Thursday, March 16, 2006

RETRO TOY FLASHBACK # 34: Captain Kirk

Would you think any less of me if I admitted that I worship...idols? Well, one idol in particular. You know his name.

Say it now with me: James. Tiberius. Kirk. Captain of the starship Enterprise. Hero of the classic TV series, Star Trek.

I've written on this blog before about my man-sized hetero-love for William Shatner - a paragon of a man, a God among actors, and a fellow who's changed the world (at least according to the History Channel). But truth be told, it's Captain Kirk that I really and truly admire, deep down.

He's been my hero since I was old enough to hold my head up and gaze at the TV. Sometimes, my wife is baffled by my admiration for Kirk, since he can be pissy ("The Man Trap"), arrogant ("The Trouble with Tribbles") and irritating too. She doesn't get the hero worship, and actually, I do think that Kirk is more appealing to men as a role model, than to women in real life (though on the TV show, he has no problem with women...).

Maybe it's something about being in his presence instead of seeing him on TV. When my wife and I saw Shatner at a con here in Charlotte in 1994, she practically drooled. She won't admit it, but she did. I know. I saw, Kathryn. I saw...

Let's look at Captain Kirk for a minute. He's a brilliant leader who inspires his crew; he has the coolest friends in the galaxy (Spock and Bones) and has earned their unfailing, unswerving loyalty; he also commands a starship and is an experienced explorer, soldier and diplomat. Even more to the point, Kirk is a man of reason, sensitivity and great fairness. He's also good in a fight.

How can you not love Kirk? To me he's everything a renaissance man should be; my ideal role model. More so than Picard, who who can occasionally be dull, and, frankly, doesn't have the combat chops that Kirk does. I like to make this contrast between the two characters:

In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Kirk has "appropriated" the Enterprise, which is manned by a skeleton crew. He has no reason to outright suspect foul play in the Genesis sector, but the U.S.S. Grissom isn't responding to hails, and his antennae are up. A distortion in space is noted by Sulu, and Kirk makes the (correct) assumption that the distortion is a cloaked Klingon vessel. When by all rights the Klingons seem to have the advantage, Kirk fires photon torpedoes and gets the first strike in on the Bird of Prey while it's still decloaking. It's amazing.

Now, Picard in Generations commands the Federation flagship manned by a full crew. An unknown assailant has attacked an array, a Federation facility in space, so this captain should be ready for combat. A Klingon Bird of Prey de-cloaks (notice Picard didn't detect it like Kirk did before hand...) and Picard's baffled, ineffective reaction is simply one word, after Worf reports the enemy's presence. "What?" Come on! That sucks.

Kirk rules.

Anyway, this is a toy flashback, not just a blatant fan appreciation, so this week I'm highlighting all the Captain Kirk action figures I've owned over the years. Playing with these guys, you just gotta hope some of that Shatner magic rubs off. You'll find in my collection the Mego Kirk from the 1970s, from the Original Series days (Kirk's heyday). Also, I have the Knickerbocker plush Kirk toy. As much as I love and admire Jim Kirk, I've never felt like I want to cuddle him, however.

Then, I also have this rare Galoob Captain Kirk figure from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. I know a lot of people hate this movie, but to me, Kirk's in fine form here, leading an assault on Paradise City, wrestling with cat women, and then asking the Almighty Himself: "What does God need with a starship?" Only the greatest hero in the Alpha Quadrant would ask the Almighty for his I.D.

Playmates released a number of Captain Kirk specialty action figures over the 1990s, including one wherein the good captain is wearing casual 1930s clothes (from the episode "City on the Edge of Forever.") The company also released a version of Captain Kirk in a space suit; from a scene that was cut from Generations (1994).

If you ask me, the biggest mistake the Star Trek franchise ever made was killing of Captain Kirk at the end of Generations. He died saving billions of innocent people (whom we never met...) on a planet which we never saw...), which was a noble way to take a bow, but just look at Shatner today on Boston Legal. He's tanned, rested and ready to take the center seat. Just think, we could have had ten more years of Captain Kirk on Star Trek, had Paramount done things a little differently.

I think the best way to continue Star Trek now is to return Captain Kirk to active duty. I want to see him in action again.

How about you?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:43 AM

    I couldn't possible agree with you more John! James T. Kirk is truly awesome. I have most of the Kirk figures you mentioned in your article. I don't have the stuffed Kirk though. If I have a kid I might want to get him one instead of a Teddy Bear. My favorite Kirk figure is the battle damaged Kirk from Art Asylum. What sells it for me is the picture on the back of the figure delivering a Kirk drop-kick and a caption that read "lay a Kirk style smackdown!"

    I agree that killing Kirk was a big mistake. I think a whole series of Kirk/Picard team up films would have been awesome. That was a great opportunity that was missed in favor of pulling a cheap stunt. I think a movie involving Kirk, Picard, and Spock would be the best way to generate some new interest in the franchise again. I know those guys are expensive, but they are worth every penny.

    I will be square with you though. As much as I love Kirk, Benjamin Sisko is my favorite captain. He is the type of man that I would want to be. I'd trust Kirk with my life but I'd follow Sisko to the gates of hell.