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Review: Engineering playset


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#1 Redshirt#7

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Posted 05 December 2014 - 04:54 PM

My next review, and the first of two "deluxe" ones, is of the Engineering playset from Playmates strange but pretty good "Generations" line, a review in four parts, 30 pictures heavy I might add!
 
Released in 1994, the Engineering playset marked the third figure scaled playset (the bridge and the "transporter room" preceding it), and the last, though a TOS bridge was planned in Playmates twilight years. Playmates, I believe, was planning big things with these playsets. Multiple Enterprise D rooms, turbolifts etc, it all sounds like it was going to be fantastic. However, for some unforeseen reason, it all never came together and fell through, with only a smattering of playsets made, this, and the afore mentioned Bridge and "transporter room". 
 
I was after this for years, waiting for one that wasn't stickered by a caffeined idiot and was in respectable condition. Two years later, a few weeks ago in fact, someone in New York had one, mint in box, for a price I was willing to pay, so of course, I bought it, and of course, I'm going to review it!
 
Would this live up to the two year wait, and my beloved Bridge playset?
 
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A front view, the box is pretty big, just slightly less thicker than the bridge and about as wide as the front of the transporter box. In addition to the picture dead centre, bottom right is the collector number, and on the far left, information about what you get.

 
 
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A back view. No strange images back here like on Jake-O and Vedek Bareil, so I'm improvising. Various images of the whole set up are present, most of the Generations line in the bottom, lots of the various features are present and explained, and a "bio", information on Engineering. Of note is the fact they used a TNG Geordi with a DS9 tool for a Generations toy. Perhaps this was destined for the design dump until it was salvaged and used due to Engineering's importance in Generations? 

 

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The "bio". A "fully functional Engineering Playset" that has a warp core that "really PULSATES and surges with power"? Obviously a Star Trek with a dirty mind was involved in the design of this (or I've got an over active imagination)

 
So, in between pictures, I pulled my craft knife out and cut the tabs. Upon opening the tabs, I find this...
 
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Engineering playset, devalued by £25! A brown cardboard container, with a small plastic slip that contains instructions, stickers, some unexpected blueprints of the articulation frame, and a Generations poster.

 

So after going at the cardboard with my knife, very, very carefully, I've got this:

 

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Engineering: IKEA style. But before I move on to the main attraction, a look at the three exclusive accessories! (What, you wanted to see an in build picture? I was too impatient for anything like that.)
 
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Laser bypass probe, stool, and mini Dilithium. The laser bypass probe is essentially the same tool that has come with many a figure, a number of Geordi's, Barclay, a Data or two, Relics Scotty, a few Voyager folk I believe, and a few others. The only difference, as demonstrated in a minute, is the tip is slightly smaller and refined than the others. The stool is unique to this playset, though the Traveler came with an earlier TNG version that is completely different in design. Though I'm sure this stool turns up in Generations, I know it was frequently used in Voyager, particularly Sickbay. The dilithium (or as I call it, the abstract hand), finally, is a lot smaller than the giveaway stuff that came in what felt like every TNG figure. Everything you see above is pretty much essential to the playset, that is, if you play with it, or display it.

 
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A comparison between the originals, left for both, and the Engineering playset versions, right for both.
 
So that concludes all the pre-emptive stuff, to the main attraction...
 
Drumroll...
 
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An overview of the whole set (background not included). They took "creative licence" with the some of the layout and scaling, but it works. If they made it more realistic, it'd cost more, be able to house less figures, and be a hell of a lot bigger. After trying to make my own scaled playsets, I can see wisdom in doing it like this. 
 
For the record, however, the large open space on the left doesn't exist in the real world, and the core and the area around it is shrunk (http://tng.trekcore....ound_hd_265.jpg)
 
However, as mentioned, it really, really works, and despite the differences with the real thing I can look at it and say it's engineering. The extra space allows four extra figures to be crammed in, or two spaciously, the core is no doubt smaller due to size, cost, and electronics, and the openness behind Geordi's console allows you to play with the figures better, so it all works out logically in the end. 
 
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Geordi's office. The table is extremely accurate, take a look at this screencap: http://tng.trekcore....ound_hd_239.jpg

 

The two buttons and the hole come into use later with the electronics, so I'll leave that at the moment. The stickers are stunning, every sticker where there should be writing, there is, even the tiny, tiny stickers that are a pain in the rear to align right. All the colours are correct, and the detail, just like the Vorgon, is seeping from every sticker.

 

Talking of stickers....

 

(continued in a minute)

 



#2 Redshirt#7

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Posted 05 December 2014 - 04:56 PM

(continued)

 

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The sticker on the wall just bordering Geordi's office. From the top, Environment, Propulsion Sys, Antiproton generation, Damage ctrl

 

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And behind the divider, a LCARS panel, one of those hatches that you see getting knocked around in fight scenes, and some labelling.

 

And across from the divider:

 

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The duty officer's station, again, the LCARS are superbly executed. One of the play features is that it...

