Today we continue our weeklong look at the first wave of Playmates Star Trek movie toys (officially coming out April 19th) with a look at the two playsets, one for the bridge of the USS Enterprise, and one for the transporter room. Both playsets come with figures, and both can be expanded with bonus pieces from the Galaxy Collection of 3.75 figures. See a full review with pictures and video below.
The Return of Star Trek Playsets
Playsets are always a tricky product for toy companies to create. They have to balance the price and playability with concerns about the size and how much shelf space both stores and parents will devote to an item. For their two playsets based on the new Star Trek film, Playmates Toys have found the equilibrium needed to make cool items that are also portable and don’t take up too much space. TrekMovie presents this detailed review of the USS Enterprise Bridge and Transporter playsets in our continuing experience in the Great Material Continuum that are ST09 toys.
USS ENTERPRISE TRANSPORTER PLAYSET
Packaging (5 stars stars)
The packaging for the Transporter playset maintains the classy black look of the entire Playmates Toys line. For those who like to purchase and not open these items as collectibles, the playset packaging will look great next to the action figures because they have the same style. Also, the packaging features the ability to try the sound and lighting effects of the transporter unit and provides detailed descriptions of all the features. It also clearly shows that there are some bonus pieces available inside the 3.75" action figure packages to add to the playability.
Standard Playset (4 stars)
The standard playset includes half the transporter pad and ceiling, a console and chair, the vinyl floor mat, and most importantly the portable transporter unit. A bonus Scotty figure is included which has a different facial gesture than the individually sold 3.75" figure (see our previous article). This is a very fun playset once you get the feel for it. The portable transporter unit is a bit complicated and takes some practice which accounts for the 4 stars stars. However, once fans get the operation, the fun should be infectious. I certainly want to beam everything in my house and my six year old son loves the playset.
By purchasing the Uhura, Original Spock, and Nero 3.75" action figures, fans get bonus pieces of the transporter pad which allows for connection to the playset, forming a full circle. This looks great. However there is a trade-off. When you attach the bonus pieces to create a circular transporter pad, you have to remove the back wall, which can be placed behind the pad, but is not ‘attached’ anymore.
How it works:
There is a console that seats one action figure. This console has two buttons, one that engages the portable transporter’s light, the other than initiates the transporter sequence with lighting and sound effects. There is a small, specially designed stand included that you use to hold an action figure. You then place this stand on the transporter pad, clicking the figure into place. Then, by sliding the portable transporter chamber over the figure and clicking it into place, the figure is locked within. For fun lighting and sound effects, you could either press the button on the transporter chamber or use the buttons on the console. After the show, you remove the chamber and viola your action figure has transporter.
The portable transporter unit could then be positioned either back on the transporter pad or brought to the planet of your choice (your couch, the carpeting, outside, the dog house) and by pressing the delta insignia, the return beaming sound and lighting effects activate. By pressing two buttons on the side, the figure is "beamed" and released from the chamber. You could then pick the figure back up with the transporter chamber and continue the cycle. Sound complicated? It is, although with practice my six year old son was able to figure out all the playability of the Transporter Room. I never thought a toy company would surpass the coolness and fun of the 1970s MEGO Enterprise playset transporter. Playmates Toys certainly has. This is an ingenious playset.
Demo video of Transporter in action
USS ENTERPRISE BRIDGE PLAYSET
It has been almost 15 years since the last full Enterprise playset was made by Playmates Toys for the Next Generation. Many fans fondly remember this incredibly cool playset. However, in today’s market, that playset would be more than $100 to purchase. Playmates Toys has provided a rethinking of playsets with the Enterprise playset. By including bonus pieces to the bridge in the action figure and by making the floor out of vinyl, the playset gains a mobility and feasible price point so that parents and collectors alike could afford it. But is it fun?
The Packaging: (5 stars)
Much the same said about the Transporter packaging is true here. It is thematically designed with the entire Playmates Toys line and features good information for those thinking of purchasing it in stores. It is also reasonably sized for those wishing to display unopened.
The Playset (4.5 stars w/o bonus pieces – 4.75 stars w/ bonus pieceas)
The standard playset includes the viewscreen with a cool and removable image of the Narada, the Captain’s chair and helm console, two data screen, and the vinyl playmat. The playset includes a free Captain Kirk figure which is the same as the action figure from the regular 3.75" line. While it would have been good to have some kind of electronic effects (perhaps the viewscreen could have included a button pressed for lighting and sound effects), as a parent, I like that this toy allows my son to engage his imagination. Sometimes toys are too electronicized and play is a passive experience. With this set, things could be moved around and my son has to supply the sound effects and action. Also nice is that it is easy to store. You could display it, or easily pack the playset up for another time. While I love the new Millennium Falcon from Hasbro or the original TNG playset, those are so big that they become a problem.
One of the cool features of the playset is that the chairs swivel like in the movie and original television show. This is a nice detail that shows the care that Playmates Toys is putting into this line and the figures look great if the main purpose is display. My son enjoys moving and matching the various pieces to the floormat or sometimes redesigning the bridge after a Narada attack.
Included with the 3.75" figures (other than Uhura, Original Spock, and Nero which include Transporter playset bonus pieces) are additional consoles and chairs to add playability to the Bridge. This makes a great deal of sense. For those who just want the basic playset, the price is very reasonable. As fans get more figures for the playset, they also get more consoles and chairs. The more figures you have, the more consoles and chairs you need. By including the bonus pieces in the figures, it helps not only add to the fun, but also is practical.
NOTE: There is going to be a second wave of 3.75" that will include the rest of the Bridge bonus pieces this summer.
Both of these playsets are recommended. The Transporter playset has the cool transporter effect and the Bridge playset is a quality presentation that engages the imagination of those playing with it. Hopefully, Playmates Toys is planning future playsets from other environments (sickbay, for example, which has never been offered before or the USS Kelvin). The next article in our Playmates Toys ST09 extravaganza is a discussion of the 12" action figures from the Command Line.
AVAILABILITY & PRE-ORDER
Playmates Star Trek toys officially go on sale this Sunday. They will be available at Toys R Us, Wal-mart and Target as well as other retailer. If you want to save a trip to the store, or guarantee you can get all of them, you can pre-order:
Entertainment Earth: 3.75" figures set of 10 [$68.99] (required for bonus pieces)
ToysRUs: Individual Figures for $6.99 (each – required for bonus pieces)
NOTE: Some Toys R Us stores have started to sell some Star Trek Playmates toys early and Entertainment Earth is just starting to ship the toys.
Next up: Role play toys
Tomorrow we will have an article (with video) on the new Star Trek tricorder, phaser and communicator.