The Collective: Review of DST Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan Communicator |
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The Collective: Review of DST Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan Communicator July 11, 2011

by John Tenuto , Filed under: Feature Films (TMP-NEM),Replicas,Review,Toys , trackback

Used in exasperation (or a half Vulcan. half Romulan approximation) by Saavik and in revelatory assuredness by James T. Kirk, the Wrath of Khan era communicator is now available as a role playing toy from Diamond Select Toys. The Collective column makes it Khan-etic return with a review of the brand new item (including video demo).


REVIEW: Wrath of Khan Starfleet Communicator Replica

By: Diamond Select Toys
Price: $37.99 [Entertainment Earth]

The Diamond Select Wrath of Khan communicator toy is a very close approximation to the film used version, helped along by the original design which is almost toy like to begin with.

William Shatner uses communicator in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

As with previous DST role playing items, the lights are timed nicely with the actor’s voices to add to the fun. There are two areas that brighten with a blue light, one at each end of the communicator when hearing the voices of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Ricardo Montalban, and Nichelle Nichols. As with the original Star Trek TV series communicator, The Wrath of Khan communicator flips open with a unique sound effect accompanying the action.

Diamond Select Wrath of Khan communicator open and closed

Inside the communicator, there is an on/off toggle switch and three modes to choose from. Mode 1 is the voice effects feature. By pressing a button on the back of the communicator, fans could hear various lines from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Mode 2 is the Khan scream mode. For Shatnerites like myself, there could never be enough “Khaaaannn!” features on any toy. Mode 3 is the callback feature. Close the communicator and soon you will be hailed by the Enterprise. Flipping open the communicator, you will then hear a conversation between Admiral Kirk and Captain Spock. There are two conversations available.

Demo video of DST Wrath of Khan communicator

The TWOK communicator continues the excellent, fun toy line that began a decade ago when Art Asylum released the Enterprise era communicator and phaser toys. The line continued with various versions of the original era communicator a few years later. Now, the TWOK communicator is added to the line. Although some fans do not like the communicator design from TWOK itself, it is in keeping with the retro industrial/naval feel Nicholas Meyer brought to the Star Trek films (bells and whistles on the U.S.S. Enterprise; hand loaded torpedoes, etc.). With plenty of play features and a good replication of the original design, the DST TWOK communicator toy is a fun addition and will look nice for costuming fans.

Diamond Select/Art Asylum’s "Enterprise" original "Star Trek" and "Wrath of Khan" communicators

The TWOK communicator is available now from Entertainment Earth for $37.99.

Diamond Select Wrath of Khan communicator packaging (front ant back)

The TWOK communicator is a companion piece to the Star Trek II phaser, released late 2009, along with the similar Motion Picture phaser (which was an EE exclusive). The TMP version is the same shape, but the sticker and sounds are different. Both are available now at Entertainment Earth.

Order Star Trek: The Motion Picture Phaser Replica – EE Exclusive from Entertainment Earth!
Star Trek: The Motion Picture Phaser Replica - EE Exclusive
Order Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Phaser from Entertainment Earth!
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Phaser

Here is a video from EE showing the TMP version.


Coming up: Westland Collectibles & New Retro Mego figures

Future Collective articles will feature reviews of the recently released Westland Giftware Star Trek cookie jars and salt/pepper shakers, and the soon to be released Pike/Salt Vampire retro MEGO figures set from DST/Art Asylum.

Star Trek Enterprise in Space Cookie Jar Star Trek Spock Cookie Jar Star Trek Retro Series 8 Pike and Salt Vampire Figure Set



1. Harry Ballz - July 11, 2011

Boy, anything for a buck!

2. Christopher Roberts - July 11, 2011

Weird in a way, how the progression of those communicators works better the other way round. TWOK (the brick, a futuristic walkie talkie) – TOS (perfect) – ENT (too small other than to talk through).

The ENT one was shown plugged into a larger UT device (I seem to recall – “Vox Sola” maybe?). So I guess they had no choice but to reflect the dinky mobile/cell phones of the here and now. And they have gotten slightly larger due to extra features being added.

