I'm trying to get back on track with my Trek book reading, so last week I randomly grabbed one off the shelving unit to peruse- "Devil World", by Gordon Eklund...
As with most novels, the back of the book gives you a brief rundown of what to expect when you read this; Spock has to beam back aboard the Enterprise in a state of severe shock, a man named Jacob Kell may be his only hope, a mysterious force rules the planet, and all but one of the planet's original 100 colonists are completely insane. Sounds like a pretty straight forward plot, right? Well, the Spock bit is pretty minor in the actual novel, and he's relegated to almost a "guest star" status. There's also no mention of Gilla Dupree, the female lead in the story. She's the one that gets the action started by convincing Kirk to head to the quarantined planet to aid her in a search for her missing father, Jacob Kell. Also absent from the brief synopsis are the planet inhabitants, the Danons, a race of aliens that resemble devils.
The book flows pretty strongly for awhile, with Kirk getting to know Gilla, the explanations as to why Kell went to the planet, and the introduction of the Danons as highlights. But just when things start to get interesting, you're almost at the end of the novel and everything gets wrapped up a little too quickly and easily for my tastes. The book is short at only 153 pages, and I think the ending could have really benefited with the addition of another 50 pages or so to really pad it up a bit. Oh, there's also a subplot with Kirk being saddled with an annoying steward that I could have totally done without.
This is one that I could only recommend reading if you get it dirt cheap and you have an afternoon of boredom that needs filling. The rushed ending reminds of a Coen brothers film, where I'm really into the movie for the majority of the run... but then everything gets rapidly sewn together in the last 10 minutes and leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Figure Name: Doctor McCoy
Manufacturer: Diamond Select Toys
Bones was released as part of the second wave of "Star Trek II The Wrath Of Khan" figures. The entire wave was comprised of retailer exclusives launched at San Diego Comic-Con. McCoy was the New Force Comics entry.
The Rundown: He's the one they call Dr. Feelgood...He's the one that makes ya feel alright! Ah, what Trek line would be complete without the good doctor? NONE! McCoy here is a "must-have" character if there ever was one... So how's he look in TWOK style? Let's take a peek!
Released as part of the SDCC exclusive TWOK set, McCoy was definitely the most integral character of the bunch. Ask anyone on the street to name 3 classic Trek characters, and it's a good bet they'll say something like "Kirk, Spock, and ummm... the doctor guy?". That's why seeing him in the SDCC wave was a bit of a surprise over somebody like, say, Saavik or Uhura. The wave ended up being easier to acquire than I first feared though, so if you wanted McCoy it wasn't too much of a hassle. In fact, New Force had him in stock for at least months after his release if I recall correctly...
Just like the other TWOK figures, there's some parts reuse going on here. I've said it before and I'll say it again- I have no problem with reused parts on figures when it makes sense, and in the case of similar uniforms and body types... it makes sense.
Across the board, the paint work on my all my TWOK figures is pretty solid. McCoy is no exception, with clean lines all around and no major messy spots visible. The detailing is especially nice and really shows the effort that went into this line during it's heyday.
The TWOK figures have some of the best articulation amongst AA/ DST's catalog in my opinion. Of particular note is the nice "ball-and-socket" joint on the shoulder, which looks great and offers a nice range of movement. They also made the lower piece of the tunic in a rubbery material as to not restrict the hip movement too much. Nice!
Accessories: If I have one gripe on Bones, it's with the choice of accessories. McCoy includes a medical tool, 2 extra hands, a communicator, and a bottle of Romulan Ale (which I didn't even realize was a bottle of Romulan Ale since it's painted silver...). I would have loved for him to include a phaser or a tricorder... but what can you do?
C'mon folks... this one's a no-brainer. If you are collecting the TWOK line, you HAVE to own McCoy. Who else is gonna discover all those dead bodies on the Regula 1 Space Station? Who else is gonna bring Kirk some medicinal Romulan Ale? Who else is gonna "remember"? Nobody, that's who! So go buy him if you don't already own him! New Force doesn't look to have it in stock anymore, but if you look around enough you can find a deal. True, I have seen it go as high as $60, but I've also seen it go as low as a penny! Wish I'd have seen that one...
Friday, April 23, 2010
Item Name: Galileo Shuttlecraft Derby Car
Manufacturer: Uh... me?
(Special thanks to my wife Bobbi for doing the picture duties on this one!)
The Rundown: I know it's not really merchandise... but I was pretty happy with how this turned out and thought I'd share this with you guys. My oldest son Blaze is now in the Awana group at church. Every year, they hold an "Awana Grand Prix" derby car race...
Each participant is given a block of wood, 4 axles, 4 wheels, and a set of instructions listing weight and height restrictions. You can pretty much make the car look like whatever you want, as long as it fits into the guidelines listed.
The minute I saw that block of wood, all I could think of was "Shuttlecraft". Blaze and I both love Trek, and since we knew we probably weren't going to win in the speed category (since we were going up against guys that had been making derby cars for an average of 10 years), we decided to make ours into something that would make a really cool display piece after the race ended.
