Sunday, January 31, 2010

Star Trek The Sci-Fi Channel Special Edition Extras-
"The Conscience Of The King"

All the extras from the Sci-Fi Channel Special Edition of "The Conscience Of The King". Yeoman Rand's final episode...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Reading Room Spotlight-
"Star Trek
The Khan Noonien Singh Trilogy"
By Greg Cox

Awhile back, I spotlighted the excellent Trek novel "Assignment: Eternity" by Greg Cox. The tease at the end of the book about how Gary Seven would be instrumental in dealing with Khan's exile lead to 3 books focusing on the Rise and Fall of Khan. In the "Eternity" review I named it as the best Trek novel I had ever read. Well, after completing the Khan trilogy, that may have changed.

The first 2 books focus on Khan's origins and rise to power. Intertwined in Khan's origin story are Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln, who are on a quest to thwart the efforts of genetic engineering. You won't believe the role that Gary plays in Khan's life, from his earliest days up through his exile from earth. Cox also does a masterful job of making sense out of the Eugenics Wars taking place in the 1990's. Mixing in real world events and giving a plausibility to a "behind the scenes" genetic tyrant and cryogenic-capable sleeper ship make you almost question if perhaps Khan really did exist in the 90's...

The third book in the series focuses on Khan's years of exile on Ceti Alpha V. Again, Cox does a great job of making certain film inconsistencies not only work, but add depth to his stories (like why Khan keeps the one glove on...). I actually found myself rooting for Khan by the end, and it has enriched my views on Khan's character in "Wrath Of Khan". In fact, do yourself a favor if you pick this up and immediately watch TWOK after completing it. It's amazing how different you feel about Khan once you know where he comes from.

I went into these books thinking I'd probably like them, but not as much as Eternity since they lacked the TOS regulars (Kirk, Spock, & company). Boy was I wrong. While Kirk and crew do have small (yet still interesting) side stories in all 3 books, Khan easily held my interest all on his own. All 3 books are fantastic and get my highest recommendation. I just wish there were more...


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Playmates Spotlight-
Captain James T. Kirk
(9" Figure- As Seen In The Episode
"Where No Man Has Gone Before")

Item Name: Captain James T. Kirk (From "Where No Man Has Gone Before")
Manufacturer: Playmates Toys

Turtleneck Kirk was released as a Target Exclusive way back in 1996 as part of the "Star Trek Collector Series" (sorry, no boxed pic for ya).

The Rundown: I've always been a fan of the uniforms seen in "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Sure, the standard series uniforms are classic, but there's something about those early uniforms that just scream "sci-fi" to me. Playmates replicated the look for their 9" line, and the result was pretty nice (if you're a fan of that style of figures)...

Sure, they aren't that well-articulated, and yeah they're a bit too buff, but the Playmates 9" line has charm to spare. It's a line that made great financial sense to Playmates, since almost all the figures could use the same body with different uniforms thrown on them. The price was REALLY high back then, which caused me to shy away from the line when it was on shelves. You can get almost all the figures on the cheap now though, and it's worth picking up some of your favs if you've got a few extra bucks to spare.

In the case of the "WNMHGB" figures, Playmates did a fine job of capturing the look of the shirts. The knitted material works well and the collar is very nice. The only thing that's a bit off here for me is the color. It looks a little closer to Pike's and is a bit too "peachy" for Kirk.

It's been awhile since I've spotlighted one of the 9" Kirk figures, so I'll say it again: I think Playmates did really nice work capturing the Shat's likeness, especially considering the rotocast material used here. I don't know the exact process of taking an original sculpt and transferring it into this rubberized material, but they definitely made it work. I'm not sure any other company has captured him as well up to this point.

Accessories: Kirk includes a phaser, a communicator, and a tricorder. This is probably the most disappointing aspect of the figure as none of the accessories match the look of the equipment used in the pilot. Oh, and Playmates 9" figures can't hold their weapons all that well since they are all made just a bit too big (a major drawback you'll need to overcome if you decide to get into the line).

His box bio-

I may sound like a broken record here, but the 9" line really is an acquired taste. If you decide to get into it, you can usually find some pretty good deals out there. You may want to start by picking up your favorite subset, like for example the "WNMHGB" figures like Kirk here! The weapons are a bit disappointing, but the figure looks good on a shelf surrounded by his "pilot uniform" brethren...


