Voltron: Legendary Red Lion by Playmates

I had planned to look at both the Red and Green Lions last Thursday, but I was only able to get Green in time, so this week, I’m going to take a look at Red. It actually worked out fine, because I’m a little pressed for time today and needed to do a quickie… and after reviewing four of these kitties, this should indeed be quick!

We’ve seen this packaging three times so far, and Red’s isn’t any different. The card and bubble are not collector friendly, but it does offer a good look at what you’re getting. The inserts are personalized to fit the lion and the package shows you where Red goes when he combines with the others to form Voltron!

Of all the lions, Red and Green are the most similar to each other, both in size and overall aesthetic. The legs share the same molds and the differences in the bodies are very minor. I realize similarities are to be expected for the sake of Voltron’s symmetry, but I think the designs for Blue and Yellow (Voltron’s legs) were better distinguished. That’s not to say I’m disappointed. This sculpt is sleek and curvy and absolutely beautiful and the the heads are each unique.

Playmates picked a fantastic shade of red plastic, which looks great along with the black, gray, and silver paint. You also get a little bit of yellow at the base of the tail and some light blue paint apps on the hind legs. None of my lions have had poor paintwork, but I think Red here is probably the tightest. There aren’t any nicks in the white around the mouth and the slop is kept to a bare minimum. Given that these are most definitely toys and not collectibles, I’m quite happy with how they turned out.

And yes, the little pilot sled accessory is still included and can be stored in the hatch under the belly. I wish they were able to keep the paint apps on these that are shown on the package and promotional materials. Or that I had the skills to paint them up myself. As it stands, I don’t have a lot of use for these other than the way they really convey how enormous these lions are supposed to be.

The articulation is identical to the Green Lion, which means you get hinges in the hips, knees, and ankles of each leg, all of which contain ratchets. The head can rotate side to side but cannot look up or down. The jaws are spring loaded and the elbow joint for the arm mode gives him the ability to bend left or right in the middle, which is useful for posing.

As with the other lions, Red comes with a back-mounted weapon. In this case it’s called a Magma Beam Launcher. It’s fairly similar to Green’s weapon and as big and goofy as it is, I really don’t mind it too much. I do think it’s unfortunate that they couldn’t cast the missile in a red translucent plastic instead of the blue they used for Blue’s Ice Beam.

Red also includes the other half of the Blazing Sword. which features a translucent blue blase. Like Green, he can hold it in his jaws, but I don’t think it looks as good with him carrying it as the Green lion does wielding his half.

Playmates has produced yet another fun lion to add to the team. Right now, I’d say that Red is contending with Blue to be my favorite, but they’re all quite good. He even escapes the one minor gripe I have with these and that’s the paint on the others could have been a bit better. With that having been said, I’m happy to have most of this Pride of Lions assembled. Next up will be Keith’s Black Lion and after that I’ll be able to check out Voltron. And fear not, convertorobo fans, next week, I hope to be turning my attention back to Transformers proper at least for a week or two before coming back to Voltron!

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Voltron: Legendary Green Lion by Playmates

As I’ve been threatening for the past couple weeks, I’m switching gears back to Voltron on Transformers Thursday for a couple of weeks. I had actually planned on looking at both the Green and Red lions today, but when I stopped off at the store to finally buy them, Red was gone. I wound up ordering him online, but he won’t make it on time and the show must go on so Green is going solo today.

The packaging is essentially the same as we saw last time for Blue and Yellow. It takes a mighty big bubble and card to contain this kitty, but the packaging is colorful and looks great. The bubble insert has an ad for the Netflix series and also shows that the Green Lion can form Voltron’s left arm, once you collect all five of the Legendary Lions! Alas, this packaging is far from collector friendly, so give me a moment to tear it open and we’ll check out Pidge’s ride!

There are a couple of things that I dig straightaway. First off, despite being an arm, he isn’t much smaller than the two leg Lions. That’s a big step ahead from my Toynami Masterpiece Classic Voltron where Red and Green are considerably smaller. I’ll include a comparison shot of the three Legendary Lions at the end. Yes, I know the more uniform size is going to come back and bite me when I get them combined and deal with Voltron’s proportions, but right here and right now, I like the scaling. I also really love the individualized styling of each lion. Green is a little less boxy than Yellow and Blue, but they still fit in beautifully with one another. And despite Green having an elbow joint in the middle of his body, he still looks great, and it adds that little extra bit of articulation to what is already a very posable toy. All the joints in the legs are strong giving him the ability to hold almost any pose.

