The Collective: Early Review of Master Replicas Mark IX Science Tricorder

In August Master Replicas released their new Star Trek V assault phaser (see review) and in a few weeks they debut their version of the Starfleet Mark IX Science Tricorder from Star Trek’s TNG era. If you want to know if it gets the right readings, check out our early review below. 


Master Replicas — MSR $399.00

A tricorder for a new generation
When Star Trek The Next Generation was in development one of Gene Roddenberry’s goals was to completely reinvision the familiar technology of The Original Series to bring it in line with advances in prop making capability and miniaturization, radically altering the aesthetics of the Star Trek universe. While the Starfleet uniforms and, to an extent, the spacecraft retained many of the design elements and color schemes from the Sixties (as well as the first series of movies with the original cast), the show’s props went off in a completely different direction. The pistol-shaped gray and black phasers morphed into elongated gray “dustbusters,” the black clamshell communicators became functional insignia uniform pins based on the Starfleet pendant, and the black compartmented tricorders turned into fold-open, data-rich instruments that would look at home in a high-tech operating room.

The initial gray plastic look for many of these devices gradually changed to metallic silver and finally a brushed gun metal look by the time of Star Trek Voyager. Of all these props the Next Gen tricorders probably had the most realistic and functional appearance. When Wah Chang built the original Sixties tricorders the idea was to combine something like a cassette tape recorder with a television (the tiny two inch screen seemed radically advanced at the time) and a computer that could store and analyze data. Making the data screen work depended on post production compositing work since no TV show of the day had the budget to miniaturize real video technology down to this level and make it operate. Even small operating lights were difficult to achieve in the Sixties, so the three indicator lights on the original tricorder (and the show’s communicator) were simply light-reflecting rhinestones.

Flash forward twenty years or more later and LED technology and miniature power sources and wiring had advanced to the point that the tricorder could now be shown as a very complex device. Just as on the original series, several versions of tricorders were developed and shown, including ones with removable medical scanners. When Playmates was in operation they produced two different toys of these devices with operating LEDs, buttons and sounds (although the removable scanner on the medical tricorder was just a non-operational piece of plastic painted silver).

Tricorders – one of the bigger changes from TOS to TNG era

Master Replicas takes a reading
Master Replicas keeps its line of superb Trek prop recreations going with this, their second TNG-era plot after the “cobra” phaser from Voyager. The whole thing comes in the usual navy blue MR Trek packaging, about the size of a large shoe box, all encased in an almost solid block of Styrofoam inside. With the big plexiglass display case and brushed aluminum stand occupying the bulk of the packaging you could almost overlook the tricorder itself. When folded up this thing is SMALL—just slightly wider than the TOS communicator and about as long. What it lacks in size, however, it more than makes up for in weight—the diecast metal body (with its cool gunmetal sheen), batteries and internal workings make this thing feel kind of like a lead weight in your hand.

MR Mark IX Tricorder – closed (click to enlarge)

Closed up, a few details are visible at the top edge of the device including three rows of extended sensor lights and a number of other readout apertures. It’s when you open the tricorder up (extending its length by about three inches) that the action begins—it’s kind of like unveiling a miniature Vegas! I counted something like 80 LEDs lighting up on the top and internal display faces, from power and emergency indicators to the “Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta” er, radiation signifiers, device input lights and a readout on the main display that creates a kind of upward-trending bar graph. Sequential LED displays create all kinds of cascading effects, particularly along the top of the machine. The familiar, layered tricorder operating noises, which are rather hypnotic to listen to, play as the lights operate, and the neat, ratcheting closing and opening sound adds another layer of realism to the prop.

MR Mark IX Tricorder – open  (click to enlarge)

As far as I can recall this was all the Next Gen tricorders were ever shown doing onscreen and the recreation of the elaborate sound and light display is spot on. In fact it’s a bit on the garish side—I always felt the Next Gen era designers went crazy with all the LED light-up effects just to show that they could when all the razzle-dazzle really wasn’t that necessary and now looks a bit dated. In terms of functionality, the Master Replicas tricorder just does one thing—albeit one incredibly complicated and impressive thing. Playmates actually had buttons you could press on their tricorders to get different sound and light effects and that would have been a nice addition, although it must be said that the Playmates tricorders featured only a few dimly-lit LEDs and inferior sound. The MR light-up display is bright enough to probably be seen several blocks away.

MR Mark IX Tricorder – on stand  (click to enlarge)

If you’re a fan of this prop and have the scratch you probably won’t find a better presentation than this, particularly done in diecast metal—the combination of weight, authentic sounds and light effects and the metal feel creates an impressive sensation of reality that in all likelihood outdoes the original plastic props that this replica reproduces.

VIDEO: MR Tricorder in action

Master Replicas Mark IX Tricorder


Get yours
The new tricorder is slated to begin shipping in December. You can reserve yours now via pre-order at or at Entertainment Earth. Master Replicas new Star Trek V assault phaser is currently available (see TrekMovie review).

