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.
ADAPTATIONS AND OTHER TEXTS
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.
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.
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
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.
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