I don’t pull a lot of punches when talking about Playmates these days. Sure, their Ninja Turtles are awesome, and sure the 1990’s 3 3/4″ Star Trek figures were great for the 90’s and even today still have their special charm. But these days, generally speaking, they suck as an action figure company. I have, in the past given them some props when they deserved it, but nevertheless, they spend an awful lot of time at the business end of my whooping stick. Well, when Toys R Us started clearancing out their Trek figures, I decided to pick up one of the 12″ figures. I only wanted one, so I wasn’t going to get Sulu or McCoy, and Kirk was out because he looks like he has the head of a 13 year old boy. It came down to either Alpha Spock or Captain Pike. Considering Pike was more indicative of the series as a whole, as he had the Starfleet uniform and equipment, and seeing as how a Pike figure is a pretty unique item, I went with Pike. Imagine my surprise to find that this is a pretty nice figure.
Ok, so lets get the head sculpt out of the way. It looks pretty good… if only it were supposed to be someone other than actor Bruce Greenwood. Its a good sculpt on its own, there just really isn’t that much of a likeness. The graying paint apps around his sideburns are a nice touch, though, and actually the sculpted hair on the whole is pretty good. All the paint apps on my figure’s face are quite good, with no noticeable slop. This is certainly passable for a mass market release, but what does upset me a bit is that the sculpt on the figure is noticeably different than the one pictured on the back of the box. There’s no attempt at chicanery here, since you can clearly see what you are getting through the window, but obviously something happened between the initial prototype sculpt and the final figure. For a thirty dollar figure, I think they could have done a little better in this department. But at least it doesn’t look downright silly, like Kirk’s head.
The outfit is fairly simple but very good. His gold Starfleet shirt is very close to movie accurate, and complete with rank fringe and an insignia that are actually sewn in and not just stickers like some of Playmates previous 9″ scale Trek figures. The pattern on the shirt adds an authentic, quality feel to the shirt and while the black undershirt is faked by being sewn in around the collar, you could barely tell unless you were looking for it. The pants… I’m not too sure about. They’re brown, and I’m almost positive they are supposed to be black. I own the movie on Blu Ray, I should probably know this, but I’m sure someone out there can confirm or correct me on this point. The boots are rubber with some nice little details on them.
For a mass market figure, the articulation on this guy is not only excellent, but rather surprising considering it is a Playmates product. Its not quite at the same level of Mattel’s recent twelve-inchers used in their Ghostbusters and DC Movie Masters lines, but its close… oh so close. The main thing missing here are the floating plates that create enhanced shoulder movement in the upper chest. Now keep in mind, folks, Mattel’s figures retail for sixty dollars and Pike was half that price at his initial offering. Either way, I’m very happy with the articulation here, but then I don’t buy a lot of figures in this scale, so I may not be as picky as the next guy. His hands are molded to hold his equipment, and they do that quite well.
Pike isn’t loaded down with accessories, but he definitely comes with all the essentials. He has a phaser, a communicator, a utility belt that holds them both and can be removed, and a pegged figure stand in the guise of the Starfleet insignia. The phaser is absolutely fantastic. I have the Playmates prop roleplay toy for reference, and it really is like they shrunk it down for this figure to use. Obviously, there are no electronics or moving parts, but the sculpt and paint apps are excellent. The communicator is ok, but nothing special and it doesn’t open. For the price point, a tricorder would have been welcome, but I can’t recall him using one in the movie, so I won’t gripe too much.
With the general level of quality exhibited by this figure, its hard to believe its put out by the same company that did the shitty 3 3/4″ and 6″ Star Trek figures or pulled the now notorious, “fuck you, you’re never getting a complete playset” bridge scam. At the $30 price point, you are probably getting what you pay for. At the $14.98 clearance price, I feel like a got a great value. Its really too bad the head sculpt on the Kirk figure is so bad, otherwise I’d pick it up in a second at the discounted price, although I must admit, I’m really tempted to go back for either Alpha Spock or the Quinto version. Either way, its just really cool to have a Captain Pike figure in my collection.