Star Trek Mark IX Science Tricorder Replica

Star Trek Starfleet Assault Phaser Replica


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November 19, 2008 12:54 am

Very cool. Too bad it’s out of my price range.

November 19, 2008 12:58 am


I don’t get why the phaser is more expensive than the tricorder, though. The tricorder seems more complex, and (in my opinion) is far cooler.

November 19, 2008 12:59 am

Oh man what I wouldn’t do for that tricorder, let me just check…how muuuuuchhh????? I’ll stick with my playmates I got for $14.99.

November 19, 2008 1:26 am

The phaser is just gorgeous.

November 19, 2008 2:05 am

I have wanted the Mark IX Tricorder for a long long time… Too bad it’s so damn expensive. I know it;’s a high quality replica and I know they are numbered but $400.00… way out of my price range.

How about startrekmovie does a contest where you can win one, I could get one for suggesting it ;)

November 19, 2008 2:13 am

Is the clicking a sound effect or a physical feature?

If it’s a sound effect, that’s kind of a downer…

November 19, 2008 2:44 am

[6] sounded more like an effect to me, IcebreakerX.

I’ll wait for the Star Trek XI Tricorder (and Phaser)

November 19, 2008 6:08 am

who do they think is going to buy these things.500 for a toy phaser.

November 19, 2008 6:34 am

i have preorderd the tricorder already. yes it is expensive but the only other working tricorder is the hero prop which usually sells for 1000 and you have to put that one together yourself. this is way better deal.

Robert H.
November 19, 2008 6:35 am

Maybe they should stick with Art Asylum. At least their prices are more manageable.

November 19, 2008 7:50 am

The LEDs sure put on an impressive display, no question of that. Still, for 500 bucks, you’d think they’d add some button responses. Even the Playmates managed to pull that off.

November 19, 2008 8:00 am

This reminds me of just how visually dull so many of the props for TNG were– at least on the outside. If you looked at it closed, there was nothing distinctive about it. While even TOS tricorder closed looked intriguing.

November 19, 2008 8:00 am

While the tricorder is cool, I think I’d put that 400 toward the 32 inch Enterprise. At 1199.00 I’d go for that over these items.

November 19, 2008 8:01 am

Pre-ordered mine seven months ago….SHIP ALREADY!

November 19, 2008 8:26 am

that tricorder should be fully functional for that price, i expect at the very least, a high resolution tachyon detection sensor package on that baby.

the assault phaser is a fav of mine, but again, at that price i expect a visible beam to emit from that barrel…

at least i know the stun setting works, $500? i’m a little woozy….

The Angry Klingon
November 19, 2008 8:54 am

Im not sure whats up with all this shipping in December stuff. Several people have already received theirs as of a couple of weeks ago. MR has shipped at least 300 (IIRC) of these already. December is te second batch

November 19, 2008 9:05 am

Excellent review. Thanks. I would have been disappointed upon purchasing mine to find that there are not button options similar to the Playmates version. I am glad to know that going in. I am definitely getting one. I’m still debating on the new phaser.

November 19, 2008 10:11 am

Just so you know, the Voyager phaser previously released by MR is actually called the Boomerang phaser, not the ‘cobra’ phaser. You are confusing it with the phaser introduced in TNG’s third season which was known as the “Cobrahead” phaser.

November 19, 2008 10:38 am

TOS had the best phasers, hands down.

November 19, 2008 10:55 am

If it weren’t so damn expensive, I’d get one!

November 19, 2008 10:57 am

for $500 I had better be able to actually vaporize people with that phaser!

November 19, 2008 11:14 am

Too bad they are non-functional. these things could easily be rigged to perform a number of modern day science/weather readings. That might make the price more worth it. Otherwise you are paying for a dead fascimile of something that has no use other than for costume parties.

November 19, 2008 11:16 am

If I had to thus choose between a prop tricorder and my iphone, I am going with the iphone, since the iphone is actually closer in function to a real tricorder than any prop can ever be. Regardless of how many lights it has.

November 19, 2008 12:18 pm

I still like the original.

One question…will it take as long to get from MR as my TOS one did?

November 19, 2008 12:35 pm

This looks great! I wish I had tons of money to blow!

November 19, 2008 12:42 pm

MR stuff is the best. And it’s also way too expensive for the average Joe, like me. I’ll wait for the eventual AA version.

And a note to future Youtube video product demonstraters:

Hold the friggin’ thing still, already! I’m trying to SEE it, not see how skilled you are at The Price Is Right product demonstrations.

They call me Stasiu
November 19, 2008 1:47 pm

Anyone remember the working Mk I tricorder from Vital Technologies from over a decade ago? It included a nifty EM Field meter, but it ate up 9volt batteries pretty quickly. I forget how much mine cost me on eBay but there’s one up for auction right now.

