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#21 Matty-lad

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Posted 31 May 2019 - 12:38 PM

I just assumed the 6" latinum statue was produced instead of the 6" figure. If I was an opener then that's how I would have displayed it.

#22 Jpatrik

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Posted 02 June 2019 - 12:07 AM

Morgan, dude, I just wanna say a massive thank you for sharing this with the community.  No idea where you dug these photos up from, but I'm a huge advocate of sharing Playmates Star Trek pre-internet history.  To see photos that I have never seen before is WILD!  Thanks!!

 

PS: Why the red uniform on Data I wonder??



#23 Morgan

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Posted 02 June 2019 - 02:39 PM

Jpatrik, thanks man, glad you guys are enjoying these. Yeah, there's fair bit out there that was just straight up did not make it on to the internets at the time.

 

I think the red uniform is just a hasty mockup, and tbh it's weird that they painted a Calhoun body from a FC uniform back to a DS9 type thing. Even stranger since this is almost a year after FC came out.



#24 Morgan

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 04:04 PM

locutus-700.jpg

 

At Toy Fair 1997 Playmates exhibited this 4.5-inch Locutus figure alongside the Borg Queen figure of the same size, and the battle-damaged Data figure from "First Contact." The Locutus figure is actually not a repaint of the 1993 figure, with much more realistic paint on the head, on the hand, with pale skin with various detail tones, eyes looking to the right, bluer lips, ghostly skin and much more detail on the various hoses and the chestplate.

 

This figure, along with the Borg Queen and battle-damaged Data, was scheduled for the "Ultra Trek assortment" that would have shipped in October 1997. So this was indeed something that was very much planned to be produced(!)

 

The figure collector market certainly seemed ready for anything Locutus-themed -- the previous two figures were some of the most eagerly purchased ones of their two series, which is why they were hard to find even though they were made in good numbers. Locutus also appeared in a flashback scene in "First Contact," which is something that people forget, but he did not look like this per se. The Locutus character seen in "First Contact" was different from the one in BoBW, mostly when it came to the upper body suit -- he was closer to the other Borg in the film when it came to detail. So if they wanted to do a "First Contact" Locutus they may have needed to redo the body, even though it was not seen in FC in entirety. By that time the prior two Locutus figures were nowhere to be seen on retail shelves for quite some time. As a reminder, this was at Toy Fair 1997, so even the metallized Locutus figure was long gone by then.

 

I think even a repaint of a 1993 Locutus figure, offered on the Warp Factor packaging in 1997-1998 (or as a part of this announced Ultra Trek assortment), would have been a pretty solid bet -- it was hard to lose money selling Borg stuff, even a couple of years after "First Contact" came out. Playmates could have easily sold retailers (or just Target) on the addition of a Locutus repaint in the Warp Factor lineup, or a similar figure that would have been a little more screen-correct, in addition to the Borg Queen and Data.
 



#25 Jpatrik

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 08:30 PM

I could be wrong, but it looks like it has those "Thigh cuts" that the Voyager figures had for improved articulation and better sitting!

 

Man would have loved to have had this instead of some of the weird choices in the Warp Factor range!



#26 Morgan

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Posted 30 June 2019 - 08:34 AM

Yeah, this one is pretty different from the 1993 version now that I've had a good look at the two, everything is different except perhaps for the head. It's very subtle and it looks like they used the 1993 figure (as opposed to the screen appearance) as a visual starting point, but all the details are a little different from the 1993 sculpt.



#27 Morgan

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 08:24 AM

Here's a resin test shot of a Mugato figure, this one sold on eBay in July 2019 for $123.50. All the limbs are not attached and the right arm is MIA, they're simply popped into place.

 

 

mugato.jpg



#28 Morgan

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 11:38 AM

At Toy Fair 1995, Playmates had these test shots of a Space Talk Borg and Picard in jacket on display.

 

The Picard test shot is pretty cool to see here just because of the wacky plastic colors.

 

fair-95.jpg



#29 RizzoPSU

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 10:01 PM

Space Talk Captains jacket or FC jacket?

#30 Jpatrik

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Posted 07 September 2019 - 11:45 PM

The blue Enterprise on the left is the Innerspace Enterprise-D playset.  The Picard & Borg figures are the Space Talk versions.



#31 Morgan

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 12:44 PM

Curiously enough, the Borgified Data figure made appearances in the manufacturer's promotional materials as a part of the lineup, pointing to the fact that it was dropped relatively late in the process.

 

As to how it looks the way it does, I can only guess that the figure production process was so long at the time (about 6-9 months for the whole lineup), that Playmates only got some very early concept sketches from Paramount and was like, "uhh, I guess this is what he's gonna look like in the film." In the same manner, Playmates either never received sketches of the Borg Queen, or decided not to produce her for other reasons. The Borg Queen was in the film trailer, so it's not like it would have been a "spoiler" to produce a figure and have it hit shelves right before the film. In fact, the trailer pretty much gave away the whole plot.

