Sneakily taking the hinges off the doors of perception

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Dustin
    September 14, 2015 @ 2:30 am

    I've been waiting for this post for a long time, Josh, and it's amazing.

    My collection is quite small compared to yours. I don't have any of the original Playmates bridge crew, only alternate versions like "Geordi in dress uniform" and "Picard in captain's jacket." I don't have any aliens, but I do have Q. I've also got Scotty from "Relics." And thanks to you, I realized that the other Picard I have, in his S1&2 uniform, is a Galoob release. I didn't know another company had the license first.

    I, too, cut the beam off the little phasers.

    I also love that you actually took your toys out of the box and played with them. That's what they're for!

    Two fun things to note about later Playmates' releases: the action figures released for "Generations" in '94 were based on a uniform design that was abandoned in favor of the dual TNG/DS9 versions in the film. And the Enterprise-E toy was based on an earlier design of the ship that differed slightly from the film model. The toys are usually rushed out to hit the shelves before the film premieres, so they'll frequently feature design decisions that were superceded.

    It's the posts like this and the recent streaming update that really make this blog. Keep it up, Josh.


  2. Dustin
    September 14, 2015 @ 3:10 am

    Wait, I totally overlooked the fact that your Picard is the same as mine, and that the captain's jacket version is the original release, apparently. So that's interesting. And after some research, my jumpsuit Picard is a Playmates release too, which doesn't make any sense. If these first came out in '92, why did Playmates subsequently release versions featuring the 80s uniforms?


  3. Jacob Nanfito
    September 14, 2015 @ 5:05 am

    I've been waiting for this post, too! I could a response as long your essay detailing why I love these little hunks of plastic so much. I played with them as a kid, but I also got back into collecting them about 5 years ago. They're surprisingly easy to come by and inexpensive (for collectable, retro action figures). Currently, I've got 2 huge bins full of figures, 3 different Enterprises, 2 different shuttle crafts, and Klingon and Romulan ships. My kids love playing with them all.

    I've been collecting action figures for a long time, and this line really has the most "heart" of any toy line I've seen. They exude love for the show, are detailed enough for collectors, but durable enough to be actual toys — you can play with them!

    It's also awesome how off-the-rails Playmates went with creating so many different characters and variants.

    Wonderful stuff.


  4. Josh Marsfelder
    September 14, 2015 @ 6:43 am

    I think because the first wave was based on the character designs from the fifth season (because that was the one that had just finished airing), and Captain Picard wore that jacket a lot that year. In the second wave they did a bunch of variants, particular first and second season costume design variants (Lt. J.G. Geordi and Worf, second season uniform Will, maroon pyjamas Deanna etc.). There is also a "normal" Duty Uniform Captain Picard variant (from either the second or third waves) but it's kind of a ghastly kitbash: I much prefer the Wave 1 jacket and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Wave 2 Picards personally.


  5. Jacob Nanfito
    September 14, 2015 @ 9:16 am

    There's are also Picard as Dixon Hill, Old Picard from "All Good Things..," Picard disguised as a Romulan, Picard as Locutus, Pirate Picard from "Gambit," and IIRC a Picard in a "Undiscovered Country" era uniform from "Tapestry."

    There are probably more… 🙂


  6. J\/\/
    April 16, 2016 @ 3:10 pm

    Removeable VISOR Geordi and the Ferengi were my first, also. I ended up getting pretty much all of them, stopping before those "Transporter" exclusives. They've been in storage for years. It would be fun to see them again.


  7. RADIX
    February 6, 2019 @ 9:33 pm

    So I know this is an old article, but I discovered it only recently and have been re-reading it a few times; I’ve started collecting Playmates’s Star Trek figures, and am pretty sure that this article convinced me to spring for Tasha Yar as soon as possible. Hoping to get Duty Uniform Deanna next (normally I’d want Lavender Pajamas Deanna as it’s a distinct outfit, but…HER FACE. Ye gods).


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