When the J.J. Abrams reboot of the Star Trek film franchise hit theaters in May 2009, there was an influx of movie-related merchandise – Starfleet uniforms for Halloween and cosplay, toy phasers, communicators and tricorders, Enterprise models, and of course, action figures. Most major science fiction franchises over the past 40 years have had some kind of action figure line, from the immensely popular line for the Star Wars films dating back to the late 1970s, to Aliens, Terminator, Predator… even the short-lived television series seaQuest DSV had a line of action figures. Star Trek is no exception. While many of the fans who grew up in the 1970s carried on with their Mego-brand figures of the crew of the Enterprise, fans and collectors from the early 1990s fondly remember Playmates’ line of figures. From 1992 until 2000, every crewmember of the 1701 Enterprise, Enterprise-D, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, along with most of their allies and adversaries were eventually molded in the memorable 4.5″ plastic form and sold in stores. When the contract with Playmates ended in 2000, dedicated fans continued to make their own figures, swapping heads and painting bodies to make all-new, never released figures.
Interest was piqued by many collectors when Playmates secured the rights to make a line of action figures based on the “alternate-reality” characters from J.J. Abrams’ film. However, rather than return to the classic 4.5″ scale of the original line, Playmates opted to release three different scales for their 2009 Star Trek line – the “Galaxy” line (measured at 3 and 3/4 inches in height), the “Warp” line (measured at 6 inches in height) and the “Command” line (measuring 12 inches in height). The entire crew of the new Enterprise were represented in these new lines of figures, as were Spock Prime and Nero.
The “Galaxy” line also featured two playsets for the figures to interact with – one of the Enterprise bridge and the other of the Enterprise transporter room. In addition to being packaged with “landing party” gear, such as a phaser and a communicator, the “Galaxy” line also packaged pieces of the Enterprise bridge (chairs and consoles) or the transporter room -(three additional platforms to make the complete pad). The packaged Enterprise bridge only contained a floor-mat, the main viewscreen (which featured an image of the Narada), the two-front freestanding data screens, and the raised command platform which housed the captain’s chair and the helm/navigation console, not to mention a complimentary Captain Kirk figure. The transporter room was a bit more complete, aside from missing three pads and one of the consoles – it did however feature a bonus Scotty figure. To complete the entire bridge and/or transporter room, you would need to purchase the entire line of figures in order to obtain the other pieces.
The first wave of figures contained Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Uhura, and Sulu in their Enterprise uniforms, Dr. McCoy and Chekov in their cadet uniforms, plus Pike, Nero and Spock Prime. If one were to purchase the entire line and the two playsets, one would end up with the entire crew (plus an extra Kirk and Scotty), almost the entire transporter room complete (aside from one console) and about half of the bridge complete. To finish everything off, you’d need to get the second wave of figures, which was expected to be released to coincide with the release of the movie on DVD and Blu-Ray. Complicating matters further was the fact that in Canada, the “Galaxy” line did not include the bridge/transporter pieces. Canadian customers were assured by Playmates that “booster packs” containing the bridge/transporter pieces would be released alongside the second wave in order to complete their bridges/transporters. The only other alternative was to import the figures from the United States.
However, sales of the figures did not meet Playmates’ expectations and the second wave of figures was ultimately cancelled. Collectors everywhere were now left with a playset of the Enterprise bridge that was only partially complete. As the 2009 line of Star Trek figures inevitably made their way into clearance bins in retailers everywhere, many collectors were forced to either buy another bridge playset and the complete lines of figures again for spare parts to attempt to finish the bridge, live with an incomplete playset or simply dispose of their 2009 lines altogether. As a collector myself, I found this completely disappointing. Here I was, spending hard-earned money investing in a line of action figures to make an interesting shelf-display, that would now ultimately always be incomplete. My Enterprise bridge and 2009 figures gradually accumulated dust in the intervening four years, an object of disappointment.
Recently however, I was able to obtain the prototypes of the unreleased pieces of the bridge and the transporter. While it is very unfortunate that these will ultimately never be mass-produced or marketed to collectors looking to complete their bridges, here’s a look at what might have been had the original 2009 line proven to be more successful.
While the 2009 bridge playset is definitely not as sturdy as the 1993 release of the Enterprise-D bridge (also released by Playmates), the missing pieces really do make the entire set come together and had Playmates originally packaged all the pieces together, perhaps more people would have been enticed to purchase it.
The unreleased pieces comprise the aft-section of the bridge, including Mr. Spock’s science station, Uhura’s communications station, the other two freestanding data screens (which Chekov consults in the 2009 film before presenting his plan to hide the Enterprise near Titan to Kirk), and the two stand-up consoles that “Science Officer 0718” is seen manning in Star Trek Into Darkness (the floor-plan identifies these stations as auxiliary science and communication consoles).
So, while these final pieces will ultimately not be made available to the many disappointed collectors, perhaps another manufacturer will one day make a complete version of the (alternate reality) Enterprise bridge… or perhaps with the advent of 3D printers, maybe replicas of the unreleased pieces will find their way into the hands of the disillusioned…
Editorial by Kyle C. Haight for TrekCore