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#61 RizzoPSU

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 10:16 PM

They should. Delving right in where they left off with 2 characters from a new series (Disco or Picard, hell even Enterprise). This should really should have happened already with the toy nostalgia boom that's happening.

#62 MisterPL

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Posted 03 June 2020 - 01:26 PM

Problem is the retail price. I'm not paying more than $10 for a 4.5" figure unless it's extra dandy. That's why I stopped collecting Star Wars 4" figures after 30 years.



#63 Morgan

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Posted 04 June 2020 - 07:36 AM

The thing is, when you go to big box stores now -- Walmart, K-Mart, Target -- how many action figure lines are actually there? Star Wars is now seen as really the only fish in a barrel for retailers, though a short time ago The Walking Dead was as well for a brief period. And what it will take for these stores to carry an action figure line these days is anyone's guess, but it has to be some billion dollar property, like Marvel movies. Most everything below that threshold is small potatoes.
 
The bar is so much higher for action figures to get on shelves, because the retailers now have a completely ridick expectation of the pace of selling stuff. There is a huge pool of manufacturers who just can't reach that bar and sell a line to a nationwide retailer in the states, which is why the big-box retailers are empty and we see very niche stuff in comic book stores, which exist at a ratio of one for every 100 miles on the left and right coasts. 
 
Action figure sales, which were driven by adult collectors in the 1990s, have collapsed to such a degree that only really Star Wars can get some shelf space, and then it just sits around unbought. The Star Wars displays in Target stores are looking pretty dire these days, with the exception of something new being dumped like the new old-skool figures, which is a desperate but calculated nostalgia play. 


#64 Morgan

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Posted 26 June 2020 - 04:23 PM

bridge-crew.jpg

 

 

The Original Series Bridge Crew TRU Special, 1993
 
Here's a prototype of The Original Series bridge crew. Look closely, and you'll notice that all the head sculpts are different: These are unused versions of the head sculpts, and most of them are very different.
 
Starting left to right from the top:
 
Chekov: The head geometry is very different, much wider, as is the haircut. This one is not even close to the production look, which is far more realistic.
 
Uhura: This one is very different: different hairstyle, eyebrows, facial expression even. We saw this variant in one of the auctioned test shots.
 
Spock: The eyes are painted differently on this one, so it could be an eventual production sculpt, but hand painted. But he still does look different somehow. It could be one of the sculpt variants we saw in the test shot auctions.
 
Scotty: Hairline and eyebrows are different, face is a little wider here. 
 
Sulu: The head looks a little wider here than on the production figure. Hairline is a little different. Here he's got a big bald patch on the left side of the head.
 
Kirk: This is a different Kirk, he's got a different forehead, different hairline, flatter eyebrows.
 
McCoy: On this one the eye and eyebrow paint scheme is different, but the mouth is much much wider than on the production figure. Here he's got a smile, and the production figure is frowning.
 
Overall, decades later, I think it's pretty obvious that this set was overproduced, and that it was also a compromise of sorts when it came to the TOS bridge playset, which was attempted in various forms but never quite materialized. If these figures were included with a TOS bridge playset, the whole thing would have been too expensive, hence this fake cardboard thing. I think it would have made sense to do a real bridge playset early on, at least before 1996 when retailer interest faded quite a bit, but after 1997 it would have been too late really -- the ship had sailed.
 
The TOS bridge playset would have been more complex and more expensive than the TNG set, believe it or not, and Pmates said pretty openly on multiple occasions that the TOS bridge would have likely been too expensive at retail to do properly. Another obstacle was finding enough big retailers to carry it with the shelf space that it would have required, which is why they attempted the suitcase fold-up design we saw on the previous page of this thread. That would have probably been the way to go, had it materialized. 
 
As much as a real TOS bridge playset may seem like a lost opportunity now, I think there's a much more important missed opportunity: the company never made the Enterprise-A ship model. That would have been a slam dunk at retail with collectors, if there ever was one, but instead we saw concepts of the Galor-class and even the Kazon warship that were pretty much production-ready. That's a little strange, needless to say, given the one glaring omission. And we got the USS Excelsior for some reason, out of the Enterprise-B sculpt. So some bad decisions were being made. But who knows -- it could have been planned as a part of the TOS movies lineup, had that lineup actually progressed beyond the initial series of figures.
 
So as far as missed opportunities go, I miss not getting an Enterprise-A more than a proper TOS bridge playset.


#65 djc242

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 12:00 AM

I too would have loved a Playmates Enterprise A! Strange that they made the Romulan Bird of Prey and not the D-7. The tease of the Cardassian ship still stings. That is a prototype I would pounce on at an auction.

#66 Morgan

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 12:20 PM

Yeah, there had to have been dozens of prototypes of the Galor-class that they had built and hand-painted. They couldn't have all been thrown out. That thing was pretty much ready for production.

 

The absence of the D-7 is strange too, given the fact that it had appeared in various forms on TOS, TNG, DS9 and even Voyager. Those would have been slam dunks at retail and they would have all been cleaned out in weeks.



