Mr. Rant feels let down by Playmates

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.*

-Mr. Rant

* – 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

16 thoughts on “Mr. Rant feels let down by Playmates

  1. Playmates can’t possibly let me down; I always expect them to strive nobly for “okay,” and they never fail me.

  2. I see Mr. Rant has also seen that old TLC special on 2012, where the appliances attack the family! No one I ever talk to has ever seen that, other than my dad. Well, at least we’ll get killed by (hopefully) neat Star Trek figures!!!! And Shrek has long outworn his welcome.

  3. Playmates both botched doing more Trek this year (figures that would move due to nostalgia) but also botched it on those movie figures last year. Their smaller figures cannot compare to Joes/Star Wars/Marvel Universe figures and the bigger ones are horrible compared to DCUC.

    I never collected a single Trek figure even as a big fan of the show. My Trek love always stayed with the ships and vehicles. I loved the ships put out by Micro Machines back in the 90s. I wish they’d do new ones in the Star Wars Titanium style.

  4. Playmates did Star Trek a favor by not making more of those awful, awful toys.

    I feel bad for the fans that can’t complete the bridge, but a mat and some podiums do not a playset make.

  5. I am a HUGE fan of 1:18 scale and was REALLY looking forward to Star Trek figures and the Bridge playset. Even at clearance prices I can’t bring myself to pull the trigger and buy any of them. To many good products to spend my money on.

    1. I’ve seen these for $1.75 and I tell myself that I could probably use the bridge pieces for something and still I leave without them.

      If they’d make a blue uniform McCoy, I’d buy him though.

      1. buy an extra Spock and headswap.
        I did it for all the main Bridge crew.

        Too bad they didn’t have the Starfleet/Bridge Uhura, just Academy. 🙁
        I picked up a cpl extra Uhura to custom Janice Rand and the green roomie, but that shirt material is siht and only decent replacement hair for the Orion roomie is too big. (Booker’s WWE gf/wife)

  6. Heh, when I saw the title, I thought Mr. Rant was going on about Hugh Hefner’s Playmates of the month. Well, let’s not go down that path 🙂

    And yes, Playmates have fallen. I was just playing (yes, playing) with my WildCATs just yesterday and was reminiscing about the good old days of Playmates and comic figures.

    And Trek toys being pushed to 2012? Look on the bright side, at least you get to spend your toy budget on other more interesting things in the next year or two! I have no idea what that will be though.

  7. I bought a ton of Trek figures, almost all at various levels of deep clearance: if you can get them in the dollar range, you can buy up enough spares to finish your bridge. I’m like two pieces away, I think; and I need to buy another Spock so I can swap heads with Cadet McCoy, for a proper blue shirted McCoy. But I’m not spending more than a couple bucks on it.

  8. Its too bad, if Playmates produced a MOTUC-esque line for TMNT they could have been printing their own money. They could have kept it small, the 4 TMNT, Shredder, April, Casey, Splinter, Foot Soldiers, and maybe a Krang!

    1. Agreed. It wouldn’t even have to be as high quality as MOTUC and gone to stores, and I know people would have been buying them up. The re-releases of the old figures didn’t do too well last year, but I think better figures tugging on nostalgia would have done well. I know a bunch of guys who bought the figures to the new cartoon when they first hit in the early 2000s mainly on nostalgia.

    2. They killed the Comic style non Turtle toys from the “NECA killing” Comic style Sub line… (and I thought that Mattel shot themselves in the foot a lot.)

    3. Yeah MOTUC style TMNT would have been great.
      I loved the comic style prototypes playmates showed last year, I personally thought they were better than the NECA figures.

  9. If playmates made quality Trek figures, this wouldn’t have been a problem.

    Plus, Trek is still dead from last time. You talk about those old toys being revolutionary and maybe they were, but now they’re piled high at second hand stores and antique shops.

Comments are closed.