 

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...folds into the unit. It reminds me of the dinner trays you get on coaches that fold out of the seat in front. By the way, I should say where you place the little red/orange labels is up to you. Most are dictated to be placed in certain spots such as around the core and in Geordi's office, but a lot are spare, so really it's up to you where you place them.

 

And now, to the main attraction:

 

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The core! 

 

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Powered by AA batteries!

 

And now, the effects! The core produces lights and sounds when it's either turned on (power on noise), the big button on the left of Geordi's panel is pressed (emergency warning), or the button on the right (warp core breach, or, as we say in England, brown trouser time). When it's turned on, it automatically produces the power on noise, and if left alone, it'll flash blue and produce no noise. And for the first time ever, my first video:

 

 

In order, power on, emergency warning, and warp core breach. 

 

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However, if you'd like Geordi and everyone else to survive the night, you can use the laser bypass tool, above in Geordi's hand to avert the warp core breach by...

 

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...pressing the warp core breach button, and waiting for however long you think Geordi needs to mess himself before you insert the laser bypass probe into the hole by the two buttons, above (this really doesn't sound right)...

 

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This then forces a little piece of plastic down, which flips the manual switch under his console to "off", giving the illusion that he's just averted the warp core breach. When you turn it back on, the process reverses and you can give Geordi hell all over again!

 

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Do you remember the mini Dilithium from earlier? The hatch opens and you can place the crystal inside a small opening, simulating the articulation frame. And to prove it's so spacious...

 

(continued after this small break)



#3 Redshirt#7

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Posted 05 December 2014 - 04:59 PM

(continued)

 

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Wes checks the alignment of the articulation chamber, or, Geordi's revenge for upstaging him multiple times and turning up years later complaining that his Engineering is a complete pile of trash

 

And though it may seem it's more complicated, this is how the whole warp core lights up:

 

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A very, very bright light. The instructions give you instructions on how to repair this if necessary

 

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Across from the core, Geordi's office from the other side. Those stickers where such a pain in the backside, it took me 20 minutes to get them right. For the record, that big green line, the two smaller ones, and the three red labels are all stuff you are advised to apply. OK for a kid, hard for Mr Gorilla hands here. 

 

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The power transfer conduits, very nicely done too (no lights, however).

 

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And behind the power transfer conduit, a LCARS panel! It's almost the same (it may even be the same) as the sticker on Geordi's office divider, so I won't repeat the details.

 

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Arooounnnddd the corner (DS9 mention! Whooo! I always try and get one in, some way, some how), we have this big huge gap, with LCARS panel! What, you don't want to see it?

 

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At the top, another of those compartments, and an "emergency override" panel. Some very welcome details! 

 

So, that's the Engineering playset, without any figures! Here's some figures in the playset (well, I couldn't go this far and give up, could I?)

 

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And, if you happen to own a Traveler figure, you'll realise that you can do this:

 

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It's almost exactly the right width. And while were on this picture, why is Geordi's unique stool so useful? Well, I tried this stool, for a more classic TNG look, and it works fine, except Geordi looks, err, strange, due to the V crotch being viewed from behind . The other stool, the Voyager one that comes with the playset, rests the figure on the top, and overall it looks much better.

 

(continued after this short break)



#4 Redshirt#7

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Posted 05 December 2014 - 05:00 PM

(continued)

 

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And other uses for the big, huge gap exist, such as the "lets pull Data apart and plug the karaoke machine into him" game 

 

 

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A back view of the playset

 

And that's not all folks! This has one more ace up it's sleeve...

 

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This. It doesn't look like much, but if you have the bridge...

 

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...you can do this. That black piece fits under Engineering and the Bridge, and links them. That's why Engineering is so high, to allow it to link to the turbolift doors at the back of the bridge.

 

Some more shots:

 

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(if you look at pictures of the real Engineering, the main central rim around the articulation frame is white with light. If you look at the core in this pic, you can see how well they replicated that effect)

 

And to prove, absolutely, 100% certainly, that this is bigger than it appears on the outside:

 

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And one last thing, some recreations of my favourite TNG episode:

 

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"Do you know that your dilithium crystals are going to fracture?!" 
 
"We recomposite the crystals while they're still inside the articulation frame." 
 

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"I was driving starships, while your great-grandfather was still in diapers! I think you'd be grateful for some help! I'll leave ya to work, Mr. La Forge."

 

Few! That was an extensive review, I hope you enjoyed that as much as me. But before I go, the conclusion!

 

Would I recommend it?

Hell yes! It's a playset, it's for the 4.5 inchers, and it's engineering.

 

Price?

Extremely varying, depending upon country and state of playset. I got mine for a lot, new, but less than what I bought the bridge for, loose.

 

Playability?

As mentioned earlier, it oozes with it. Scan, fix, blow up, plug bits into Data, flashing lights, sound effects, so, so much you can do with it. I'd say it rivals the bridge for the amount of playability 

 

My only complaints is that the pool table wasn't made, and that no other playsets where made! They did such a good job, I wonder why more playsets weren't made.