#67 djc242

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Posted 27 June 2020 - 03:14 PM

Come to think of it, a D-7 or something really close to one has appeared in every Trek show (except Picard so far), the original movie franchise and even the JJ films. It’s like the Jonathan Frakes of the ships.

#68 Matty-lad

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Posted 28 June 2020 - 04:24 PM

What wound me up the most about the prototype of the TOS bridge was the picture they used on the side... it included Chapel even though we never got her figure until much later.

#69 Morgan

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Posted 28 June 2020 - 06:39 PM

Oh dang, good spot! They swapped it out to feature Chekov in her place.



#70 Matty-lad

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Posted 29 June 2020 - 01:14 PM

Pretty sure it's this picture that has 8 of the main crew on... just decided not to include Chapel.

https://vignette.wik...&path-prefix=en

#71 Gothneo

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 04:58 AM

Chapel seems to consistently get diss'ed. Overall Chapel appears in at least 25 TOS episodes... which is basically 1/3 of all episodes. Then They brought her back for the animated series and again, Chapel appears in about 1/3 of the episodes. 

 

So while the argument can be made that she wasn't cast as a main crew member, She is, I think, the character with the most recurrences in TOS, and thus a very prominate character in the series... which is why its the one character I think AA/DST messed up by never releasing.



#72 MisterPL

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 04:20 PM

I'm glad they offered Chapel as a Minimate.

mccoychapeldisaster.jpg

Now if they'd just go as deep into TNG territory as they have with TOS, I'd be a happier collector.



#73 Morgan

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Posted 05 July 2020 - 08:39 AM

tos-set-1993.jpg

 

 

The Original Series Bridge Crew TRU special, 1993

 

Here's yet another group of prototype figures of the TOS bridge crew, whose head sculpts differed from the eventual production versions. 

 
These are all hand-painted prototypes with an early version of the TOS box, and while the sculpts are all pretty close to the production versions, you can tell that they really changed some figures, especially Uhura. Here we can see not one but two unproduced versions of Uhura, and as you can see the hairstyle and the facial expression differed. We saw some of these prototype sculpts of Uhura earlier when they went to auction.
 
The company faced a bit of a dilemma with the whole TOS lineup: They wanted to do the figures and they wanted to do a real bridge playset, but the playset was constantly being judged as being too expensive to do right, and coupling it with actual figures would have made it even more expensive. The TNG bridge playset did really well at retail because they rocketed off shelves and promptly started being priced from $100-125 by late 1994 on the secondary market, so demand for yet another bridge seemed assured, but it also appears that something was off, either the retailer appetite for something pricey again, or it was too large to be carried by a big-enough number of retailers. So in 1994 Pmates passed both on the DS9 Ops playset and a proper TOS bridge. 
 
The compromise was this TRU  eventual box for these figures could have been way smaller, about a quarter of its size, but since this was a TRU special, they could make it far larger since only one retailer had to sell it, and it actually had the space to store a lot of them. If you recall, back in the day these were stacked on top of the shelves out of reach of customers, and frequently you could see about 20 of them up above and about 10-20 below, within customer reach. Plus they had more in the back rooms. So retail shelf space was not a problem. Besides TRU, no other retailer could really keep this many around all at once because the boxes were huge.
 
Same went for the TNG bridge: only TRU really had the shelf space to have a lot of them at once, while the Walmarts and Targets could only keep about 5 TNG bridges on the shelf and keep the others in a back storage area. I suspect this is why the DS9 Ops playset didn't happen: it was another large item and it would have been priced at least $50 if they had to do it somewhat correctly. If you take a look at the Ops set on the TV show in detail, however, it was clear that this would have been a much more complex thing than the TNG bridge by like a factor of four, just in terms of the number of parts: lots of railings, lots of chairs, multiple levels, lots of Okudagram panels. It would have been very expensive to do anywhere close to reality. By comparison, a TOS set would have been much easier, relatively, but still pricey and large. Which is why long after 1993 we saw the "suitcase" TOS bridge concept. But by that time the ship had sailed. 


#74 Morgan

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 12:52 PM

bele-2.jpg

 

 

Commissioner Bele, 1998
 
At Toy Fair 1998 Playmates displayed the Bele figure, which was slated to go into production with the latest TOS Warp Factor assortment later that year. The figure was seen in hand-painted prototype form, and then the company ended up not producing it.
 
Commissioner Bele was seen in the TOS episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," in which the nearly omnipotent Bele from the planet Cheron pursued a traitor named Lokai, colored in a mirror image of his appearance, for 50,000 years. This was a classic, and very powerful TOS episode.
 
While the fact that Bele went unproduced -- a relative rarity for a figure that's already been shown -- disappointed some fans, I can kind of see some concerns that the manufacturer could have had.
- TOS was no longer on the air, and to actually see Bele in an episode you had to own the VHS tape
- the limited articulation smelled of cost-cutting
- Bele and Lokai should have been done as a two-pack, really 
- Bele was the villain in the episode
- obscure TOS figures may have been judged to be a gamble, as opposed to another Picard version or some Borg
 
In the end I think it was judged too obscure, or perhaps Pmates had faced budgetary pressure to cut one figure that had the least potential or shelf appeal.
 