 

But, I wonder just how many prototypes of this figure were made and who owns them now. I'm betting there was more than one, and I'm betting that tooling may have been produced for this figure, and that it was dropped at the last minute, because it looks a little ridiculous and isn't screen-accurate.

 

fc-figures.jpg
 



#32 Jpatrik

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 05:13 AM

Man, Ive seen that First Contact photo a bunch of times and never seen the "original" version of it!!  Thanks for posting dude.  If you check out the official photos released, you can definitely see that they have surgically removed the Data figure, leaving a noticeable gap:

 

http://upcloseandpla...ntact-1996.html

 

As for the actual Data figure - he's pretty scary looking - and I'm pretty sure he was on ebay a few years back.  Or at least that's where I found these photos for the site.  My guess is that at least one is in the hands of a lucky private collector:

http://upcloseandpla...eased-data.html



#33 Morgan

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 01:14 PM

Here's a color version I found in some literature of the time, from summer 1996.

 

 

fc-1200.jpg



#34 Morgan

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 01:21 PM

borg-900.jpg
 
1996 Picard/Borg Diorama
 
Playmates exhibited this concept diorama at the 1996 Huntsville "Star Trek: One Weekend on Earth," 30th anniversary event. The diorama was auctioned off at the event to benefit the Gene Roddenberry Foundation.
 
I suspect that this could have been one of the handmade concepts and mockups that later became the eventual Picard & Borg Drone two-pack that was released in 1999 in the Alien Series on Warp Factor packaging. That 1999 set included a repainted but not really resculpted versions of the old Borg figure and the 1993 Locutus figure, and a simpler Borg ship background. This one is quite different from that, and it looks like something the company used as a pre-production concept. But it is roughly the same size that the eventual two-pack ended up being, if a little deeper in side width, but narrower overall.
 
If you look at it closely enough, you can see that Picard has different leg joint geometry, and that the design of the set itself is closer to the "Q Who" & "BoBW" interior than the later versions of Borg interiors. Let's also note the fact that Picard was never really on screen on a Borg ship phasering anybody, unless we consider that that could have happened shortly after he was abducted from the bridge of the Enterprise in BoBW Part I. (But did he have a phaser on him?) You can also see that the parts that it's made seem industrially made, rather than scratch-built, including the various hoses, railings and the control panel. 
 
This diorama was exhibited at the time the larger-format First Contact figures were about to hit stores, within months I think, and strangely enough if you think back to the film itself there is a flashback image of Picard in this uniform on the Borg ship. Playmates likely did not know this at the point that it made this figure, but this could have been an item that would have gone into production alongside the larger-format First Contact figures, to spice up the smaller-format offerings. 
 
The two-packs that eventually resulted did not arrive until 1999, and by this time Picard was a 1993 Locutus repaint, but the Borg interior itself was still more of the Q Who/BoBW design rather than the later First Contact aesthetic. 
 
Needless to say, the diorama above is far more detailed and more three-dimensional, but size-wise it's not far from the two-pack that was released three years later, seen below.
 
borgship.jpg


#35 Jpatrik

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Posted 10 November 2019 - 05:51 AM

Man!  This picard/Borg diorama is breaking my brain!!  Thanks for posting it!  I take it youre going through some old Tomarts magazines?  They're getting hard to come by these days.

 

Is it just me or is Picard's phaser beam slightly translucent - check out the tip of the beam.

 

Immense thanks for supplying a colour version of the FC figures.  I hope you dont mind that I used it to update my site.



#36 Morgan

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Posted 10 November 2019 - 01:27 PM

Glad you're liking these. Yeah, I noticed the beam on the phaser, that's kinda cool, looks like plexiglass or something. I guess they thought the regular orange beam would look lame in the diorama cause they're all bendy. This one is not bendy at all.

 

I figured this was a playset concept they built earlier and just donated to the auction, that's what it smells like, but the production two-packs weren't greenlit till much later. The background Borg wall looks way too detailed to have been kitbashed -- it looks purpose-made if you look at various set design photos from TNG.

 

Lovely site, by the way, and one of the few places to read about this stuff. Keep updating it!



#37 Morgan

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 07:42 PM

data-800.jpg

 

 
1997 Ultra Trek Borgified Data
 
At Toy Fair 1997 the company showed off this 6-inch Borgified Data, part of the Ultra Trek line that would have included a 6-inch Locutus figure, a Borg drone, and the Borg Queen. 
 