TWOK prop was only seen onscreen once… like the (wrist com) TMP mistep. By TSFS they were back to being TOS like, with a different facia.

I wonder if the TWOK was designed that way, as an over-exaggeration and with a lower TV production budget in mind. Always seemed odd, given on the big screen it would blown up to an even bigger proportion.

3. Christopher Roberts - July 11, 2011

Showing visable Philips screwheads in a 23rd Century object… I’m glad there weren’t too many close-ups in the film actually. The communicator in “The Cage” looked more advanced in comparison, with see-thru element to the transistors under the flap.

4. njdss4 - July 11, 2011

I forgot how ugly that communicator was.

5. Christopher Roberts - July 11, 2011

The roughtie toughtie, heavy duty, chunky design of this communicator would probably work better, if they were intended for use by somebody in extra thick spacesuit gloves. Like Engineers working outside in a vacuum, on the hull of a ship. But then in the Star Trek universe, the com was shown to be built into an EV suit. Kirk or Spock or McCoy, would touch the front of his helmet in “The Tholian Web” for instance.

A tribute to the TOS design, that designers got it so right first time – movie-makers tried twice to better it, before going right back to an idea from the 60’s.

6. Trekboi - July 11, 2011

Yeah, it is Ugly!

I always assumed it was an old heavy duty design for underground they pulled out of storage to ensure contact with the enterprise with weak systems on the enterprise

7. Holger - July 11, 2011

I guess the devices get bigger because there’s an increasing amount of subspace technology built in.

8. Robert H. - July 11, 2011

Why does the bottom glow? I never found out why. It made more sense to have used the motion picture wrist communicators or recreate the original series communicators.

9. I'm Dead Jim! - July 11, 2011

I never saw any logical reason for this style of communicator to exist. Butt ugly!

10. I'm Dead Jim! - July 11, 2011

Oh, I guess they could store a sardine snack in it on long away missions.

11. Old Geezer - July 11, 2011

Funny, my husband and I were just having this same conversation yesterday regarding cell phones getting bigger and IMO, uglier as they pack more and more technology into them. :-)

12. Daniel - July 11, 2011

That thing is so ugly I might just have to buy one.

13. James T. West - July 11, 2011

Bring on “The Cage” communicator and Laser pistol DST!!!

14. YoJIMbo - July 11, 2011

The bottom translucent part is supposed to glow red but it doesn’t show that anywhere. Does anyone know if it actually does?

15. Praetor Tal - July 11, 2011


Why would you use a communicator in a vacuum? :-D

16. Casey4147 - July 11, 2011

#8 – the story I heard was that they weren’t designed for the movie, but rather a lot of the props used in Star Trek II were rented from a props company. Explained why the Tricorder from TWOK showed up on an episode of Knight Rider…

17. Christopher Roberts - July 11, 2011

15. # D’oh. Well spotted! :)

18. Jonboc - July 11, 2011

Nice replica of a horrible prop. Too bad they didn’t skip to the communicators of Trek 3…or do a wrist communicator to accompany their fantastic TMP phaser.

19. Andrew - July 11, 2011

#14 – It is supposed to be red. I modified the one I bought with red LEDs and it looks more like the screen prop.

20. jas_montreal - July 11, 2011

a LEGENDARY phaser.

21. VZX - July 11, 2011

The TOS series communicator is perfect. TWOK one looks too clunky, like a kid made it out of spare radio parts.

BTW: I hate it when people (like JJ Abrams did once) say that our cell (mobile) phones of today are the same or better than Star Trek communicators. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Cell phones need a cell network or they simply don’t work. Communicators are bascially super-powerful walkie talkies so they do not need a network.

Trek communicators > cell phones

22. Jeyl - July 11, 2011


Regretfully, the light is not red at the bottom. However, the device is very easy to mod with the wires connecting the LEDs being secured only by hot glue. Folks at the RPF were able to replace it with red or orange LEDs with little to no problem. I opened mine to repair the black portion of the flip cover when it was coming off, and there is plenty of wiring to work with incase something were to go wrong.

