It has been the stated intent that the new Star Trek movie will move the venerable Trek franchise back into the broader mainstream audience. One area where this will manifest itself is in merchandising and TrekMovie.com has learned that a big step has been taken by awarding the toy license for the new Star Trek movie to Playmates Toys. This is actually a ‘coming home’ for Trek toys as Playmates held the license for much of the 90s but dropped it in 2000.
Details are still sketchy but sources indicate that (at a minimum) Playmates will be making action figures, prop toys and ship models from the new feature film. Work on prototypes has already started (at least for the figures). It is expected that an official announcement will come in February during the ToyFair trade show in New York. Toy retailers (but not the general public) may even be given a preview of the Playmates Star Trek line so they can make purchase decisions for winter 2008. Diamond Select/Art Asylum, who picked up the license for Star Trek after Playmates dropped it in 2000, will continue to carry the license for Star Trek items from the previous TV and film series.
Playmates is capable of getting Star Trek toys back to major retail stores which is very important if Star Trek is going to labeled as "cool again" by both fans and the general movie-going public. Playmates is one of the largest toy companies with distribution at all the major retailers such as Target, Wal-mart, Toys R Us, K-Mart, and Kaybee Toys. They made the toys for the recent King Kong movie and currently hold license for Teenage Mutant Ninga Turtles and Disney Princesses. They also manufacture the popular line of "Elite Force" military action figures and toys.
The Kirks from Playmates w/ more coming for the new "Star Trek"
Playmates long history with Trek
Playmates held the Star Trek license for much of the 90s and made toys from every Star Trek television show and film (except 2001’s Enterprise and 2002’s Nemesis when the license had transferred to Art Asylum/Diamond Select). Fan favorites include the Enterprise D bridge and Engineering playsets, prop toys like Dr. McCoy’s Medical Kit, Enterprise ship models and of course action figures. Over the decade Playmates released almost 700 different Star Trek figures of various sizes, including 4.5", 6", 7", 9" and 12" versions. Unlike the Star Wars figures from Hasbro, Playmates figures offered many more variations for each character.
Playmates TNG Tricorder and Enterprise D playest
Playmates Toys were probably at their best during the days of First Contact and Insurrection with an amazing variety of items. For First Contact they offered eleven smaller action figures, five 9" figures, phaser and communicator toys, plus models of the Enterprise-E, Zephram Cochrane’s Phoenix, and the Borg Sphere. With Insurrection Playmates offered a similar number of figures and toys plus a new Enterprise-E with Captain’s yacht.
Star Trek Insurrection Enterprise w/ Captains Yacht
Playmates Star Trek toys continue to be popular to this day, including a number websites dedicated to collectors (such as PlayTrek and TrekToy). Some rare toys are very highly valued . For example The "Redemption" Data (which was a JC Penny’s exclusive limited to 7,000) and the limited Tapestries Picard, Tasha Yar, and Reginald Barclay action figures (all limited to 1,701 each) are worth hundreds of dollars at auctions.
These rare figures will run over $400 each on Ebay
Diamond Select still with Star Trek
The new license for Playmates is limited to just the new Star Trek movie. This means that Diamond Select Toys will still continue with its line covering all other aspects of the Trek franchise (TOS-ENT + 10 previous films). In the last year DST has released a popular line of retro Mego versions and Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan action figures and will be releasing more Kirk, Sisko, and Picard era action figures, Minimates, starship toys, and role playing items this year. DST is also expected to announce additional new (non movie-related) Trek items at Toy Fair.
However, Diamond Select is a comany that best serves a niche clientèle of collectors. For Star Trek to be ‘big’ again it needs to be big with adults and kids. The deal with Playmates, along with the recently announced deal with Corgi International/Master Replicas, shows that the new Star Trek movie will be covered for all ages and all price ranges. Kids will have low-priced toys to play with and collectors will have high-end items to keep behind glass. But it is the Playmates license that signals that "Star Trek" may be on its way to being fun again!
Playmates, Paramount and CBS would not make any comment for this article. TrekMovie.com will continue to report on developments in Star Trek merchandising.
Playmates commercials and fan videos
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