The 6-inch Borg Queen was eventually scaled down to the 4.5-inch format, and released on Warp Factor packaging that at least had a common exterior package, even if the figure lineup within was a little random, and actually became quite a successful figure, if very late to the movie. Borgified Data, on the other hand, was not scaled down and released with the Warp Factor figures -- it seems it was too late at that point to add him to the lineup -- the First Contact ship had sailed by that point, because the movie opened on Nov. 22, 1996, and the Ultra Trek figures would have hit shelves in the fall of 1997. 
 
At the time Playmates was still hoping that the 6-inch format would really take off instead of annoying the collector fanbase, but after taking a stab at some DS9 figures with bridge workstations, etc, it was kind of over and they gave up after a few more.
 
It's pretty obvious that this figure was doomed by three things: timing, the 6-inch format, and the price. The Ultra Trek lineup was going to be priced somewhere north of the regular 6-inch First Contact figures because there was going to be a fancy box, etc, and Playmates was trying to be McFarlane.
 
I sometimes think of how the First Contact lineup had been received if it was the 4.5-inch format (which was pretty popular at Target stores when they made some bridge officer figures later on), and if it had included the Borg Queen. Sometimes it seems that Playmates learned the wrong lessons from the Generations lineup uniform screwup; that whole fiasco seems very avoidable in hindsight, and would certainly not be allowed to happen today where stuff just gets shipped to stores regardless. That mistake was not made with the First Contact figures, but all-new mistakes were made.


#38 Morgan

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 08:16 PM

locutus-2-800.jpg

 

 
1997 Ultra Trek Locutus 
 
At Toy Fair 1997 the company showed off this 6-inch Locutus figure, part of the Ultra Trek line that would have included a 6-inch Borgified Data, a Borg drone, and the Borg Queen.
 
The Ultra Trek figures would have had their own box, shaped like a DVD boxed set with a clear plastic window at the front, a stand and other items to make the whole thing look "expensive." Also, it would have been more expensive as well.
 
This essentially looks like a scaled-up version of the 1993 figure, but it would have had more articulation, more detail (mostly on the head), and more detailed paint, because the 1993 figure was quite simple when it came to paint even though sculpt-wise it was very well done and was probably the most expensive figure to produce out of the 1993 lineup in terms of parts, tooling and paint processes. 
 
As with the other Ultra Trek figures, it appears that Playmates was not really able to find enough big-box store buyers that would have justified the tooling for this figure. In short, the retailers got scared of the much higher prices and the prospect of these sitting on shelves for ages, even though Locutus was a very in-demand figure, at least when it was cheap like the metallized Locutus. You can look at the metallized figure from 1995 for helping make the case for Ultra Trek Locutus -- that was Playmates doing some exploration of the more popular characters -- and that figure was a big success 5 years after that episode aired. Of course, that was an iconic episode, so that helped too. 
 
Playmates execs had pointed out on a number of occasions that 70 to 80 percent of the buyers of the Trek figures were adult collectors, so it's possible that they would have been able to swallow the higher price of the Ultra Trek figures, but unfortunately by this time the First Contact lineup was a bit of a dud at retail. The Ultra Trek figures were planned for a fall 1997 release, but at Toy Fair in February 1997 these more expensive figures didn't attract enough attention from big retailers. The big chain supermarkets wanted modestly-priced figures, unless they were the cloth-dressed 8-inch doll format which has its own audience, but otherwise they wanted figures to be priced like the First Contact figures.
 
This planned Ultra Trek lineup, with over 20 years of hindsight, now appears like Playmates was desperately chasing trends in the toy business, namely larger figures with more detail targeted exclusively at collectors willing to spend $20 on a single figure that was not a doll but has a lot more detail and a fancy box, which is essentially what we saw with all the larger formats in Star Wars over the past decade. It was something with which McFarlane Toys was doing to shake up the toy business, and it was working very well for McFarlane at the time which had a niche audience, but would that format have translated to Trek collectors? 
 
Playmates gave this direction a try, starting with the 6-inch First Contact figures that had better head sculpts, but it seems clear that retailers balked at the higher pricing. Playmates could have still produced them in small number for more niche retailers like comic book stores and Star Trek magazine exclusives, but it's likely they would have lost money on the tooling. The company's business model at the time largely permitted plastic figures in very large production runs, and a lot of retailers picking them up. If they couldn't ensure both, then those figures just didn't go into production. 


#39 Jpatrik

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Posted Today, 01:29 AM

Wow thanks again for digging into the archives - I'm really sketchy on the details of the so called Ultra Trek figures.  I have a vague memory of seeing the kind of packaging you describe.  They sounded amazing, but its also weird to think that the Warp Factor series was on shelves with things like Movie Maniacs.

 

When you out the last few waves of Playmates figures into context, they really were rather old fashioned.

 

Looking at that Data figure above - he's really nice - but still essentially a scaled up Voyager figure with that "one size fits all" body.  Having said that, I would have definitely bought him!!!  The head sculpt is pretty impressive!






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