Wednesday, April 27, 2011

AA/ DST Spotlight-
"Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan"
Communicator

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Item Name: "Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan" Communicator
Manufacturer: Diamond Select Toys

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DST released the TWOK communicator in their standard "universally branded" packaging in 2011.

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The Rundown: Originally shown way back in 2009, the DST "Wrath Of Khan" communicator replica has finally arrived! DST have released a pretty solid array of prop replicas so far... How does their TWOK communicator stack up? Let's check it out!

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Before we get down to it, I should probably state that I've never been a huge fan of the TWOK-style communicator. For a film that was set and produced years after the original series, it seemed that the props should have taken a step forward design-wise. That's what made the look of this prop seem so out of place to me. It really felt like a downgrade of the TOS communicators; the TWOK comms were larger, bulkier, and less attractive. Maybe that's all just me though.

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Love or hate the design, DST did an AMAZING job capturing it here. I'm not an expert on props, but from what I can tell it seems like all the small details from the screen version are included, right down to the notation on the interior of the flip cover. Not only that, but DST actually made the design functional- incorporating all the activations for the electronics into the existing switches. The lower dial turns the communicator on and off, while the upper switches it into its different modes (more on that later).

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Located on the back of the communicator is a small button and the battery housing (it runs on three "AAA" batteries). Yeah, I know. That's a big obtrusive trademark slapped on there. Do I wish it wasn't there? Sure. But I understand that it had to be done, and I'd rather it be on the back of the communicator than stuck on the front somewhere. Enough about that though- I wanna press that button!

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The button on the back activates the comm's sound and light features. Again, I'm no prop expert, but I seem to remember the actual prop also had a small, slightly off-center circular button on the back. If I'm not crazy and there actually was one back there, then kudos to DST for including it here! If it didn't, then I suck at remembering stuff.

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Depending on which mode you are in, the button on the back will activate different functions of the communicator. If the upper lever is in position 1, you are in "regular function mode". Press the button on the back, and the communicator will play one of the many phrases stored inside it. If you want to hear it play all the voice clips in a row, just hold the button down for three seconds and it will automatically cycle through them.

Position 2 puts the communicator into "screaming Kirk mode". In this mode, a press of the button will activate the "Khaaaannnn" clip. Hold it down for three seconds, and and the scream will keep repeating over and over with a brief 1 second pause in between each one.

The third position activates the "hail-back function". In this mode, the back button has no effect; The function starts automatically when the door is closed. The communicator will chirp until it is opened. Once opened, the communicator will play it's first "hail-back" phrase. Close it back up after that, and it will chirp once again. Open it up again and it will activate the second "hail-back" phrase.

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So that takes care of the sounds... Now what about the lights? Glad you asked. The communicator is equipped with three different lighted areas. There's a small red light located on the instrumentation panel, and a lighted area on the top and bottom of the comm. The lights on either end of the communicator will pulse to the sound of each sound clip, with the bottom light illuminating for Kirk lines and the top blinking for everybody else.

Phew... Did you get all that? If not, here's a video showing off what this puppy can do:



Pretty impressive, eh? Overall, it's a very solid replica... but I do have a small complaint about the lights. If I recall correctly, the lights on the TWOK communicators were red, not blue like this DST version. Here's a pic from the film to show what I mean-

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See the lights at the base? Red. Again, I am not a prop expert, so I guess it's possible that the communicator also had blue lights, but it seems like red is the more definitive color so I am a little baffled why they went with blue. Are any prop experts out there reading this that would like to chime in on this one? I'd love to know the reasoning behind this color choice!

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Even with the color issue, I'm still pretty happy with this toy... and that's saying a lot since I was never a fan of the design to begin with. DST has proven time and again that they can produce high quality prop replicas at an affordable price, and the TWOK communicator is no exception. The translation of the design is top-notch, and the electronic features ROCK. A worthy addition to your staple of Trek Tek goodies!

While I managed to buy this at my local comic shop just this morning, most sites still have them listed as preorders. My favorite online Trek retailer New Force Comics has it available HERE for the low price of $32.99! At that price, you might as well buy 2, hire a friend, and form your own little landing party....

5 comments:

  1. Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeettttttttt!!!!!!

    Yeah the real prop did have red lights. If you look on Richard Coyle's website you can see pics of an original.

    Awesome!

    Although I wish there was a mode where you could press the button and the upper and lower parts would light like a push to talk thing, instead of all voices, but still!

    Great Review!!!

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  2. I agree about the clunky design of this communicator. I disliked it from the moment I saw it in the theater. It looks like something from Captain April's time, almost as big as the old Mego toys. I don't know the reasoning behind this.

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  3. Well They had no prop budget for TWOK. In fact they were going to just use Vietnam era radios. But the prop people were like no way, so they managed to put these together. You can see the remnants of that idea though. The dials and speaker thing are from those radios, and the box is actually a Radio Shack Project Box.

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  4. This style communicator also made an appearance on an episode of "Laverne and Shirley." Late in series after Cindy Williams quit they moved the show to the late 1960s and one of Laverne's new friends was a Star Trek fan. He used one of the TWOK communicators in a geek-ish Trek reference. A million Trek fans (like a million of us watched L&S...) groaned "it's the wrong communicator!" Or maybe it was just me who groaned that.

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