From the time that the original Galoob figures went out of production in 1988 (just a few months after they’d first hit the shelves) until summer 1992, there were no Star Trek: The Next Generation toys. And in that time, the series went from an uncertainty to a major hit.
As more and more manufacturers were climbing over each other to try to snag a license to produce Next Generation merchandise, it seemed almost unavoidable that a new line of Star Trek toys would arrive. California-based Playmates Toys, who had already landed one hit toy franchise with the then-omnipresent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures, got the Star Trek license.
Looking at the original batch of ten figures, it’s hard to pin down who exactly Playmates thought would be their target audience. The likenesses of the original wave of figures are almost cartoonish in places, especially the box-headed Ferengi and almost caricature-esque likenesses of Troi, Worf and Gowron (who wasn’t originally going to be Gowron, but just a generic Klingon). Amusingly, Commander Riker’s uniform was “pre-ripped,” evidently a reminder that he’s a fighter.
Data’s figure included two opening doors, one inside his right wrist, the other on his back (as seen at left) to allow “maintenance” with the included tool.
Of the original figures, the Counselor Troi toy was shortpacked, making it an almost instant collector’s item (though the character would reappear later in similar and vastly improved reissues.)
A very good replica of the Enterprise-D was also released, along with a season 3 phaser and a hilariously oversized combadge which lit up when pressed.
Playmates seemed to think that kids would be the primary consumers of their new toy license.
Boy, were they ever in for a surprise…