Also, this is by far my favorite communicator toy from any Star Trek line. The flip open cover is very sturdy and locks into both closed and open positions, which previous communicators were unable to do. Once you get it to flip open with just one hand, it’s pretty fun.

If I were to make one criticism about it, it would be the wasted potential of having a “light mode” setting. If you watch the Wrath of Khan when Lt. Saavik is trying to contact the Enterprise after the infamous “KHAAAAN!” moment, you will note that every time she speaks into the communicator, it lights up. There is clearly a button command that turns the light on when pressed, so it was a bummer it didn’t come with that kind of setting. In fact, I would say that the real on/off switch should have been closing the lid. The toy itself actually chimes when you close it (including a closing noise which is really unnecessary), but in the movie, it doesn’t chime at all. So instead of using the lower lever as the on/off switch, it could have been used to change between the action setting (which is what the toy is now) and the light setting. Let me illustrate.

23. Bill Roberts - July 11, 2011

I always thought that the TWOK communicator made more sense if you thought of it as a smaller, more TOS-like communicator (that you don’t see) housed in a larger shielding (which is what you see). If you look at the TOS and TWOK communicators side-by-side, it looks as though a slightly smaller version of the TOS communicator body would fit inside the TWOK device.

I have no idea what the shielding would be intended to protect the communicator from, but this is just my $0.02.

24. Sebastian S. - July 11, 2011

To quote James Earl Jones in The Hunt for Red October,
“Big son of a bitch…” :-O

25. Jeffery Wright - July 11, 2011

TWOK Communicator = Worse prop design ever. Looks like they spent $2 at Home Depot.

Though, I was glad to see they ditched the silly Dick Tracy two-way wrist radios seen in TMP and go back to the flip open antenna.

26. Bruce Banner - July 11, 2011

The bad thing about Trek communicators is that everyone was on speaker all the time. No private communication, except for O’hura on the bridge. She had Bluetooth. I imagine some of her communications did need to be private.

27. They call me Stsiu - July 11, 2011

@22 I agree very much with your observations regarding the sound error and the missed opportunity of light activation. Still, it’s a worthwhile toy and companion to the TWOK phaser.

28. DavidJ - July 11, 2011

What the heck was DST thinking? There are dozens of awesome Trek props that fans would love to own, and I’m pretty sure this WASN’T on the list (or anywhere near it).

All these will be doing is collecting dust on the shelves of comic book stores, I’m afraid.

29. Christopher Roberts - July 11, 2011

23. Yeah, the bulkiness could be shielding. I see that. Somewhere around 2270 Starfleet were worried communicators gave brain tumours. So they moved them to on the guy’s wrists, which was obviously worse! Then back to being handheld and inside a special deurotainium lined tin.

30. sean - July 11, 2011


Well, it needs a subspace network, doesn’t it? They were always making references to subspace relays and such in Star Trek, I would guess it’s similar to a phone network, just far more powerful.

And I don’t think JJ meant that cell phones are literally better than communicators, just that communicators in Star Trek seemed to be, as you mentioned, walkie talkies without many other functions. Cell phones do a lot more than allow you to make phone calls, which I’m fairly certain is what he was talking about. If you think about the way the technology is evolving right now, it would probably make more sense for the communicator/tricorder to be an all-in-one device.

31. chain of command - July 11, 2011

It’s a shame that they couldn’t have released this stuff in, oh, I don’t know, 1982!!!!!!!

32. John from Cincinnati - July 11, 2011

The original series communicator is so much more sophisticated and elegant than anything that came after it. So much from the original series is still superior to everything else that’s followed it even decades later.

33. falcon - July 11, 2011

Y’know…the design of the TWOK communicator seems kind of mid-’60s steampunk, if you don’t mind my mashup. It’s amazing to me that we now have devices that can (a) communicate with others, (b) translate, (c) tell you the local weather and forecast, (d) launch upset avians toward structures, and (e) tell you when you’re overdrawn (among other things). And the DS props look like they do. Granted, technology has apparently advanced far beyond what the folks in the Star Trek prop department thought it would, but these props seem like more nostalgia pieces than indicators of future tech.

