Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Item Name: Captain James T. Kirk Star Trek Legends Ornament
Hallmark released this piece as part of their 2010 keepsake assortment.
The Rundown: It's that time of year again... Time for the holiday clearance sale at Hallmark! If you've stayed thrifty and avoided buying Hallmark's 3 Trek ornament offerings for this year, now is the time for a trip to your local Hallmark. As the holiday winds down, the stores begin to divest themselves of their Christmas ornament selection... meaning you'll be able to snag the trio at a deep discount if you're lucky. Sadly, this season's offerings weren't quite up to par with the last few years. While the Amok Time ornament was pretty cool, the 2009 film inspired Enterprise left a bit to be desired (especially in the quality control department). The last of the three is the Kirk we're looking at today. How's he stack up? Let's take a look...
Kirk is the first in a new series of Hallmark ornaments dubbed "Star Trek Legends". The series is slated to feature a new character from the original television series every year. While I'm all for more TOS-inspired ornaments, this seems a little redundant to me. Sure, the series may end up giving us some characters we don't already have in ornament form eventually, but I really see this as Hallmark looking at a way to sell us the main guys again in new poses. We already have perfectly good ornaments of most the original crew from Hallmark. The only way a "re-do" makes sense is if you do it better... and judging by this Kirk, they aren't doing them any better.
Let's start with the head... You're probably looking at that pic up there and thinking to yourself- "man, that is a pretty horrible likeness". Well, you're wrong. The likeness is great, see?
The ornament is a dead ringer of John Belushi as Captain Kirk from the old SNL Star Trek skit. Kudos to Hallmark for plucking this obscure moment of Trek history and producing this... Wait. What? It's supposed to be Shatner? Really? Oh.... well. Yeah, it sucks then.
Seriously, I know that in the past I've cut Hallmark some slack on likenesses. These things are usually fairly small, and the materials used to make them aren't really conductive to facial accuracy.... but I can't let this one slide. At 4" tall, there's no reason the likeness on this Kirk should be SO much worse than previous smaller efforts from Hallmark. It's bad. Real bad.
Unfortunately, the likeness isn't the only issue on Kirk. His proportions are REALLY wonky. Take a look at his pipe-cleaner arms and ridiculously inflated phaser up there. In the immortal words of Captain Panaka from Star Wars Episode I- "Looks pretty bad". I'm really not sure how Kirk even made it into production looking like this.
Oh yeah, and it's a minor gripe, but Kirk can't stand on his own either. I know, I know, he's meant to hang from a tree. Maybe I'm weird, but I like to display my ornaments too, and there really isn't any reason that a "posed" figure like this shouldn't be able to stand on it's own. Oh well, enough belly-aching... Here's his box bio-
That's weird. They forgot to mention his adventures with Dan Aykroyd in "Blues Brothers". They must have run out of space.
To be fair, Kirk was the cheapest of this year's offerings at only $14.95. Too bad he isn't worth that though. Simply put, the previous single Kirk produced by Hallmark WAY back in 1995 is a superior product and can still be had for less than that. As I said at the start of this though, it's clearance time at Hallmark, so you should be able to find Kirk for a cheaper price now. I'm willing to bet that if you find any of this year's ornaments still on the shelves, it will be this one. "Legends" Kirk doesn't bring anything new to the table, other than worries that Hallmark may be letting the quality slip on their Trek products just a bit...
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Item Name: USS Enterprise NCC-1701 (From "Star Trek: The Original Series")
Manufacturer: Mattel (Hot Wheels Division)
This Enterprise was released boxed as part of a mega-set through Costco stores. Here's what the individual box looks like-
The Rundown: I was pretty excited about the Star Trek Hot Wheels line when it was first announced. Decent replicas of ships at an affordable price? Sign me up! I gobbled up the first wave, hunted down the new ships from the second, patiently awaiting my classic Enterprise. But, as more and more of the ships from the first 2 waves started piling up, and with nary a sign of later ships like the 2009 Enterprise in stores, I figured all hope was lost for my beloved TOS Enterprise. Until an unlikely hero by the name of Costco saved the day...
In case you aren't familiar with Costco... where have you been? It's only the largest membership warehouse club in the United states! Well, at least according to wikipedia it is. I have no idea, but I bet they have that right. Anyways... Costco worked out a deal with Mattel to do a big boxed set of the remaining unproduced ships from the Trek Hot Wheels line plus the DVD Scene-It game. The whole set originally retailed for $79.88, which isn't a bad price considering what is included... but with the current state of Star Trek merchandise, I have to question how Costco thought this was a worthwhile gamble. I mean, the Trek Hot Wheels line wasn't all that successful to begin with- couple that with the price (plus the fact that most folks had no idea that the set was even there) and you're left with an item destined for clearance pricing. First it was $79.88, then $59.99, then $49.97, $29.97, and now $24.97 (as of this writing). Yeah, I'm pretty sure Costco can't be happy with how the set is performing. I can't help but think that it would have made more sense to sell these individually through their stores at $15 each. But, back to the ship...
