1994 was a bittersweet year. Sadly, Star Trek: The Next Generation was going off the air, but at least it was headed for a new frontier: the cinema! I still remember donning my Starfleet uniform and going to the theater to see Star Trek: Generations, featuring Captain Picard and Captain Kirk saving the galaxy side by side! I was surprised at how quickly they cranked out the movie: All Good Things (the TNG finale) aired in May 1994, and Generations was released in November. Of course, that meant that its production was so rushed that the movie barely keeps itself from bursting apart like a warp core breech, but at the time, I was just happy to see my favorite crew on the big screen.
As I have been filling the holes in my Playmates Star Trek collection, this Generations Kirk was a must-buy because it's the only representation of Kirk from the post-TMP movies. Generations Picard was included in a lot along with Kirk, and I thought that the dynamic duo might be fun. Let's set course for a retro toy review, maximum warp!
Year Stamped: 1994
Price: $10 for the set carded from eBay
Production Number: Kirk - 103201; Picard - 012973
The Playmates Toys Star Trek line often captured the essence of the characters perfectly, and Generations Kirk is a great example. The likeness is aged appropriately with a distinctive Shatner look. Kirk's costume also has the accurate Captain coloration and insignia on the shoulder and sleeve. (Although the packaging says "Admiral", in the movie Kirk is not only wearing the Captain's costume, he's also referred to as "Captain".) And his body is well-proportioned, giving Kirk the somewhat portly physique that he sported in the later movies. I'm glad Playmates didn't chicken out and give him a heroic body shape to appeal to the kids. I want my Kirk as he was, pot-belly and all.
Picard is a strange bird. His costume is based on a concept design that was supposed to be the new Starfleet uniform for Generations, but it was replaced at the last minute by the Deep Space 9 uniforms. It's too bad, I like this costume better than the drab DS9 pajama. It looks like they were trying to meld the classic movie style to the TNG uniform by adding a flap across the front along with a colored collar. There are also some stripes on the sleeve, presumably to indicate rank (number of stripes = number of pips = rank). I don't like it as much as the usual TNG uniform because it doesn't have that dynamic, trimming polygon on the front, but it would have been interesting to see it on screen.
The rejected Generations uniform design with the story behind it. This excerpt is from Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, the best book around on the making of TNG.
Picard's head is the same old head that was used on other Playmates Picards, which isn't all that bad. What is bad is the paint: Picard's right shoulder has a chip gashed-out and the stripes on his right sleeves are atrocious. There are also little, minuscule dots near his mouth. Weird.
Kirk has only three swivel joints at his neck and shoulders. His hips are articulated, but the movement is effectively eliminated by his shirt. Picard only has 5 POAs: swivel neck, shoulders, and hips. Why Playmates reduced the usual amount of articulation that other Trek figures exhibit (swivel biceps/waist and hinge elbows/knees)is anyone's guess. At first, I thought that the Generations line was influenced by the success of the Star Wars POTF2 line and it's comparatively limited 5 POAs, but POTF2 was released a year later in 1995, so that's no excuse.
Kirk comes with the following:
- Base: Since it's not in the shape of the classic Starfleet insignia, it doesn't apply to Kirk. Fail.
- Classic Tricorder: Nifty, especially since I don't have a classic tricorder in this scale yet. I wish it was cast in black plastic, though.
- Classic Communicator and Phaser: You've likely seen these before if you have the Classic Crew Set. Unfortunately, these designs are from the original TV show and not the classic movies. (The communicator might at least pass as the designs from later movies, specifically Star Trek V.)
- Base: Nice with the appropriate insignia for this movie's costume. The name tag is crooked, though.
- Tricorder and Starfleet Monitor: If you're a Playmates Trek collector, you probably have a billion of these by now.
- Type I Phaser: I'm fairly certain this wasn't used in the movie since it was last seen in Season 5's The Game. I would have much preferred the more screen accurate Type II Phaser, which looks cooler anyway.
- Family Album: This is the only accessory of either figure that's specific to this movie. You can finally relive that scene in which Picard laments for his family who were lost in a... house fire? You'd think that they'd have some sort of emergency transporter in place. Or at least a Starfleet-issue smoke detector.
Both figures also come with a mini-poster. It's kind of a fun blast-from-the-past, but the paper's pretty flimsy and the illustration isn't particularly striking.
Generations Kirk vs. Tapestry Picard
$5 for each of these vintage figures is well within my comfort level. Kirk is a bit harder to come by given his popular classic movie costume, but you shouldn't have much trouble getting him on the cheap. I don't see you having any trouble finding Picard at all. Both figures have the usual shiny and comparatively hard Playmates Trek plastic that's of a pretty good quality, and the quality of the paint apps is pretty nice... except Picard's, of course.
Any self-respecting Trekkie would find this scene morally reprehensible.
Kirk gets coolness props for sporting the coolest Kirk costume from the classic movies. The Admiral uniform from The Motion Picture was pretty nifty, but also a little too much on the Logan's Run side. The civilian clothes from Star Trek III and IV are frankly more than a bit doofy. But this uniform is the one in which we see Kirk gallivanting around the galaxy, in command of the Starship Enterprise. The only one that might be cooler is the Regula 1 jacket from TWOK.
Normally I would ream a figure for not being screen-accurate, but Picard's costume maintains at least some coolness because it's based on concept art. The costume is a bit too much on the formal side for my tastes, though. It reminds me of the dress uniforms from TNG, which I always thought were too fancy and not particularly dynamic. I don't think I was the only one, either. I remember back in the day that the TNG dress uniform figures (Geordi, Data, etc) were serious peg-warmers.
Left: For some reason, these Playmates Kirks hold their Phasers better in their left hands, even though Kirk was right-handed. Did Playmates goof?
Generations Kirk is a tragic figure. On one hand, he has a great sculpt that captures the actor and his super-cool classic uniform remarkably well. On the other hand, his inexcusably bad articulation and screen-inaccurate accessories tank an otherwise great figure. Picard fares a bit worse though, with bad paint apps aggravating his similarly bad articulation and drab accessories. It's a shame that this Kirk is the only figure representing the classic movie costume in this scale. But that costume is important enough in Trekkie circles to make "Admiral" Kirk a necessity for any Playmates Trek collection. Unfortunately for old baldy, Generations Picard is necessary only for oddity collectors.