#5 Daysleeper

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Posted 05 December 2014 - 05:10 PM

Very nice review! I'd love to have the engineering playset, but so far, I haven't come across one that was affordable. 

 

Btw, I love the pic where Wesley gets shoved into the crystal chamber...



#6 robster

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Posted 05 December 2014 - 09:29 PM

Me too!!!! And the conga line pic,too funny! GREAT review,as always,but I need to stop reading them as they are costing me money,LOL! I always end up wanting the stuff I don't have,and you've reviewed a few figs I didn't bother getting first time around,and this playset.....NEAT! Luckily most of the figs are fairly cheap. Did you ever review the transporter playset? My bad if you've mentioned that you have or you're gonna,not paying attention is something I'm working on very hard these days. Gee,it ain't easy! lol

 

Great review,great pics,keep up the great work!

 

J-R!



#7 Redshirt#7

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Posted 07 December 2014 - 09:54 AM

Daysleeper

Thanks, as always. I can only imagine, I live in the UK, and only about four have come up for auction on eBay here since 2012. In the end, I bit the bullet and went overseas to get it, I can only imagine it's availability in Germany.

 

And thanks both about Wes!

 

robster

Thanks! Haha, that's the idea! So little is still around online about these guys, I thought, as I'm looking at getting a complete collection while the prices are down and availability is high, I might as well review stuff, particularly the ones that have surprised me.

 

Very true about the figures. Even the rare figures you can get very, very cheap if your at the right place at the right time, a great time to be completing or starting.

 

I haven't reviewed it yet, no, and I haven't mentioned it except here, so no worries about paying attention! Though, I might as well review it, that'd mean I'd have two "deluxe" reviews before Christmas, and with my new video capability I can do the "Transporting feature" justice!

 

Thanks again, and if there is anything specific that anyone would like reviewed, don't hesitate to ask!



#8 Destructor!!!

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Posted 16 December 2014 - 06:33 PM

Oh, man. I always wanted that one!

 

IT CONNECTS TO THE BRIDGE!?

 

That is so cool. Can it connect to either side, or is it only compatible with the starboard-side?

 

Can I request a picture of Geordi's office with the rear console section of the bridge playset propped up, posing as the rear wall?

 

I seem to remember a Voyager sickbay playset - did I imagine that? (I'm not referring to the Innerspace TNG Tricorder mini playset)



#9 Daysleeper

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Posted 17 December 2014 - 02:00 AM

Voyager sickbay playset? That would have been so cool. But I never saw it or heard about it.



#10 s8film40

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Posted 17 December 2014 - 09:15 AM

I very slightly customized mine. I painted the top of the railing red and the cushion of the stool black. Considering how young I was at the time, it was a very easy customization with very nice results.



#11 Redshirt#7

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Posted 17 December 2014 - 01:22 PM

Destructor!!!

Yep, both sides of the rear turbolift door. Of course!

 

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Unfortunately so, only the Bridge, this, and the Transporter, from any Trek series, where made.

 

Daysleeper

You and me both! I'm sure, if anyone knows it'll be Badbunnymike

 

s8film40

That's a pretty damn good idea! I've been painting all sorts of Playmates stuff, and it never occurred to me to paint the rails or the seat. I may have to try that out if it's OK.



#12 Destructor!!!

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Posted 17 December 2014 - 07:55 PM

Ha, cool, thanks! It looks a little more cramped than I imagined :).

 

I think I must have imagined the Voyager sickbay playset, Google shows nothing of the sort. I have a vivid mental image of it, in a magazine preview image - it came with a figure of "Doc Zimmerman", as Playmates insisted on calling him.

 

It consisted of the corridor wall with a door in it, the floor, two bio-beds, and two circular areas: the Doctor's office and the OR. I think the association with the Engineering playset might be down to the stool. I saw that in the previews and my nine-year-old imagination went into overdrive.



#13 Daysleeper

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 01:52 AM

That sounds like it would have been huge, but man would I want such a playset for Doc Zimm... you know who. ;)  :D



#14 Redshirt#7

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Posted 19 December 2014 - 10:24 AM

No problem! Sounds interesting, either way, it would've made an excellent playset. 



#15 Morgan

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Posted 22 January 2015 - 07:19 PM

I had both the Bridge and the Engineering set when they were relatively fresh and relatively expensive -- bought both in 1996 for under a hundred each -- and I honestly liked Engineering better. It seemed better scaled if still somewhat truncated, it was open from all sides, and the figures looked better standing in it.

 

Once again, stores got shortchanged on this item bigtime, I don't think it had a huge production number. I don't remember these ever approaching $100 on the secondary market, but I do remember them listed for $80.

 

If you think about it, Engineering, Soran's Launchpad, and the Enterprise-B bridge were the only things that the company could have made for the movie. The launchpad would have been morbid, and the Enterprise-B bridge perhaps too expensive for stores to plausibly offer, even though we all know it would've been cleaned out in a matter of days.






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