Review: Master Replicas Starfleet Assualt Phaser + Exclusive Preview Of Mark IX Tricorder August 24, 2008by Jeff Bond , Filed under: Feature Films (TMP-NEM),Replicas,Review , trackback
One of the coolest Star Trek props ever is the Starfleet Assault Phaser from Star Trek V and Star Trek VI. Now you can have your own, courtesy of Master Replicas. We have a full review with photos and videos, plus an exclusive video preview of the upcoming MR Mark IX Tricorder.
REVIEW STARTREK V & VI STARFLEET ASSAULT PHASER
Master Replicas — MSR $499.00
From a phaser to a gun
One element that’s been relatively consistent, and consistently interesting, over the Star Trek TV and movie franchise (TNG notably excepted) is the design of the Starfleet sidearm, the phaser. From the original series design executed by Matt Jefferies and finalized by artist Wah Chang, this pistol energy weapon has retained its unique "two-in-one" design, with a small, rectangular "phaser one" or hand phaser locked into a larger, pistol-shaped "phaser two"—and a distinctive, rear-swept silhouette that has always set the phaser off from the countless other blasters, lasers and other sci fi ray guns seen in film and television over the years.
Like some other aspects of the series, the phaser design was advanced enough that when Trek briefly underwent development for a "Phase II" TV series the original design was retained almost unaltered. But when the Phase II project morphed into Star Trek – The Motion Picture, a sleeker, simplified "BMW" gray phaser was designed, and this phaser was retained for Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan. For Star Trek III, Nilo-Rodis came up with an equally sleek design that was nonetheless much closer to the look of the original Matt Jefferies phaser, but when William Shatner took on the reigns of Star Trek V – The Final Frontier, he instructed his prop designers to come up with a phaser that was more like a real gun.
Phasers from TOS, STII & STIII
Elements of the Colt .45 automatic pistol originally developed in the early 20th Century were incorporated into the Trek V phaser, including a big, textured grip with a removable "clip," a sliding upper cowl similar to the sliding breech on a .45, and several side mounted "safeties" and releases very much in the mold of the classic Colt pistol. The black metal/silver trim finish and heat vents finish the effect of what could almost be described as a "steampunk" phaser pistol.
A Colt. 45: Shatner wanted the real gun feel for ST V
Master Replicas was the first company to do serious, functional licensed prop replicas from the Star Trek franchise, and their classic original series phaser remains the standard for this type of product—an amazing, all metal reproduction of the original series prop with something like 11 different sound and light settings and all kinds of functionality. All of that was based on research on the actual prop (it did several things which for one reason or another were never demonstrated fully on the show) as well as three years’ worth of episodes that showed it doing all kinds of different things.
To date the Starfleet "Assault Phaser" designed for Star Trek V has appeared Star Trek V and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and maybe a Voyager and Deep Space Nine episode or two. Nevertheless it’s one of the most popular and cool-looking incarnations of the phaser and Master Replicas announcement of an Assault Phaser at Comic Con a couple of years ago caused excitement among prop collectors.
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VIDEO: See the original assault phaser in action
Master Replicas shoots first
MR has delivered the goods with this, their third phaser replica (after the classic version and a Next Generation style "Cobra" phaser). Like the original prop, it’s huge—the chunkiest phaser we’ve yet seen in the series. Unlike MR’s classic phaser, the Assault Phaser is made of a mix of materials. The lower end of the removable clip, the upper front and rear protective cowl, the silver barrel and rear heat sink, the setting dial and side mounted cowl and clip releases are metal; the main body and hand grip are made of a hard, durable plastic—the equivalent of high-tech composite materials. Consequently the gun has a nice weight to it but it’s not as unwieldy as an all-metal take on the prop probably would have been.
The functionality has been demonstrated on this site in an earlier piece but it’s worth explaining again: The clip is removable and released by the side "safety" just above the top rear of the grip; when you slide the clip in our out of position a metallic "loading" sound augments the action. The top of the clip is a glowing "ready" light that is visible when the forward cowl is slid forward—if it’s open when you load the clip you can see the glowing power light travel all the way up the inside of the grip. The bottom of the clip is a rubbery red plug with the Starfleet emblem that identifies the clip (or maybe the phaser itself) as from the Enterprise, numbered "070"—I assume these numbers are the same on all of the Assault Phasers replicas.
Aside from the cowl release which snaps the cowl forward along a spring-loaded track on either side of the gun, the main function switch is the little silver setting wheel just above and behind the clip release. Turn that and a neat "wheeeee!" power up noise sounds. Depress the trigger and the "stun" sound coincides with a green activity light on the top rear of the phaser and of course the white barrel light that recreates the look of phased energy emerging from the barrel. This is a simple effect but the way it’s timed with the sound effect gives a very convincing feel—the barrel light is quite strong and really gives off a nice, realistic "glow." One of the problems with Master Replica’s classic TOS phaser was that the speaker was hidden underneath the removable phaser one and that muffled the otherwise extremely impressive sounds from the prop replica. Here the speaker is nicely hidden just behind the silver heat sink at the rear of the weapon and looks like another futuristic detail of the prop.
When you fire, the power light in the energy clip is extinguished; after the phaser firing sound and light effect finishes, the power light surges back to full force, indicating that you’re ready to fire again. This is a really cool effect but in order to see it you have to have the cowl open. The Assault Phaser’s "phaser one" is a tiny device about the size of TNG’s "cricket phaser." It actually shows design elements of both Matt Jefferies original phaser one design and a touch of the TNG "cobra" phasers in its nose—the Master Replicas take on this is a small plastic piece with a frosted clear plastic indicator light on top—this is just a clear piece of plastic that transmits the light of the power clip up through it in order to make the phaser one look like it operates under its own power—it basically transmits the clip "ready" light so you see that effect whether the phaser one is inserted or not. One artifact of this is that you must have the energy clip inserted or the phaser one will just rattle loose inside the metal phaser cowl; the hand phaser snaps right over the top of the energy clip and is not attached to the phaser two at any other point. The "kill" setting is one notch higher on the setting wheel and gives off a different phaser noise, a variation of the "stun" sound without the little opening twist. You might wish for more sound and light effects but the Assault Phaser basically does everything that it’s shown to do in the two movies it appears in.
Like the other MR prop replicas it comes with an impressive metal display stand—the phaser grip slides sideways into this one and is held tightly in place, and there’s a column forward of the grip mount to hold the phaser one if you want to show that removed. You’ll have to keep the cowl shut if you want to display the phaser with the included clear Lucite display cover it as the open cowl extends just slightly past the edge of the display stand.
All in all this is a hugely impressive display piece—it’s the only Star Trek phaser that actually looks like a real gun (interior "collomator rings" visible through vents in the forward cowl and some subtle color variations in the grip details add greatly to the realism), and while I sort of object to the included literature’s dismissive description of the original Star Trek phasers (still my favorite take on the weapon) as "squirt guns," this is another lovingly crafted reproduction of a classic prop from the company.
VIDEO: Assault Phaser + Exclusive Preview of MR Tricorder
Master Replicas has provided TrekMovie.com with an exclusive first video look at their upcoming TNG era Mark IX Tricorder. The video also shows off the Assault phaser.
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And if you missed it, here is TrekMovie’s previously reported video of a MR rep demonstrating the assault phaser at the Las Vegas convnention
Master Replicas Assault Phaser
The assault phaser is starting to ship to some pre-orders now and you can reserve yours at masterreplicas.com or at Entertainment Earth, all orders should be shipped over the next few weeks. The Mark IX tricorder ships later in the fall.