Star Trek Classic Series: General Chang by Playmates

Since tomorrow we’ll be looking at Diamond Select’s take on Chang’s ship, I thought it would only be fitting to end this Trek Trifecta by spending some time on the General himself. Now, I have a real love-hate relationship with Star Trek VI. I won’t bother to point out it was better than Star Trek V because, well what isn’t? But, what I loved most about “The Undiscovered Country” was the Klingons. Not to knock Christopher Lloyd and his fun performance as Commander Kruge in “Search for Spock,” but Star Trek VI was released in an entirely different context. Sure it took place before The Next Generation, but for the first time Original Trek was able to take advantage of the rich characterization that Next Gen wove around the Klingon people and it really showed in this movie, not to mention the great casting. Christopher Plummer as Chang was awesome! David Warner as Gorkon… awesome!! Even William Morgan Sheppard as the Warden of Rura Penthe… awesome!!! The rest of the movie has some real cringe worthy stuff, like the whole Scooby Doo style mystery or any scene with Kim Cattrall. But seeing a great actor like Plummer don Klingon makeup for a Star Trek film really blew me away. And since neither Gorkon nor any of the other “Undiscovered Country” Klingons got figures, we’ll be content to look at Chang.

Chang was issued on Playmates’ “Classic Star Trek Movie Series” card. It’s an attractive card, but the inclusion of the Original Series Enterprise and font is pretty confusing and doesn’t really capture what this line is all about. I can’t recall the movie Enterprise appearing on any of Playmates’ artwork, which is rather a pity because it’s my favorite incarnation of the ship. Anyway, the Classic Movie Series was a scattershot sub-line that seemed to meander around and only offer collectors’ a frustrating cross section of figures from the various films. Case in point: Besides Chang, the only other figure released from “Undiscovered Country” was the shapeshifter Marta. I still find it amazing and insane that we got the entire bridge crew in their Original Motion Picture uniforms, but we never got a full set of the bridge crew in the uniforms they wore throughout the next five movies! Oh, Playmates!

And there is General Chang in all his Playmates glory. He isn’t exactly your typical looking Klingon as he’s bald and has pretty subdued ridges on his head. In fact, he’s easily the most human looking Klingon that we’ve seen since The Original Series. Still, you have to respect the eye patch… that thing is bolted right onto his face and that’s hardcore. The likeness is pretty good for a Playmates 4.5” figure, and the paintwork on the head is solid work.

Star Trek III taught us that Klingons in The Next Gen era wear the same battle armor as Klingons from the Classic Movie time, and yet “Undiscovered Country” went with a costume redesign. The new look is somewhat similar to the more familiar armor, but instead of being metallic, it’s more like quilted leather. Either way, Chang’s outfit is faithfully recreated on the figure right down to his ornately sculpted baldric and horned boots. I should also note that I’m extremely pleased with the proportions on this figure. Playmates didn’t go all wonky and give him a huge head or giant arms. He doesn’t look stylized at all, and there are no pre-posed shenanigans going on either as he features a pretty neutral stance.

Chang features fairly good articulation for the line. The arms rotate at the shoulders, swivel at the biceps and have hinged elbows. The legs have hip movement, which is unfortunately rendered inert by his sculpted tunic, and hinged knees. There’s no waist swivel, but Chang can turn his head.

No Klingon general is complete without accessories, and Playmates packed in a real mixed bag all molded in gold plastic. Hey, gold is better than neon purple, so I’ll take what I can get. Chang has his trusty disrupter pistol, which he can hold ok in his left hand. It’s actually the same mold that we got with Commander Kruge only without the cool add-on stock. Chang also has a communicator and a drinking glass, which no doubt contains Romulan Ale. The most puzzling piece in the assortment is Chancellor Gorkon’s walking stick. Maybe it’s a mantle of office for the Chancellor, but I never saw Chang with it after Gorkon died. It’s only purpose seems to be to mock me, as it will be the closest I ever get to a 4.5” David Warner figure (seriously, Playmates, I would have even settled for a St. John Talbot with a tiny cigarette). Lastly, you also get the very cool figure stand that comes with all the Movie Series figures.

I tend to think the “Classic Movie Series” features some of Playmates’ best efforts in their Trek line and General Chang keeps that tradition rolling along. The likeness is good and the paintwork is solid. In the end, he makes me long for more figures based on the Klingons from this movie and possibly even an assassin in Starfleet Spacesuit. When you think of some of the questionable one-shot figures that made it into the Next Gen figure line, it’s a crying shame that they didn’t treat the Classic Movies to a wider range of releases. But enough lamenting about what could have been, tomorrow we’ll end this marathon of Trek madness and take a look at General Chang’s Bird of Prey.

Extra Bonus: FigureFan Reads His Review Drunk. Wherein I drink, test a new microphone, scold my cat for trying to cough up a hairball, and offer some barely coherent commentary on Star Trek and my own review. This was never meant to see the light of day, but how often do I get a chance to add rare uncovered archival content? Enjoy! 

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