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Kirk in Enterprise Uniform

Star Trek
by Artemis

A lot of people make fun of William Shatner for playing Kirk with almost galactic levels of hamminess, and yeah, he did. But when he dies (which hopefully won't be any time soon), every obituary is going to include "He was James T. Kirk," and if any of you reading this think you wouldn't want something that awesome next to your name, you're a goddamn liar.

Captain James T. Kirk is the youngest officer to achieve the Starfleet rank of captain. Kirk has achieved notoriety for his cunning and resourcefulness and his refusal to believe in a no-win scenario. He also has quite a reputation as a lady's man.

As I write this, Star Trek the movie is yet to go on general release, so it's difficult to say whether Chris Pine will acquit himself well as Jim Kirk - although when I watch the trailers, I do get a vibe of Kirkness from him, so maybe he will. Some fans have criticised the glimpses we've seen as recasting Kirk as an arrogant jerk (they like to throw about "Star Trek 90210" as well), but frankly, Kirk is an arrogant jerk, just one who happens to be right a lot of the time. For instance, everyone (well, Trekkies, and who cares about anyone else?) knows about how Kirk beat the Kobayashi Maru by reprogramming the simulation so he could win - but do you know how he rigged it? He programmed the Klingons to be afraid of facing the legendary Captain Kirk. Think about the kind of ego that'd come up with that plan while still a cadet.

Likewise, Playmates have big shoes to fill as they step - again - into the Star Trek merchandising game. Granted they've been there before, with the old 4½" line around the TNG/DS9 era, but many moons have passed since then, and both the toy industry and the Star Trek name have changed plenty. Plus, Art Asylum/DST have been filling in with their collector-oriented 7" line, and have been knocking them out of the park with alarming consistency. Playmates have stepped up with two lines, a 3¾" "Galaxy" selection complete with playsets, and a 6" "Warp" line, which is what I've set my sights on.

"Warp" Kirk is, as advertised, bang on 6" tall, and looks pretty good. The old uniforms haven't been thrown out, but they've been given a cosmetic update, and the figure bears all kinds of details that aren't present on the original. Most notable is the texture on the vest, sculpted as a pattern of tiny chevrons, but there's also more rugged-looking boots, trousers with ribbed bands above the knees (and no bell-bottoms), and some extra seams around the hips. Even so, it's a very streamlined, elegant design - none of the lived-in-universe look of Star Wars or its imitators.

Unfortunately that means the articulation doesn't have anywhere much to hide - the pants, with their flat black finish, do okay, but the arms can't conceal their seams anywhere around the shoulders or elbows. To get around that, the body of the vest is a rubber sleeve that fits over the inner torso, hiding what would be the most unsightly joint at the sternum. The torso is cast in flesh tone plastic, and fully sculpted with a rather perfect set of abs and pecs, so if you feel like taking a knife to the rubber vest and creating a torn-shirt Kirk (I'll be disappointed if this doesn't happen in the movie at least once), there's nothing stopping you. On the down side, the vest isn't quite the same shade of olive-mix-yellow as the slightly darker sleeves - the camera flash makes it look worse than it is, but it's noticeable.

The head is a decent likeness, so far as I can tell - besides the trailers I don't recall ever seeing Chris Pine in anything - but it's lacking expression, with just a generic serious stare. Combined with the limited, though well executed, paint apps, and it makes him look a bit dull. As I said earlier, from what I've seen it's not so much that Pine looks like Kirk but that he acts like him, with expressions and body language, and the plain-faced figure is missing that aspect entirely.

Articulation is decent, but unremarkable by modern standards at this scale. The worst of it is a plain swivel neck - although it's at the base of the neck, hidden inside the collar, so points for aesthetics - and peg hips, which allow for no broadening of the stance. Elsewhere he's got a swivel sternum with a shallow forward-back tilt range, swivel/pin shoulders and elbows, swivel wrists, pin knees and swivel boot tops.

He's got the standard accessories, a phaser pistol and a communicator - both with minor paint apps on the to keep them from looking too plain, but they're pretty simple nonetheless. There's also a belt, made of stiff but flexible plastic that can fit around his waist, and includes holsters for both accessories - being stiff it has a tendency to pop open if you don't get the catch at the back closed just right. And lastly he's got a base, a silver Starfleet arrowhead with the command star in its centre, and a single peg that fits tightly into his right foot.

Kirk's an alright figure - I think were I not already a Star Trek fan, and had an experience like I did with the Iron Man movie (where I basically didn't give a stuff about the character going into the cinema, and came out so jazzed that I went out and bought all three Iron Man figures), I wouldn't be disappointed. But because I am a fan, I know the kind of figure the Diamond Select/Art Asylum could turn out, and this one just isn't quite as good - it's a little plainer, a little rougher, a little less versatile, a little less accessorised. I don't regret buying Kirk and company, but I do regret that, with the 3¾" line there for mass-market toy buyers, this line isn't closer to the collector-oriented figures I'm used to.

-- 04/24/09

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