Sunday, September 18, 2016

At Flashbak: Captain on the (Toy) Bridge

This week at Flashbak was posted a hold-over from the Star Trek 50th anniversary celebration on my blog.  It concerns…plastic toy versions of that great Star Trek hub adventure: the starship bridge.

“It’s funny to think about, but all the great adventure -- in all the various iterations of Star Trek, Prime or Kelvin -- starts on the bridge of a starship. 

Accordingly, various toy companies over the last fifty years have recreated the U.S.S. Enterprise’s famous control room in plastic.

A model doesn’t promise the same interactivity as a playset, but in the 1970s, Star Trek fans were thrilled nonetheless when AMT released the U.S.S. Enterprise Command Bridge model kit. 

This kit replicated “the nerve center of the United Federation Starship Enterprise,” and came with three figurines of the crew (Kirk, Spock, and Sulu) that required assembly and painting.  The bridge itself – and all accouterments like chairs and consoles – had to be assembled and painted too, and the set also came with details to recreate the colorful displays on the upper wall of the original NCC-1701 bridge.

The kit had a number of drawbacks (including chair stands that broke), but the big drawback was that Uhura, Scotty and Chekov were not included in the model.

More interactive -- and more durable too -- was Mego’s Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise "Action Playset, the toy of choice for a generation of Trekkie kids. This mock-up of the U.S.S. Enterprise interior (bridge and transporter room) was a "giant, 24" long command center," "with captain's chair, console, two stools" plus six interchangeable "view screen scenes."  The set comfortably housed all the Mego Star Trek figures of the era, and, while not very show accurate in terms of design, was nonetheless a great toy.

In 1979, to coincide with the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Mego produced the new bridge playset to reflect the changes to the Enterprise since the end of the TV series. "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."

Alas, this highly prized (and incredibly expensive) toy is made of the flimsiest, most lightweight plastic, and held together only by tiny square adhesive stickers.  The control panels, meanwhile, are simple stickers. It’s a beloved toy for me, but also a bit of a disappointment..."

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