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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. Daibhid C
    June 22, 2016 @ 12:27 pm

    I had to look this up on Memory Alpha, but apparently Esoqq was one of the guys who was imprisoned with Picard by the aliens who were experimenting with how different races dealt with captivity. He was the highly aggressive one who hated being restrained in any form.


  2. Anthony D Herrera
    June 23, 2016 @ 3:04 am

    My God those toys. They tricked me into believing I liked Star Trek at the time. Those wonderful, wonderful toys.


  3. Jacob
    June 24, 2016 @ 6:20 pm

    Every time you do one of these Totemic Artifacts posts, I feel compelled to declare my love for the Playmates Star Trek lines. As an avid and lifelong toy collector, Playmates Star Trek easily ranks in my top 3 all-time favorite toy lines (the other two being CO’s classic Doctor Who line and LJN’s WWF line).

    For me, this wave marks the beginning of the end of the highest quality Playmates Trek toys. Things begin to decline from here — though there are still some great toys to come. I do wish they didn’t do so many character as ____ variants. I feel like there were some missed opportunities for more different characters and aliens to have toys. But so it goes. As it is, the depth of this range and the amount of characters represented is pretty astonishing.

    I had a handful of these growing up, but only began to seriously collect them about 5 or 6 years ago, when I rediscovered Trek via Netflix. They are still plentiful and inexpensive, as far as vintage toys go. My kids love playing with them, and all the vehicles and accessories, so they still get a lot of love and don’t just sit on a shelf.

    As to Josh’s point about TNG growing in cultural relevance after it ended — I definitely experienced that as young fan at the time. With TNG still being re-run regularly, DS9 going, buzz building about Generations and Voyager, and TNG toys, games, magazines, and comics abound — it was a fun time to be a fan and the world TNG had launched seemed like it would be an integral part of American pop culture forever. I get a sense of that time and a nostalgic buzz off of it every time I bring these toys out.


  4. James Sinnett
    June 24, 2016 @ 9:46 pm

    If this is the point that you dropped out of the Playmates line and its TNG characters, then it’s probably a good point to have done so. The action figures themselves for Generations are abysmal; Playmates cut corners and managed to release the entire line with no elbow or knee joints. Guinan, Lursa, and B’Etor each got a whopping three points of articulation.


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