Overall, the coloring is pretty good. The green plastic is bright and both the green and the black plastic are shiny. They both really pop next to the flatter gray. I do wish the paint was a little tighter on these lions. It’s not terrible, but the white paint on the face could have used another coat. It’s got a few chips in it and you can see some unevenness in the brush strokes. Yeah, this is a fairly inexpensive toy, not a collectors’ item, so I’m willing to be a little more forgiving than usual.

And yes, the Green Lion also includes a tiny pilot sled, which can be loaded into the opening door in his belly. The package shows the pilot fully painted, but in reality it’s just a black molded blob sitting in the sled. The only thing that I find cool about these is that they give you an idea of the enormous scale of the Lions.

As we saw with the Yellow and Blue Lions, each one of these comes with a special weapon that attaches. Green Lion has a giant missile launcher, which pegs into his back. Pidge’s Lion is supposed to harness the power of nature, and this thing is referred to on the package as a “Vine Launcher,” but it shoots a blue missile like the Blue Lion’s ice beam. The least they could have done is cast this missile in translucent green plastic. I wasn’t a fan of Hunk’s big disk launcher, but I liked Lance’s weapon, Pidge’s here falls somewhere in between. It’s not as stylish as Lance’s, but at least it can pivot and fire in different directions. I don’t hate it.

The Green Lion also comes with Voltron’s Shield and the back half of The Blazing Sword. The shield pegs into the back of the lion and the sword can be held in the Lion’s mouth, thanks to the spring-loaded jaws. Pretty rad!

With the two previous lions already on my shelf, The Green Lion fell right in line with my expectations. He looks good and he’s a fun toy. He’s also a damn fine value for the money. Green ran me exactly fifteen bucks at the local Big Box and I’m impressed that Playmates can put out a toy this cool for so little money. Hell, that’s less than a 6-inch Hasbro figure and about the same price as a Deluxe Class Transformer. He’s a good sized kitty with lots of articulation and he includes a bunch of extra stuff. Next week I’ll check out Red Lion and then get back to a few Transformers before moving on to the Black Lion!

Voltron: Legendary Blue and Yellow Lions by Playmates

I warned you all it was coming! Voltron has invaded Transformers Thursday and he ain’t gonna leave quietly. Well, truth be told, I have some new Transformers figures on their way to me, but they haven’t arrived yet so I needed filler! Still, after how much fun I had with the Ultimate Voltron, I thought I might as well check out Playmates’ Legendary, combining lions. Today I’m checking out Lance’s Blue Lion and Hunk’s Yellow Lion!

The lions come carded, which is pretty surprising as these are fairly good sized toys and larger than you’re average Voyager Class Transformers figure. The packaging lets you see lions very well and while the card look generic on the front, the backs are actually personalized for each lion. They also advertise the Netflix series, which, if you haven’t seen it, you should check out, because it’s surprisingly great. As attractive as the packages are, the downside is that they’re not collector friendly. Inside, you get the lion, a rather large weapon with projectiles, and a very tiny pilot with sled. Let’s open them up and let them loose!

I really love the look of these guys and I think they match the animated models quite well. They’ve got just the right mix of organic curves and squared off edges, making this an aesthetic that I can really get behind. They also compromise very little in favor of their ability to transform. The coloring is also very flashy, with base colors achieved through colored plastic and both the yellow and blue looking suitably bright and glossy. They also each have some red, white, and silver paint apps in all the necessary places. In a lot of ways, I’d say these cats can stand up to Matty Collector’s more expensive classic lions.

Another thing I really dig is that this pair are slightly different in size. Hunk’s lion is slightly larger and bulkier than Lance’s and each of the lion’s head sculpts are unique. I’m interested to see how the scaling difference effects Voltron, since they both form his legs, but I’m sure it’ll work out fine.

The articulation on these cats also stacks up quite nicely. The front legs feature ratcheting joints at the “shoulders,” “elbows” and “ankles.” The back legs have the same with an extra added ratchet between the “knee” and “ankle.” The tails are made of a bendy material and the jaws are springloaded and can open and close. That last bit, is a little disappointing, as it means you can’t display them with the mouths open. Also, there’s no articulation in the middles and the only articulation in the necks allow for the heads to move up and down.

Each lion comes with a teeny tiny pilot in sled. These go a long way to demonstrate the enormous scale of the lions and they can fit into opening compartments in their bellies. Honestly, I could have done without these. The shots of these on the package show them having paint apps on the little pilots, but that didn’t carry over to the actual toys. Once they’re in the lions, I doubt I’ll ever take them out again.