Playmates Update
(It's not good news...)

Just got this notification from Playmates on future product-

Playmates Toys has been trying to come up with alternative ways to continue distributing our Star Trek brand of toys. Unfortunately, we have been unable to come up with additional distribution options and have discontinued the Star Trek line. Playmates sincerely apologizes for any inconvenience this has cause you or your family.

That's a bummer. I was hoping that at least the proposed TOS 3.75" figure 2-packs (which we're rumored to be a collaboration between DST and Playmates) were going to still happen, but it sounds like all Trek is pretty much dead at Playmates...


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

AA/ DST Spotlight-
U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701
("Star Trek II The Wrath Of Khan")

Item Name: U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701
Manufacturer: Diamond Select Toys

DST released this Enterprise as part of it's "Star Trek II The Wrath Of Khan" line.

The Rundown: The greatest ship design to ever grace the silver screen is recreated by DST in plasticized, effect-laden glory! One of the nicest segments of DST releases are their affordable, high-quality replicas of the ships seen in the films and movies. Let's take a peek at their "movie refit" version of the old girl...

The first thing you notice when you see this one in person is the "pearlized" finish used on her. I personally REALLY like the look. It gives it a much richer look than had they just molded it in light gray plastic and called it a day.

Unlike the TOS version, the movie refit of the Enterprise had a ton of little details painted onto the shooting model. DST did a fine job at capturing all of these little bits, and the paint on my original release is very clean and straight... which was probably quite a task with all these little details (more on this later).

Just like all the other DST ship releases, this TWOK version includes an interchangeable battery cover and stand for display purposes. I like the style used here (ball-and-socket) versus the pegged stand used on the TOS ship. The stand feels sturdier and I worry a little less about these taking a dive off my shelf.

And (of course) the ship is loaded with electronics- There's lighted features on the nacelles, deflector, and on the saucer, plus a ton of sound effects! Instead of typing them all out, here's a quick vid so you can just hear them for yourself-

You can't make out the lights that well on the video, but they are just a tad bit on the disappointing side. The deflector could be a bit brighter, and there's a pretty good amount of light bleed on the nacelles. Which leads me to the recent reissue...

Due to popular demand, DST recently did a new production run on the TWOK Enterprise. I picked one up the other day to see what was new on this second release. It seems (to me at least) that the light bleed has been improved a little on this new version. Take a look for yourself (the first one I activate is the original release)-

Not a huge difference, but I believe they used a thicker paint on the nacelles to block some of that bleed a bit. Now while that's an improvement, I have to say that the new release isn't quite as nice as the first in the paint department.

The newer release doesn't have as much sheen as the original. The pearly finish is still there, but it doesn't have the luster of the original. It's tough to tell in the pics, but some of the detailing lacks the sharpness of the original. Instead of sharp edges, the lines look a little more undefined and a bit sloppy.

You can see in this pic what I mean by the nacelle now having a thicker paint. Notice the difference in the nacelle colors there. Again, while that's an improvement, you can also see what I mean by the details being a bit sloppier this time around. The small brown marking at the edge of the nacelle looks sharp on the original, but looks more like a brown splotch on the new release. I should also point out that all of the text used on the new release lacks the definition of the original, even though they seemed to have use a slightly larger text this time around.

Some details seem totally omitted on this new release as well, like the lines encircling the saucer section. At first glance I also thought that the photon torpedo emitter area was missing it's red paint detailing, but upon further investigation it just appears that the paint app is muddy and the red just got lost in the black.

Maybe I'm being a bit harsh on the new release. If I didn't have the original to compare it to, I'm sure I would be totally happy owning the newer version. Any way you cut it, this is a fantastic toy of a beautifully designed ship. If you have a first release, you don't really need the second issue, even with the lesser light bleed. If it's your first time snagging one, even with the little downgrades here and there, I think you'll still be happy owning the reissue.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Star Trek 'Potpourri' Spotlight-
Airwalk Star Trek Shoes!

Item Name: STPL X Airwalk Terrain Hi Skate – Star Trek Starfleet Edition
Manufacturer: Airwalk (Designed by Jeff Staple)

The Rundown: Okay- Yes, these are technically shoes produced for the new film, and so far I've tried to stick pretty much to TOS-centric merchandise... But these shoes are too freaking cool not to show off! They are shoes... with Star Trek symbols on them! How cool is that!?!

