1974 - 2012: Star Trek Dolls


Star Trek, 8" dolls by Mego, 1974


Here are the mint in package Star Trek Mego's from my collection, which I bought long before e-bay existed. It was much harder to find Megos back then, and I searched everywhere for them! I found the Klingon, shown below, at a local Flea Market and was itching for more Trek characters. Although I was not a big fan of Star Trek at the time, I decided to try attending a Star Trek convention to see if any of the Mego's would pop up. I managed to find one vendor who had Capt. Kirk and Spock, shown above, so I bought them as a pair. Michael Dorn was the guest speaker at the conference but I didn't bother to stay for his appearance, which I later regretted as I became a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, specifically because of the Klingons. I'm now into the original series and the movies, so I've been converted into a Trekkie!


 Here is the back of the card.

Here are some closer views of the dolls faces. Mego did a super job on the likeness of the actors for each character.


Here are the rest of my Star Trek Megos, Scottie, Keeper, and Uhura, which unfortunately are not in very good condition. The Keeper alien is wearing the Cheron alien's outfit, and Uhura is buck ne'kid! But as I said before, it was hard to find Megos before the internet came along, so when ever I found some they were scooped up reguardless of condition.
 
Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 12 inch dolls by Mego, 1979
In the late 1970's the Mego toy company moved away from producing 8 inch dolls and instead offered 12 inch doll collections. Because of the success of Star Wars toys in 1978, Mego tried their luck with several Sci-Fi themed collections in 1979, which were based on The Black Hole (a movie by Disney), the Buck Rogers TV series, and the very first Star Trek movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Unfortunately for Mego none of these toy series did very well. The 12 inch Star Trek doll collection included Kirk, Spock, Decker, Ilia, Klingon, and Arcturian. Mego also produced a series of small 3 inch action figures based on the Star Trek movie.
 
Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 13 inch dolls by Knickerbocker, 1979
During the 1970's and 1980's the Knickerbocker toy company produced many stuffed toys and dolls based on Sesame Street, Hanna Barbera cartoon characters, Raggedy Anne and Andy, Holly Hobby, and the 1982 movie Annie. Therefore, perhaps the most bizarre dolls that the company made during this time are a pair of Kirk and Spock dolls based on the 1979 Star Trek movie. These dolls were 13 inches tall with soft plush fabric bodies and plastic heads. Unfortunately for Knickerbocker, these dolls had to compete directly with Mego's 12 inch doll series that was also based on the 1979 Star Trek movie. For this reason, the Knickerbocker dolls are often forgotten about when discussing Star Trek dolls from this era. Ironically, the Knickerbocker head sculpts are considerably better than those Mego used for their 12 inch Kirk and Spock dolls.
 
Star Trek, 9" dolls by Playmates, 1994 - 1999
This is an awesome series of Star Trek dolls and the first smaller (8 inch or 9 inch) series since Mego's original Star Trek dolls of the mid 1970s. Re-issues of the Mego Star Trek dolls were not produced until 2008, well after the Playmates 9 inch series had run it's course. As such, when Playmates announced this 9 inch series in the mid 1990s it generated quite a buzz among Mego collectors. 

Command Edition, 1994

The first three figures to be released were Captain Picard, Commander Sisko (shown above), and Captain Kirk. At the time, only three Star Trek TV shows had been produced. These included "Star Trek: The Next Generation", "Star Trek Deep Space Nine", and the original "Star Trek". The three chracters in this 9 inch doll set are the "leaders" of the various crews on the each of the shows. Captain Kirk was the less common figure from this set and is more difficult to find than Picard or Sisko.

Here is a look at the back of the boxes which show the Captain Kirk doll. A larger view of the Kirk doll is shown below.

Movie Edition: Star Trek Generations, 1994

Playmates produced four 9 inch dolls based on the Star Trek Generations movie in 1994. These are Captain Picard, Data, Geordi LaForge (shown above) and Captain Kirk. Once again Kirk was the difficult doll to find in the set. I especially liked the Data doll from this series.

Here are the backs of the boxes which show all the dolls in the series. Below is a closer view of the Captain Kirk doll.

Starfleet Edition, 1995

In 1995 Playmates introduced the Starfleet Edition 9 inch Star Trek dolls. Originally the set had eight dolls to collect, but this soon became twelve. Shown above are Captain Picard in Dress Uniform, Data, and Geordi LaForge. The backs of the boxes are shown below. The box for Picard shows eight dolls, while the other boxes show all twelve dolls.