And speaking of features I could have done without, each lion also comes with a ridiculously oversized weapon that can mount on their backs. Hunk’s is an “armored disk launcher” and boy does this thing look stupid. It also doesn’t really match the cannon that Hunk could summon in the cartoon. It clips onto the lion’s back and it comes with four translucent blue disks. I’ll grant it this, it does shoot quite well! Obviously, I don’t need to use if I don’t want to, it just clips on and off, but it’s a whole lot of plastic invested in something I don’t plan on using a lot.

Lance’s lion features an ice beam, which translates into shooting a translucent blue missile. I actually don’t mind this thing as much as Hunk’s. The twin blades that reach out over the lion’s head looks kind of cool and once again, it shoots really well. Hey, I know these are toys, and I’m sure kids will have endless fun shooting these things off.

I’m not sure what the original MSRP on these lions are, but I picked mine up off of Amazon for about fifteen bucks a piece and it’s hard to argue with that. These figures are made really well and look great. Overall, the quality is loads better than what I was expecting. It goes without saying that I’ll be picking up the rest of the Legendary Lions, but next Thursday, I hope to be back to looking at an actual Transformer and then I’ll just alternate for the rest of the month.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Metalhead (Nickelodeon) by Playmates

TURTLES! Did you think I forgot about the Turtles? Well, I kind of did. I was planning to stop buying these figures after the initial wave of core characters, because I don’t really watch the new series and I’m really looking to cut back on the different lines I’m collecting. Nonetheless, when I go into the toy aisle and there’s nothing else in there and I want me a cheap fix, it’s hard to turn down Playmates’ TMNT line. The Wally World here looks like they’ve all but given up on selling action figures that aren’t Iron Man 3 or Star Wars, but they do still have a well-represented section of TMNT with a lot of the new figures. I decided on Metalhead, who isn’t a new figure, but one that hasn’t been showing up on the pegs around here. In fact, this is possibly the first time I’ve seen him in the wild.

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It’s hard to walk past the Turtles section in the aisle without getting drawn into it and a lot of that has to do with the great packaging. It’s exciting, colorful, goofy, and just seeing it makes me want to start rummaging through the pegs even though I told myself I wasn’t going to buy anymore. It’s nice to see Playmates get it right again with this line. I was afraid the influx of variant gimmicky Turtles would choke the pegs, but all of this stuff seems to be selling and there’s almost always something new to see here. It’s also one of the few action figure lines that the local Walmart seems dedicated to support. Maybe there’s a connection there?

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The back of the card features the usual clip-out bio card and other figure available from the initial couple of waves. Looks like I’ve got them all except for Kraang. I’m not digging that new design for the android body, but if he’s the only figure standing between being complete up to this point then chances are I’ll pick him up eventually.

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My first impression of Metalhead out of the package is that he’s less refined than the other figures. The plastic feels rougher, there’s mold flashing, and the paint is rather sloppy. On any other figure it would be a letdown, but seeing as he is a robot cobbled together from salvaged scrap, it actually works in the figure’s favor. I’d like to think Playmates did this on purpose, but other than the paint, I’m sure that’s not the case.

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I do really dig the Nick re-design of this guy. He’s very Turtle-esque, but with some boxy and angular bits and a wire mid-riff that would make C-3PO proud. The sculpted nuts and bolts on his joints are a nice touch, and I absolutely love the fact that his turtle shell is a manhole cover. Brilliant!

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We all know by now that if you aren’t one of the Turtles, your articulation in this line is going to suffer for it. That’s the case with Metalhead too, although this guy fares a little better than many of the other non-turtle figures. The neck is ball jointed and the arms rotate at the shoulders and swivel just under the elbows. That’s all there is from the waist up. The legs make out better with hinged ball joints in the hips, hinges in the knees, and swivels just under the knees. In the end he has just enough useful points so I can have some fun playing around with him.

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Metalhead doesn’t come with any accessories, per say, but you do get an energy blast style missile that fits into the hole in his right hand. There’s no firing mechanism, but if you flick the back of it just right you can get some distance on it. I’m not usually a fan of the missiles, but I do believe I may display him with the blast coming out of his hand. It just looks cool.

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I picked up this guy for eight bucks and change and I’m really happy with that. In fact, I’m rather amazed that the price on these figures hasn’t gone up all that much. When they were first released they were between seven and eight bucks each. Nowadays they seem to have leveled out closer to eight and nine, but that still makes them some of the better deals in the action figure aisle. This line continues to provide simple and honestly fun figures at a great price, which is something that few of the other companies can seem to do these days.

