TMP@30: The Merchandise of Star Trek The Motion Picture

Today we continue our celebration of the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, by taking a look at extended universe of of the merchandise of The Motion Picture. Not until 2009, has a Star Trek movie inspired so much stuff. TrekMovie’s merchandise editor John Tenuto dedicates a special “Collective’ column to TMP.


The Collective: The Merchandise of Star Trek: The Motion Picture

by John Tenuto

When Star Wars was released May 25, 1977, the irony was that there was very little merchandise available because most companies initially showed little interest in the bizarre science fiction film. By Christmas 1977, even toy giant Kenner which had been smart enough to realize the potential of Star Wars only had a few puzzles, games, miscellaneous items, and the infamous “empty box” Early Bird Certificate Kit (which parents purchased and gave with the promise of action figures being sent sometime during 1978!).

While Star Trek: The Motion Picture owes a debt of gratitude to the success of Star Wars for its existence, Paramount did not allow for the same mistake as what happened with Star Wars (although, honestly, Star Wars merchandise has done pretty well for itself despite the time lapse of availability!). TMP was in 1979 one of the most merchandised films of all time and a truly multimedia collecting experience.

To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of TMP, the Collective takes its own bold journey to the past to discuss the best of TMP collectibles.


The film was adapted in various formats, most famously in a novel written by Gene Roddenberry. Other filmmakers such as George Lucas had their names on the novelization of their films back then, however most were written by ghost authors (in one of many Star Wars-Star Trek connections, Alan Dean Foster who created the story for TMP was the author of the Star Wars novelization). All indications are that Gene Roddenberry was indeed the real author of the novelization of the film (which is very recommended and an excellent adaptation).  Pocketbooks also did a photo novel adaptation.

TMP Photstory

Marvel Comics also had an adaptation, which began a brief run of comics based on the feature film. There was a book-on-tape (record) adaptation that told the narrative in about 15 minutes! And of course, the main trading card company of the era, Topps, provided fans with an 88 card set and 22 stickers. Pocket Books had a 1980 calendar based on TMP. As could be gleaned by looking just at this list, the licensees for TMP were often big and impressive companies such as Marvel Comics.

Marvel comic

TMP trading cards

Of course, the 1970s was about two decades before the era of DVD commentaries and behind the scene featurettes. To learn about how the film was made, fans were treated to a “Making Of” book and blueprints. For fans who were inspired by the film to engage their own creativity, there was activity and costume making texts. AMT, the model company whose products were sometimes utilized on the original 1960s television show, offered model kits. Most of these items were available before the film was out in theaters, unlike Star Wars.

Making of Book…the DVD Extra before there were DVDs


TMP may have well as been spelled TOY because there certainly were plenty available. MEGO, a pioneering toy company which had a popular line of toys based on the original television show during the mid 1970s, was the logical licensee for action figures and playsets. MEGO offered 18 action figures (12 small sized and 6 large sized figures) along with an Enterprise playset that is today a true collector’s item often selling for hundreds of dollars at auction. Toy ship versions of the Enterprise, Klingon cruiser, and Vulcan shuttle and a role playing wrist communicator were also available (Dinky Toys made smaller ship versions).

The Mego TMP figures

Bridge playset

Costume Book…how awesome is that?

Milton Bradley had a board game for TMP. And the movie also had a video game from MB for their Microvision computer game system (one of the first licensed home video games).

MTP Microvision game, one of the first


Star Trek: The Motion Picture also lent new ideas to mainstream movie promotions, especially with food merchandising. The first movie themed McDonalds Happy Meal ever was for TMP. Starting weeks before the theater showings, fans could enjoy six differing Happy Meal designs with movie-themed toys. McDonald’s advertised the meals on TV providing more promotion for the film. Interestingly, because Happy Meals themselves were new, McDonald’s utilized the Klingon in the television ad to also help explain what a Happy Meal was! General Mills also had special TMP cards in select cereals and Coca-Cola offered a set of special TMP themed collector glasses. Deka made some very colorful plastic plates and cups and perhaps the most unusual Star Trek item ever is the Mr. Spock decanter with Ceilo liquor from Grenadier.