34. Bill Roberts - July 11, 2011

#29 — I was thinking the shielding was to protect the communicator (i.e., from radiation, phaser blasts, horny tribbles, etc.), but maybe you’re on onto something with the tumor angle.

(Disclaimer: Yes, I know that tribbles reproduce asexually, but who knows, maybe they feel amorous too.)

35. rogue_alice - July 11, 2011

And, you have your choice of ONE service provider.

36. rogue_alice - July 11, 2011

“Admiral, if we go “by the book”. like Lieutenant Saavik, hours could seem like days………………………….”

37. captain_neill - July 11, 2011

A bit too boxy in comparison to the TOS version but I think this will be cool to have, it has awesome sound bites from the film.

38. Holger - July 11, 2011

Re 18: Yes, the TMP wristband communicator would be great. There was once an oversized toy by Playmates, if memory serves, but no good replica.

Re 30: The TOS communicator doesn’t need a lot of functions itself. TOS computers are voice controlled, so you could simply interact with the Enterprise main computer via the communicator.

39. Tony Whitehead - July 11, 2011

Sorry, but in almost every case, I prefer the Wah Chang TOS designs the best of any series, including the movies. Looked cooler, and like Great Bird said, looked like it would work and you wouldn’t have to ‘splain how it did.

40. Mark Lynch - July 11, 2011

I bought mine a few weeks ago. But I was disappointed that the LEDs were completely the wrong colour. I’ve just finished rectifying that by changing the LEDs for nice red ones. Much better.

Would be nice to get a TMP tricorder to go with my TMP phaser though…

41. ShinRa Actual - July 11, 2011

Re; Phaser. “The TMP version is the same shape, but the sticker and sounds are different. Both are available now at Entertainment Earth.”

This is…not quite correct.

The mold for the toys is identical, with the TWOK phaser’s trigger having a raised nub compared to the TMP’s flat surface. The TMP Phaser is done with a more matte finish on the plastic, and the light up elements are transparent with different colors, with the TWOK using all white LED, and painted over indicators. The sound effects are the same, as are the only stickers on the toy.

42. Kev -1 - July 11, 2011

Nice prop replica, although I remember reading the STII communcator came off the rack from some prop house. I guess nobody wanted to use anything from TMP at that point. Also agree on that the TOS communicator was no cell phone. Kirk could talk from planet to Enterprise easily, across great distances. And the communicator vibrations caused an avalanche in “Friday’s Child”. Uncharted space, where the TOS E patrolled, would have no (highly vulnerable) networks. Epsilon Nine in TMP seemed fairly close to Earth.

43. Captain Dunsel - July 11, 2011

Let me say right off the bat that from a purely role-play standpoint, the TWOK Communicator replica falls flat. As pointed out, the main lights on the toy do coincide with the sounds from the voice chip, but there is no way to create a solid light for when *YOU* are supposed to be speaking.

As far as playability goes, that’s almost a dealkiller right there. Now I know we all come from a land where such toys did not exist when we were kids and we should be grateful, etc, etc. HOWEVER, this was a no-brainer. As props go, this actually makes our toy less than it’s film counterpart.

Also, I find it fascinating that the callback sound is the exact same as the call sound (the sound when you open the communicator). I don’t believe this was the case in the film, and even if there was no sound, the good folks at DST were able to fabricate a new sound for the autodestruct on the TWOK phaser, I would think one could have been made here.

Ultimately the TWOK communicator looks nice but is nothing more than a superficial nightmare that took too long to arrive for the little that we wound up getting.

44. Red Dead Ryan - July 11, 2011

This communicator is a lot of fun! Certainly unique and different. I don’t know why everybody’s complaining. Also, I just bought the retro MEGO Salt Vampire figure. Very cool too, though I think I will keep it in its packaging.

45. brady - July 11, 2011

Just got the Pike and Salt Vampire. Salty is verrryyyyyyyyy Megoey!! Pike doesn’t look have as good as the customs I make or the ones shown on the Mego Museum.