Star Trek The Next Generation: Data & Geordi LaForge (in movie uniforms) by Playmates

Tonight is Pub Night. It’s the one night of the week where I put my excessive drinking on display by taking it public, and I’ve started early by finishing off the last of my Balvanie 18. That means I’m a little strapped for time and I’m looking for a quick something to feature today. I also haven’t done much with the 90’s Star Trek figures by Playmates lately and I have a whole box of these guys sitting in the corner and waiting to be featured so I can find a home for them on the shelves. Today we’ll look at Data and Geordi in their Generations movie uniforms.

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I’m sure I’ve gassed on before about the Starfleet uniform debacle of Star Trek Generations. During that movie, The Enterprise was a come-as-you-are affair. Picard obviously called up Starfleet and said, we’ve saved the universe countless times, we’ll wear whatever the hell we want. I think there’s one scene on the bridge where you’ve got crew wearing the TNG uniforms, the DS9 uniforms, and a couple of 19th British naval uniforms from the Holodeck. The Helm Officer probably could have shown up for duty in his pajamas and nobody would have even blinked. The only uniforms that nobody is wearing are the original designs that were cooked up for the movie and scrapped later on. As a result, if you buy Playmates’ Generations figures, you get a complete set of the bridge crew wearing uniforms that were never actually seen on screen… ever! That all having been said, you can kind of tell that Starfleet was meant to be transitioning into the DS9 style jumpsuits during this time. Fortunately, Playmates made a mends by releasing some of the characters in the proper uniforms later on.

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I bought these figures loose, so I don’t have any packaged shots, but each figure was billed as being in their “movie uniform” and came with their own Skybox trading cards. Actually, they each came with a number of cards. I also got cards for Worf, Ambassador K’Ehleyr, and a couple for Lore. I guess at this point Playmates was just stuffing a bunch into each baggie. Playmates also continues the preposterous practice of stamping “collector numbers” onto the packages and the figures.

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Let’s start with Data. He’s an enormous improvement over the original Data figure. By this point in the line, Playmates was getting much better with the proportions and eschewing the more stylized caricature sculpts. This Data is taller and no longer suffers from those ridiculous monkey arms and huge hands. The head sculpt is updated only slightly, but I never had a problem with the original figure’s likeness, so this one is fine too. They nixed the opening access panels that were featured on the original figure, but that was clearly done so they could reuse the body. You also get sculpted rank pips on the collar and the newly designed communicator badge. I think my only gripe here is that his hands aren’t sculpted to hold any of his accessories.

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But that’s ok, because as usual the accessories suck anyway. The equipment is all stamped out in a blue-green plastic. God, I hate that! You get a tricorder, a PADD and… ah… two other things. This is why it helps to have the cardback… it’s often the only way to tell what the hell some of the accessories are supposed to be. At least the phaser is silver, but it still has the stupid beam coming off the end, which I’ll be snipping off at my earliest convenience. Data also comes with a display stand shaped like the newer comm badge.

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I don’t have nearly as much to say about Geordi, mainly because he uses the exact same body as Data, so it’s all been said already. The head sculpt is very similar to the original figure, although the VISOR is not meant to be removed. Geordi comes with a PADD, something else, and four diagnostic tools, all of which are appropriately stamped in purple plastic… wait, what? He also comes with the comm badge style figure stand.

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As both figures are built on the same body, they each feature the same articulation. The arms rotate at the shoulders, have hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs rotate at the hips and have hinged knees. There are also swivel cuts in the neck and waist.

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And there you have it… both of these are decent enough figures and they really show how far Playmates had come since the initial wave of Next Gen figures. I can’t say I like the DS9 style jumpsuits better than the Next Gen tunic, but it’s nice to finally have these characters in the proper uniforms which they wore in the movie. Plus, they look great displayed in my Generations Engine Room playset. There’s also a Captain Picard in this style uniform, which I still need to pick up… To the Ebays!!!

Star Trek: The Original Series Hand Phasers by Playmates and Diamond Select

I started my tribute to the new Trek film a couple weeks ago with a look at Playmates’ hand phaser from the 2009 movie series, so it seems only right to end Star Trek Week with a look back at The Original Series phaser. In terms of my own personal favorites, this original piece of Starfleet hardware is second only to the awesome design featured in the otherwise shitty fifth movie, The Final Frontier. Were they used again in Undiscovered Country in the infamous mashed potato attack scene? I think so, but I can’t remember for sure. I’m actually going to be doing a dual feature comparing the TOS phasers made available by both Playmates and Diamond Select. Phaser vs Phaser… FIGHT!

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No package shot, because I’ve had these things for what seems like forever, but since I’m likely to get a little techno-babbly, I am including two pages from my trusty Starfleet Technical Manual as reference for the anatomy of a phaser. I first bought the Playmates one to replace an actual resin and metal prop phaser that I bought at a Trek Convention back in the late 80’s. I had to sell that one off because I was in need of monies for college, or some other stupid thing, and I had a ridiculously high standing offer on it from a friend of a friend. It killed me to sell it, but them’s the breaks. Anyway, I was never totally happy with the Playmates release, so when Diamond Select offered their version some time later, I was quick to pick it up.

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First, let’s talk scale… both phasers are close to the proper feel for an adult hand, but the Playmates version is actually quite a bit chunkier than it should be. It’s not only the overall dimensions that are skewed, but the sculpted, “Type 1” phaser also looks a lot bigger than it should be. Now, if you just happened to be holding the Playmates version, the extra girth might not be readily apparent to you. It’s not that bad and it feels ok in the hand. But, if you compare it side by side with the properly scaled Diamond version, you can clearly see the difference.

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In terms of sculpted detail, both phasers hit all the right points Both have nice looking translucent beam emitters with adjustable photon accelerators. Both pieces do a good job of replicating steel finish for the accelerators. The beam shield is a bit stubbier and thicker on the Playmates version, but it still looks fine. Both models feature an adjustable Dilithium Crystal Cell, although the Diamond one actually serves a purpose for the SFX, whereas the Playmates version just turns. Both have painted deflector shielding on the sides and rear. They both look good, but I prefer the Diamond a bit more, mostly because it fans out of the back in the proper fashion. Both pieces have exposed screwheads on one side, the Diamond has one on the top and one in the handle, the Playmates phaser has three in the top and one on the handle. The other big difference is the Type 1 phaser on the Diamond version is properly textured, whereas the Playmates one is left smooth.

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Moving to the top down, it’s now worth pointing out that the Type 1 phaser in the Playmates version is sculpted on, whereas the Diamond one is actually removable. Obviously, this is a pretty huge difference. The Playmates version uses stickers for detail on the force indicator dials, and mine have long since fallen off. The Diamond version uses a printed paper sheet under the translucent piece and sculpted numbers and hash marks on the dial. Both look very nice. The Type 1 phaser on the Playmates version has somewhat unsightly speaker holes on the electron aspirator pile, and the trigger is just a sculpted piece, whereas it is a clear piece on the Diamond version. Both Type 1 phasers are missing the operational light between the force setting wheel and the force indicator dial, something that my prop did actually have.

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The electronics are about on par with both pieces. My batteries are drained on both so I’m going from memory here, but each phaser had different sounds for different settings. The Diamond version has working electronics in both the regular rig and the removable Type 1. I don’t recall having any issues with the sound on either piece.

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I’ll freely admit it isn’t really fair to compare these two pieces. The Playmates version was more of a mass market roleplay toy, whereas the Diamond version was designed more with collectors in mind. As a result, the Diamond release clearly comes out on top across the board.  That having been said, neither version is anywhere near on par with my old prop phaser, but both have their merits. The Playmates phaser can often be had for under $20, and all it needs is a patch of velcro to make it an excellent cosplay piece that can take a beating while wandering the hotel lobby drunk out of your mind. Of course, the Diamond version can usually still be had for under $40, and it’s clearly the way to go for a better display piece or for putting together the better Starfleet ensemble. I display them both together and just use the Playmates as a slightly earlier and less sophisticated version. You know, the kind you give to Red Shirts who don’t stand a chance of surviving anyway!

Pages are reproduced from the Star Trek Stafleet Technical Manual. NY: Ballantine Books, 1975. Researched and compiled by Franz Joseph. Star Trek is a registered trademark of Paramount Pictures.

Star Trek (2009) Command Series: Dr. McCoy by Playmates

In keeping with Star Trek Week, tonight I’ll be going to The Pub and taking my liver where no liver has gone before. That means I don’t have a lot of time, but thanks to some careful planning, I don’t need a lot of time today. We’re looking at Playmates’ Command Series Dr. McCoy and a lot of what I have to say about this figure was already said in yesterday’s Captain Pike feature. Still no in-package shot, so let’s just get right to it, so that I can go out and hit the Aldebaran whiskey.

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McCoy was definitely a high point in the Abrams films for me. Next to Quinto, I think Karl Urban does the best job owning his original Trek character without lampooning too much. I like Pegg as Scotty, but it’s not really the same Scotty at all. He’s just too wacky for it to feel like a legitimate treatment of the character. Ironically, I would have picked up a Command Series Scotty if Playmates did one. Ideally, I would have liked to have one in each of the shirts… Command, Science, and Engineering, but poor Scotty got stiffed and there were no Red Shirts released in this assortment. Anyway…

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The head sculpt is about on par with Pike’s. It’s soft, it’s rather cartoony, but there’s definitely a bit of the actor in there. The paintwork is pretty solid. Again, for a mass market retail figure in this scale, this is passable work. Not great, but passable.

The shirt is the blue version of what we saw yesterday. It’s a little long in the sleeves, but it looks nice from the front and has an ugly seam running up the back where it fastens. The sleeve stripes and chest insignia are all sewn on. The trousers and boot-feet are identical to Pike’s.

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McCoy makes use of the exact same body as Pike, and I presume the rest of the Command Series figures. It’s not exactly screen accurate as the barrel-chested body here seems a little bit buff for Karl Urban. That’s ok, though, as I didn’t expect Playmates to churn out a new body for each figure.

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Accessories? The same? Not quite. Yes, you get the same phaser and communicator, but you also get a tricorder. Really, Playmates? You couldn’t have just tossed in the tricorder with Pike too? Another odd thing worth pointing out: The belt clip for the communicator is painted silver on McCoy’s belt, but it’s left black on Pike’s. Weird.

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Hey, I told ya today would be fast. McCoy’s a decent enough figure for what he is, and you can still find him on clearance at a number of e-tailers. I still say we need some high end sixth-scale Trek figures, although my first choice wouldn’t be from the Abrams reboot. Now if Hot Toys would do movie versions of the Classic Crew? Yeah, I’d be all over most of them. No, it’s never going to happen, but I can dream. And with that I’m off to The Pub. I’ll catch you all tomorrow as I wrap up Star Trek Week with a nod back to the original series.

Star Trek (2009) Command Series: Captain Christopher Pike by Playmates

Star Trek Week presses on, and it seemed only fair to look at some toys from the 2009 movie series. Of course, Hasbro’s Not-Lego Kre-O aside, there are no proper toys from Star Trek Into Darkness. Why? Because Playmates’ 2009 Trek line was such an unmitigated disaster. Ironically, if you do want some Into Darkness toys, just go to your local Toys R Us, and you can still buy the 3-year old clearance figures from the first movie right off the pegs. I have looked at some of Playmates ’09 Trek toys before, The 6-inch figure line and more recently the hand phaser, but I never got around to checking out any of the sixth-scale line. Playmates produced a select few of the characters in this twelve-inch format: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Sulu, Spock Prime, and Captain Pike.

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I was never planning on going all-in with this scale. Originally, I was going to buy Kirk, Spock, and McCoy and be done with it. But Playmates just up-scaled the same terrible Kirk head for the larger figure and so I went with Pike instead. And that’s fine, because I really liked Captain Pike in that movie. This figure is part of the Command Series, which is what Playmates called the twelve-inchers. Alas, the packaging for this guy is long gone. I had a photo of it somewhere on the FigureFan Zero Mainframe, but I think it got deleted when I spilled Jameson on the HDD. Suffice it to say, it came in a pretty cool window box, which was fairly collector friendly. It’s been a year or so since I’ve had this figure out of storage, so let’s take a look.

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The portrait is decent enough for a figure in this price range. It at least bears a passing resemblance to actor Bruce Greenwood. You get little touches like creases in his forehead and around the eyes. He has a fairly neutral expression, which works for me. The paintwork is very precise. I dig the little grey added to his sideburns. I don’t know that I could recognize the likeness if the figure were dressed differently, but when I know what I’m looking at, I can see the resemblance. Yes, it is rather cartoony, but when you consider the horribly misshapen “man-baby” abomination that was Playmate’s Chris Pines headsculpt, this portrait is a welcome treat.

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The figure’s outfit is also fairly well executed. The new Starfleet shirts have a complex texture of tiny Starfleet emblems running throughout. Playmates managed to capture this effect with a simple pattern. It’s not quite screen accurate, but it looks good and I applaud them for making the effort, rather than just going what would have looked more like a Classic Series shirt. I’m happy to see that the stripes on the sleeves and the Starfleet emblem on the chest are both sewn on, rather than stickered as Playmates has done in the past. The shirt is a little long in the sleeves, and it’s rather unsightly in the back where it fastens, but otherwise fits the figure well. The trousers have a sewn pattern on the knees and the boots are simple sculpted rubber and make up the figure’s entire feet.

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Pike’s is built on a very serviceable 12-inch body. The proportions are good, with the possible exception of the hands, which are a tad too big. The head is ball jointed, the arms are ball jointed at the shoulders and elbows, and the wrists swivel. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, the knees are hinged, and there’s a swivel down by the boot. The chest has a ball joint which allows for swiveling and some limited up and back movement.

