Totemic Artefacts: Playmates Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Wave 2 (Part 2)


We also got some new action figures to go along with our new models, all based on stories from the second season. This wave is a healthy mix of variants and new figures (and, like TNG, once again spread out across 1994 and 1995), and really, just about more than anything else from this period, tantalizingly points at how interconnected the worlds of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine really did seemed poised to be at one time. First up, let's talk about the predictable variants: There's “Emissary” Jadzia Dax and Doctor Bashir, that is, them in the TNG-style two-piece suits with the polygon design instead of the DS9-style black jumpsuit and open collar shirt. I talked about Dax the first time I did Playmates DS9 because she's one of my favourite toys in the whole line, expertly re-using the already excellent Duty Uniform Deanna Troi body sculpt. I don't have Bashir though, because his Wave 1 figure was already pretty good and he feels more superfluous to me. There's also Q in the DS9 jumpsuit, from “Q-Less”. But really, when it comes to Qs, my advice is still to stick with the TNG Wave 3 judge's robes one.
Q is your biggest hint as to the defining feature of this wave: In a word, Crossover. In fact, almost the entire 1994 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine wave was actually made up of Star Trek: The Next Generation characters-The only actual DS9 figures in this first batch are “Emissary” Dax and Bashir. To complete your “Q-Less” set that you apparently have for some inexplicable reason there's Vash, who, interestingly enough, gets her one and only Playmates effigy on this side of the wormhole. There's also, somewhat astoundingly, yet another Lieutenant Thomas Riker! And this is 1994, so well before he made his non-TNG reappearance, so it makes precisely zero sense for him to be here. He is straightforwardly the laziest and most indefensible variant in the Playmates line so far, being a literally just a DS9 Wave 1 Miles O'Brien with a TNG Wave 1 Will Riker head, creating a kitbash the likes of which will never and can never be explained.
I mean come on. No one, but no one rolls up the sleeves of their uniform except Miles O'Brien. That is an iconic distinguishing physical tic of the chief's. Without even getting into questions about why the hell Thomas Riker is on Deep Space 9, that body simply should never have been re-used.
Thankfully, the remainder of this first batch is considerably more interesting. Miles O'Brien gets a lot of love (his body being repurposed for a nonsensical Thomas Riker notwithstanding): Next year he'll be outfitted with his dress uniform, but in 1994 he gets an absolutely vital variant: “Chief Miles O'Brien in Starfleet Duty Uniform”. That's right, this is Transporter Chief Miles O'Brien. Miles O'Brien from Star Trek: The Next Generation. As one of the very first characters to be introduced in the modern age of Star Trek, it's wonderful to have a representation of Miles from this stage of his career. This Miles is one of the first Deep Space Nine toys I got (I think he actually came with my Season 2 DVD box set as part of an eBay package deal), so he's sadly minus his box and accessories. As a figure, he's frankly not terribly impressive: Only Miles' head is truly his, the rest of his body is a re-use of the TNG Wave 1 Geordi (a toy Playmates seemed to get a lot of use out of, seeing as how parts of him seem to wind up in most of these “Duty Uniform” variants, mostly Captain Picards for some reason). As a result, this toy doesn't match Colm Meaney anywhere near as well as the Wave 1 release does, but as a pinch-hitter for your Enterprise crew he's more than acceptable, and he served my version of Deep Space 9 with honour and distinction before I acquired his predecessor.
But the real standout from the 1994 set is the absolute last person you'd expect. It's none other than Captain Jean-Luc Picard himself, in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Starfleet Uniform”, no less. I've seen this guy described as “Captain Picard from Star Trek Generations” because of the jumpsuit and collar, but that is *absolutely* not the case! This is explicitly meant to be Captain Picard from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Seasons 1 and 2, and you can tell just by looking at the version of the Starfleet insignia his comm badge is moulded in. And also by reading the clip and collect card, which absolutely amazingly bends over backwards to explain why Jean-Luc is wearing an outfit he patently never wore anywhere onscreen: Apparently, and incredibly, this Jean-Luc is an evil counterpart from an alternate universe where Captain Picard was stationed on Deep Space 9. Even better, apparently the timestreams sometimes get mixed up, and you can occasionally see him strolling around our universe like Bigfoot when the conditions are right. Now I love all this “Parallels” shit just on principle, but this contrived excuse backstory is so monkey bananas even by those standards I can't help but utterly adore it.
