I have to say that I was really excited for Toy Fair 2010. While I do look forward to the unveiling of the thousands of dollars of stuff that Mattel is going to have me buying this year, they aren’t the reason I was excited. I was rather enthusiastic over what Playmates was going to show us. Why Playmates you ask? Well, because Playmates has the Star Trek license.
Back in the day, perhaps before some of you were born, Playmates was a toy juggernaut. Two of the biggest toy lines in that era were Ninja Turtles and Star Trek – Playmates had both. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Those were two of the hottest toy lines out there. And not only that, but Playmates took the Trek line to places no toy line had ever been. They made innovations in terms of collectability that all toy companies have been trying to duplicate since.
What did they do, you ask? Numbers. They began to number the figures. Sure, these were some of the best sculpted and articulated toys around at the time, but by adding the figure’s individual number to the bottom of the foot, each figure became a true “collectible”. After a few years they began experimenting with this idea, taking it even further. Anyone else out there remember the nightmare that was the 1701 figures? For those not in the know, Playmates released three figures: Tapestry Picard, Yesterday’s Enterprise Tasha, and Projections Barclay. Instead of the normal run of thousands, each of these figures only had a run of 1701 pieces. That was my first experience with intentional short packing by a toy company to increase collectability.
An interesting side note on this line is it started about the same time the internet was becoming a primitive networking tool. I remember websites popping up, talking about collecting these toys, and how difficult they could be to find. I seem to remember the term “scalper” originating around this line also. Maybe that is just my faulty memory, but, looking back on things, this line seems to be the grandfather of “gotta have them all & pay any price” collector’s lines. Before that, I was content to have some Joes or some Transformers. But Playmates changed all that with Star Trek. I had to have them all, particularly when they made sure I couldn’t.
And while I blame that old Playmates line for the completist I turned out to be, I look back on it with fond memories. It was my first “toy love”, as disturbing as that may sound.
Skip ahead, back to the present. Playmates announces they are planning on doing a new Star Trek line of toys that will encompass all of the Trek Universe, much like the old line did. (Sorry DST, you need a little more diversity. Try an alien here and there besides the forty Picards and Worfs.) So, with rose colored glasses firmly in place, I awaited further news of this sure-to-be-great toy line. Instead, Playmates served me a big steaming pile of… Shrek.
That’s right. They are postponing their plans for Star Trek, so they can bring me Shrek 4 toys.
I get cashing in on Shrek, who wouldn’t? But do you really have to choose between one line and the other? How far have you fallen?
Meanwhile their Star Trek plans have been pushed back to 2012. Have they not seen the Mayan calendar and John Cusack’s survival/horror/action/sci-fi/unintentional comedy? The world is supposed to end in 2012. Thanks a lot, Playmates. This line is going to be real easy to collect after the Mayans kill us all with fax machines, Christmas trees, and primitive wooden horse toys.*
* – Editor’s Note: It’s true, at the end of the world, all our infernal devices will turn on us. Fax machines will eat our ties and wooden horse toys will choke us. If you know what we’re talking about, you get to be King of the Blog for a day. -NoisyDvL5