46. Dr. Image - July 11, 2011

#43 You are so right.
They couldn’t even get the OBVIOUS red bottom light correct.
And actually, the original communicator design Nick Mayer wanted was like a Korean war era walkie talkie! This design was virtually whipped up overnight. (According to Rich Coyle- who contributed the “translock” feature. PS- if you don’t know who he is, you’re not into props!)

47. Battle-scarred Sciatica - July 11, 2011

Holy moley!
That is one Uggerley lunchbox.

48. David Bell - July 11, 2011

WTF why ?

49. TrekMadeMeWonder - July 11, 2011

Speaker technologies NEVER gets any better with these things.


50. TrekMadeMeWonder - July 11, 2011

32. John

Spot on.

51. Vultan - July 11, 2011

Not a pretty design, but I think it does look like one of the more realistic devices a pseudo-military space fleet would use in the field. Just look at the tech any real navy uses. Few of it is what I would call ‘pretty,’ like the TOS communicator.

52. DestinyCaptain - July 11, 2011

I prefer to think of this version as the “Heavy” communicator. Intended for harsh environments and for use with a variety suits and situations. I feel the same way about the tricorder gun we see Saavik using. Seems logical that there might be more than one unit for differing situations. It’s simple controls seem ideal for gloved use or extreme cold conditions where one might have difficulty with fine motor movement.

53. Capt. of the U.S.S. Anduril - July 11, 2011

I still want them to make the Assault Phaser.

54. TrekMadeMeWonder - July 11, 2011

I concur, Number 52.

They were deep inside a rocky moon-sized asteroid. Good point.

The clunky design still sucks.

55. VZX - July 12, 2011


I see your point, but a communicator works from device to device without the need of a network even for very large distances. I think a relay station may be needed for distances greater than 100 pc, but that doesn’t count as a network.

A cell phone does NOT trasmit from device to device. When you make a call, the cell phones transmit to towers, which then connects you to the normal land based telephone system to route the call. In other words, a handoff has to happen when you move from one cell to another. You don’t realize that is happening because it is not noticeable.

My point is that communicators are greater than cell phones simply because they do not require a network. You don’t need to pay for a communicator service.

56. rm10019 - July 12, 2011

Bring on the ST III props! Elegant design with more than a nod to the classic phaser and communicator!

57. Blowback - July 12, 2011

I always assumed it was simply a more powerful version of the standard flip-style communicator that they brought along to ensure Kirk could stay in contact with the Enterprise. I probably gave the prop designers too much credit….

58. Mark Lynch - July 12, 2011

Just watched a clip of TWOK and you are spot on! The bottom lights do indeed come on and are solid while you are talking.

All we need is a push switch added to the back of the unit which is always open and only closes (the circuit) when pressed, going back to its original state when pressure is released. Wires come from the main power on the circuit board to the switch and onto the two bottom LEDs.

And before you know it, you have your PTT switch which lights up the two bottom LEDs. I’ll have to draw up a plan for that and see how it goes.

59. captain_neill - July 12, 2011

However can a mobile telephone communicate with a ship in orbit? LOL

60. SPOCKBOY - July 12, 2011

That is one ugly steampunk 1930’s style communicator.
Complete with a wingnut?

The Enterprise one looks like something from Tron.
Too many sharp angles and edges.

Wah Chang is the man, hands down.


61. Dep1701 - July 12, 2011

I’m with several folks here that no “updated” design has ever topped the original communicator and phaser. Still look functional and practical to me. In fact the 2009 designs for the same items look less functional IMHO.
To really update the original communicator, all you’d really need to do is make the moire patern disc a vid screen and voila. I still think the size is not an issue, as these are not supposed to be terrestrial personal communication devices. these are for space exploration, and presumably more powerful to be able to reach a ship in orbit…without a network.

