Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hey, a review! Playmates Star Trek Bridge Playset

I don't do reviews very often, but I bought the Star Trek bridge set the other day, probably a good what, four months and change after it came out? Well, I suppose the rule is now I have to mention that I purchased this product and did not receive any gifts, services, or fabulous prizes for this. I had only seen one other review for this online, but that may be because it's like reviewing a build-a-figure when you only have the legs.

The bridge begins life in a box with a photo of a more complete, and populated bridge than you get out of the box. Granted, that's the only way to do it, since it's too big to pack showing what's inside. There is a small window showing the enclosed Kirk figure, so you could perhaps give it the once-over for glaring paint errors.

I'm a pretty patient man, but I destroyed the hell out of this box getting everything out, mainly the Kirk. I sincerely doubt you could unpack and repack everything in there; but if you were so inclined as to devote hours to it, I won't stop you.

The set comes with the centerpiece of the bridge, the captain's chair; and the helm and navigation stations. Those two are traditionally where Sulu and Chekov sit.

Kirk takes the big chair easily enough, but it seemed like it's too high. There is a steep dropoff just behind him as well, that I think is a couple of feet in-scale, and seems like a safety hazard.

Much more after the break, and a short cartoon at the end!

Unlike the rest of the bridge pieces (which we'll get to) the seats for the helm and navigation consoles are locked into place. Which is nice, except...Sulu and Chekov can't sit back in the chairs, and reach their stations. My Chekov figure has a sticky leg, and refuses to sit well anyway, but the point remains. There are a few sculpted elements to the console, like the throttle; but it's mostly flat. While there's not really paint, there are a few stickers for the appropriate mass of unlabeled buttons that Sulu and Chekov use. They're nice enough, with no bubbling.

The viewscreen is open, with a printed insert to slide into it. Did it sit so low in the movie? I want to say it should be a little higher off the floor, but I could be confusing it with the original series, or my Mego bridge.

Last are the two "data screens." They are clear, with some info displayed on them. They do serve to divide the bridge a bit, from the main area and the little ancillary stations.

There isn't much sculpt left, since the rest of the playset is...a mat. Since I haven't seen the movie in a bit, I can't say it's the exact color of the Enterprise's floor--for some reason, probably the lens flares, I wanted to say it was whiter. Since the mat is a thin plastic, and comes rolled-up in the box, you will probably have to weigh it down and press it flat to get started.

The viewscreen insert is of the Romulan ship Narada, including some of the little technical pop-ups. Unlike the mat, the insert comes flat and is stiffer, so it slides in and displays well. It's also semi-clear, so it doesn't completely block light. But...the set only comes with one insert, non-reversible. Not to get all old-timer here, but I had the classic Mego bridge, and I had three interchangeable viewscreens, double-sided. Alternative screens would add a ton of play value.

Now, since it's a playset, that means no articulation, right? Well, no. Kirk's chair turns, but doesn't stick: it will spring back to center. Moreover, since the base is a (mostly) flat mat, once you center the captain's chair piece on there, there is nothing holding it in place. Well, technically not 'nothing,' just inertia, gravity, and the force of your will; so it's super-easy to knock it out of whack. And that's the heaviest set piece: the other consoles will shift with a harsh glance.

Other consoles? That's right! To complete your bridge playset, you need to purchase the other figures in Playmates' 3.75 inch line, or at least the ones that come with bridge pieces. In the first wave, Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Pike, Sulu, and Cadets Chekov and McCoy all come with additional chairs and consoles to fill out the set. (Uhura, Nero, and Original Spock come with additional pieces for the transporter room set.)

Got all seven? You're halfway there! The rest will come with the second wave of figures, which I have yet to see in stores.

If you go the distance, you are going to end up with an extra gold-shirted Kirk: the bridge comes with one, but you need the single-packed for the console. Actually, you could get a few more Kirks to boot: the second wave appears to include black-shirted Kirk, survival gear Kirk, and possibly cadet Kirk.

