ANOVOS announced the first Star Trek: Discovery Type II phaser for consumers back in November, and these high-quality prop recreations began shipping to preorder customers this past week — and we’ve got one here at TrekCore headquarters for your inspection!
Created based upon the original screen-used phaser prop seen in Discovery, the ANOVOS replica is built using the same 3D print techniques used to craft the “hero” models used on the television series, the three-part prop recreation is a three-piece unit that assembles to form the standard Starfleet sidearm of the 23rd Century.
This is ANOVOS’ second Star Trek phaser replica, after their Star Trek Beyond weapon kit went up for sale last fall, and their take on the Type II phaser is structured just like the Discovery prop, with a separable Type I ‘cricket’ phaser that slots into the top of the Type II phaser grip, and a removable power pack that slots into the grip itself.
Along with the 3D printed assembly, the phaser also includes LED components that light up to showcase power levels, plus ‘stun’ and ‘kill’ intensity settings, depending on your orders from Starfleet Command. This is not an inexpensive piece, retailing at $500 and matched up to the original components used on the Discovery television series.
Before we get into the review, please note that this is a prop replica, and not intended to be a ‘toy’ release like the Playmates Toys releases of the 1990s, which had integrated audio, colorful stickers and graphics, and were produced from injection-molded plastic.
Such a toy is, however, on the way from McFarlane Toys, which announced it would be bringing a $40-or-so Discovery phaser to market in late 2018 back at STLV in August — which was teased as having those ‘play action features’ one might expect from a play replica, though we don’t yet know the details of their plans for the release.
The replica arrives in a fairly plain cardboard box lined with protective padding. While it would be nice to see a prop of this expense come in a more formal delivery case, like the great Star Trek Original Series Phaser Universal Remote, at least it’s well-protected for shipment.
Also missing from the box are the advertised display stand and certificate of authenticity promoted to come with the phaser; ANOVOS notified preorder customers earlier this month that the certificates are expected for February shipments, but the display stand won’t be coming until April or May.
While the phaser is balanced so that it can stand on its own for a few months, it’s kind of disappointing that the accessories aren’t ready with the prop itself. It seems like the phaser would be a more labor-intensive production process than a stand and printed certificate.
The phaser’s power pack runs on three lithium batteries; two power the Type II’s setting display light, while a smaller one runs the LED on the power pack itself. Thankfully, there’s no proprietary battery or charging cables needed for this, replacements can be easily obtained if needed.
Unexpectedly, the power pack does not click in to the grip when you insert it; you actually need to hold it in place and then tighten a hex screw (with included hex key) to lock it in. It certainly stays in place once you’ve finished, but it lacks a certain satisfaction of loading the weapon for battle — but if McFarlane’s toy version has a removable power cartridge, it’s likely that one will have a pop-in-and-eject design.
There’s a small toggle button on the bottom of the power pack to activate the internal LED, which lights up the phaser’s energy meter on the side.
The Type I phaser, a smaller version of the overall weapon, is a pocket-sized component of the replica which slots into the top of the Type II grip with a set of built-in magnets.
This two-part design hearkens back to the phaser design of the original Star Trek series, and while it’s not yet been featured on the series, is a function of the Star Trek: Discovery hero prop as well.
The Type I has its own (non-functional) trigger and emitter assembly sculpted into the design, along with a pair of dials on its top. While the silver dial on the right has no function on the prop replica, the ridged dial on the left activates a spring-loaded targeting viewer, hidden under the bronze Starfleet badge, which pops up when released.
There’s no electronics or imagery on the viewer, but again, this is a replica of the on-screen prop rather than a phaser toy, which would tend to have a sticker or similar plant-on graphic. Once you’re done with the viewer, you can close it by just pressing it back into place.
The largest component of the phaser is the Type II grip, which holds the entire device together when assembled and gives it that classic Star Trek phaser shape.
Moving features a nice clicky trigger, rotating barrel for beam width and intensity, and a toggle switch to change between power settings. On the top rear of the phaser, you’ll find an activation button to power up the phaser (once fully assembled), along with a nicely-molded bronze heatsink along the rear structure of the phaser.
Until you assemble the rest of the device, however, the electronics remain deactivated.
Once you assemble the entire phaser, that’s when the interactive lighting functionality becomes available — pressing the rear activation button, it turns on, complete with a brightly-lit ring to indicate that the weapon is in either ‘stun’ or ‘kill’ modes, indicated by a blue or red light, respectively. (The LEDs shine brightly in low-lighting, but are still visible in bright settings as well — see the comparison photos in the gallery below.)
The side toggle switch instantly changes the lighting to match your intended setting, but neither the rotating barrel or the trigger interact with the phaser’s electronics in any way — again, expect that to be part of the McFarlane toy version coming in the fall.
You can also, of course, release the targeting viewer on the integrated Type I just as easily as when it is separated, and the power pack’s illuminated display is visible through a slot in the side of the grip.
There’s a lot of positives about this Discovery phaser design that make this a great piece for any Trek collector’s arsenal — it’s balanced well when you hold it, and having seen the “real” prop in person at the STLV 2017 display gallery last August, it really seems like this may have just found its way off of the Toronto set and into our hands.
That being said, while the 3D printed construction is surely exacting to the specifications of the screen-used props, this definitely shouldn’t be the Discovery toy you wear on your hip at a Trek convention. The plastic, while solid, has a waxy feel to it and is soft enough that you can make an impression with your fingernail with moderate pressure.
For the price point, we really hoped there’d be some more features like trigger functionality, electronic lighting in the phaser barrel, or some sort of audio component — but this is clearly an item meant to be a display piece for high-end collectors. And while the 3D printing construction process is likely expensive, $500 is a high target for a mostly-plastic item.
If you are planning Discovery cosplay, we’d really advise you to wait for the McFarlane version unless you are very, very careful with it — that toy version likely be much more “play friendly,” and won’t set you back $500 if you damage it.
So that’s our take on the ANOVOS Star Trek: Discovery phaser — which is still available for ordering, if you don’t mind waiting nearly a year for delivery (based on ANOVOS’ current estimates).
Be sure to check out the above unboxing, assembly, and hands-on video we’ve got up above to see the lighting interactive features in action, then sound off in the comments below with your thoughts!