Three more dolls from this series include Commander Riker, Worf in Ritual Klingon Attire, and Captain Kirk in Dress Uniform. The boxes for Riker and Kirk each show eight dolls on the back, same as the Picard box above. I purchased the Riker doll at the FAO Schwarz store in New York. This is the third version of Kirk, and finally I managed to find one. Years later I bought the Worf doll on e-bay in loose/played with condition. Unfortunately I took the belt off and can't get the pegs back in the holes to keep it on the doll. Sucks!

Lastly, here's Guinan. Playmates did an excellent job on this doll. She has a nifty hat and her dreadlocks are sculpted rather than doll hair. A back view of the doll and the box is shown below.


Here is a closer look at all twelve dolls that were available. I have seven of the twelve. Beverly Crusher was the first female doll made for this series. Deanna Troi and Guinan were added to the series later on along with Spock and Doctor McCoy. For those who don't follow Star Trek, the dolls of Kirk, Spock and McCoy are the only characters from the original "Star Trek" TV series, and the rest of the characters are from "Star Trek: The Next Generation".

Star Trek First Contact, 1996

Playmates made 9 inch dolls based on "Star Trek First Contact", which is the second movie to feature the cast from the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" TV show.

Once again the back of the boxes shows the collection of dolls that are available. A closer view is shown below.

By this point I found that the collection wasn't diverse enough to keep my interest. This assortment offers not one, but two Captain Picards, when there had already been three other dolls of Picard included in previous sets. This is also the third Data doll, and the second Riker. So really the only new character offered here is Zefram Cochrane.

Star Trek Insurrection, 1998

This is the villain from the movie Star Trek Insurrection, named Ad'Har Ru'Afo. This was the only character I thought was of interest from this movie collection. Below is the back of the box which shows seven more dolls.



Warp Factor Series, 1997 -1999

This is a series that I completely missed out on during it's original run in stores. It seems to me that the 9 inch Star Trek dolls were mainly sold in the USA, so I tried to find them whenever I went on trips there. However I never came across any of these Warp Factor Series dolls and only learned about them years after they had been made. Playmates released these dolls rather randomly, and with the addition of a new Star Trek TV show, "Star Trek Voyager", doll assortments mixed characters from four different TV series. Shown above is Captain Kirk in an Environmental Suit from the classic "Star Trek" TV show episode "The Tholian Web", next to Captain Janeway from "Star Trek Voyager". The box for Kirk has a copyright date of 1999, while Janeway's box says 1997.

Here is a closer view of Kirk with the helmet on, and a back view of Janeway to show her plastic ponytail.

On a side note, here's an interesting discovery I made about Captain Kirk's space helmet. It seems to have been used on an episode of Mork & Mindy in the late 1970s. This is a collector card from 1978 showing actor Conrad Janis (as Mindy's father Fred) wearing the helmet. Considering that both Star Trek and Mork & Mindy were produced by Paramount, could it be that this helmet was found in the costume storage and used for this episode? After searching online for more information, it seems that this helmet is not the only connection between Star Trek and Mork & Mindy. The rest of Conrad Janis' outfit in the above picture is also from a Star Trek episode, as is Mork's own outfit!

The back of the box for Kirk also shows a doll of the character Seven of Nine from "Voyager". The box for Janeway shows dolls of Dr. Julian Bashier from "Deep Space Nine" and Tom Paris from "Voyager".

Here is the Jem'Hadar Soldier doll (I'm not sure what Star Trek TV series this one is from, but he's cool!), and a rather sun damaged Odo doll from "Deep Space Nine" that a friend of mine found at a flea market. The Soldier's box is dated 1998. Below is a closer look at the Jem'Hadar Soldier's plastic ponytail.


The box for the Jem'Hadar Soldier shows dolls of Captain Kirk in Casual Attire from the classic "Star Trek" TV series, and the Cardassian Gul Dukat from "Deep Space Nine". There were many other characters made as well, though I don't know how many dolls total were in the collection. I would say there are at least 30 or 40 more dolls in this collection.

Playmates did an excellent job on this series though I do find it odd that every human and alien in the Playmates Star Trek universe seems to have shopped at the same shoe store. The doll's shoes were sculpted as part of the leg and painted on, similar to the original Mego dolls, but unlike Mego, Playmates didn't bother to sculpt different feet or boots for the various alien characters. The costumes and head sculpts were very well done though, so this is a doll series that I'll always keep on my "to collect" list.

Star Trek Ken and Barbie, 12 inch dolls by Mattel, 1996
While Playmates was still producing their 9 inch Star Trek dolls, Mattel offered a 30th Anniversary Collectors Edition two pack set of Ken and Barbie dressed in uniforms from the original TV series. This proved to be a very popular collectors item in its day as - if I recall correctly - it was one of the first licensed Barbie doll sets, and helped to establish the ongoing trend of licensed Barbie and Ken dolls. However interest in this Star Trek set seems to have cooled off considerably as there are tons of these for sale on e-bay, with many going for less than the original retail.

