Val’s Toy Chest- The Next Generation Flashback

This week in toys looks like it will be mainly about Funko. For fans of 1980’s properties The Karate Kid and Gremlins, Funko has you covered with both ReAction figures and POP Vinyl figures. We’ve had the Karate Kid ReAction figures already and Gremlins had POP figures a few years back, but the new Karate Kid POP vinyls and Gremlins ReAction figures are expected to arrive in store sometime within the week. Characters in the POP series will include Daniel, Johnny and Mr. Miyagi while the ReAction series will include Billy, two versions each of Gizmo and Stripe as well as two other Gremlin figures. We are also expecting new stock on the Star Trek ReAction Spock figure and more POP Minions characters. The last of the Star Trek: The Next Generation POP vinyls will also make his appearance- more on that later.

There are some neat comic books that I will be checking out this week- mostly from IDW. First of these is the latest “Garbage Pail Kids” One-Shot. This one is subtitled “Gross Encounters of the Turd Kind” and looks like it will contain sci-fi and alien-centered stories with the typical “Garbage Pail Kids” gross-out humor. The deluxe edition comes with a trading card sticker and should be gone relatively fast. Plenty of GPK product will be forthcoming due to the celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the original Topps trading card series. Funko is putting out a vinyl figure of GPK mascot Adam Bomb as well as a set of Blind Box Mystery Minis which will be larger than the standard Mystery Minis Series. Topps is also commemorating the 30th Anniversary with a new set of trading cards. All GPK product is expected to hit sometime in July. “Jem and the Holograms” issue #4 also releases from IDW this week and I cannot wait to see what the Misfits have in-store for Jem and the Holograms as they take to the stage for their first public performance. Last on my list for the week is the latest issue of “Batgirl” from DC Comics which finds Batgirl taking on the new Batman. Wonder if she’ll find out that it’s her father?

As promised I am going to tell my tale of how collecting the toys got me into the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV show. I’ve mentioned before that I used to read all the latest toy and comic magazines to see what was going on in the action figure universe. One of the magazines I read talked about the new Star Trek: TNG line due out from Playmates Toys and how nice the prototypes looked. Playmates was mainly known for their “Ninja Turtles” line and hadn’t done realistic human sculpts in any of their other lines. The Trek line changed that. I had been familiar with the previous 1988 3 and 3/4″ Galoob line since I had always seen those in stores and had wanted the Tasha Yar since I had always been a female action figure collector even when I was 9 years old. When the new 5″ Playmates figures hit the stores in late 1992, the toy magazines blew up with reports about the rare figures in the line which were the aliens and Counselor Deanna Troi. Troi was rare because she didn’t ship in the initial cases and was released after the other 9 characters. My local Genovese drug store started carrying the line and lo and behold, Deanna Troi was there with all of the other figures. I think at the time Genovese charged $6.99 for the TNG figures so I had to convince my mom to let me get her since she was going for around $25.00 on the aftermarket back then. This was all before I ever watched a full episode of the TV show. One Saturday night after I bought my figure I turned on WPIX 11 at 7pm to give the series a try. My very first episode happened to be a rerun of the Troi-centric “Face of the Enemy” from season 6 which had Troi undercover as a Romulan operative. It was a great episode and I tuned in for the episode “Timescape” the week after. I was hooked and ended up buying the entire series of TNG figures and watching the series in reruns on WLIW TV 55. By the time the 1993 wave of figures came out I wanted every figure I could get my hands on and traveled all over NYC to find different characters. I had two must-haves in that second series of figures. The first was Dr. Beverly Crusher, who had become my favorite TNG character and Guinan, because I adore Whoopi Goldberg.

I completed both sets of TNG figures and picked up the Classic Star Trek 7 pack and the Transporter playset when the third series hit along with the new set based on DS9. Collecting the Star Trek figures woke me up to the fact that adults collected these toys as well. I remember rubbing elbows with collectors who were probably as old as I am now trying to get the latest ST figures and not always getting the ones that I wanted because of it. By the time series 3 was over I had gaps in my Star Trek:TNG collection because Playmates had started doing limited run figures for specific retailers. I have never tracked down the rare “Redemption” Data which was exclusive to JCPenney’s and depicted everyone’s favorite android in a red command uniform. Playmates expanded their Star Trek selection to cover everything from the original series thru Star Trek: Voyager and it was a great period for Star Trek merchandise. Alas “All Good Things” must come to an end…

I think a couple of factors eventually did Playmates’ Star Trek license in the first time around. The first thing was the scale change for the First Contact line of movie figures. I bought them all but a lot of the customer base hated the new 6″ size that these figures were released in. The second was the 1996 released 30th Anniversary series which featured three figures that had limited edition sizes. Captain Picard from “Tapestry” and Tasha Yar from “Yesterday’s Enterprise” were restricted to 1701 copies while Reg Barclay from “Projections” was upped to a whopping 3000 pieces because of fan outcry. This left a lot of collectors out in the cold and a lot of collections incomplete. Playmates tried to appease the fanbase by re-releasing those three in a box set in 1998 without the numbered feet that the originals had but most people were done at that point. 1999 was the last year for Playmates’ original Star Trek license which they closed out with a number of exclusives restricted to Target stores. This caused the last major DS9 character and regular castmember, Ezri Dax to go unreleased as an action figure until a limited figure of her was made by Diamond in the 2000s. Playmates and Star Trek gave it another go in 2009 with the license for the JJ Abrams film but those figures languished on the shelves and the two parted ways yet again. Diamond Select currently produces TNG and TOS toy including ships and action figures and Funko has thrown their hat into the ring with POPs and ReActions for both licenses. The POP Geordi LaForge should be coming in this week and if you are into the TNG POPs, we still have Will Riker, the Klingon, and Deanna Troi in stock as of this writing.

My personal top five Star Trek Action Figures- Playmates style…

5. Seven of Nine- Cobalt Blue Uniform- International Exclusive (1999) The nicest version of the 7 of 9 character to see release in the Star Trek line. Figure was only released overseas as it was a scrapped Target exclusive. Limited to approximately 4000 pieces
4. Lt. Commander Deanna Troi- lavender outfit(1992) My first foray into the Star Trek universe still holds a special place in my collection.
3. Guinan- red outfit(1993) Whoopi Goldberg- always one of my favorites.
2. Borg Queen-(1998) “First Contact” is my favorite “Star Trek:TNG” movie. The Borg Queen was an awesome figure with the pieces to replicate the sequence where her head and torso is lowered into a mechanical body.
1. Dr. Beverly Crusher in Duty Uniform(1995) Though I loved the jacketed Beverly figure, I preferred this one in the long run since the jacket restricted Bev’s articulation. Beverly is my favorite Trek character in the entire Trek canon, hence her spot at #1.

What I loved most about Playmates’ Star Trek line overall was the amount of strong female characters that made it into the toyline and it is most definitely reflected in the list above. The depth of character selection for Trek has never again been as strong.

I hope you enjoyed my toy flashbacks as I plan to have more in the future.

That’s it for this week! Catch you next week!

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