Just as MEGO and Super7 begin to re-establish their Star Trek action figure footprints, a nostalgic toy company from the past is going to revisit and expand its own vintage toy line. The company with the best, broadest, and most fleshed out variety of Star Trek action figures is back, beginning with figures for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Discovery, and a movie line beginning with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. With a similar look as its original toys, Playmates Toys isn’t catering to collectors pursuing realistic sculpts, but those who miss the 1990s toys. Check out images of just the first wave of the coming retro fix below, along with a look back at the first versions.
Announced as a 5-inch figure line boasting 14 points of articulation (as opposed to the original merely 5 points), that would make these toys slightly larger than the originals–a strange choice, but hopefully they remain compatible with playsets like the shuttle Galileo, the Enterprise-D bridge, and its engineering deck. As with the 1990s toys, these are bigger than the wildly successful line of vintage Kenner Star Wars figures that came before it. But Playmates′ Star Trek line was successful in its own right.
The downfall of the initial line began when the toy company began releasing limited numbers of exclusives via outlets like mall stores Suncoast and Spencer Gifts, apparently not realizing its collector base consisted of completists. Once a complete collection became too difficult, the carded figures made their way to the $1 and $2 rack at used toy stores, where they are still available in ample supply today–excepting the rare figures, which included Picard in a maroon jacket from the episode “Tapestry,” and Tasha Yar vaguely in her costume from “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”
Playmates first began its action figure line for the franchise in 1992 with only ten 4.5-inch figures from Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was still making new episodes–and would go on to roll out more than 350, along with same scale playsets and smaller scale ships, plus an exceptional 9-inch line (more than 90) of cloth-outfitted figures on par but better quality than MEGO and a 12-inch line (more than 30) about the equivalent in quality of G.I. Joes of the era (the company returned later with a short-lived line of toys for the 2009 Star Trek movie). These are from the 1990s line of toys:
What Playmates did right in their 1990s line was serving the diehard fan by releasing more obscure figures, including Dathon, Mordock the Benzite, Hunter and Tosk, Ro Laren, Riker from the episode “First Contact,” K’Ehleyr, and Ambassador Spock. Buyers could also tell what Star Trek marketing viewed as the most popular characters, as multiple Worf variants (like Sheriff Worf from “A Fist Full of Datas” and Governor Worf from the finale) would frequently accompany new waves. The most unusual line featured the crew of the Enterprise-D from Star Trek Generations. The designers featured a modified costume for the toys that was ultimately discarded after the toys were already produced.
The biggest news is seeing the popular maroon jacketed figures of Kirk and Spock from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, along with Khan. These are the new figures:
And these are previous versions:
So many versions of the franchise ships exist in toy and model form from the past 55 years, it seems almost impossible another version will soon be hitting the shelves. This Enterprise will be joining the action figure line.
Will Playmates expand its 350 figures into the thousands of characters it never released, including a line of Enterprise TV series figures in this scale? How about a David Warner collection reflecting his characters from NextGen, Star Trek IV, and Star Trek VI? Stay tuned!
C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg