So, via USA Today this week, Playmates Toys has leaked the first product photos of their items from the upcoming Star Trek movie. It’s an interesting cross-section to say the least: the figures are in multiple scales (though it seems to be clear that only one of these scales will have any significant number of characters in it). Let’s see what’s up in the world of Trek toys these days. Read More
In previous ToyBox columns, I have complained long and hard about how Playmates failed to produce action figures of some of the more popular latter-day Star Trek characters. This is very, very true. However, it was brought to my attention that I was wrong on one count – and it was also brought to my attention that Playmates isn’t the only source of the occasional new Trek character in plastic. Read More
In 1994, it was clear that Star Trek: The Next Generation was on its way to syndication heaven, as the series was due to be retired and promoted to movie duty. Playmates had diversified its line of Star Trek figures in anticipation of this, branching out to create ranges of Deep Space Nine and Classic Trek figures. But Playmates wasn’t about to quit trying to cash in on Next Generation’s success just yet. Read More
Welcome to our look at the Star Trek: First Contact toys, or “how Playmates killed the Star Trek action figures.”
I admit to being frequently critical of Playmates Toys’ for its handling of the Star Trek line from 1996 onward, and here is where I think they went wrong.
With the eighth Star Trek film on the horizon, Playmates liaised much more closely with Paramount this time around, trying to avoid a costly fiasco like the incorrectly-costumed toys from Star Trek: Generations. Read More
1996: Voyager was over a year old, First Contact was on the way, and Worf had been a fixture on Deep Space Nine for several months. In a way, this time frame was the last hurrah for Star Trek merchandising, before the public tired too much of the franchise. Playmates, having seen very limited success with its lines of Deep Space Nine and Voyager action figures, folded all of its Star Trek toys into a generically-packaged range whose blister card simply bore a movie-era “Star Trek” logo. While continuing to introduce characters from the later series, Playmates also acceeded to fan demand for more version of the classic Star Trek characters. Read More
A few months after Playmates’ second wave of Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures hit the shelves, the third wave was released, introducing many more episode-specific characters to the mix.
Gone were the tricorder/phaser “holsters” which had graced the Enterprise crew member figures since the first wave. Sadly, the cheesy phasers – complete with day-glo orange “beams” – remained standard-issue for the Trek toys. Read More
Where the first wave of Playmates’ newly-launched Deep Space Nine range of Star Trek action figures was a resounding success hailed by collectors, the second wave had many people – ranging from serious Trek collectors to casual fans – scratching their heads in confusion. The second wave was the wave of Stupid Uniform Tricks, a cheap practice made possible by the fact that Next Generation and Deep Space Nine occasionally shared uniforms. Read More
Playmates learned one valuable lesson from the first wave of Deep Space Nine figures: get the figures on the shelves within a year of the show’s premiere. The Deep Space Nine toys took a year to hit the stores, and though their quality was arguably worth the wait, the buzz surrounding the launch of that series had died down by the time the figures appeared. Not so with the Voyager figures – these arrived in store within six months of the series premiere on UPN. Read More
Despite releasing characters from A Piece Of The Action and City On The Edge Of Forever, Playmates’ most inspired choice of episode-specific classic Trek characters was its four-piece subset of toys from The Cage, the original pilot which NBC rejected. Read More
Here’s an entire series of toys fraught with bloopers.
In pre-production for Star Trek: Generations, which premiered over the Thanksgiving 1994 holidays, a new costume design – rather a spiffy one, I always thought – was conceived for the crew of the Enterprise-D in their first film. But at the last moment, despite the fact that a lot of money had been spent actually creating these new costumes, the powers that be decided to reduce the number of “new” and unfamiliar elements, opting instead to outfit the Enterprise’s crew in a random mix of their original Next Generation uniforms and DS9-style jumpsuits.
There’s just one problem. Playmates had gotten to work on their new line of Generations toys before the movie ever got in front of the cameras …and as far as they knew, the new uniforms would be in use. Read More