Wednesday, 26 October 2022

Lights, Camera, ACTION FIGURES!

Y'know what... thank god Playmates came along to drain my wallet now Eaglemoss has disappeared. I mean, what other Star Trek stuff would I have ended up buying? I dread to think.

The first wave of figures includes Saru and Burnham as seen in season one of Discovery as well as Picard, Riker and Data as seen from season three of TNG. Rounding out the eight arrivals we have a trio from The Wrath of Khan. There's Khan himself and, as we'll dive into here, Admiral Kirk and Captain Spock.

Now, while the TNG characters come in suitably retro '90's packaging, Kirk and Spock arrive in new styled boxes bearing the visage of each as well as the Star Trek Universe logo.

The boxes are nice to look at and well presented with each bearing a side tab to indicate who is in the box plus the usual blurb on the back insisting you purchase the other options available.

But these are never going to stay in the packaging in my house so don't expect this to be a hands off review in any respect. Let's take a look at Admiral James T Kirk for starters.

As with the TOS phaser, this is not going to give you Diamond Select levels of accuracy. For one the scale is significantly smaller but this in no way detracts from what is actually a decent reproduction of Kirk in his monster maroon uniform. 

Packaged up with a phaser, 23rd Century PADD and tricorder, Kirk is certainly ready for an away mission. The accessories themselves are just grey, unpainted moulded plastic although they do have a good level of detail so that is a positive.

The figure itself is really what we're here for. With 14 points of articulation there's not a lot you can't get him to pose for - that is if you can manage to keep the accessories from falling out of his hands.

The uniform is very well presented, including the rank pins on shoulder and sleeve as well as the service length pips and bars. There's the gold admiral trim along the front flap, the gold Com badge and belt buckle too for good measure. On the back we have the flap catch attached but missing the black centre of the xxxx. Again there's some minor painting issues around the black of the belt where it's been marked in over the base maroon colour. UPDATE: Thanks to the keen eyes of Marcelo Carvahlo though I am pointed towards one inconsistency - the flap should not extend around from above the delta - only from the centre line of the collar. WHOOPS Playmates!!!

Ok, some of the painting on these small details isn't exhibition level but let's just bear in mind that these are toys at their heart and are designed more of rough and tumble play than standing on display in a vacuum sealed case.

Everything is very posable - feet, hands, elbows and even the head can be moved fairly flexibly. Kirk's eyes do give me the creeps though as he's permanently giving a side stare. What I have noticed as well is that the physical features here are a lot less shiny and also much more in proportion to the bodies. One of the lasting memories I have of the original Playmates line is the oversized hands (bear with me on that one when we come to Spock) and larger than necessary heads. 

Likelihood was that they were larger to add in the needed refinements to distinguish Neelix from Chekov (extreme example) facially. Technology has certainly moved on with the figures now scaled more to their respective sizes so Picard for instance isn't as tall as Riker.

But back to Kirk before I digress once again. He also comes with a display stand which is a huge let down. The older stands had at least some detail and looked the part. This one is, in keeping with the accessories, just a moulded piece of grey plastic. However, if you're not using Kirk to battle Khan you'll want him attached to it or he'll be constantly falling over.

Then there's Spock. This is, unbelievably, the first Spock I've ever had as a figure and he infuriates me.

That's not logical I'm sure you'll be saying but for what reason did he have to be giving the Vulcan salute permanently?

Now I think this is a great reproduction and in the scale it's a marvellous recreation of Leonard Nimoy's features but that hand bugs me. The bodies (thanks again to Marcelo for pulling me up on this one) are also slightly different. Spock noticeably thinner while Kirk is more season three TOS than early season one!

Again there's some colour bleed where the base red is still visible on the rank and Starfleet emblem but I really do think they're as near as dammit when it comes to making this recognisably Spock. The eyebrows, the haircut and even the lines of the face are spot on. Thank goodness too that Playmates chose to go with a more focused gaze on the Vulcan than his superior.

Given that one hand is fixed into the Vulcan salute (which looks damn awkward when positioned), this means that only his left is available for accessory duty. With Spock there's a handheld scanning device and a clunky The Motion Picture/The Wrath of Khan tricorder but that's not the big draw.

In keeping with the theme of the figure Spock forgoes a phaser and receives the radiation suit gloves as seen towards the end of the second Star Trek movie as he valiantly tries to repair the Enterprise

Partially split towards the cuffs, the gloves do slide particularly well onto the figures hands and does, thankfully, cover that salute. One problem. However I look at it I'm thinking they're just a little too big, making Spock look like he's wearing two novelty foam hands. Worse, as one of my friends noted, he looks like he borrowed them from Sonic the Hedgehog.

It does force you to end up placing one of his hands behind his back if you're not a fan but it does also exude a certain Spock-ishness once you do. For note, the arm joints do seem to be a lot stiffer than the leg ones. When I was posing both of these the legs tended to try and head off in their own directions from hip, knee and ankle while it felt like trying to prize a Ferengi off latinum to move the elbows.

Ok, so it covers the hand and is a nice nod to the movie. It's also different because these are a lot softer plastic and  (shocker) in white with sliver highlights so they're fairly accurate to the movie. All you need now is a piece of plastic and you can recreate one of Trek's greatest scenes in miniature.

Reflecting on the more chunky 90's editions, these new Playmates figures are fair better proportioned and much more malleable than ever before. I'm not totally convinced if it's been 100% successful given the smaller heads but overall it looks to be an improvement and I'm keen to see how the line progresses. Surely the DS9 figures will be in the later uniforms? Will we get numerous Kirk variants? What about Enterprise? So many things to come as long as these first releases are a success... how could they not be? 

More Playmates reviews to come soon!

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