Admittedly, if you were interested in the playset, you were probably interested in at least some of the other figures; since it's pretty rare for only one person to be on the bridge. (Original series episodes "This Side of Paradise" and "The Mark of Gideon" are the exceptions that prove the rule...) It is a little more purchase-intensive than your average build-a-figure; but on the other hand, if you buy one figure they can still sit in their chair and console.

You may consider the included Kirk figure the accessory here. It's not the best likeness in the first wave of figures, but not terrible. Still, it doesn't compare well to a similarly scaled G.I. Joe or Star Wars figure.

Like his single-packed brethren, Kirk comes with a belt (with non-removable communicator) and phaser.

The bridge of the Enterprise is inherently fun; and once you get some consoles it is neat to set them up, move them around, man the stations, and so on.

But right out of the box, I don't know how much fun the lone Kirk and chairs are. Other viewscreens to display would've been great, and it seems a crime that there is no sound effects button here.

Now, here's a crapshoot: If you were to buy the bridge set and the seven figures with bridge accessories, at full retail, it would run you an estimated $74 American. ($25 for the playset, $7 each for the figures.)

Personally? I picked up the bridge, and the majority of the figures, and three spares for additional consoles; for under $35. (Currently, I'm missing Original Spock, but he comes with a transporter piece.) So, if you shop it around, it's more than likely you could pick it up on the cheap. The Oldest and I have discussed possibly "customizing" the spares into other crewmen. With Sharpies.

The mat does seem a bit thin and a bit slick. If you have some weights, perhaps a couple textbooks or such, I'd recommend trying to flatten it right out of the box.

Overall? Well, I don't know if I would've paid more than I did. In fact, no, I wouldn't.

There is probably a perfectly valid reason why not, but a hard plastic base instead of a mat; would've improved this playset by a factor of ten. A hard plastic base, that you could tab or lock the additional set pieces onto? That would've been a hundred times better. (I freely admit, there could be multiple reasons why that wouldn't have worked, even excluding price point.)

I was very disappointed in the lack of additional main viewscreen displays. A generic space one, or incoming Klingons, or asteroids and debris; would've been much appreciated. Ditto a sound button: phaser and photon torpedo fire, an explosion, and done. Seems like a no-brainer. If this scale and price point are more for kids than collectors, you have to hit those marks to put it over the top.

I like that Playmates included a Kirk figure. I don't like that it's the same as the carded one, and that you still need that one for the bridge piece. One should have been a variant of some sort; and even though it's his traditional look, he only wears the gold shirt for about fifteen seconds in the movie. (Oh, it's been out for months, that's not a spoiler.)

Lastly, I'm still seven to ten pieces away from filling all the empty spots. Since I haven't seen the second wave of figures yet, I don't know which comes with what, but two may come with additional data screens; I'd be willing to bet Scotty's little alien sidekick Keenser comes with one. And it looks like the rearmost consoles may be a little different, with a round protuberance. Otherwise, you may be well-advised, to hit clearance aisles for marked down first series figures to fill in those empty spots.

Even after all that, there is still some fun to be had with the Star Trek Bridge Playset. It just that, it could have been better.


Generic Viagra said...

I have tried to get this set everywhere, but I can not do it yet. Could you tell me where you got it, I need one for my son as quick as possible. I will appreciate your information too much.

Anonymous said...

Playmates really f~cked this line up. Really disapointing since the figures themselves aren`t bad

Anonymous said...

The playset isn't impossible to get

Amazon, ebay and Toy ner..."collector" stores have them

For the figures, it's October 2011 and no second wave, my guess the first wave was a bust and they just discontinued the Trek toy line altogether.

Maybe Trek 2012 will see more figures (though I doubt playset pieces)

And that's the drawback with the 'got to collect'em all to complete the playset' strategy.

Playmates should take a cue from Hasbro, or better yet Paramount should have Hasbro take over the trek toy line. Who knows Star Wars has had a permanent wall at stores for decades (movie toys, not just Clone Wars) so maybe 'Hasbro' Trek figures will have a permanent store display (with a "Legacy Collection" TOS,TNG,DS9, Voyager, Enterprise figures)