Star Trek: Insurrection, 12" dolls by Playmates, 1998
Although Playmates was still producing 9 inch Star Trek dolls, they also began to offer 12 inch dolls in the late 1990s. I always found it confusing to figure out just exactly when the 12 inch series began and what characters were offered. However, in 1998 Playmates did offer a series of four 12 inch dolls based on the 1998 movie Star Trek Insurrection. This collection included Picard, Data, Worf and Riker. After this initial release, a 12 inch doll of Geordi Laforge was also added to the Star Trek: Insurrection series.

Additional 12 inch Star Trek Playmates dolls were based on the original Star Trek TV series, Star Trek: Wrath of Khan (the second movie), Star Trek Next Generation, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek Voyager. Here's a site that lists several (if not all) of the characters that were made in the 12 inch collection, along with images: http://news.toyark.com/2010/10/07/featured-ebay-auction-huge-lot-12-star-trek-figures-3357

Star Trek, 8" dolls by EMCE, 2008


With the renewed popularity of Megos in the 1990s and 2000s several companies had begun to reissue Mego dolls. EMCE re-released the original Mego Star Trek series and added new characters to the collection. Most of the Star Trek aliens were also reissued. Above is the Andorian from the first series by EMCE. They did an excellent job of these and were very faithful to the original Megos.

Here is the back of the package showing the first series. All of these are reissued Mego dolls.


Here are the Gorn and Mugato from the second series. The Mego version of the Gorn did not look anything like the character from the TV series, so instead of reissueing it EMCE created a completely new Gorn doll which I like much better. Mugato is a reissue of the Mego doll even though on the TV series this character was a white furry creature that did not wear clothing. In this case the Mego version was more interesting.
  
Here is the back of the package showing series 2. Sulu, Chekov and the Gorn are new additions to the series, all the others are reissues of Mego dolls.


Khan was added to series 2 after it had already been released, so he has a unique card. The character was simply added to the front and the back of the card. This is a character that Mego did not make. EMCE did an excellent job on the head sculpt for this doll. The costume is not so impressive, but it does resemble one of the outfits Khan wore on the TV show. Below is the back of the card.


Throughout the entire run of the EMCE reissued Star Trek Mego series the back of the cards featured a retrospective tribute to Marty Abrams who played a key role in the development of the Mego 8 inch, 12 inch and 3-3/4 inch action figure series. It is undisputable that Mr. Abrams deserves acknowledgment for his important role in the action figure toy industry, however the text on the packaging concludes that Abrams was "the father of the modern action figure". This statement is entirely inaccurate and anyone who knows the factual history of action figures would role their eyes at such a claim.

I'm mentioning this, as it is only fair to give credit where credit is due. There are many toy companies, and individuals behind the scenes at those companies, who were involved in producing action figures a full decade before Mego's action figure lines ever arrived in toy stores. Additionally, within that preceding decade from the early 1960s to the early 1970s, many other toy companies would impact the development of action figures. Therefore to be accurate companies such as Hartland, Louis Marx, Mattel, Gilbert, Ideal, and perhaps most importantly Hassenfield Bros. which later became Hasbro, should also be acknowledged as "fathers of the modern action figure" as well as the Mego company.

As mentioned on the Hasbro page of this blog (with Tomart's Price Guide to Action Figure Collectables noted as the source), it was for the marketing of the original G.I Joe 12 inch dolls that the term "action figure" was first conceived. So to claim all of these years of development as being the work of one individual is, as Star Trek's Spock would say, quite illogical.

Following series two, EMCE released six more characters from the original Star Trek TV series. Captain Pike, Nurse Chapel, Vina (the "Green Lady") and the Salt Vampire alien were released as a set with similar card artwork, followed by Captain Kirk and Spock as they appeared in the episode "Mirror Mirror". This makes for a total of 21 dolls in the EMCE Star Trek series.

Star Trek: The Original Series, 19 inch (1/4 scale) dolls by Diamond Select, 2009
This is a series that I had not heard of until just now while compiling this blog page! At least two dolls were offered in this series, Kirk and Spock.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, 8" dolls by EMCE, 2012

In 2012 EMCE released the first two Mego style dolls based on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I saw the Captain Picard doll at a local comic store and personally I like the Playmates doll better. However, I thought the Borg was well done, and I don't have the Playmates doll of the Borg so I thought it would be worth getting. To my knowledge dolls of Data and the Klingon were not produced for this series.




Text and photos © Mike Artelle, 2011, 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment