If you follow me on Twitter than you know that I’ve had a lot of Star Trek on the brain lately, and it’s all because of CBS’ new series Discovery. Now, it’s not what you might think. You see, I hate the show. In fact, I’m not sure hate is even a strong enough word. But in a way I’m almost thankful for it, because it’s gotten me so worked up about Star Trek that I’ve been back into watching one or two episodes a night of everything from The Original Series to Voyager and I’ve been falling in love all over again. I’m not sure how much of any of that really factors into today’s review, because truth be told DST’s Khan Noonian Singh just popped up in my Amazon Recommendations for a crazy good price, so I bought him. Probably would have happened anyway.
If you’re not familiar with these Trek Select releases, they fall somewhere between action figures and statues, and favor swappable parts over articulation. In fact, Khan here actually has less articulation than the Original Series Kirk and Spock sets that were released earlier. I reviewed the Kirk set over four years ago and it left me a little befuddled. To be honest, I bought this one mainly for the Movie Era Captain’s Chair. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk packaging… I have been pretty critical of DST’s action figure packaging in the past, particularly with their Muppets line, because it’s so big and wasteful. Here, I think it’s totally warranted because there’s a whole lot of stuff in this box and I don’t think they could have crammed it into a smaller bubble. The cardback features a wrap-around with a picture of Khan on the side panel and the Star Trek 50th Anniversary logo running up the front. The back of the card has a satisfying and lengthy piece of background copy and shows some of the other figures in this line. Also, check out the picture of the Reliant on the bubble insert. That sure looks like it might be a painted prototype of a Starship Legends Defiant. WHERE IS MY STARSHIP LEGENDS DEFIANT, DIAMOND???
Did I mention I bought this mainly for the chair? Well, the chair is quite nice. The deck piece is made out of very sturdy plastic with slots to plug in the chair and the railing. It features a textured deck plate, which looks great, and a rather unfortunate footprint and peg to show you where to put Khan’s foot, which doesn’t look so great. The chair doesn’t swivel, but it does feature two hinged armrests with painted controls panels. DST has been including some cardboard pieces with some of their sets, most notably the Kirk with Engineering section in this line and their Seven of Nine Femme Fatales statue. It would have been cool to get a standee showing the back of the bridge behind the chair, but alas, it was not to be. I guess we might as well take a look at the Khan figure too. I’ll start him off in his standing pose.
We’ve got to start somewhere, so here he is proffering, “I make you a counter-proposal, I will agree to your terms, if…” and pointing his finger in the air. Overall, I think this is a really solid sculpt, but I’ll talk about it more at the end, when I do some comparisons with DST’s actual Khan figure from 2007 or so. For now I just want to run through all the different combinations of poses and parts!
Here I simply swapped out the calm head for the angrier portrait and traded his left pointing hand for a fist. Not a huge difference, but it does change up the scene a little bit. I’m a bigger fan of the calmer face over this one, although I think it’s passable. Let’s try swapping out both arms and going back to the calmer portrait…
Now this look I dig a lot. The folded arms are first thing we’ve seen that an articulated action figure would not have been able to do, and I think this pose looks great. Chances are I’m going to be giving the chair to Kirk, but if I do wind up displaying Khan, this is most likely the look I’ll be going for. Now let’s pop the legs off at the waist and get him seated in the chair…
He fits into the chair pretty well, but considering he was sculpted specifically to sit in it, I think it could have been a bit of a better fit. He has a right arm that is made specifically to rest atop the armrest and his left arm looks pretty good resting the elbow with his fist clenched in anticipation. He looks pretty good in the chair, but displaying him this way shows just what a bad design choice that footprint and peg in the deck-plate was. The footprint is totally unnecessary and it would have been much better to just put the peg in the foot and a less unsightly hole in the deck.
Swapping out the head and left hand and rotating the arm up at the shoulder offers a couple different gestures and expressions. I think both of these look pretty good.
You can also go with the crossed arms while he’s in the chair. Not bad at all. And so while clearly not an action figure, I was able to get at least seven fairly unique display options out of him with the parts provided. I’ve got to admit, it’s kind of fun seeing what you can do, but not so much fun that I’m a big advocate of this concept. As I mentioned earlier, the Kirk and Spock figures had full articulation in their arms, but were static below the waist. Here, the only purposeful articulation is in the ball jointed neck, while the rest are just rotating cuts as a byproduct of the parts swapping.
So, here’s a shot of this guy with the original, and fully articulated, DST Khan figure. In terms of sculpt and paintwork, I think the new one is an improvement on just about every level, but then again we’re talking about a difference of ten years. The tunic on the new one properly reflects the wear and tear a lot better, the glove is more screen accurate, as is his wrist communicator and delta necklace. The flesh tones on the chest of the older figure are not painted very well at all, whereas the new one is much improved.
The portraits are overall better and more detailed too, although they work for me from some angles and not so well from others. I think the calm expression head is far more successful than the angry one. The features are much sharper on the new sculpts, both in the facial features and hair. I also really appreciate the better attention to paint in the face, even if it is a little heavy handed around the eyes. But again, nearly ten years separate these figures, so these improvements aren’t so much a triumph of craftsmanship, but more an expected march of improvements.
And while this version of Khan scales slightly bigger than the original DST Wrath of Khan figures, the chair does indeed make for a good fit with those previous releases. Indeed, I think the articulated Khan actually fits a bit better in the chair than the one designed for it. And since the command chairs in the Reliant and Enterprise were basically the same, I’m happy to pop Admiral Kirk in there.
Back when I reviewed the original Kirk set, I came away saying I didn’t really understand its purpose and that still applies here. And it must be repeated that I did buy this mainly for the chair and also because it was on deep discount at Amazon. I’m glad I bought it, the chair was definitely worth the thirteen bucks I paid, and the Khan figure has its charms too. But if you want an actual Khan figure, the original release can still be had for surprisingly low prices if you hunt around on Ebay. Sadly, that’s more than can be said about the rest of the crew!