While none of the Hot Wheels Trek vehicles are the "definitive" versions of the ships they are replicating, I do really like their Enterprise. Maybe the simplistic beauty of the original Enterprise makes it easier to translate, but I think they did a fine job on her, perhaps even besting some of the other previous small-scale replicas.
There she is amongst some other comparable Enterprises. The Hot Wheels version is considerably lighter in color than most current toy versions, which is something I like. Regardless of how accurate or inaccurate it is, the color reminds me very much of the old Dinky version (which, as we all know, ruled).
Since the Costco set has 6 ships all together in one set, finding solid paint jobs across the board would seem to be a challenge. Surprisingly this isn't the case, as most of the sets I've seen have pretty even detailing. My Enterprise (and all the other ships in my set) has a very concise paint job, with no stray paint blotches that I can see.
I really like how Mattel handled the illuminated nacelle tips of the show version. Instead of just painted caps, they used a translucent orange plastic. It's a small detail, but it adds a lot to the look of the ship.
Of course, just like all their other releases in the Star Trek line, the Enterprise includes a nifty display base. How else are you going to display it? Duh.
And there's your regularly scheduled box bio if you care to read it...
Would I recommend this one? Of course! In my opinion, it's the most important ship in the entire Star Trek franchise- meaning no display in this scale is complete without it. The only thing that stinks is that you have to buy a giant boxed set to get it. At the current retail of $24.97 though, this ship alone makes it worth the price of admission.
Costco currently has it on their site HERE, but at $39.97 it's a bit pricier than the in-store cost. You do get free shipping with it though, which helps even it out. Either way, you'll need to be a Costco member to buy it. If you aren't already a member, you may want to check with your friends, as the yearly cost is $50...
Monday, December 20, 2010
Figure Name: Mugato
Manufacturer: Playmates Toys
The Mugato was released as part of the second wave of Playmates 12" Trek figures back in 1999. (Nope... no boxed pic this time.)
The Rundown: Well, unlike the 4.5" Mugato, Playmates at least got the name right on this one... though that may be one of the few things they got right on this guy. The Mugato is unlike any of the other Playmates 12" Trek figures, as you're about to see...
Let's start with the good. The head sculpt is pretty decent here, with an appropriately angry grimace on the face. I think the 4.5" is a bit better, but I wouldn't say this one is bad by any means.
Playmates captured all the necessary details of the Mugato, including the back spikes and tail. I just have a major issue with how they went about capturing them...
Instead of putting a furry suit over an articulated body, Playmates basically phoned this one in. The Mugato is no more than a stuffed animal with a wire armature inside. That's a little lame considering he cost the same amount as a standard 12" Trek figure. Not only that, the wires don't hold a pose all that well (especially the legs), leaving you with very little in the way of display options.
The other problem is the height. Mugatos are supposed to be around 2 meters tall, not including the head spike. This guys looks like he must be the runt of the litter. Couple his short stature with some majorly poofy fur and the 12" Mugato ends up looking more like a Sprite from Rainbow Brite than he does a fearsome beast.
Accessories: Unless I misplaced them somewhere, the Mugato includes absolutely nothing. Again, pretty lame. Sure, the Mugato uses nothing in the episode, but how about including a flintlock or a mahko root like the 4.5" version did?
You may be considering picking this guy up to supplement your 12" crew collection with. I would give that some SERIOUS thought before plunking down the $40-$60 that this guy usually goes for. His size makes displaying him a little problematic... and he's a freaking stuffed animal. I'd skip this one if I were you, unless you can get him for under $20.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Figure Name: Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy
The Rundown: And so we come to the conclusion of our Nanjin custom 12" spotlights. Good ol' Bones closes out the trinity... and just might be the best of the bunch. Let's take a look at the good doctor...
While I think Nanjin's work on the heads for both Kirk and Spock was quite good, McCoy is really the best of the bunch. It may have something to do with the fact that De Kelley has much more "character" in his face, making it a bit easier to capture his likeness. But it's not just the sculpt that pushes this one to the top in my eyes; The paint job on Bones is great, particularly those "baby blues" of his. Outstanding work!
Just like the previous two figures, Bones features a beautifully rendered costume. From his expertly tailored shirt...
...and down to his screen accurate pants and boots. This thing could put many cosplayer's outfits to shame! And of course, just like Kirk and Spock, McCoy's pants feature the same great built in magnets, allowing him to holster his weapons along his waist.
It's tough to pick a favorite amongst the three Nanjin TOS customs, but I think McCoy gets the top spot (though it's by a VERY small margin). There's just something about the way this one looks that screams classic McCoy to me. Oh, and his additional accessories help a bit too...
