A short while back I took a look at some of the Star Trek Warp Factor Series of figures by Playmates. These were the oddball scaled 5″ figures that came out on the heels of Playmates more extensive 4″ line. Today I dug out a three more figures in the 5″ scale, this time released for the film First Contact. Now, these figures go really well with the Deep Space Nine figures previously shown, mainly because they are in the same scale and all of their uniforms synch up with the same style. Well, except Picard, since he’s wearing a space suit. I guess we might as well start with him.
There were actually two versions of Picard in this line. One had him in his regular duty uniform and one in this space suit. I really tried to find the one with him in his uniform, but god knows what tote it wound up in, or if I even still have it, so we’re going to have to settle for this version. I really want to like this figure, and while I don’t hate it, it has way too much working against it to really make me happy.
My biggest problem with Space Suit Picard is that his suit really doesn’t look all that much like the one warn in the film. Its sorta, kinda, maybe reminiscent of it, but not nearly close enough for a figure in this larger scale. In fact, it almost looks like Playmates based this figure off of a prototype or design shot or storyboard with a vague idea of what the suit design was going to look like. And then there’s the helmet. Ugh. The painted over visor looks terrible and the fact that there’s a fugly seam running right down the middle of the helmet in the most visible place on the whole figure really makes me wonder what Playmates was thinking. There isn’t even a Starfleet insignia anywhere on this suit, so with the helmet on, you’d have no way of even knowing this was a Star Trek figure. It just looks like generic space guy. Now, the helmet is removable, and underneith is a damn fine head sculpt of Patrick Stewart. In fact, its way too good for this otherwise sub-par figure.
The articulation on this figure also sucks. You get all five points of articulation from a vintage Star Wars figure… only in 1997. The shoulders and upper legs rotate, as does the head. That’s it. Its bad enough on its own, but when you consider that the other two figures we’re going to look at in this line have an excellent 13 points, it really feels like Playmates just phoned this one in to be done with it.
Thankfully, the ladies make out a little better…
Yeah, in terms of articulation and overall accuracy in body sculpt, these figures are much better than Picard and his space suit. Both Troi and Crusher are wearing the same uniform, and if you look closer, you can see they’re actually wearing the same body too. In fact, this is the exact same body that Playmates used for the Jadzia Dax figure. I’m aware that all three actresses had different builds, but I don’t have a big problem with Playmates reusing the same female body, particularly since the uniform looks good and the articulation is excellent. In addition to the swivel shoulders and upper legs that Picard had, the ladies also have swivel cuts in the biceps, waist and thighs and hinged joints in the elbows and knees. Technically, their heads can turn, but their sculpted hair prohibits it. The head sculpts on Troi and Crusher are passable. I think Playmates got Troi’s likeness down a little better than Crusher’s, but both are ok.
Unlike the Deep Space Nine figures, which came with only big components to the Defiant, these figures come with actual weapons and equipment. Unfortunately, in keeping with their smaller 4″ Trek figures, Playmates decided to mold their accessories in ridiculous colors. Troi comes with an equipment satchel, a phaser, a PADD, all of which are solid bright red plastic with no other paint apps. Oh yeah, she also comes with a shot glass, because after one scene from the film, Playmates seems convinced Troi is an alcoholic. Dr. Crusher comes with a hypospray, a tricorder, and two other pieces of medical equipment, all of which is bright orange. These brightly colored accessories were bad enough with the smaller scale figures, but its really unacceptable with these larger figures. If Playmates didn’t want to spend money on paint apps, they could have at least molded everything in gray or silver. Also, like the smaller scale Trek figures, these come with pegged display stands fashioned to look like the comm badges. These are actually pretty nice.
Ironically, the poorest figure of the bunch has the best accessory. Oh, Picard still comes with a red phaser, but he also comes with a compression phaser rifle that is not only nicely sculpted, but its actually molded in black and has silver paint apps. So, at least we have one decent accessory to pass around.
While I know I have more of these figures floating around, I know I don’t have a complete set of the First Contact releases. Although, now that I have them dug out of storage, I wouldn’t mind completing the set. For the most part, these are decent enough offerings, accessories notwithstanding, and they can still be had for very little latinum if you shop around enough.
So, why all the Playmates stuff lately? Well, part of it stems from having dug out a bunch of these figures and the fact that I’m sort of rediscovering them. I actually plan on looking at some of the 4″ scale figures in the near future as well. But if you’ve been following the industry news lately, it really looks like Playmates is in some serious trouble. There aren’t many companies that could afford to take the kind of hits they did in 2009, what with their two major product lines (Star Trek and Terminator Salvation) flopping. They’ve put their number one property, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on hiatus, cancelled a line of wrestling figures that were shown as recently as Toy Fair, and now it looks like they are turning over their distribution to Diamond Comics. So, while I’m really not happy with Playmates lately, I have to admit, once upon a time, they gave me a lot of pleasure with their figures and I guess I just wanted to remind myself of that.