Thursday, December 31, 2009

Star Trek 'Potpourri' Spotlight-
1978 Whitman Coloring Books

Item Name: Star Trek Coloring & Activity Books
Manufacturer: Whitman (1978)

The Rundown: Picked up these 2 fine coloring books on eBay the other day. Published by Whitman (the same company responsible for those great quirky Star Trek comics of the 60's and 70's), these books aren't what one would call "higher reading", but they are pretty fun. I didn't scan every page, but I did do enough to give you the outline of the *ahem* stories...

First up... "Rescue At Raylo"! One thing Whitman excelled at was cover artwork, and these coloring books are no exception. Beautiful stuff!

The story starts off with the crew down on the planet Raylo doing a little exploring. Kirk and Spock are stationed near one of the caves. A little ship flies out and zaps Kirk and Spock into unconsciousness.

Spock quickly recovers and calls down Dr. McCoy to help the Captain. Bones revives Kirk, but when he awakens he is bewildered and starts spouting out a bunch of nonsense.

Kirk then gets up and does his best zombie walk right into the cave.

Here's where we get our first look at some of the villains of this piece- the diminutive Mortards, which look kinda like tougher versions of Smurfs. Kirk walks into one of their glass tubes...

...where he joins other captured crew members, as explained by the plot's mastermind, the evil Dr. Rycho!

Why is he capturing crew members you might ask? Why to power his computer of course! Silly. Oh, check out the very first Star Wars/ Star Trek crossover on the little computer tape there:

Yup. This whole thing is George Lucas's fault.

Anyways... The good "Dr." Spock immediately grabs for his communicator to call the ship for help, but Rycho has already cut off all communications to the ship. That makes Spock mad.

And what better way to vent your Vulcan anger than beating up on people smaller than you? Luckily the Mortards are just robots... but Spock didn't really know that when he threw that haymaker.

Spock then puts his foolproof plan into action- Call the Captain on his communicator and the computer will short out. Whhhhaaaaaaat?!? Okay. Sure.

Kirk hulks out of the now malfunctioning machine while a little Mortard gets glass to the eye.

Of course we have to get a happy ending, so Dr. Rycho gets to join everybody up on the Enterprise, where he'll be much happier. Yay!

Oh, and this one is a Color AND Activity book, so there's a bunch of fun crosswords and games and stuff. One of the cooler things is a page devoted to "making your own spaceship diorama", which includes those great crew cutouts up there.

Next we have "Planet Ecnal's Dilemma". Another great Whitman cover!

This one starts off with a bunch of introductory pages for the crew, including this great shot of Kirk. He oozes suave even in a kid's coloring book.

So what exactly is Ecnal's dilemma? Well their planet is losing all life and they have no idea why. Ouch. That's a bummer.

Kirk and the crew promise to do what they can, which includes-

Flying around in the shuttlecraft.

Shooting videos of sad tree guys for submission to AFV.

And Spock putting on a lab coat and playing with a chemistry set.

All of that leads them to find a giant freaking ship sitting on the surface draining Ecnal's power to replenish theirs. Not really sure how Spock working in a lab lead to this discovery.

The people of Ecnal implore the Lerows to stop what they are doing so that the planet can survive. The Lerow's respond by basically saying "screw you". Jerks.

Of course, Kirk has a plan. He drags a big mirror thing over to the Lerow's ship. The Lerow's (being jerks) fire at it. But AHA! It reflects the shot back at them and ummmm.... repowers the ship. Brain hurts....

The Lerows and Ecnals forget about that whole "it's us or you" thing and become friends. A celebration ensues...

...where of course Kirk and Uhura break into song.

All's well that ends well, and the crew heads back up to the ship... all looking just about as confused as I am after reading this.

Fun stuff, huh? I ended up scanning more pages than I originally planned on in the hopes that some of the folks out there with young kids will print them out and have some coloring time with them. Enjoy!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

AA/ DST Spotlight- Commander Spock
(DST Reissue)

Figure Name: Commander/ Mr. Spock
Manufacturer: Diamond Select Toys

DST reissued the original Art Asylum Spock as a single-carded release and... a 2-pack with Scotty.

The Rundown: Time to take another look at one of the DST crew reissues- Spock! Both the single-carded and 2-pack versions of Spock are pretty close in appearance, but are they different enough from the first release (spotlighted here) to warrant a purchase? Take a look!

The reissue Spock uses the same body as the original, so you're looking at the same great likeness and articulation here. Yeah, he's still got a rubbery shirt. I REALLY wish DST had given the reissues solid torso sculpts instead, but what can you do.

Spock has been given a lighter skin tone on the reissue than he had on his original release. I can't really decide which one I prefer and I really don't feel one stands out as being better than the other, so I'm going to leave this one up to your own personal preference.

