Star Trek Classic Series: Commander Kruge by Playmates

Welcome to a new limited series of features I like to call Star Trek Saturday. How long will it last? Long enough for me to get through some of the dreaded “Totes of Trek” that are stacked in the corner of my hall closet. A fair amount of this stuff comes from the 90’s and I was really torn on whether I should include it as part of Vintage Vault or not. In the end, I compromised and decided to just give it its own day, and tack it on at the end of the week. I may not do this every Saturday, but I will try to toss it in whenever I have time, because I have a lot of Star Trek figures and toys to go through. So, enough preambles… let’s get to it…

Playmates and Star Trek figures are certainly no stranger to FigureFan. I’ve been collecting the Playmates’ Star Trek toys since they were first introduced and while I regrettably sold off most of the ships over the years, I still have all of the figures. I have a strange love-hate relationship with these things, as the line certainly had its share of issues and questionable design choices. Not to mention some of the worst accessories ever. And yet every time I pull out my collection, I can’t help but love these things, right down to the cheesy “individually numbered” gimmick that laughably suggest these figures are some kind of limited edition collectibles. Anyway, I’ve looked at figures from the spin-off TV series and from the original series, but I haven’t looked at any from the Classic Movie Series, and I aim to fix that today.

Yes, it’s Commander Kruge from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. We have here an action figure of Christopher Lloyd playing a Klingon. It’s been almost two decades since this figure was produced and that still blows my mind. While the movie was no Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III was still a pretty solid and enjoyable film and a lot of that credit needs to go to Lloyd’s fun, scenery chewing portrayal of the Klingon bastard who killed Kirk’s son. Once the Star Trek license really got pumping for Playmates, no corner of the Trek universe was safe, and they started reaching out even to the classic movies as subject matter for their figures.

The card used for Kruge is a lot more subdued than the ones used for the Next Gen or Voyager figures. It feels less like a Vegas style billboard and more appropriate to the subject matter at hand, even if it does have artwork of the wrong ship on the top. You get a nice starfield deco and the classic series style lettering. The back of the card, however, is pretty busy. You get head shots of a bunch of other Classic Movie Series figures. You get a pictures and descriptions of the accessories, and you get a nice blurb explaining who Kruge is. All in all, it’s a nice looking package that displays the figure well.

And there’s Commander Kruge. Look familiar? Long time collectors of Playmates’ Star Trek line will no doubt recognize that the body is a straight reuse of the one used for Klingon Warrior Worf. I suppose it’s a fair move on Playmates part, since the costumes were practically identical. It also helps that the Worf figure came with his ritual robes, so you can still display these two figures next to each other and the reuse isn’t overtly noticeable. It’s also nice to be able to swap the robes between the two figures. Besides, as long as they didn’t go with a reuse of the vastly inferior sculpt for the Gowron body, I’m happy.

Yes, this is pretty fine sculpt for what it is. Sure, you need to get past the stylized look and wonky proportions that Playmates loves to do with these figures. The head and hands are just a tad too large and it takes a little while to get past the caricature style. But the detail on the Klingon armor is just gorgeous. Let’s face it, most of the Star Trek line gets by with minimal sculpting of the simple Starfleet uniforms, so it’s nice to see when they get an opportunity like this, they really knock it out of the ballpark. Every little detail and texture is lovingly reproduced here. And the head sculpt? Oh yeah, this has got to be one of, if not one of, the best head sculpts of the entire line. It’s totally Christopher Lloyd in Klingon makeup, and that’s just fantastic!

It’s also worth mentioning that the paint work on this figure is pretty impressive too, especially when I compare the paint with the work on my Klingon Warrior Worf and again, the shitty job they did on Gowron. Kruge’s armor is vibrant and shiny and has some really nice gold and silver that contrasts beautifully with the black and grey.
Kruge’s articulation is identical to the Worf figure. His head rotates, his arms rotate at the shoulders, have swivel cuts in the biceps, and hinges in the elbows. His legs rotate at the hips and have hinged knees, and he can rotate at the waist. It’s barely passable articulation because you really can’t do much with his legs.

Accessories! Here’s the point where I usually go ballistic all over Playmates, but that won’t be the case here. You get a tricorder, a communicator, a disruptor, and a stock attachment for the disruptor. Sure, Kruge’s accessories are all molded in the same monochrome color, but at least they’re cast in a brownish orange color that is fairly similar to the props used on the screen, as opposed to hot pink or neon purple like some other figures. The sculpts on all the accessories are well done and they match the on screen devices pretty well. The stock attachment for the disruptor is a really cool addition, and not something I would have expected from this line. You also get a collector card and a really nice personalized figure stand designed especially for the Classic Movie figures.

I’ve wanted to get Commander Kruge in my collection for a long time and I finally jumped at the opportunity when I found him for nine bucks shipped on the Ebays. While he may not stack up to modern action figures, when you put him in his proper 1995 Playmates context, he’s actually a pretty solid effort. Again, that may be a loaded compliment, but either way, I really like this one. Playmates’ Star Trek is not a line that often impresses, and that’s what makes a figure like this worth owning. It features solid sculpting and paintwork, good accessories, and overall it just really does the character justice.

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