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Pike isn’t heavy on the accessories, but you do get the necessary basics. There’s an equipment belt, a phaser, and a communicator. The belt is easily removable and has a holster for the phaser and a slot for the communicator. The phaser is a very nice sculpt and painted in metallic silver. The communicator is just a block of plastic with a sculpted disc and Starfleet emblem. I’m not really a fan of the Abramsverse communicators. You also get a very basic figure stand sculpted to look like the Starfleet insignia. Only one of the figure’s feet are pegged for it. It works, but it’s rather awkward. I would have preferred just a straight disc stand.

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So, all in all, I gotta say… Pike’s not bad. Keeping in mind that this is a pretty “low end” over-the-counter 1:6 scale figure, and keeping in mind how sub-par most of Playmates ’09 Trek toys were, they did an Ok job with this one. I’m probably being extra forgiving because you just don’t see many sixth-scale figures at mass market retail anymore, so I’m grading with a curve. It also helps that I got this guy when he was slashed down to about nine dollars, as opposed to the $29.99 he was originally stickered at. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the only other one of these guys that I picked up… Doctor McCoy!

Star Trek: Starfleet Phaser (2009 Movie) by Playmates

Today’s feature is going to be a quickie, because I’ve got a bunch of stuff to do. No, I mean actual STUFF, not just drinking. I set about to think up something quick and easy and then I remembered that we’re less than two weeks away from the premier of Star Trek Into Darkness. A quick dig through one of my Toy Closets and… voila… I found this little beauty from the original film. Playmates certainly had their share of stumbles handling the toys for the first Abrams Trek movie, but their hand phaser was not one of them. This thing is definitely a cool little toy. Let’s take a look!

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The hand phaser comes sealed in a clamshell with a cool, curvy bubble. It’s not collector friendly by any stretch, as you’ll practically need a phaser to cut it out of there, but it is very nice to look at. There’s also a “Try Me” hole that lets you pull the trigger, but because of the moving parts, you can only try it in vaporize mode. Still… pretty nice. The 2009 Phaser is one of my least favorite of all of Starfleet’s hand phaser designs, but that doesn’t mean I dislike it. It certainly reflects the alternate Abrams timeline in which Kirk’s dad dying prematurely suddenly gave Starfleet engineers a collective chrome fetish. It borrows a bit from past phaser designs, and it does manage to capture at last the profile of a Classic Starfleet phaser while tossing in a whole lot of originality.

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In hand, this phaser looks pretty amazing. The chrome finish looks good, and apart from some plastic seaming on the top, it doesn’t look overly toyish. The size is also a pretty comfortable fit in my hand. All too often Role Play toys tend to go too big and chunky or undersized to better fit into kid’s hands. Damn toy companies pandering to kids, with their tiny hands! It’s the extremely light weight that betrays this piece as an inexpensive toy, as there’s virtually no heft to it at all. One side looks totally clean, while the other features some exposed screw heads, the copyright stamp, and the “Hey asshole, don’t throw your old batteries in the garbage” icon.

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The thing I like least about this phaser design is the switch-gimmick. Setting aside the toy talk for a moment… The engineering on the design uses two different emitters: A red one for vaporize and a blue one for stun. The emitters sit on opposite sides of a revolving piece, so when the user switches from one setting to the other, the appropriate emitter snaps to the front. They made a point of showing this in the film and when they did, I wanted to stand up and scream, “WTF??? Pause the movie… I need to see that shit again!” The design goes out of its way to be more complex than it needs to be, and much like the old Automatic vs Revolver debate, it seems like it’s just something extra to malfunction on the weapon. There’s nothing worse than when you’re in a shootout with some Klingons and your phaser jams. Now, I’m no 23rd Century weapons engineer, but I can’t see why it would be necessary to do this over the old elegant phaser design.

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Anyway, getting back to the toy… Playmates’ phaser replicates the moving emitters… sort of. If you have the phaser in the stun position, you can press a button on the side of the handle to automatically switch to the vaporize position. You cannot, however, switch back unless you manually re-position it. It seems like it should have been easy to make it work both ways, but whatever.

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The rest of the electronics feature an activation wheel on the top. Rotate it toward you and the panel lights up a bright greenish yellow and the phaser makes a nice, loud activation sound. This one is my favorite of the toy’s FX. The trigger activates the emitter light and sounds depending on which setting you have it on. The red light is very bright, and while the sound is loud, it sounds a bit abbreviated. I think that’s because the Abrams phasers shoot pulses and not sustained beams. I hate that, but in fairness to Abrams, I think that shit started during The Next Generation. Pulse phasers are evil, they just don’t feel like Star Trek to me. The stun setting on the toy is all around crap. The light is really dim and it sounds like the phaser is either malfunctioning or farting.