I started off by cutting and sanding the basic shape into the block of wood. I'm no derby car engineer, but I knew enough to put more of the weight in front than in back so that the car is pulled down the lane a bit faster.
Next, I added wings and warp nacelles using balsa wood and a small wooden rod. I sculpted the nacelle caps out of model magic clay. The derby car can't exceed a certain size, so you have to make the wings and nacelles small enough to stay within the width the wheels.
To add to the craft's authenticity, I scanned a sticker sheet from both the Playmates Shuttlecraft toy and an AMT model kit. I resized the images in photoshop and then hoofed it over to kinko's to get a decal sheet made from the image. The nacelle stickers in particular were really hard to cut and place, since they are only about as wide as fingernail.
Look at it go! While Blaze placed 4th in this heat, he also grabbed second and third in the other heats. In a race where many cars didn't even make it to the finish line, our little shuttlecraft made it all the way down in each of it's times down the track. We didn't win any awards, but I think we came home with the coolest car. ;)
Oh! Real quick note- The site clicked over the 100,000 hit mark last night! It's only been about a year since I started this, so for me that's a huge landmark! Thanks for reading everybody!
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Item Name: Various AHI "Rack Toys"
Manufacturer: Azrak Hamway Incorporated
The Rundown: Back in the 1970's, Azrak Hamway Incorporated reigned supreme as one of the "big dogs" in rack toy manufacturing. If you were in line at the grocery store with mom, and you spied a neat ray gun or ball game for sale, odds are it was a Azrak Hamway product. AHI produced a bunch of Trek-related items during the show's popularity explosion in the 70's... Today we'll take a peek at 3 of 'em!
First up is the "Phaser Water Gun". What kid could have resisted that packaging!?! It looks like a Gold Key comic, and as we all know those rule.
Marrying the phaser design with a squirt gun seems like a no-brainer to me. Forget super soakers; This would easily be my H20 weapon of choice.
Next up is the "Phaser Ray Gun". This guy is basically a flashlight shaped like a phaser. The packaging even calls it a "Space Flashlight". You also get a CLICK ACTION NOISE, but since I don't really want to open this, you're just going to have to use your imagination on that one.
Both the water gun and flashlight share the same basic body design. Look familiar? Well, it should. The design is very similar to Remco's phaser. That's because AHI acquired Remco back in 1974, offering these smaller, cheaper toys under the AHI brand and the nicer, more durable stuff under the Remco name.
The size on this is pretty small, especially the flashlight. I threw a DST phaser toy in a pic to give you a sense of scale. They are made for little hands though so that's totally fine in my eyes.
Lastly for today, there's this odd activity game. I want to call it a pinball game, but it's not. You pull back the little spring and try and shoot the white marbles into the point recesses. It's a game of skill and concentration that takes a Vulcan mind to master. Hours of fun!
This version sports a beautiful rendering of Spock slapped right in the middle of the game. I also have a Kirk version buried in a bin somewhere at the house, but that will have to wait for a future spotlight...
AHI produced some pretty goofy stuff over the years, from the super-neat water gun to parachuting action figures (a future spotlight candidate). Most of these items can be had on the cheap, and make for pretty cool display pieces. I'm always on the hunt for more AHI goodies, so I hope you enjoyed this AHI combo spotlight... because there's definitely more coming!
OH! Almost forgot! Congrats to Miles for winning the AA/ DST Tribble giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered! Keep an eye out for more giveaways as I always have extra Trek stuff looking for good homes!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Figure Name: Arcturian
Manufacturer: Mego Toys Corp.
The Arcturian was released as part of the rare second series of 3&3/4" Mego Star Trek The Motion Picture figures. (Sorry, no carded pic for you today...)
The Rundown: It's been awhile since we've looked at one of the Mego TMP 3.75" alien figures so I figure I'll reiterate a few things. First, they rule. Second, they are really rare. Third, they rule. That should just about get you caught up...
The Arcturian here is one of the best sculpts of the line and puts any 1980's era Star Wars figure to shame in my opinion. I would have traded any of my "Empire Strikes Back" alien figures for this guy in a hot minute. Too bad he was so scarce that I didn't even know he existed as a kid.
Check out the head sculpt! The Arcturian reminds me of a Pruneface from Dick Tracy, only prettier. Mego really nailed this head, and I feel the sculpt still holds up 30 years later. Wow... this figure is 30 years old!
The costume detailing is superb for it's time, with Mego paying amazingly close attention to the screen costume. Don't believe me? Well, you should. Take a look at this pic from the TMP lobby book:
That's pretty darned close, especially for something produced at this time. MEgo didn't skimp on the paint apps either, which really helps bring out the extras on the sculpt. Sure, he only has 5 points of articulation... but that was standard fare back then so you have to judge this as a product of it's time.
