Wednesday, October 12, 2011

From the Archive: Star Trek: The Motion Picture Enterprise Bridge (Mego; 1980)

It must have been 1980 or 1981, I guess; a bitterly cold winter's day as I recall. I was at the massive (and legendary...) Englishtown flea market in New Jersey with my family, searching out toy treasures. At that time in my life, that would have meant Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, Space:1999 or Star Trek figures, to put a fine point on the matter.

Bundled in a warm winter jacket and sipping hot chocolate out of a Styrofoam cup, my lips shivering, I soon came across a toy that I had never seen before and have only rarely seen since. And which today, I prize.

It's the Star Trek: The Motion Picture "U.S.S. Enterprise Bridge" from Mego Corporation, released 1980. I found it mint in its box at the flea market that day...selling for one dollar. Needless to say, I bought it. And I still had allowance to spare...

I've kept this toy with me
ever since - during all my geographical moves from New Jersey to Virginia to North Carolina, though the toy box is long, long gone.

A few years back, I bought a new one (with box...) on E-Bay for significantly more than one dollar. Why? Well, I had always promised myself that if I saw another of these rare toys, and it was under a certain price threshold, I would get it, since I had played mine out and all the decals had basically rubbed off.

To explain further about this toy, it is not the famous "spinning transporter" Bridge playset from Mego; from the original TV series.

No, this is the movie Enterprise bridge from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The box legend says it all, capturing the glory of this toy: "take command of the helm and recreate all the adventure of the crew of the starship Enterprise."

How many of us X'ers, as kids, wanted to do just that?

I know I did, and since the movies were from my era growing up, the 1979 -1991 era, this was the bridge I wanted. The bridge V'Ger's probe attacked. The bridge Kirk returned to after a 2.5 year absence after the five year mission; the bridge from which he faced "KHAN!"

"All scaled for Mego 3 3/4 inch Star Trek crew" figures, this bridge "measures over 24 inches long and 12 inches wide and features" the following: "Working Docking Port," "Helm Control Center," "Navigational Station," "Captain's Chair," "Science Center," Communications Console" and "Authentic Decals."

Trademarked 1980 by Mego Corp, to follow the release of the first Star Trek movie, the box also suggested you can dock this bridge "with the Vulcan shuttle (sold separately)," a toy that to my knowledge was never widely released.  What's really awesome is that the you can see the prototype toy in the picture on the side, if you look closely enough at the  the box,

I guess there's a certain kind of kid (a geek, I suppose?) who would rather sit inside and play with action figures than go outside and throw a ball around, and that was certainly me.

But what's even funnier is that the bridge isn't exactly a "hub of action." I mean, it's a place with control panels and chairs where the action figures...sit.

When I think of the Star Wars toys from Kenner, I remember the Ewok village, the Death Star (with trash compactor!) the Rebel Hoth base and more...places of action and battle! But then Star Trek was (and is...) for a certain kind of kid too. I mean, I don't want to diss or dismiss Star Wars because I love it too, but the thrill of Star Trek is the notion of a team of people exploring the unknown together. The bridge is the gateway to that unknown, that cosmic mystery. Any kind of alien being or space phenomenon or wormhole could appear on our view screen, and off we go into the realm of the undiscovered, the new, the imaginative.

Truth be told, this toy is made of flimsy, lightweight plastic and held together only by tiny adhesive stickers. The controls are just decals, flat and uninteresting. There are no lights, no whirring parts. And compared to Kenner's wonderful (and extremely sturdy...) Star Wars toys, this Enterprise bridge absolutely  pales in comparison.

And yet - again - the child who loves Star Trek knows these things don't really matter. It's what we bring to the human adventure, our imagination, that counts, and this bridge - deficits and all - is still the command center that carries our mental starships into new worlds to meet new life forms and new civilizations...

Boldly go...


  1. It's actually quite a nice toy - and like you, I'm very much a movie gent. That was the era I grew up with and to my horror, I see the plastic chairs carry no resemblance to the ones in the film! I'm not surprised for the era, but I always loved the chairs from the first 5 films - with the folding arms. Still the bridge "feels" like the motion picture decor, I'll give it that!

  2. Hi James,

    Yes, it is a nice toy, in many ways...just a little flimsy (and all stuck together with these ineffective little brown stickers...).

    You and I are very much the same in that we count the movie era as our "Star Trek." I've always longed for a really detailed diorama of the motion picture or wrath of khan bridge.


  3. WOW! I had no idea that MEGO made a bridge toy for ST:TMP! I've seen the action figures of course, and recently picked up one of those wrist communicators, but have never seen this toy. I wish you had posted a photo of those flimsy brown adhesive tickers. It sounds like such a bad idea for a toy. Perhaps this only had a limited run because of its flimsiness?

  4. James McLean2:28 PM

    One final note, I love how in Star Trek toyworld the designer decided to put a command station right in front of the viewscreen. That would be like when your kid sits right in front of the television - hardly a position you want someone in if you're in the middle of combat. Fire plastic torpedos!

  5. Anonymous1:48 PM

    I remember I saw this and a bunch of the action figures that went with it at Children's Palace (big toy store, long since gone)in Columbus, Ohio back in 1985. I was 10 at the time and I don't know how they still had them on the shelves 5-6 years after the movie was out. It must have all been on clearance and was probably dirt cheap. My parents got me the bridge and all the crew members for my birthday(I didn't even know they made alien figures at all until many years later). Unfortunately as with most stuff I had around the age of ten, it got played with to the point of destruction and is lost forever. I think a couple of the figures are still floating around somwhere. You're right about the sticky tabs to hold it togehter, they wore out very quickly, but I had a bunch of fun with it while it lasted. Thansk for the article and the pictures, it's nice to see it again and learn a bit of the history behind the toys.