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Even with its flaws, this phaser is a pretty cool toy. I think it originally sold for around $15, but chances are you can still find it on clearance at your local Toys R Us. One of the TRU’s here still has an endcap of these and the figures. Hell, even the local Books-A-Million, in their bizarre transformation into part book store and part toy store, still has these. None of this stuff sold well because there probably hasn’t been a kid since the early 70’s that said, “Hey let’s get our phasers and go outside and play Star Trek.” Sad but true. But this phaser is still a wonderful piece for convention cosplay and a nice addition to any Trek arsenal on a budget, particularly if you want to display all the designs. Now, if you’ve got a little extra gold-pressed latinum to spend, Quantum Mechanix made a remarkably nice prop replica of this piece for under $100, which can still be found at various e-tailers around the InterWebs. (If you have a little more money to spend, they also make a $10,000 Enterprise model!) I don’t own their phaser, but I got a chance to hold one at a convention. The static model doesn’t feature any FX or moving parts, but it does look and feel really nice in hand.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rippin Rider (Nickelodeon) by Playmates

Once again, it’s Turtle Time! And if there’s one thing the 90’s taught me, it’s that ninjas love to ride motorcycles, and that goes double for ninjas who happen to be turtles. I already checked out the Sewer Cruiser, and the Rippin Rider is another vehicle in the same size assortment, but instead of being a crazy cobbled together creation, this one is more of a legit motorcycle for when the Turtles want to cruise the streets and hunt down Foot Clan without getting tied up in traffic. Originally, I was going to take a pass on this thing, but I found it for really cheap through a third-party seller on Amazon and even the shipping was next to nothing, so I figured, what the hell, my Turtles need a bitching ride.

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Of course, the problem with super cheap third-party listings and super cheap shipping is that you often get what you pay for. In this case, the seller literally just wrapped the toy in a plastic bag, put a shipping label on it, and kicked it into a post box. The box got pretty pulverized in transit, and while I would have preferred to have it for storage, it’s not a big deal. In this case, I think the low price was a worthy trade off for bad service. Anyway, the box is plenty colorful, with an exciting illustration on the front and a photo of the toy on the back calling out its features. To be honest, there’s not a whole lot to this toy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.

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Unlike the Sewer Cruiser, the Rippin Rider comes mostly assembled straight out of the box. Indeed, the bulk of the bike is just a big hollow piece, although it’s still plenty sturdy and it’s lack of heft doesn’t really make it feel cheap or flimsy to me. Quite the contrary, kids could probably beat the hell out of this thing and it would still be fine. In addition to the motorcycle, you get an instruction sheet and a very small bag of parts along with a very small sticker sheet. The parts include a pair of yellow headlamps, a pair of foot pedals, a missile launcher and two missiles. The sticker sheet has only one sticker on it, and it goes right in front of the shell between the front of the handlebars. The rest of the parts just peg right onto the bike.

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The sculpt is quite detailed and includes everything from the engine right down to the brackets holding on the quad exhaust system. The gas tank is designed to look like a turtle shell, but other than that the Rippin Rider is a pretty subdued and practical motorcycle design. It’s almost too subdued for the TMNT line. Even the colors aren’t too outlandish. The bulk of the bike is dark grey and black, with some bright green thrown in to make it pop. Still, it looks mighty nice standing there amongst my collection.

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In terms of play value, the Rippin Rider is primarily designed to hold a figure (or two!) and roll along and it does that very well. You do have the missile launcher, but it doesn’t actually fire. You have to flick the missiles out with your finger. There is a folding kickstand, which is great for holding the bike up on your display shelf. Even with a figure, the stand holds the bike perfectly upright. On the downside, the handlebars don’t even turn, which is probably the only thing about this toy that disappointed me.

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I got my Rippin Rider for $10 shipped and it feels like a pretty ok deal. Unfortunately, I think this thing is turning up at retail for around $15 and that would give me pause. I don’t think it’s a bad toy. On the contrary, it’s big and sturdy and I’m definitely going to use it to display one of my Turtles. It isn’t as fun or inventive as the Sewer Cruiser, but then I guess it isn’t meant to be. I’m not someone who requires a lot of play gimmicks with my toys, so the Rippin Rider’s simple nature doesn’t bother me at all. If you feel the same way, this vehicle probably won’t disappoint.