The only piece of the original “exploration set” that would benefit from updating is the tricorder, and that’s mainly because, by today’s standards, it’s oversized. But again, if you go by the idea that it’s capable of doing so much more scanning, analyzing and processing, independent of a supporting network, or even contact with a ship’s computer, then I still buy it as realistic. Although it seemed ridiculously small in comparison with the original prop ( and highly influenced by the animated series ), the toy-like AMT “Exploration Set” Tricorder model might have been a decent updating of the design ( basically the same, just smaller ).

62. Holger - July 13, 2011

Re 61: And don’t forget that the TOS tricorder has some storage space in it, for the hand-held scanner and probably for samples. So the actual working components may be much smaller than the casing indicates.
In the DST toy, the entire lower half is just storage space.

63. VZX - July 13, 2011

61: Yeah, I fully agree.

The props and set design from that 45 year old TV show still seem practical even by today’s standards.

64. TonyD - July 13, 2011

The TWOK Communicator is a perfect microcosm for what I didn’t like about Nicholas Meyer’s vision of Trek: while he was able to nail the characters and situations his sense of aesthetic was all wrong and far too backwards given what we’d already seen in TOS and TMP.

This TWOK communicator is yet another great replica by Art Asylum but the original design that it is based on is so butt-ugly, unwieldly and just plain unfuturistic that I have no desire to add it to my collection; I’ll be passing on this.

Come on Art Asylum, you can do better than this. How about a USS Reliant or any of the vehicles from ST:TMP or maybe the Spacedock from STIII:TSFS with scale versions of the 1701 and NX2000.

65. Holger - July 13, 2011

How big would you wanna make the spacedock model?? I suppose the NCC-1701 and NX-2000 scale models should feature some discernible details.

Reliant and Vulcan Warp Shuttle would be definite buys for me!

66. TheAmorphousBlob - July 13, 2011

That was “BLOOD” sucker I heard… right?

Lamest prop of the film era… so clunky and non-functional in appearance

67. Canadianknight - July 13, 2011

Yup… one butt-ugly design. Still hafta get one though. :)

I don’t understand what’s up with the blue/white LEDs on the bottom. Such an obvious mistake I’m surprised at DST.

68. MJ - July 16, 2011

“Showing visable Philips screwheads in a 23rd Century object… I’m glad there weren’t too many close-ups in the film actually. The communicator in “The Cage” looked more advanced in comparison, with see-thru element to the transistors under the flap.”

Actually, I would not be shocked if nearly everything Trek predicted for the 23rd century ended up wrong, EXCEPT that phillips screws were still in use.

69. ME!! - July 16, 2011

Why do they have to make these things with quotes from the source and in this particular case NOTHING BUT sound bytes? Why is it we cannot have these devices with an option for nothing but sound effects (and lights)?

This reminds me of the days of my youth when toy phasers, communicators, etc were WAY larger than they should have been and ALWAYS had the words “Star Trek” on the side.

So, we finally can have more authentic toys/replicas without the completely unnecessary title of the show they were based on, but in exchange we now must put up with ridiculous quotes from that show/movie just in case any of the geeks (of which I proudly lay claim to being a “member” of) forget the lines they’ve no doubt memorized. Thank God the Original Series communicator, tricorder and especially phaser all have options for just effects and lights (or in the case of the phaser have no such nonsensical garbage as sound bytes of your favorite episodes).

To any and all who might be reading and/or have any pull whatsoever with Diamond Select…

If I want to hear my favorite quotes from my favorite episodes of my favorite show, I’ll put in the appropriate Blu-ray!! Please, kindly make these very cool devices without the sound bytes and stick to sound effects and realism. The Original Series phaser is a PERFECT example of what I’m talking about. Use that as a template for future replicas. THAT is what we want. Thank you.

70. Crash - July 24, 2011

I so hope they either drop the idea of making a Klingon Disruptor (which will have next-to-no lights and novelty) or make it alongside an all-new phaser (preferably ST-III or IV or TNG).

It seems incredible to me that I can’t go out and buy an affordable, lighty-up TNG phaser replica from a shop (apart from what they made in 1994) and they’re doing things like this communicator instead. is represented by Gorilla Nation. Please contact Gorilla Nation for ad rates, packages and general advertising information.