Star Trek: The Next Generation Collectors Case (and Generations Figures) by Playmates

Most of the Star Trek stuff I got at the Toy & Collectibles show came from one dealer, but today we’re looking at something that came from somebody else who just happened to have a Next Generation Collector Case with some of Playmates figures from the Generations movie. I wanted the Collector Case so I could get rid of the trays and store my baggied Next Gen figures in it. The fact that  figures came with it was just a nice bonus… Let’s start with the case…

Collector Cases! If you are a child of the 80s or 90s, chances are you remember these vinyl and cardboard relics from the greatest decades of action figures. Almost every line of figures had them, and there were even cheesy generic ones themed for your fantasy, space, or robot figures. They were simple cases, usually with a locking clasp and a carry handle and while they didn’t usually hold all that many, they were sufficient for you to tote some of your figures over to a friend’s house so your toys could kick the shit out of their toys in epic backyard battles. This Next Generation case by Playmates was released toward the end of the Collector Case era, but it’s still a perfect example of what these things were all about.

The charm of these cases is all in the artwork. Some were amazing and some were downright terrible. I think this Next Gen one falls right about in the middle. I love the giant illustration of the Enterprise on the front along with the Next Gen logo. I’m not as keen on the little window with the photo of the crew. I think if you’re going to go with the animated look, you shouldn’t mix media like that. The reverse panel is a “clean” image of the front without the photo, and I think it looks much better. The spine of the case also has individual headshots of the crew. Hey, at least they didn’t put goddamn Guinan on it! All in all, I think this is a very attractive case that captures what Playmates’ Trek line was all about.

This case was meant to stand upright and has a locking clasp on the side and a carry handle on the top. Open it up and there are were two flimsy black plastic trays inside, each one meant to hold six figures and their accessories. You could probably get more than the suggested 12 in there with the trays, but once I deep sixed the trays, I was able to get all my Next Generation era figures into it. Now I just need a second one for all my Voyager, Deep Space Nine and Classic Trek figures, since Playmates never made Collector Cases for any of those lines. Boo!

Originally, the cases didn’t come loaded with figures, but that’s sometimes one of the benefits of picking them up second hand. Mine came with eight figures, and all except one (Major Kira, who we’ll save for another day) are from the Generations movie, which is cool because I didn’t have any of these yet. The lot included Picard, Data, LaForge, Crusher, and Troi. No Worf or Riker, but I’ll surely hunt them down later. The Klingon sisters Lursa and B’Etor were in there too. The Enterprise crew seems to have most of their gear, but the Klingons only had their stands.

Before getting into the individual figures, let’s talk uniforms! Generations was an odd movie, as I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I saw a feature film re-use sets, costumes, and even actual stock footage from a TV show. The movie was originally supposed to feature all new Starfleet uniforms. In the end, they wound up using a weird mix of the regular Next Gen uniforms and the black jumpsuits used on Deep Space Nine. It was like Starfleet issued a decree that said, “Wear whatever the hell you want, we don’t care anymore!”

Nonetheless, Playmates’ Generations figures were based on the new uniform concepts, not what was used in the film, and so we got a set of figures in uniforms that have never been seen on screen and I suppose are technically not canon! Honestly, they’re very similar to the regular Next Gen uniforms with the addition of the classical naval-inspired flap on the front and a few other little tweaks and bobs. The addition of rank stripes on the sleeves is a nice nod back to older Trek and overall, I like these uniforms a lot. The uniform snafu probably worked out better for Playmates as the alternative was to just repackage the Next Gen figures on Generations cardbacks. With all new sculpts, it gave collectors an excuse to buy the characters again.

Unfortunately, Playmates decided to nix about half their standard articulation for this line. It’s as if Playmates got the memo halfway through production that the uniforms weren’t even going to be used in the movie and in blind rage they just said, “Sculpt them, kick them out the door, and to hell with articulation!” These figures each feature the basic five points (neck, shoulders, and hips) with a swivel in the waist. Gone are the bicep swivels, and hinges in the knees and elbows.

Playmates dipped into the usual bin of outlandishly colored accessories for the figures. I’m pretty sure most of what’s here is all reused from the regular Next Gen line, which in fairness is appropriate since the equipment in the movie used most of the same TV props. As usual I’ll toss in my lament about how I wish they just sculpted all the gear in grey plastic. Each figure also comes with a personalized display stand based on the new comm badge design used for the movie and for Voyager.

I don’t have a lot to say about Picard, other than he looks great. His head sculpt seems the same as the Next Gen version I have. He comes with his prized Picard Family album, a computer terminal and a tricorder. His stuff is molded in a blue, which is totally inappropriate, but not as vomit inducing as some of the other colors Playmates has used in the past. I’m guessing he originally came with a phaser too, but he’ll have to borrow one from one of my other figures. All in all, this Picard is a very cool figure.

Next up is Data. I’m very keen on this version of Data, since he doesn’t have the giant monkey arms that the regular Next Gen figure suffered. The head sculpt looks a bit tweaked too, or at least the mold came out better than my other Data. This guy came with a Tricorder, a PADD, and a Stafleet Monitor and naturally, they’re all cast in neon purple plastic. Why not! He also comes with a silver phaser, which I will be clipping the beam off of shortly.

LaForge is also looking good. The paint on this figure’s face is better than my regular LaForge, and it’s cool that his VISOR is still removable. He comes with three bright blue engineering tools and I have no idea what they are. I know the figure originally came with some more stuff, but I’m cool with what I got.

Dr. Crusher seems to use the same head sculpt as my original Next Gen Crusher, which is cool because it’s a pretty good sculpt. One thing I’m not too keen on is the difference between the male and female uniforms. The black from Crusher’s pants extend all the way up to just under her chest, and she doesn’t have the sculpted flap for her tunic, making it look like more of a jumpsuit. I’m not sure if they did this to make the uniform look more slimming for the ladies, but I’d rather they were all the same. Crusher comes with a Tricorder, a Medical Case, and a Portable Medical Computer, all cast in bright blue plastic. She’s also got a silver phaser… Yeah, I think I’ll be snagging that for Picard.

Troi has the same issue with her uniform design as Crusher does, apart from that she’s looking good. The head sculpt is so much better than the travesty used for the first Next Gen Troi release. (I have a theory that the same person who sculpted the first Troi head used to work for Toy Biz and sculpted the fright face they used for Rogue’s head in their 90’s X-Men line.) Troi comes with a Computer Terminal, a Tricorder, a Portable Computer, and a PADD, all cast in pink plastic.

And then there’s Lursa and B’Etor. The Duras sisters originally came with a shit load of Klingon weapons, but mine only came with the stands. I think the sculpts and paint on this pair are pretty darn good, although one might argue that Playmates went overboard with the Klingon cleavage, especially for what are still essentially kids toys. On the downside, the molded plastic skirts mean that these figures have even two fewer points of articulation then the rest of the line.

This whole lovely lot set me back a mere twenty bucks, which I thought was a pretty solid deal. I’ve got a pretty sizeable collection of Playmates 4 ¾” Trek figures, so the fact that I only had one out of the eight figures in this lot made it feel like it was meant to be mine. Sure, these some of the accessories are missing, but I rarely ever display these figures with their f’ugly rainbow gear anyway.

Tomorrow, we’re going to check out two of the ladies from Classic Trek… Nurse Chapel and Yeoman Rand.

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