Space Bigfoot or otherwise, this Captain Picard is an awesome figure. He's got the basic head for Jean-Luc, but the body is DS9 Wave 1 Doctor Bashir's, which actually proves to be a great fit for Patrick Stewart's build. This is an example of a quick-and-dirty body swap variant that ends up working unbelievably well-I put this Jean-Luc in the same league as “Emissary” Jadzia Dax and Duty Uniform Doctor Crusher, ergo he stands a complete 180 degrees away from Thomas Riker O'Brien above there. Speaking of, in an ironic twist, DS9 Picard has Wave 1 Will's accessories, just painted a sleek bright blue. Which again, weirdly seem to fit him-This is a more action-oriented Picard, much more befitting the more proactive role he assumed as Star Trek: The Next Generation went on. I'm even going to argue that this guy is tied with TNG Wave 1 Captain's Jacket as the best Captain Picard figure Playmates ever made, and he's who I recommend you pick up if you want a “Captain Picard in Duty Uniform” variant instead of the various questionable kitbashes from the TNG line.
DS9 Picard is so good it kind of makes me wish Will Riker got a DS9 variant too so I could have one without the dumb Action Man rip in his shirt. The Wave 2 Will is a good default representation if you don't mind the first season uniform, which, if you have Tasha like me, you probably don't. But I still would have liked a proper latter-days look for him, and I'dve loved to see him in a DS9 uniform. For real, why on Bajor did they make another Tom variant? Anyway, I got DS9 Picard very recently (about a year or so ago as of this writing) as part of a two-pack being sold on eBay with another figure from this wave. But while Jean-Luc was a 1994 release, this other guy was from the 1995 set. Before we get to him, let's take a look at the rest of this year's offerings: Commander Sisko and Chief O'Brien got Dress Uniform figures, just like the TNG Wave 3 Data, and all the 1994 figures were reissued. There's “Blood Oath” Jadzia Dax, who I don't have because she's a slipshod kitbash with a messed-up head scupt and also that episode was awful. Grand Nagus Zek gets an inaugural plastic nod, but I don't have him either, mostly because his episodes haven't held up too well for me.
Two other variants from this wave I own are Odo from “Necessary Evil” and Mirror Benjamin Sisko from (appropriately) “Crossover”. They're both unique sculpts (though the head is recycled from the Wave 1 releases, which is fine) and are quite striking: Definitely among my favourites from the 1995 crop. Sadly I don't have a ton to say about them-I got these guys at a flea market one year, and they were both out of the original packaging and came with none of the accessories they were supposed to. But, they were in good shape and a steal for the time, so I made them some of my first Playmates Star Trek: Deep Space Nine purchases. For quite awhile, Mirror Ben, Terok Nor Odo, Transporter Chief Miles O'Brien and Wave 1 Jadzia were the extent of my DS9 crew, so they will always have my thanks for that.
But in spite of the variants, this wave also introduced a lot of new characters as well, many of whom could be argued were unjustly overlooked in the first wave, and all of whom pad out your Deep Space 9 community. First is Jake, who is one of my favourite Playmates toys just for how unique he is. He boasts an all-new exclusive sculpt that is appropriately to scale with his dad (and the rest of the crew) and, as expected, captures the likeness of then-15 year old Cirroc Loften very well. Jake comes with some fun accessories too: A book bag (for Keiko's school, presumably), the iconic Some Alien Looking Glop-On-A-Stick (although in hindsight wouldn't that make a better accessory for the O'Briens?) as well as a generic, albeit pretty, DS9 monitor. My favourite accessory of Jake's however is his tiny baseball glove, which even fits snugly onto his hand! Almost makes you wish Ben came with a baseball and bat too so they could hit flies with Buck Bokai together.
Speaking of Jake, there's also Nog! Or rather...There's Rom, who comes with Nog as a “minifigure”. Yes, in a frankly rather bizarre decision on Playmates' part, Nog doesn't get a figure of his own despite being featured prominently in the pilot and in every Jake episode since, but he's rather consigned to being a glorified accessory for his dad. As a result, Nog is completely not to scale with anyone else and looks more like a toddler than a teenager, and really stupid standing next to Jake. Or anyone else. Rom himself is cool though: He doesn't come with much else besides Nog, just a lockpick and something called “Magnesite drops”, but he's an actual proper figure and looks good next to Quark and Morn. Rom will always be doomed to only be my third favourite Playmates Ferengi, but he's a must if you want to get the whole crew together. Rom and Nog are also very recent acquisitions-Due to their unique status as a joint release they tend to go for more than the average Playmates toy, but I got a good deal when I found them packaged as part of a twofer auction alongside DS9 Season 2 Captain Picard up there. I was on the fence about getting Jean-Luc, but I had to spring when I saw him being sold with Rom and Nog. And I'm very glad I did.
