Monday, December 13, 2010
Star Trek 'Potpourri' Spotlight-
Captain James T. Kirk
(Custom 12" Figure By "Nanjin")
Figure Name: Captain James T. Kirk
(Special thanks to my wife Bobbi for helping on the pictures for these.)
This custom Captain Kirk 12" figure was released in 2010 as part of a trio of "Star Adventure" figures.
The Rundown: The 1/6th scale market is a totally different landscape than it was 15 years ago, with a much higher standard of production and authenticity than was dreamed of back then. Companies like Hot Toys and Sideshow have moved 12" figures from toys into literally an art form. Sadly, Star Trek has been basically snubbed in this arena. Sure, there's the 90's Playmates 12" figures, but those just can't compare to today's standards. Playmates tried again with 12" in 2009, but those releases were just "okay" for mass-market 12" figures (and only represented the crew in their "Abrams-verse" incarnations). Sci-Fi Metropolis was *this* close to producing a full-fledged 1/6th scale collector line... but we all know how that story ended. It seemed all hope was lost... until one man took it upon himself to fill the void.
"In every revolution, there's one man with a vision." ...So said James T. Kirk in the closing moments of the classic episode "Mirror, Mirror". Well, in the revolution of Star Trek 12" figures, that man goes by the moniker Nanjin. If the big boys weren't going to try 12" Trek figures, Nanjin would. Not only that, he would make them as accurately as possible, enlisting the aid of multiple online authorities in the realm of Trek costumes and props. These aren't just action figures- They're miniature replicas.
Now before we get going into the details on Kirk, a quick note on the body- The bodies that Nanjin used for his 12" Trek line, while good, weren't one of the major highlights of the production. Most folks that purchase these mount the heads and outfits onto a more appropriate body (like the Hot Toys bodies I'm using on all of mine). So if you manage to snag a set, the actual figure bodies on yours will look slightly different than mine. I (and many others) feel like the real beauty of these figures lies in the head, outfits, and accessories, which is where these spotlights will focus. Got all that? Cool, let's move on...
Let's start with the head. From what I've managed to glean on the back story of these, Nanjin originally had plans for all of the heads on these original 3 figures (Kirk here, plus Spock and McCoy) to be handled by one of the big names in custom 1/6th scale sculpting. Something happened along the way, and the original sculptor bailed on the project, leaving Nanjin with no choice but to handle the job himself. I think the likenesses are pretty strong, especially when you consider the fact that these weren't done by the likes of Hot Toys or Sideshow. Kirk is captured here displaying one of his more determined looks... like this shot from "Taste of Armageddon":
Nanjin has expressed that he doesn't think these figures feature perfect likenesses and plans to update the heads in an expansion set for TOS next year. I'm pretty happy with what's here though. Shatner is a tough likeness to capture to begin with. Plus, there's the fact that this isn't one of Kirk's more "expressive" looks (like his cocky grin for example), which makes replicating it in this scale a little harder. Overall, I think the sculpt is pretty darned good though, and the paint work is phenomenal.
Where Nanjin's work really shines is in the costume and accessories. Nanjin was unwilling to compromise on these, even if it meant going through round after round of trial and error with his overseas manufacturer. The results are basically 1/6th scale perfection. Kirk's shirt is made of a material that looks almost exactly like his third season attire, with all the appropriate sewing lines and details. The shirt is delicate, but these were made for authenticity, not play.
The pants are just as accurate as the shirt, hitting the boot at exactly the right spot and featuring that little flared portion that is their trademark. And no, you're eyes aren't fooling you...there are no clips holding that phaser on.
Nanjin worked a system of magnets into the accessories and pants, allowing you to "magically" attach them just like in the show. It's a REALLY great effect that works incredibly well. I honestly can't believe he worked it in.
The boots may be the most impressive piece of costuming of all. Instead of the rubberized boots that most 1/6th scale figures feature, Nanjin's Trek figures feature boots that are made out of a leathery material for true screen accuracy. They even have a real zipper in the side! I think my brain just blew up.
Accessories: I usually don't devote much of the attention in my spotlights to accessories, but the stuff included here is so top notch that I'm spending a little extra time on these. Kirk includes a communicator, a phaser, and a tricorder. From what I've heard, the tricorder was only intended to come with Spock and Bones, so I'm saving that for their spotlights and focusing on just the communicator and phaser here.
You may not be able to tell it by the picture, but this communicator is accurately scaled, making it pretty tiny. That doesn't mean that it isn't detailed though. The lid flips open, and all of the inner works are present. The shape is perfect too, unlike, say, the communicators included with the much larger Ultimate Quarter Scale figures...
The phaser is equally impressive. The sculpt is intricately detailed and features an incredible paint job, especially in light of the size. And...
...the Type 1 phaser is removable! It even has a magnet of it's own, allowing you to display it on the paints if you prefer that look!
At this point, I'd usually offer some closing thoughts on Kirk here. But since he really is part of a set and not an individual piece, I'll reserve that for the final of the three spotlights on these. I'll leave you instead with this teaser image for the next spotlight... (and kudos to you if you recognize the inspiration for the pose)