November 19, 2008 1:51 pm

Very nice but for $400, I think I’ll stick to the Tricorder sound I have as my cell ringtone…

November 19, 2008 2:36 pm

For $399.00, I can hire someone to take ‘my’ readings.

November 19, 2008 2:55 pm

Go to ebay like I did. I found the tricorder for $100 dollers less there.

Can’t wait to get mine!

November 19, 2008 3:01 pm


Try as you might, but they won’t be green either.

November 19, 2008 4:19 pm

way cool, but far too $$ for me.

November 19, 2008 4:37 pm


spiked canon
November 19, 2008 5:30 pm

Andrew – November 19, 2008
The phaser is just gorgeous.


spiked canon
November 19, 2008 5:31 pm

lt1701e – November 19, 2008
i have preorderd the tricorder already. yes it is expensive but the only other working tricorder is the hero prop which usually sells for 1000 and you have to put that one together yourself. this is way better deal.

–Dude, you said working tricorder? wow

Eric Holloway
November 19, 2008 7:29 pm

Another example of a company charging way too much then porobably wondering why they don’t sell so many. Lower the price there GM, who do you think you are…Paramount?

November 19, 2008 8:37 pm

I will get my Tricorder tomorrow cant wait. I did call Master replicas and spoke to a guy named Tom and I ask him how come no buttons he said it would have increased the price to much. I say I don’t care the ones on Voyager never had another sound except the traditional. He also said that they will producing the New movie including the new phaser and tricorder he couldn’t say anything more but he said everyone will be excited about it. So keep a look out…..

Dr. Image
November 19, 2008 8:39 pm

The boomerang MR phaser was the First Contact version- slightly darker paint and red trigger button. Metal and very nice. For some reason, it wasn’t popular. Probably because of the stupid flashing yellow nose LED.
The IPI cobra laser/phaser was REALLY cool. Hey- laser! And sound!
You can’t go wrong with the assault phaser. Firing it is addictive!
I’ve got one of these trics coming- SHIP IT!!
#27 Vital Technologies! Yes I remember! If they still produced them, I’d rather have one than one of these.

November 19, 2008 9:01 pm


How come you get yours tomorrow?

November 20, 2008 12:28 pm

$400 bucks for this?

No way. Bunch o’ Ferengi’s running the place.

November 20, 2008 7:49 pm

For that price I’d rather pretend an iPhone is a tricorder.

November 20, 2008 9:34 pm

I just got my Tricorder its great the body is metal but back panel is plastic. i got mine because I called I was promised for Halloween so my one is numbered 71 of 2000. the one thing i wish it should have is bottons to change the sound. but its great.

A Mad-Man In Love
November 21, 2008 8:29 am

I asked my wife if I could buy one of these; she said ‘no’, so I bought one anyway…

November 21, 2008 10:11 am

Looks nice but it is not from TNG. Even the Master Replicas site says it was first used on VOY. The whole article is wrong. The TNG one was bigger, rounder, and not silver. I think the nuber may be wrong as well. On memory Alpha the TR-590 is a Mark X and not a Mark IX “Succeeding the TR-580 Tricorder VII, the TR-590 Mark X Tricorder featured nearly identical control interfaces”.
Any way, I would rather have the TNG one.

November 22, 2008 6:18 pm

This from voyager and some of the earlier TNG movies. The tricorder you are talking about is the TV series tricorder and was changed to look more fancy for the big screen.

The master replicas is great get one…

November 22, 2008 6:48 pm

Stop taunting me cap…


January 22, 2009 11:38 am

It is stated that the lights and sound are spot on, but I have noticed in videos of the MR tricorder that the thin line of LED’s that run between the other LED’s on the top of the tricorder; does not scan the opposite direction of the fartherist front set of scanning LED’s (in red). I have watched VOY very closely, and they all but show this thing off, and it clearly shows that these LED’s scan. The MR Tricorder shows this bar
of LED’s lite, but only two red LED’s flash in this part of the display.

January 26, 2009 7:08 pm

Dumb question, but does anyone have any knowledge, assumption, or inkling that MR, or anyone else, will ever produce one that actually responds to button touch?

I noticed quite a few comments of disappointment that the MR and other tricorders do not have one of the coolest features on one of the cheapest replicas, the playmates one… Where you press buttons and the device responds appropriately.

Googling this would probably yield very little so I thought anyone “connected” here may know something… Anything.

January 27, 2009 5:37 am

Matt, hold out hope that after MR is done producing these, that Diamond Select is next in line to produce their version. So far they have done the comunicator, phaser, and now the tricorder from the origanal series, so it only figures they will do the Next Generation series of props; after MR is done their limited additions.

January 27, 2009 6:24 pm

I’ll do just that, because if there’s even half a chance of me forking over that much money, being able to have button commands would certainly sweeten the deal. I just wish there was a way to know for sure, but like you say, checking from time to time can’t hurt.