Next is Vedek Bareil, who I sadly don't have-One of the few figures from this wave I don't, actually. Though I say I've completed my DS9 crew and community, he would probably be the one figure I don't currently have who I would feel compelled to add to my collection given my hardcore nostalgia for this vintage of Star Trek. He's certainly a dead-obvious pick for a wave of releases based on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 2. After him though is Tosk, who I weirdly do have. Most of my DS9 figures all came in one big shipment: An eBay haul of mint-on-card toys I lucked out on from someone auctioning off most of their collection (though they are obviously not mint-on-card anymore because come on). This haul included the entire first wave save Dax, Miles and Doctor Bashir, as well as a couple from the second, like Jake. Tosk was among them, and I certainly wouldn't have bought him otherwise.
Not that he's a poor figure by any means: He's actually excellent from a craftsmanship perspective, with the usual meticulous attention to detail and thoughtful accessories (his are a mug, a plasma rifle and, awkwardly, his slave collar and leash). The reason I wouldn't have bought him separately is, of course, because I detest “Captive Pursuit” and would prefer to not be reminded of its existence. There is also a Hunter of Tosk release in this wave who I did not get in my eBay haul, and who I likewise do not have for the same reason. One thing I do really love about Tosk though is his base, which is just a circular piece with a beauty shot of the Bajoran Wormhole opening that's just utterly gorgeous. So, if you need some Gamma Quadrant natives to populate your station with, Tosk would be a good pick if you can ignore that little detail about his origin story. Imagine he came from a better episode. Better yet, write a new story yourself featuring his design to justify his being there: That's what toys are for.
Finally, I wanted to end by looking at two more figures. They weren't released as part of this wave (indeed one of them wasn't released until 1998 or so), but, seeing as this will likely be the last regular Playmates Star Trek feature, it wouldn't be right to close off this version of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine without talking about Garak and Keiko O'Brien.
Like a lot of these later releases, Garak is a bit wanting for poseablility with that solid chunk of plastic he calls his tailor's outfit. His limbs and head still have a fair amount of articulation to them though; he's certainly no Romulan!Picard or Judge Q. It does give him a bit of a potato-esque shape, however, which doesn't really match Andrew Robinson's build. Come to think of it, that head sculpt isn't the greatest either, but it does get the job done. Garak comes with some of the same accessories as Gul Dukat did, like a Cardassian phaser and PADD. Unfortunately, his are painted a significantly more muted (and dull) colour, another sign of the times. He does get a pair of isolinear rods and a tape measure to make up for it though.
But if Garak comes across as a bit wanting, Keiko O'Brien is basically unplayable. She has articulation to be sure, but her limbs are so stiff yet paradoxically also so flimsy she can't really be moved into any pose other than the bizarre, jerky lean she's sculpted in. She even has trouble standing up on her own. I don't recall her ever wearing any kind of outfit like this, and I think her body might actually be a re-use of the Intendant Kira figure that came out roughly around the same time, which is off-putting because Kira figures are always sculpted smaller and more slight than other women for some reason. The head sculpt on Keiko is pretty good though, and does look a lot like Rosalind Chao. What's *not* good are her accessories though: A whopping three. A boring thermos,  a boring monitor and a boring phaser which, to add insult to injury, she can't even hold. Not even because of Playmates Star Trek toys' historic problems with phasers, but because it's a repackage from the Star Trek First Contact line, which was sculpted in an entirely different scale! Keiko is strictly a display piece, though she does complete your crew, so you kind of feel obligated to have her.
Man, things are getting too depressing up in here. Let's warp back in time again. Let's see...Glancing at the cardback of my 1994-5 Star Trek toys, I notice that Playmates has made the intriguing decision to get into game development. Says here they're working on a video game based on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine entitled Crossroads of Time to be released on the Super Nintendo and SEGA Genesis sometime very soon! I wonder how that's going to turn out...


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