Jerry Goldsmith’s incredible soundtrack would eventually be one of a few musical compositions that would represent the franchise. Fans could get the soundtrack on LP and cassette formats.


Perhaps it is the unique uniforms, or TMP’s role as the first Star Trek feature film, but new items based on TMP have been released as recently as this month. Diamond Select Toys has a new version of the TMP toy phaser available, and it is shipping the first week of December to fans (purchase at Entertainment Earth). Also available this autumn, Hallmark has two TMP themed ornaments both excellent in quality and design. There is the Ilia (Probe version) ornament, and the Klingon battlecruiser.

Hallmark battlecruiser

Also this year, Junk Food introduced a new t-shirt featuring art from the cover of the first TMP Marvel comic book. During their two shows this May, home shopping network QVC offered some classic TMP merchandise, including a signed copy of the 1979 Marvel Comic book and a complete set of 1979 Rainbo bread Star Trek cards that were included one per package at the time of the film’s premiere. Diamond Select Toys released two different two-action figure packs based on TMP in early 2009. Admiral Kirk (in his two tone gray and white uniform) and Commander Spock were available at many retailers, while an exclusive edition of the two-pack featuring Kirk in his one tone gray uniform was available only at Toys R Us stores. A 2005 novel by Christopher L. Bennett named “Ex Machina” was set almost the day after the events of TMP. Jerry Goldsmith’s soundtrack was released on a special edition CD in 1999. In 1997, Playmates Toys released new versions of 4″ TMP action figures. Even back in the early 1980s, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was revisited when the Vectrex gaming system to be one of its most important games. Indeed, despite its reputation as The Motionless Picture, TMP obviously occupies a special place in the hearts of companies and collectors.

New Junk Food  TMP shirt

TMP Collector’s edition Soundtrack

Happy Birthday Star Trek: The Motion Picture! And happy birthday to your collectibles, too!

The human adventure began in 1979

SPECIAL THANKS for photo references to Memory Alpha, Mego Museum, and Intergalactic Trading Company, and New Force Comics

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These look really cool, all of em, thanks for the trip.

good old memories….

old school toys are the best

I hated this movie and though the stuff looks cool to remember and celebrate, I just can’t bring myself to enjoy anything remotely close to the sheer crappiness of The Motion Picture. Excuse me while I go vommit now…

Where did JJ get that white, shiny TMP jacket from the ST09 blooper reel?

Now THAT’s a collectible.

Great overview, John. Of course we know that Lucas took a major stake in the then non-existent merch business for Star Wars. Not a bad bit of forward thinking…

Although I have visited this site every day for the past 4 years, this is my first post and its in defence of ST-TMP.

Sure, not much happened, but the atmosphere and ambition of the movie made it the best possible start to the revival of the franchise.

I’m very fond of it, perhaps more-so because of its imperfections. I still watch it at least a few times a year and I do get a lump in my throat when I think of Deforrest and Jimmy.

Now all we need is the complete Star Trek: The Motion Picture score released on CD with all of Goldsmith’s alternate takes. Now that Paramount is licensing their vintage scores and given FSM’s success with the Star Trek II album, fingers crossed!

I have the spock action figure from 30 years ago! A good use of my paper route money, for sure!

Man, I had a few of those McDonald’s happy-meal things back in the day. I’m pretty sure I’ve still got a couple of the pounds I gained from ’em :)

Still have my Photostory, too! That I’m happier about; it’s all the fun of the movie and even easier to flip through the dull parts.

I had alot of this stuff as a wee lad; always wanted the bridge playset but never got it! I also have fond memories of those McDonald’s Happy Meals…

#6- I agree. We need a definitive version of that score.

I’ll always have great memories of TMP, despite the film’s flaws.

Despite the flaws, it’s always been in my top 3 trek flicks.

Now that Enterprise is a beauty.