Designed by Jeff Staple of Staple Design, the shoes were created for Airwalk to commemorate the release of the new Star Trek film. The first design Staple came up with was a solid black shoe adorned with Starfleet insignias. Those shoes saw a very limited release at Staple's retail shop The Reed Space and quickly sold out.

For the release of the film on DVD, Airwalk and Staple came up with 3 more designs to release as a limited run through Reed Space and Payless Shoes- blue, red, and yellow (which was listed as an online exclusive but I haven't seen them on their site as of yet). I went with the blue style as I'm a sucker for Spock.

The shoe design is really quite nice! Staple did a great job of not taking the Trek element so far that the shoes become a parody. There's just enough Trek influence on them to make it cool for a fan, but not so much that they look like "kid's shoes".

So what are we looking at Trek-wise on the shoes? Glad you asked. Well, there's a small symbol and the tongue which is accompanied by a set of numbers which translate into the film's release date. Also note how unexpectedly similar the Airwalk symbol is to the Enterprise delta shield... Pretty neat!

The laces have a shiny black delta shield clipped on at the bottom. It looks really sweet, but I may end up taking mine off in the fear that they may break off or get scratched up easily.

Inside the shoes are the words "Star" and "Trek", which can really help those who haven't quite learned their left from their right. Why do my shoes say "Trek Star"? Oh wait... silly me!

Lastly, the back of the shoes features one more set of delta shields. That's probably my favorite thing on the shoes.

The shoes are also really comfy and feel like they can probably stand up to some major play. And the best part is the price- $49.99! Apparently, Staple Design keeps all their shoe release under $50, which is pretty reasonable for a designer shoe brand.

These are supposed to be available through Payless, but none of my local stores had any idea what I was talking about. Their site only has the red version left in stock in sizes 7, 10, and 10.5, but they are on sale for $39.99! Plus you can use coupon code 30437 at checkout for an additional 20% off up until the end of January! If you want the blue variety like mine, your best bet is contacting The Reed Space at 212-253-0588. The shipping is a little pricey but it is fast, and the staff there is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable.

-James (with pics from my wife Bobbi on this one!)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mego Spotlight-
Super Phaser II Target Game

Item Name: Super Phaser II Target Game
Manufacturer: Mego Toys Corp.

Mego released this weapon of mass destruction way back in 1976... check out that INSANELY cool box art! Take that ya dirty Cheron!

The Rundown: Produced back in a time when play features far outweighed screen accuracy, the "Super Phaser" from Mego is the somewhat ugly electronic forefather of the superior South Bend TMP phasers. They both employ a similar electronic feature, but the Mego version obviously didn't strive for the same accuracy. It's still a really fun toy though, and just like all Mego product- you have to expect a little inaccuracy in the name of fun. Let's take a look at what the cool kids were playing with back in '76-

Here's the meat of your meat-and-potatoes. This phaser is big and bloated, but if you were a kid back then you probably didn't even notice. It looks enough like the phaser to meet the standards of any Trek-loving adolescent back then- way before there were entire forums dedicated to toy likeness authenticity. A product of a simpler time... a time that I really miss. I'm just as guilty as everyone else when it comes to complaining about how good a likeness a figure has, or if they got the correct sound effects built into my tricorder. Oh to be a kid again when none of that stuff mattered. But I digress...

This couldn't be called a game unless it included more than just that phaser, so you also get this little piece of fun in the box. It's a giant red reflector mounted on a picture of a Klingon Battle Cruiser. Klingon bastards! I hate you so much that I'll shoot your ship with a mere hand phaser! That'll learn ya.

And the other side-

See? Very much like the South Bend TMP phasers, except this one is built for solo play. TOS fans must be a lonely bunch.

Since this toy is over 30 years old now, I highly doubted that it would still work. I threw some batteries in it, and tried hitting the target a few times with no luck. Bummer. I went ahead and set up the camera anyways to give it one last try at capturing the effect on camera. The result-

That's right baby! when the pressure is on, the trusty Super Phaser II pulls through!

