, having that kind of consistency across the line, even if it is inaccurate, allows the set to look comparable on the shelf.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint work definitely makes up for any sculpt shortcomings.  The sculpt detail was tough to do in this scale, so they made up for it with a ton of small paint ops that match the photos of the original model extremely well.

I went back and checked a number of sources for photos, and I was actually pretty surprised at how well they did.  The ship is a tad too clean, and some of the textures that the original model had are missing here as well as in the sculpt, but in general they hit all the major (and many of the minor) original paint details.

Quality - **1/2
One thing that's likely to catch many people off guard is that the ship is entirely plastic.  In today's market, I think a lot of folks will expect at least some die cast, but that is not the case.

The only die cast part is the display stand, which is a bright gun metal color and has the name of the ship on the base.  It works quite well and looks terrific, but at four bucks each I was expecting something a little more substantial. 

Fun Factor - ***
Kids could have fun with these ships, just as they do with Hot Wheels.  The only drawback is that they are pretty easy to break.

Value - **1/2
Four bucks was not a surprising price point, considering how much Paramount thinks this license is still worth.  Other cars and vehicles in this scale are often around this same price point, and some even higher, like the Corgi Batmobiles.  But the lack of any die cast components on the ship was a bummer, and hurts the value score slightly, making it much more average value than I had anticipated.

Overall - ***
The sculpting is decent, and the paint ops are excellent, keeping this ship from dropping another half star.  I'll admit it was close, but the ship looks good enough sitting on my shelf to soften me a bit and squeak out that extra half star.

I haven't picked up the whole set though, and doubt I will.  I may end up with a regular Galileo, and perhaps a Romulan Bird of Prey, but I'll be picking and choosing rather than grabbing the whole kit and kaboodle.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Be mighty careful attaching the ships to the metal display stands.  It is very easy to break the plastic vehicle attempting to get the metal ball to snap into place.

Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt - ***
Paint - ***1/2
Quality - **1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***

Where to Buy - 
As I mentioned earlier, these are now available at Meijers and Toys R Us.  I'd expect to see them at other mass market retailers that carry the Johnny Lightning line.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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