Accessories: McCoy includes the same phaser, communicator, and tricorder included with Kirk and Spock, so no reason to go back over those again... but Bones also includes one other very special accessory: His Medkit!
Just as the shirts on these figures draw their inspiration from the third season attire, so too does McCoy's medical kit. The kit attaches to the waist of McCoy's pants via clips located at the end of 2 straps at the top of the pouch. And just like the show, the kit is held closed by a bit of velcro and unfolds to reveal a wealth of medical goodies-
At the bottom of the pouch are 4 "vacutainers" of varying colors. Each vial slides into a separate housing in an elastic band that crosses the lower flap of the pouch. The green paint has cracked a bit on one of mine, but otherwise I'm truly impressed with the paintwork on these, especially in light of how TINY they are.
The top portion of the pouch houses McCoy's scanner and hypo, each held in by separate elastic bands. You may be fooled by the picture, but these pieces are in scale with the figure, meaning that they are incredibly small. The detailing here is quite impressive!
So there they are! I've been holding off on my final thoughts on these for this spotlight, but I'm sure you can pretty much guess how I feel about them. I've bought a lot of Trek figures over the years... some really bad, some really good. I'll go on record here as saying that these three figures are the nicest representations of the "holy trinity" that I've ever owned. I can tell you that they weren't exactly cheap, but no high quality 1/6th scale figure is cheap nowadays. With these being a VERY limited custom run, I expected to pay a hefty sum for the three of them, but surprisingly the price was pretty much in line with what Hot Toys charges for similar licensed product in the 1/6th scale market. All that being said, I have had ZERO buyer's remorse since purchasing them. They are simply fantastic figures that I treasure owning. Good 12" Trek figures have always been one of my toy "Holy Grails". Well, thanks to Nanjin, I can now check that one off the list.
I don't think there's any left of these to go around (though I can check with Nanjin if you're interested), but there are a few more Trek items on the docket from him that are sure to rock. For TOS, there's an incredible 1/6th scale Captain's chair and an expansion set of uniforms, accessories, and new heads coming next year. But before that is the first release in Nanjin's "Wrath Of Khan" line: Spock! I seriously cannot wait...
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Figure Name: Commander Spock
This custom Commander Spock 12" figure was released in 2010 as part of a trio of "Star Adventure" figures.
The Rundown: A Kirk without a Spock is like a Reese cup without the peanut butter center... so of course I'm following up the previous spotlight on the 12" Nanjin Captain Kirk with today's spotlight on Mr. Spock! It was the logical thing to do...
Just like Kirk, I want to give you a head's up that Spock here isn't exactly how Nanjin sent him out. Instead of the body that he arrives with, Spock's head and outfit are mounted on a Hot Toys body. The original body is fine (and is actually a bit taller than Kirk and McCoy), but I just felt that the outfit and head deserved something just a little bit better. So, with that said, let's check him out!
If you read my Kirk review, you already know the deal with the head sculpts. Nanjin had a pro in line to do these, but that sculptor scrammed on the project, leaving Nanjin to do the work himself. I think the likeness really works at certain angles, and is better in my eyes than both DST's "Ultimate Quarter Scale" Spock and Sideshow's Premium Format Spock.
Spock's shirt is expertly rendered, replicating the look of the third season attire to perfection. Some folks asked why Nanjin went with the later look of the uniforms instead of the earlier velour shirts. Easy answer-
Sci-Fi Metropolis showed us that the velour look doesn't really work that well at 1/6th scale. Some materials just don't look right on a 12" figure. If it meant having shirts that looked like that, I too would have gone with the later look.
Spock features the same trousers we saw on Kirk. There's 4 strategically placed magnets in the pants allowing Spock to "holster" his communicator and phaser. An ingenuous way to eliminate the velcro used on the show, which again would not have worked at this scale.
The boots are made of a leather-like material and feature a real zipper sewn into the side. I neglected to mention this on Kirk, but since the boots are made of a softer material than the standard rubber used on most 1/6th scale figures, the ankles are still able to achieve a wide range of movement. They are a little tricky to get on and off though, so you should take great care if you get a set of these and want to switch them onto different bodies.
Accessories: Spock includes a communicator, a phaser, and a tricorder. Since we already took a close look at the communicator and phaser in the Kirk spotlight, we'll just focus on Spock's tricorder this time. Pictured above is the tricorder with all the panels closed...
...and there it is with them open! It's truly remarkable to see this kind of quality at this size, especially given the fact that this isn't the work Hot Toys or Sideshow! The panels swing open easily, and the leather strap is a perfect length, allowing you to pull off poses like this with ease:
Yeah, that rocks. Again, I'm going to reserve my final thoughts on these guys until we get to the final of the three spotlights, which should be in just a day or two. Until then, here's another teaser-