Obviously, this is one that's worth picking up for folks that owned it way-back-when and not those hoping for a series accurate replica. I'm sure these things saw a ton of action back then, and deservedly so. You can get them pretty cheap on eBay still, so take an inexpensive trip down memory lane and blast the crap out of an unsuspecting Cheron!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Remco Spotlight-
Star Trek CSF
(Controlled Space Flight)

Item Name: Star Trek CSF Controlled Space Flight
Manufacturer: Remco Toys

The Rundown: Borrowing heavily from Mattel's early 1970's VertiBird toys, Remco debuted their Controlled Space Flight line back in 1976. Remco applied the concept to some of the major licenses they held at the time- Batman, Spider-Man, and of course Star Trek!

The concept seems to fit the Star Trek brand quite well. Kids get to fly the Enterprise around on circular missions to pick stuff up! Here's how the set breaks down...

First there's the control housing. This puppy is what makes the magic happen! The controller spins the rod holding the enterprise around in a circular motion and keeps it aloft with the adjustable weight attached to it's side. It's powered by 3 D size batteries! When was the last time you used a D size battery?!? They're big, heavy, and feel like they could power a Toyota.

The Enterprise is suspended from the controller by a long rod. Sure, it's not really an accurate representation of the Enterprise, but some liberties had to be taken to accommodate the fan mechanism the sends the ship into orbit. Betcha never knew it was a fan that kept the old girl flying through space, did ya?

A large cardboard play mat is included for you to lay the rig out on. Notice the Klingon Battle Cruisers and Enterprise on there? Yeah, why aren't those bigger? There's a whole bunch of wasted space here...

A little smaller than Sulu's station, this is the helm control that allows you to control the flight of the ship. Push it forward to fly backward, pull it back to fly forward, or leave it in the center to hover. There's also a speed accelerator that allows you to crank up juice. Here's a quick video showing my extremely novice skills at controlling space flight:

As it states in the instructions- "The only way to become a Star Trek C.S.F. pilot is to practice", which I apparently need plenty of. I have not once managed to pick up one of these little guys-

Using the hook at the base of the Enterprise, you're supposed to be able to dip down and snag these little guys off the ground. Yeah, good luck with that. Mine have a broken clip here or there, but that's no excuse for my lack of skill at "dipping-and-grabbing".

My old age has lessened my patience for learning how to use this puppy, but as a kid I would have LOVED this thing! I would have been a top-rated CSF pilot! For now though I'm just a 31 year old that flunked out of CSF pilot training...


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Star Trek The Sci-Fi Channel Special Edition Extras-

All the extras from the Sci-Fi Channel Special Edition of "Shore Leave". It's a family affair...


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Star Trek 'Potpourri' Spotlight-
Inter-Space Communicator

Item Name: Inter-Space Communicator
Manufacturer: Lone Star (1974)

The Rundown: Have you ever sat awake at night wondering what the childhood favorite "2 tin cans on a string telephone" gimmick would look like in Star Trek? Well, wonder no more! Lone Star answered that question way back in 1974 with their Inter-Space Communicator. Silly. Where have you been?

This is a prime example of me purchasing a product mainly for it's box. What an insanely cool package for a somewhat mediocre product! The outer box features a couple of interesting drawings of Kirk and Spock using the Communicator, while the interior features shots of Kirk, Spock, the Enterprise, and a space station. And the best part is the box actually turns into a display piece (as shown in the first pic)! I'm scratching my head as to why they put this much effort into the package on this...

The Communicator is essentially 2 hollow plastic cones with rods sticking out the back. Notice that the colors are flipped- I guess so you won't confuse yours with your buddy's.

The front of each hand piece features a grilled pattern for you to communicate through and a stamping that says "Space Phone". I'd say that's a good indicator that these probably weren't designed for Trek and are a reuse of an existing toy or concept, although I do laugh at the idea of Uhura contacting other ships using her "space phone".

At the base of each hand piece is a hidden whistle! I'm sure to be used in occasions when Kirk spies a lovely yeoman on deck...

So enough about the design- here's how they work-

Now the previous owner of my set didn't use the red cord, instead opting for the cotton string-

I can honestly say these actually do work pretty well! My buddy Matt and I tried them out and you can actually hear pretty clearly through them. I must admit I never tried the "2 tin cans" as a kid, so I was pleasantly surprised by the clarity.

I managed to snag this for a measly $13! At that price, it's worth it just for the awesome packaging! A quirky cool item, if you can get it on the cheap...