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William Riker

Star Trek: The Next Generation
by Artemis

In 2371, William Riker stopped at Deep Space Nine on his way to (where else?) Risa, and took rather a fancy to Major Kira. Despite already having a lover, the Major was only human (or Bajoran, rather), and found herself snared by the legendary Riker charm, right up until he phasered her and stole the USS Defiant on behalf of the Maquis. Even more shocking, he peeled off the sides of his beard to reveal... a goatee! Evil Riker! Actually no, he wasn't from the mirror universe; he was Thomas Riker, Will's transporter twin.

Now if you want to get picky, this figure is actually supposed to be Will Riker - but I'm collecting Star Trek: Deep Space Nine figures, not NextGen, and while Tom was wearing Will's uniform and beard he was indistinguishable from him (with one tiny exception - more on that later) which was the whole point. Hey, I don't criticise you for the flimsy reasons you buy stuff, so don't get on my case.

Will, or Tom, or... the hell with it, Jonathan Frakes... is a big man (even before he got into the pies in the later movies), standing 6'4" tall, and his action figure is appropriately lofty at 7¾". He easily out-heights all the other Star Trek figures I've got, with the exception of the Worfs - Frakes and Dorn are the same height, but even ignoring the effect of the forehead, I'm fine with pretending Worf's the taller man, since he's the big bad Klingon warrior and all. He's got the right physique too: fit, broad-shouldered and well built in the torso, but not outright muscular. The sculpt of his uniform is about right, so far as showing the right amount of body shape through the thick woollen fabric TNG used for its main cast (while the poor extras had to wear the earlier spandex outfits), and there's creasing and soft wrinkles in the right places.

The Diamond Select/Art Asylum Star Trek line has produced likenesses ranging from fair to fantastic; Riker is on the higher end of the scale. Let's get the bad out of the way first: there are a couple of flecks of what looks like brown paint (from the hair, I'd guess) on his face, on the left temple and faintly on the left cheek. They're not prominent, but you do notice them. That aside, everything is on target - Frakes's face is reproduced faithfully, as he appeared during late TNG (he was filling out a bit, but not so much as he did in the movies), and wears a concerned frown that's very true to character, emphasised by subtle and effective sculpt work on his forehead.

The paintwork (aside from those stray flecks) is solid too, with faint shading on the lips, clear eyes - slightly asymmetrical, true to life - strong eyebrows, and very good two-tone work on the beard, adding depth and definition to the shallow sculpt of the facial hair. The rest of his hair matches, with a light paint wash bringing out the detail of the sculpt, but not so much as to ruin the smooth, dignified style.

Paintwise, the body is pretty much spot on. The black is a soft matte finish - it tends to retain smudges, so be careful handling it, and beware especially of scraping the hands over the thighs inadvertently - with a warm red on the chest and arms. There's a subtle shadowing on the red areas, a flat application of ink I'd guess, and although it tends to darken the biceps a little too much in relation to the flat chest right next to them, overall it's a good effect, and adds a lot to the realism of the uniform. The red piping on the collar is nice and clean, and Riker's three solid gold pips are picked out clearly.

That said - and I understand the value of leaving the body rankless so far as sculpt goes - I really would like to see actual physical pips on these figures. The shoes are glossy black, and stand out nicely when you look at them without drawing undue attention when you don't. Lastly the combadge - and this is the one minor inconsistency with the "Thomas Riker in disguise" look, since it's a TNG-era one with the oval backing - is picked out in gold and silver, with just enough of a black border left around the edge to set it apart from the uniform chest.

Riker sports a fair amount of articulation, for what is obviously intended to be a collector's display figure, not a super-articulated play toy. The neck is a balljoint, mounted at the base inside the collar - the neck has a slight forward hunch, which means that you can't really make him look downwards, but in all other respects his head is quite mobile. Balljoint shoulders, peg biceps, pin elbows and peg wrists make for versatile arms, while a swivel waist, peg hips, pin knees and pin ankles allow some mobility in the legs, though in any dramatic stances the lack of more complex ankles means Riker tends to be a bit unstable, and balancing him against the included base may be necessary if he's kneeling.

Said base is the standard one for this series, an elaborate one-person transporter platform with a plaque on the front bearing the appropriate logo for the figure - in Riker's case, the TNG-era Starfleet emblem, a solid arrowhead over a hollow oval. Other accessories are a type-2 phaser - the style used during the majority of TNG, after the original "dustbuster" type-2s had been retired - a standard tricorder (TR-580 Tricorder VII), and a vertical-layout PADD. All three bits of tech are cleanly molded from dull silver plastic, with an appropriate selection of paint apps providing detail. Finally, Riker has a total of four hands - tight and loose grasping left hands, and grasping and open right. The PADD and tricorder fit well enough into the appropriate hands, but the phaser is fairly loose in the grasping right hand, and it's preferable to use a dab of blu-tack to get it in the right position, with the thumb on the trigger, rather than wedge it in on its own.

Whether he's Thomas, out stealing spaceships and starting wars, or William, loafing around the Enterprise and putting the moves on anything female (or androgynous) within range, this is a high quality figure that won't disappoint fans.


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