Among the other figures shown alongside Bele at Toy Fair 1998 we also saw the Kirk and Spock 2-pack from "A Piece of the Action," the Andorian, Species 8372, Worf and Data western 2-pack, Kirk Balok and Puppet, Picard and Guinan Dixon Hill 2-pack, Keiko, Kang, Intendant Kira, the Borg Queen, Trelane, Assimilated Seven of Nine, the 6-inch DS9 figures with workstations, and the 6-inch TOS bridge crew of Kirk, Sulu and Chekov.
 
That is a ton of stuff, and a fair number of these, most of the TOS figures, had limited articulation as well and were just aimed directly at collectors, the thinking went. These TOS figures actually ended up doing pretty well at retail, so by that indicator Bele could have done well as well despite the limited articulation, but also these 1998 TOS figures had much, much smaller production runs. I don't think any of their production runs, like Trelane for an analogy, topped 60,000. The volumes were nowhere like at the start of the decade.


#75 Morgan

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Posted 10 August 2020 - 04:49 PM

capt-sisko-1997.jpg

 

 
Captain Sisko, 1997
 
At Toy Fair 1997 the toy company displayed a Captain Sisko figure prototype along with a few others like Kurn and Seska. 
 
The Captain Sisko figure was the fourth Sisko figure in this format, after the original 1993 release, the video game exclusive and Sisko from Crossover. However, this would have been the first actual resculpt of the head, as all the others had used the 1993 head. Speaking of which, this is obviously the 1993 body, so it has the commander's rank pips and the oval TNG communicator. The production version of this Sisko figure, however, was given the stockier body shared with Chakotay and Kim figures. 
 
The head sculpt on this figure could be different from the production version, I believe, due to the squarer shape of the goatee and the different-looking mouth sculpting than on the production figure. But, this could also be due to the fact that the head is hand-painted. It's hard to tell without a more detailed photo.
 
I think I actually like this body and head version better than the production body that seemed to have squarer shoulders and arms that kind of hung down to the sides too much. On this version the torso appears more natural and the arms hang down in a straighter line, and it just looks more natural, like a photograph of a real person. The production version doesn't really look like someone just standing somewhere because the upper arms hang down in a strange manner.
 
By the way, bald Sisko's first appearance was in "The Way of the Warrior," which aired on October 2, 1995. Toy Fair 1997 took place in February 1997. So that's a fair-sized gap between the first appearance of bald Sisko and the figure, which shipped in spring and summer 1997 if memory serves. This wasn't a new look for Avery Brooks, though, because he had a shaved head and goatee in "A Man Called Hawk" in 1989, and had this look off-camera as well. But Paramount thought this look would not fit a Trek TV show in 1993. The DS9 documentary noted that it would not be an issue today, but things in 1993 were apparently more conservative, which seems ridiculous in hindsight because he looked much better bald.


#76 Morgan

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Posted Today, 03:32 PM

m113.jpg

 

 

M-113 Salt Vampire 12-inch figure, 1997
 
At Toy Fair 1997 the company displayed a 12-inch M-113 Salt Vampire figure that was supposed to enter production later that year, but ultimately didn't make it. The character was seen in the TOS episode "The Man Trap."
 
TOS characters who were not the main bridge characters never sold spectacularly -- the company itself admitted as much on several occasions -- and I'm struggling to think of a non-bridge TOS figure that did especially well. Pike, I think, did okay, to the extent that we consider him a non-bridge character, and so did Janice Rand and Nurse Chapel, but their sales were still a bit off, perhaps due to the time in which they came out. The Mugato seemed to do well, but it was not made in a large production run.
 
The figure of Number One in the 4.5-inch format was mentioned as a possibility by Playmates Trek boss Chris Overley at one point, believe it or not, as a figure that they had been thinking about (along with Shelby I might add). And Overley seemed unenthusiastic about either. But TOS non-bridge characters in any scale really faced a hard time at retail. So producing the Salt Vampire in the 12-inch format seemed like a doomed gamble, especially given how many could realistically be produced. 
 
I think at this point it's not difficult to see that the company had been making some iffy choices when it came to characters and scales, and this one is perhaps just a notch above the mutated Tom Paris or the not one but two Tarchannen Geordi variants. The 12-inch contingent of Trek collectors was always very small, and it wasn't getting any bigger by 1997 despite the company rolling out some lavishly decorated figures. It's tough to see what kind of commercial bonanza the company was chasing with some of these 12-inch figures, which were always pricey and always aimed at collectors. Their production numbers, from what I recall, rarely exceeded 20,000 units, and they were a tough sell to department stores because the boxes took up a lot of space and store buyers it wouldn't be kids buying these, for the most part. 
 
The one thing at the time that argued in favor of the 12-inch line was the fact that all Star Wars figures were getting swept from shelves in a matter of days (and were being stockpiled in collectors' damp basements, to emerge 20 years later). Whether the success of the large format Star Wars figures gave Playmates some kind of hope is difficult to tell at this point. 
 
Still, it would have been cool to see a bunch of one-episode TOS figures produced like the Salt Vampire produced in the 4.5-inch scale, and to see them offered at a time when the line was doing better, like in 1994. 





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