Monday, July 11, 2011
Item Name: Telescreen Console
Manufacturer: Mego Toys Corp.
Mego released this puppy back in the mid-1970's. Look at that beautiful box art! Here's the other side featuring Kirk...
Not quite as nice as the Spock image, but still better than most of today's toy packaging.
The Rundown: Combining the coolness of a playset with the enduring fun of tabletop arcade games, the Telescreen Console is one of the niftiest toys of Mego's entire Star Trek stable. Sure it lacks screen accuracy, but just like all their other releases, it makes up for that with a surplus of fun. Let's have a look at this truly one-of-a-kind release!
Since the Telescreen Console combines two types of toys into one, we'll look at each function of the piece separately. First, let's focus on its merits as a playset. Since this is called the "Telescreen Console", it doesn't take a Vulcan to figure out the driving force of the toy- A large viewscreen area. While it doesn't really match anything seen in the show, the look is somewhat reminiscent of the animated series. The color pallet and design used here is also consistent with the other Mego Trek toys of the time.
Situated in front of the screen is a command chair, perfectly scaled for all your 8" Mego Star Trek action figures! Go ahead and have a seat Kirk...
With Kirk seated at the helm, the toys now "feels" like a playset. Had I owned this thing as a kid, I probably would have envisioned this as an auxiliary control station of some sort. Those dirty Klingons damaged the bridge, and now Kirk is left to defend the ship on his own from a different location. Oh... or you could imagine this is Kirk on board the disabled U.S.S. Constellation, just like in "The Doomsday Machine". Or you could even ignore that fact that this is supposed to be a ship's viewscreen and just pretend it's one of the various god-like computers that Kirk destroyed in the series, ignoring the prime directive and forcing the planet's inhabitants to start fending for themselves. Hours of fun!
Ah... but Kirk isn't the only one who gets to play around on this guy! Remember earlier when I said this toy rolled two types of playtime into one? You don't? Oh. Well, then take a look at the back of the box up there and you'll see that the Telescreen Console isn't just a place to plop your figures... It's also an arcade game! How cool is that!?
The Console is activated through 2 dials located below the viewscreen. The top switch turns the device off and on, while the bottom switch actually starts the telescreen's cycle. 4 "D" size batteries are needed to make everything function. As a side note- Do you realize how tough it is to find "D" size batteries nowadays? I went to three stores before finding them. I felt like Doc Brown making a deal with the Libyans just getting this thing to run.
Once you have it fired up, the middle screen will light up to show you this: A scrolling space scene with enemy ships rotating by. The objective of the game is to move the black sighting stick over an enemy vessel, "firing" the phasers and destroying their ship. And as you can see in the picture, the game features both Klingon and Romulan ship designs!
Movement of the sighting stick is controlled through a lever hidden behind Kirk's chair. Move the lever to the right, and the sighting stick moves with it. Move it to the left, and... well, you get the idea. I appreciate the fact that Mego kept the controls at a minimum; Having a giant, obtrusive joystick built into this would have severely limited its playset capabilities.
When you are lucky enough to zap one of the enemy ships, an ominous buzz will sound and the red screen to the right of the viewer will light up. We'll get to the lights and sounds in a second, but I wanted to point out a neat bit of design on Mego's part first...
Instead of making the owner take apart their console to switch out faulty bulbs, Mego built the lights into an easily removed panel. Slide it out, pop out and replace the offending bulb, then slide it back in. You're done! As an adult, I really appreciate the ease of maintenance... and as a kid, this would have totally been incorporated into playtime as an "access panel" to get into the viewer's innards.
But enough about that... Let's check out the Telescreen Console in action!
Man, I was on fire for a second there! Take that ya dirty Federation enemies!
Now had this been a high stakes game with money on the line, I would have kept score of my insane amount of hits using the small scoring dial located below the red lighted panel. This is actually my biggest gripe about this toy... I have no idea how one is supposed to battle the enemy ships whilst keeping their own score on the dial. I sucked at trying to do that.
And just in case you have one of these at home and don't have any idea how to make it work... Here are the instructions-
Got all that? Good.
Overall, the Telescreen Console is one damn cool item. I don't recall many other toys that combined action figure play with video games (outside of the 1980's Captain Power line), so this is truly a unique piece of Trek toy history. If this were on the shelves right now, I'd buy one for each of my kids and let them go nuts... but alas, the Console is one of the rarer Mego Trek pieces. Prices can climb into the hundreds for nice examples in working condition. If you do want one to simply display with your 8" Megos, it might be best to go after a non-functioning piece and save yourself a few bucks. Of course then you'd never know if you could beat my score...