I've covered the 4.5" Star Trek: The Next Generation line from Playmates ad nauseam. Although that line was pretty extensive, it wasn't quite all that Playmates had to offer. There were a few other lines that tried to capture the magic of the 4.5" figures in other scales. None were ever as successful but there were some great toys in those assortments for those collectors who who have maxed out on the 4.5" standard. Here's an homage to those often-forgotten Playmates figures with a Toy Tribute to Captain Picard, non-4.5" scale!
Before I begin, let's set some ground rules. First, I won't cover every single Playmates Picard made in other scales, but a single representative from each scale instead. To try to cover all the Picards would be madness, especially for the 9" Collector's Series. Also, the Innerspace figures won't be covered as it's difficult to justify those mini-figures as legitimate stand-alone action figures. So we'll go from smallest to largest, starting with...
First Contact Captain PicardSeries: First Contact
Movies: First Contact, Insurrection, Nemesis
Year Stamped: 1996
With the First Contact movie, Playmates decided to break out of its 4.5" box and produce a wave of 6" figures. Why Playmates wanted to add another scale instead of sticking with its popular and established 4.5" line is anybody's guess, but the First Contact figures did benefit from the increased size with slightly improved articulation and more realistic sculpts... even though I wouldn't say that the sculpts are better. The head sculpt of this First Contact Picard is more realistic but somehow looks less like Picard than the 4.5" figure.
The 6"-scale didn't get much traction in the Playmates line, probably because it was just a little too similar to the 4.5" scale. For a new scale to take off it had to be visually distinct from the existing one, and that extra 1.5 inches just didn't cut it. Seven inches would work much better. But we're not quite there yet...
Fencing Captain PicardSeries: Star Trek Combat Action Series 1
Year Stamped: 1997
This figure is lucky that this Tribute doesn't require screen accuracy. Although Picard did show off his fencing skills in a few episodes (We'll Always Have Paris and I Borg), he never fenced in his Starfleet uniform. Presumably Playmates wanted this Picard to be able to interactively battle with the Q from the same wave that also came with a fencing sword, but it would have been cooler and more appropriate for Picard to have quick-draw phaser action instead. I will say that the action feature works surprisingly well to simulate the fencing motion, but the sculpt and the articulation force the figure into an eternal fencing pose.
Speaking of the sculpt, the head sculpt is the same as the First Contact figure released a year earlier. You might be wondering, "Why include this figure if you've already covered the 6" scale with First Contact Picard?" That's a good point, but the action feature makes it seem like it's distinct from previous lines.
Besides, the fencing action finally lets Picard exact his revenge on the Nausicaans.
Space Talk Captain PicardSeries: Space Talk Series
Episodes: Seasons 5-7
Year Stamped: 1995
At first glance, this 7" Picard in Captain's Jacket looks like it's just a scaled-up version of the 4.5" figure. But upon further inspection, the 7" figure's head and hands are clearly different sculpts. But wait! Upon yet further inspection, there are folds in the costume that seem way too similar to be coincidental. My guess is that the figure has some reworked scaled-up parts from the 4.5" figure (jacket, arms and legs), while other parts, like the head and hands, were sculpted fresh.
Regardless, this is one of my favorite Trek figures ever. The head sculpt is one of the best renditions of Patrick Stewart (Playmates or otherwise), and it perfectly captures that half-smirk that Picard flashed from time to time. And I love the scale... it's large enough to be distinct from the 4.5" figures, but it's not so big that it visually intrudes on the 9" scale.
Let's not forget about the Space Talk action feature! Press the button on the back and the figure barks out orders, and the voice sounds very much like Patrick Stewart. Despite its awesomeness, the 7" Space Talk figures only lasted one wave. Tragic... this could have been a great way to branch out the Trek brand into a new scale.
Collector Series Captain PicardSeries: Collector Series Command Edition
Episodes/Movies: Seasons 3-7, Generations
Year Stamped: 1994
I'll be honest, I hated the 9" series back in the day. The head sculpts were soft and doll-like, the hands didn't seem capable of holding anything well, and the clothes were awkwardly baggy. Not to mention the fact that they warmed the shelves in just about every toy store around. Still, the articulation was good (for the time at least) and it was cool to have another scale that could hold its own against the 4.5" figures.
With this figure (doll?), the commbadge is just a little too big. The likeness to Picard is okay, but it's not as effective as other scales. It could be the the strangely yellow coloration of the lips, or maybe the softness of the plastic dulls the sculpt's details. Whatever it is, the weird look and baggy clothes makes this my least favorite non-4.5" Picard scale.
By the way, I remember from my previous 9" Trek dolls that the costumes are way easier to get off than they are to get back on, so don't get too curious about what this figure looks like nude.
Masterpiece Captain PicardSeries: Masterpiece Edition - The Captains Series
Episodes/Movies: Seasons 3-7, Generations
Year Stamped: 1997
I'm not sure what took Playmates so long to explore the 12" scale, but when it finally got there, the figures were very impressive. Unlike the awful 12" Star Wars figures of the time, Playmates made a real attempt to make quality collector-friendly product.
This Picard was part of the Masterpiece Edition and was packaged along with a book in a nice collector's box. The body might be a little on the muscular side, but the head sculpt looks fantastic and the attention to detail in the costume is impressive. The commbadge is sewn on (which looks better than the commbadge of the 12" Insurrection Data), the pips are real and not decals, and the costume fits the figure well.
The articulation is an improvement over the 9" figures with added waist and wrist joints, and the figure moves pretty well under the relatively tight suit. That said, I don't dare try taking the suit off. Like the 9" figures, I'm sure the costume will be nearly impossible to get back on.
The 12" Trek line started out strong but quickly fizzled out. By the end of the 90's, Star Trek merchandizing was leaning towards extinction and the introduction of the 12" figures, however awesome they were, was just too little, too late.