I like TMP as well. To me it felt like the most ambitious of all the Star Trek movies. Well, up until 2009! I liked the sense of mystery and the unknown. I hope when JJ Abrahams brings about the 2012 Star Trek sequel he will go for more of this type of show, instead of a vengeful protagonist. I don’t want to see a reimagined Khan just yet! I hope that maybe something like Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 mysterious aliens can be captured in a Star Trek film. I wouldn’t mind seeing maybe a few Klingons getting in the way of solving such a mystery, however!

Happy meals are without honor.

If you do an internet search, you can find Goldsmith’s alternate tracks from the TMP score. I did a number of years ago.

I loved JJ’s Trek movie, but I gotta give it to the big E in TMP, she is the best looking of them all!

I already picked up the TWOK version of the phaser. Do I really need the TMP version?
Must not… click… “Add To Cart”… button!

This is so funny, just last weekend I bought an old Star Trek TMP McDonald’s toy online, and I didn’t even know the anniversary was coming up! :)

Ah, memories…Although I was only 14 when TMP came out, I had just started my first afterschool job and remember plunking down my meager pay on many of the above items. I remember buying the fotonovel, the comics, a couple of whole boxes of the Topps cards, the soundtrack LP and the shorter Mego figures (incidentally, the large 12 inch ones were made of such poor quality plastic that Kirk and Spock’s faces are now green on most of the remaining ones. Check ’em out on eBay. It’s pretty weird).

Wow… I had most of these – I still have the Spock decanter and the liquor’s still in it!!

That’s gross.

The score for Star Trek The Motion Picture is one of my top favorite albums. The reissue by Columbia / Sony was a wonderful release.

I just recently re read The making of Star Trek The Motion Picture book as well. Highly recommended.

Still have the Photostory book too. It’s surprisingly sophisticated for the time, and it’s a shame they didn’t do it for the other movies.


They did one for TWOK, although it wasn’t anywhere near as nice.

The big E looked gorgeous and is in my opinion still the best version of the ship. I wish we had gotten a slightly tweaked version of it in the new film instead of what we got, which is a jumble of different styles that don’t blend together.

Great article, I always really dig these. Merchandise is as big a part of Star Trek as the movies or shows to me.The Ilia figure pictured is from the later 90s Playmates run and not from the original 70s line though. Don’t know if this was intentional.

You guys forgot the cool effing Star Trek electronic Enterprise that came out after the movie. It had lights and sounds and it was great.

Probably the most terrible McDonalds commercial I have ever seen.

I remember getting one of those happy meals, mine had a translucent blue “wrist communicator” Lost it at the skating rink right after I got it! Still feel pretty bad about that!
Man, seeing that McDonalds commercial reminds me of the tastes of those meals, they were so much better then!!!!!!

That’s a picture of the Vectrex TMP game cartridge. The game, and the Vectrex itself got used as a tactical display in the low budget SF film “Android”.

The Microvision game was pretty awful though. LCD graphics had a long way to go in 1979!

Wow, I had most of those items, including half the action figures, some of the trading cards,and a bridge set made from a cardboard. IIRC, I think you could swap out the viewscreen to show a Klingon cruiser, the wormhole, or spacedock. I probably still have the iron-ons from the McDonald’s happy meal, too.

Oh God! Those Star Trek Happy Meals . . . .

Had the Vectrex game and the Happy Meal- both totally rocked.

I,too, love Star Trek:The Motion Picture and think it a great movie because it was a reunion movie reintroducing our beloved characters after a 10 year absence! It was great seeing them again, and yes I know that there wasn’t alot of action, but I enjoyed the mystery & suspense of the film and loved the new additions: Ilia,Decker, the Bumpy-headed Klingons and all the various alien Enterprise crewmembers. I loved the wormhole scenes! I liked the new set designs,the costumes, the refit Enterprise, the Vulcan scenes, and lots more! I think it also had some great character moments for the big 3 as well as some lesser characters like Rand & Chapel’s promotions! It was big in scale and felt epic, mind you Trek 2009 was epic & grand but with lots of action too… I think we need a balance of action with thought-provoking ideas @ the core of the story. I always enjoy rewatching the Motion Picture!

God I love how inaccurate the bridge playset is. Hey, lets put a station right in front of the main view screen, not like anybody needs to actually see that. And also lets put a random hatch next to it, that would lead to, I dont know, outer space. Just remember, if someone opens it, just hold your breath and grab hold of something.