While taking the pics I noticed that this reissue Spock (which is actually the single-carded version) had some "puppy dog eyes" going on. When I looked at the 2-pack version, I realized the eyes looked a bit better on him. Not sure if it's that way on all the releases, but it may be something to watch out for.

Okay, here's where the improvements really start adding up. The reissue Spock's tunic is molded in a slightly more vibrant blue than the original. It's tough to see it in the pictures, but you can notice it easily in person. I don't know if it's a slightly different material or if it's due to how new it is, but I also noticed that my original AA figures have black marks on their necks from reacting to the black collars on the shirts. I haven't noticed anything like that on my reissues. And as I've mentioned before, the gold paint that DST uses is much nicer than the original. You can see it in the delta shields up there...

...and in the rank braids. It's a really big improvement over the original, which now has a greenish hue.

Accessories: The single-carded Spock includes a tricorder, communicator, phaser, and 2 interchangeable hands. The 2-pack version includes the same equipment but lacks the interchangeable hands. Unfortunately, he's sporting the "live long and prosper" hand in the 2-pack, making his left hand pretty much useless.

So there ya go. The improvements to the gold and maybe the shirt material are the real selling points here, as I can't really say that the skin tone is any better or worse. I personally would call it an upgrade to your original, but I guess it depends on how bad the paint on your AA Spock has turned. Of course if you don't have the AA version, this release is a no-brainer. You MUST own Spock. I'd go with the 2-pack version, since you also get a superior Scotty, but you're going to need to crib an extra hand somewhere to get rid of the "LL&P" salute...


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Star Trek 'Potpourri' Spotlight- Nodniks!

Item Name: Star Trek Nodniks
Manufacturer: Funko

Funko released these little guys in carded pairs: Kirk & the Gorn and...

...Spock and a Klingon.

The Rundown: Bobble bobble! I mentioned in a previous bobbly spotlight that I'm not a huge fan of bobble-heads, but if you are and you prefer something a little on the smaller side...well Funko has just the product for you! Nodniks are Funko's brand of smaller bobble-heads. They stand right around 4" tall, have articulated arms and feature non-descript bodies with painted on detailing.

The Trek releases come in pairs (in fact all the different licensed Nodniks I've seen have been packaged in pairs). Captain Kirk comes packaged with his "Arena" nemesis, the vile Gorn captain...

...while Spock and "Klingon" fill the other slot. I'm fairly certain this Klingon is Kor and I'm not really sure why they didn't label him as such. Much like minimates, the likenesses are painted on caricatures of their screen counterparts. I don't really feel Funko did quite as nice of a job as AA/ DST does on the 'mates line though. The faces just look odd to me for some reason. Maybe they tried a little too hard to make them realistic when they should have 'tooned them up a bit more.

So should you get them? If you're a bobble-head fan, of course. But if you aren't (like me), the only real selling point is the price. I paid $7 per pack, making each character only cost a measly $3.50. That's just the right price for an oddity on my desk.


Monday, December 28, 2009

AA/ DST Spotlight- Phaser
Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Item Name: Phaser (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

Diamond Select Toys released this phaser in the "universal" Star Trek packaging. This TMP version is an Entertainment Earth exclusive. Here's the back of the box featuring some of DST's other products and a little more on the TMP phaser-

The Rundown: The TWOK phaser from DST was one of my favorite Trek toy purchases in years (you can read my original post on it here). The electronic features and sleek design are top notch and easily elevate the piece from a mere toy into the "prop replica" range. So when DST announced they'd be using the mold to do a TMP version, needless to say I couldn't get my credit card out fast enough to place my pre-order. Mine arrived shortly before Christmas... How does it stack up against the TWOK version? Let's look!

Both phasers feature the same great electronic features, so the only real differences in the two are in appearance. The TWOK style phaser features a shiny metallic silver finish while this new TMP version is molded in a flat gray color.

Oh! Before I forget... I didn't notice when I reviewed the TWOK version, but the handle actually has "pinky indents" just like the real prop! They are easy to miss (obviously), so it's pretty cool that DST took the time to include them.

The next difference is in the trigger. The new TMP style phaser features a flat trigger that lays flush with the handle while the original TWOK version has a raised circle in the middle.

Here's the biggest difference of the bunch, and the true selling point in buying another version. The buttons of the TMP version are a different mold than the TWOK version and are cast in translucent plastic. Instead of the plain white lights of the original, the new TMP version features multi-colored lights indicating the different power levels! Here's a quick video so you can see what I mean-

Pretty sweet! Had DST just left the lights the same, I'd have a hard time pushing an additional purchase on this... but with the addition of the different colors, I have no problem giving this one my recommendation. It was a great piece the first time, and it may be just a bit better on this go round!

You can pick up the phaser for $29.99 right here from the fine folks at Entertainment Earth!