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Chekov in Cadet Uniform

Star Trek
by Artemis

As well as bringing Star Trek back from the brink of extinction (unless it sucks, but the signs are promising), the new movie will evidently be solving one of the Trek fandom's notorious little quibbles: why does Khan know Chekov? "I never forget a face," Khan said when the two met in awkward circumstances years after Khan had tried to take over the Enterprise and been exiled to some godforsaken pesthole of a planet - but in the first season when that happened, Chekov wasn't even a glimmer in the eyes of the writers. The fanwank theory is that he was on the ship, just not part of the bridge crew, and thus Khan saw him somewhere on the lower decks while the camera was elsewhere; Walter Koenig's personal explanation is that Chekov was in the Enterprise bathroom for half an hour while Khan was waiting to use it (and as Austin Powers showed us, when you come out of extended cryogenic sleep, you really need to use the bathroom), and Khan swore never to forget him. But fans being fans, since we never saw Chekov back then, they've never been entirely convinced. Well, now they can be.

Young and eager, Chekov mans the Enterprise's navigation console. Russian by birth, the 17-year-old Chekov is the youngest member of the Enterprise crew. His youth belies his extraordinary abilities and aptitude for his duties aboard the Enterprise.

Pavel Chekov was the navigator on the original U.S.S. Enterprise under the command of James T. Kirk. An only child, his youthful career was so full of brash pronouncements of Russian ethnic pride and accomplishments he became a good-natured joke among his superiors. It's that "ethnic pride" (which led him to attribute pretty much everything short of the creation of life to Mother Russia) I'm wondering if they'll keep in the movie - done wrong, even slightly, it has the potential to fall damned flat as a joke, and failed humour is a risky business in Star Trek. Still, leaving it out would earn a bit of ire from the hardcore Trekkies - J.J. probably had a couple of sleepless nights pondering the pros and cons of that one.

Chekov was young when he was first introduced to us - aside from being a nod to the fact that the Soviet Union was doing a bit in the way of spaceflight here and there at the time, his main raison d'etre was to appeal to the youngsters watching the show - hence the Beatles haircut. Consequently in the movie's pre-series timeframe, Chekov is really young, looking positively teenaged even among the rest of the not-especially-aged cast. This figure has him in the cadet uniform, a burgundy two-piece outfit with shoes rather than boots, and no insignia save for the Starfleet arrowhead on his collar. The top has the same design as Uhura's, which continues with seams running down the front of the pants, since he's actually got some. One minor issue I've found is that the epaulettes, which extend a little way from the edge of the soft rubber body of the top, don't match each other well, due to the vagaries of casting such a soft substance: the left one sits down very tightly with the shoulder joint, while the right, just a fraction longer, is much straighter and sits up off the arm piece.

Chekov's mop-top has evidently gone out of fashion (or maybe there was a Beatles revival just after the movie but before the Original Series, which he copied) - Anton Yelchin sports a curly 'do in its place, which the head sculpt reproduces pretty well. Curls aren't easy, after all, combining intricate sculpt with a need to get an erratic paint line right, but this figure acquits itself well. His face doesn't seem quite so narrow and teenager-like as seems to be the case from the trailers and photos, but I fancy I can still see a passable likeness in it, so no harm done.

Beneath the rubber shirt Chekov uses the same parts as the other males in the 6" "Warp" series - thus the same joints, swivel neck and swivel/pretty-useless-tilt sternum - but the limbs are new. The arms are jointed identically to the full uniform ones, with swivel/pin shoulders and elbows and swivel wrists, but the legs lose a joint, sacrificing the boot top swivels to the long trouser legs resting over the tops of the shoes, leaving them with just peg hips and pin knees. The last thing the legs needed was to be more limited than they were already, so this is a noticeable minus.

As well as the usual Starfleet base - gold, as with the other cadet figures - Chekov gets the full complement of gear to play with: the utility belt (cantankerous but more or less workable as usual), phaser, communicator, and proto-PADD clipboard. As a navigator and later security officer, that pretty much covers him.

With the cadet uniform - and lacking the "gorgeous black woman in red miniskirt" factor Uhura has - there's not a lot that says Star Trek about this figure, and aside from the lack of leg joints, that's really the biggest weakness it has to deal with. It's a good (if somewhat immobile) figure with a fairish likeness to the actor, and I don't imagine anyone who bought him as part of the complete set will be disappointed, but solo, I miss the real uniform.

-- 05/06/09

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