That cover for the TMP Photostory sums up the entire movie – dull.

I fondly remember my mother taking me to see TMP when it first came out, even though I was only 7 at the time. Even though I couldn’t grasp the story, I can still remember being in awe of the visuals. Obviously for most, this film you either love or hate. It is a bit slow in parts, but in many ways I think it’s the most sophisticated ST movie ever made. The look of the film def. holds up today. The ship, as everyone has said, looks amazing, as well as the thought put into the sets and technology. They had the right ideas with the uniforms (several variations), there’s just too much 70’s version of the future in them, especially how tight they fit. I love how the engineers had the radiation suits and the security officers had armor and helmets (too bad this idea was discarded so quickly).

I have most of the items in a couple of trunks in my storeroom. I bought them a few months after the film when the prices were vastly reduced.

There was also a daily and Sunday comic strip syndicated in newspapers that was pretty good. Much better than the Marvel comics. I clipped them out and saved in an envelope. I guess they’re in one of the trunks.

I also have a copy of the script with a vastly different ending than the final version.

ooooo…I’m digging the new t-shirt. There’s a Christmas gift for my wife….to get for me.

#4: “I hated this movie and though the stuff looks cool to remember and celebrate, I just can’t bring myself to enjoy anything remotely close to the sheer crappiness of The Motion Picture. Excuse me while I go vommit now…”

LOL! you must be a theatre major as you’ve a good grasp for drama…. maybe even a bit of over acting.

I seem to recall that the photonovel was not in color, but in black & white (that is so wrong in so many ways!).

I could go look through my collection…. but I am just being lazy!

There were also a ton of very nice posters out, like the cutaway of the new E. It was very nice!


In the UK at least, there were also souvenir programmes which could be bought at cinemas. I still have mine. :-)

Don’t forget the 1979 Jazz / Disco / Funk version of Star Trek the Motion Picture theme by Bob James. I have the MP3 shuffled somewhere in my I-pod!

@ 40 – you’re slightly mis-remembering. The TMP photonovel is in full color. The TWOK photonovel is in black and white.

40. The TMP photonovel was in color. but the TWOK one is in black and white. I have both of them.

I must say–watching the fly around of the re-fit Enterprise still gives me goosebumps.

I had the 12″ Admiral Kirk “doll”, one of my treasures along with a Gil Gerard/Buck Rogers “doll”. The Kirk doll later developed a bizarre greenish coloring on the head. Around 1987-9 or so my big brother and I stumbled on to a mint unopened box of Star Trek: The Motion Picture Trading Cards, so with the foresight that it would appreciate in value we opened every pack, I single handedly ate all of the then 10 year old gum, it turned to powder in my mouth but I didnt care I was eating candy from the final frontier! Shortly after that we found two unopened 6″ Kirk and Spock TMP figures, we got both of them for about 7 bucks each, now those I did take care of and saved them unopened. One of the things I loved about TMP was the ease at which one could “dress” like a starfleet captain. A pair of grey slacks and a White polo shirt add a hand drawn starfleet emblem and cardboard bio reading belt buckle and I was set. TMP rocked, finest Enterprise ever, the proof is in the Enterprise 2009, an acceptable facsimilie of it.

i dont dislike tmp but for those suggesting otherwise, jj needs to steer clear of 80percent of what this film had going on. it works more as a novel or a 2part television episode but i never felt it totally worked as a film that was supposed to give fans what they had been begging to get since the series was taken off tv. yes the score was great, there were some great character moments, and it was an interesting film, but u need more if you’re aiming for a highly successful/highly entertaining, thought provoking cinema experience. i still say trek II & VI were the best of the bunch. Nimoy even mentions tmp as not being what it should have been. (all that being said, im not a basher, just voicing my oppinion.)

After having no new Star Trek merchandise for along time, the period right around TMP was marvellous! The comics, the new novel line, the model kits, etc. It was a great time.

I love this Star Trek film it’s one of my favorite movies.

I’ve actually got a lot of the merchandise talked about here, mostly from ebay.