Monday, 30 March 2015

Review: Star Trek Generations Engineering Playset

It's been rather a delightful week for me. First the Garax Swordship arrived on my doorstep, then this, the Star Trek Generations Engineering set from 1994.

The Generations line by Playmates was, well, remember the 'new' Star Trek line Playmates put out a few years ago? Well, it wasn't that bad. But it was pretty bad.

Overall the Playmates 5" figures had been very good. The likenesses were more than acceptable and the articulation, for the time, was extensive.

And then they screwed it all up.

It wasn't all their fault. Due to a last minute change in uniforms for the film (the production team threw out the new uniforms that had been designed and simply stuck to the stuff the cast had been wearing during the time of the Next Generation TV show), Playmates were stuck with making a line of figures which didn't look anything like the people in the film. There was still the main villain, Soran, and the boob-tastic Klingon ladies, but as for the Enterprise-D crew...

And then, presumably because of the uniform problems Playmates could no longer be bothered putting any effort in, articulation was reduced to a sole 5 points. Considering at the same time there were fully poseable Next Gen figures on toy shop shelves, this was bizarre.

But enough of the figures, this review is all about the playset.

 People who bought the Ent-D bridge playset, released with the first wave of figures from Playmates, were probably wondering why there were a bunch of ominous-looking holes under the turbolift doors on that set. The reason: there was supposed to be an Engineering set that linked to it, put it wasn't released (at least not at the time).

Why? I have no proof but I suspect the giant bridge didn't sell as well as expected and thus the idea of other ship locales quietly abandoned. Masters of the Universe Classics collectors will be well aware of the phrase 'maybe in a movie year' and it seems that with the big marketing push of the Star Trek Generations film, Playmates decided to give playsets another go and finally release Engineering.

The only good thing about the figures (oh, and we did movie II-VII figure versions of Kirk, Chekov & Scotty) was the packaging. I really liked the artwork and orange/black colour combination, which only makes me wish I'd actually thought of taking a picture of the Engineering box before packing it away. Oh well.

Toy-Engineering is a lot smaller than it appeared in the show. It has the warp core, and the little window area, but completely gone is the table, around which many an important discussion took place. Neither present is the large Enterprise schematic that would have looked great in this toy. And of course we've only got a single storey of the department (and no lift!) though that was missing from the show a lot of the time too.

The other thing it's missing, and would likely have been included if the playset had been made specifically for the Generations movie and not a left-over, is the emergency door that comes down (you'll remember Geordi rolling under it in the film). This is probably the biggest omission for me (well, kid-me) as it would have added a lot of playability to the set. I can imagine pretty much all child-games would have had had need for that door to come down at some point.

Final complaint - the attachment to the bridge. The round-edged bridge and flat-edged Engineering don't look like they are supposed to go together. They are, and the clips are all there, but it just looks odd. And once they are attached it makes it very difficult to get around Engineering to play with the figures. Again, apologies for a lack of photo.

Stop moaning about what isn't there, you're likely saying, and get on with what is. Well, You get a light-up warp core, complete with little door to put the dilithium crystals in. The top of the warp core comes off, which is handy for 'destroying' it. There are sounds too, however my 4-year old made me take the batteries out as the noise annoyed her, so I can't tell you too much about that. I can say there's a general core noise and then an emergency sound. On the console in front there are two buttons to activate these sounds and then a small area where you can perform an emergency shut down, which switches it all off.

The overall look of the set is very good. There are a number of stickers, but none are overly difficult to get into place.

Strange as it may sound, I think I'm most impressed with the little chair. I'm just very impressed that the figures manage to sit on it so well, considering their legs spray out in a 'v' when they sit. Unlike many toys, it seems like the people at Playmates actually thought about how the figures would interact with these accessories.

There isn't a huge amount of stuff to do with Engineering, which - as well as it's uncommon availability on ebay - is why I put off getting it for so long. That said, I do like it a lot more that I thought I would and it's definitely worth seeking out for anyone who likes the Playmates figures.

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