Want to know more about the Arcturians? Check out their bio from the aforementioned TMP lobby book-
So according to the bio, you could technically buy tons of these guys, repaint the uniforms and build an army of screen-accurate Arcturians! Sign me up! They do neglect to mention one tidbit in that bio...
Arcturians like to wear lady boots.
Accessories: Nothing. That's my biggest gripe with the Mego TMP 3.75" line; No accessories except 2 capes. Bummer.
The Arcturian is one of the best in the TMP line. All the aliens are tough, but the Arcturian is at least a bit more affordable than say the Megarite or Betelgeusian. I personally LOVE the line, but it's definitely one that is mainly worth pursuing for it's nostalgia factor.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Figure Name: Kang
Manufacturer: Sci-Fi Metropolis (Unproduced)
The Rundown: Another entry from the unproduced Sci-Fi Metropolis 12" Star Trek line! 8 figures were in the original lineup planned by SFM- I've covered 6 previously, then there's Kang here and 1 more that I don't own. So unless I manage to ever pick up that last one (which was Marta from "Whom Gods Destroy"), this will be my last Sci-Fi Metropolis spotlight. At least we can all stop weeping while looking at what might have been...
Kang was to be the big baddie of the first group. If you're gonna go bad, you gotta go klingon. While Kor has always been my fav classic klingon, I do still love Kang and I'd have been happy to buy him.
This head sculpt is so good, I'm giving you 2 closeup shots this time-
I think all the SFM heads are great, but man... Kang is awesome! The hair and eyebrows are especially nice. I'm also a fan of the slight smirk on Kang's face; I can almost hear him saying "We have no devil Kirk...".
Kang has the same 12" buck body used on the other Sci-Fi Metropolis figures, excepted this time molded in brown. The legs and arms both extend to make taller characters tower over the shorter ones. Obviously, Kang gets the extended treatment. He's garbed in the traditional klingon outfit. The uniform is all kit-bashed and hand sewn parts- I'm sure that had he been produced it would have looked a little nicer.
The Sci-Fi Metropolis line is one of the great tragedies in the Star Trek toy world. Had they been produced, Trek fans would have enjoyed a line comparable to what Star Wars fans get from Sideshow. Instead, we got those 2 "Ultimate Quarter Scale" figures from DST. Yeah, that seems fair...
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Item Name: USB U.S.S. Enterprise Webcam
Manufacturer: Dream Cheeky
Dream Cheeky released the Trek-tastic webcam in this nifty packaging for around $29.99.
The Rundown: Truth be told, I know absolutely nothing about webcams. I've never owned one and I've never used one, so I'm a big novice when it comes to judging a good one from a bad one. If you're going into this expecting me to break down the abilities and quality of the camera itself, you may want to turn away now, because I am not qualified to judge it based on that. I just like Star Trek stuff, thus why I bought it. Cool? Okay, let's look at it...
There aren't many products that I have had immediate disappointment with, even before removing them from the package. This is one of those products. See, when I pre-ordered the webcam, it looked like this:
And when my local shop got it in, it looked like this:
Yeah, pretty big difference there. Gone were the gray color, grid lines, and other small details, and in their place there's shiny blue plastic. Yikes! I'm aware that there's always those disclaimers that state "Final product my vary from picture", but that's a pretty big decline in quality.
Moving past the lack of detailing and odd color, the ship itself isn't horrible or anything, it's just plain mediocre. It's got the basic look of the Enterprise down pretty well, and there is at least some detailing, but overall it kinda reminds me of a cake decoration. I keep trying to remind myself that it's a camera and not a detailed replica.
The overall size of the ship is pretty decent, and actually a little bigger than I expected. Take a look at it next to the Corgi Enterprise up there. Not bad at all on that front. Oh, and before I forget to mention it- The nacelles light up when it's plugged in, which is kinda cool.
The ship is mounted on a metallic bendy cord with a delta shield in the middle. You can use the cord itself to balance your cam in mid-air, or use the sticky tape on the back of the delta shield to mount it on the back of your computer. The bendy cord is probably my favorite feature of the whole thing.
There's a look at the camera lens itself. Again, I'm no expert on webcams, so I'll just list the specs out here for ya:
- 300k Pixels Camera, 30 frames/second
- Workable on Skype, AIM, MSN, iChat, etc.
- USB plug and play, NO CD required
- Compatible with Windows XP, Vista and Mac (UVC compatible)
- 4 foot USB cable included
Make sense? Good. I have no idea if any of that merits a $30 price tag, but I can tell you that the pics don't seem all that great to me. Here's a shot I took with it at my office computer-
Not terrible, but quite tiny. The video seems pretty choppy too, but again I have no idea what to expect from this level of camera. At $30, I'm sure there are higher quality webcams out there though. The fact that it's the Enterprise definitely ups the cool factor, but the quality of the ship itself is pretty poor. Even a simple thing like using gray plastic instead of blue would have helped immensely, and as it stands now, it's a little too cheap looking to warrant a spot on my desk. So back to the bin you go webcam...