To boldly go...
Classic Star Trek collectables go under the lazer beam.
On 8th September 1966, American TV viewers were treated to a visual spectacle quite unlike anything they had seen before. The show opened to the sight of a spaceship gliding past an unknown planet, while a mysterious voiceover stated: “Captain’s Log, star date 1513.1, our position orbiting planet M113. On board the Enterprise, Mr. Spock, temporarily in command…” Now, 50 years later we can look back on that first episode of Star Trek as a truly momentous occasion. It was a TV series that ushered in a new era of science fiction shows and movies, while also creating a legion of fans around the world. Of course, with any great TV series or movie, toys are sure to follow and in order to celebrate Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, we’re taking a look at some of the best Trek-themed toys.
Well, there’s really only one place to start when it comes to vintage collectables… although Dinky’s take on Star Trek came more than 10 years after the opening episode had first been broadcast. In 1977 Dinky released No.357 Klingon Battle Cruiser (piloted by a warlike alien race) and No.358 USS Enterprise (the iconic starship in the show). Released during a time of difficult sales in the UK, as Dinky and Corgi competed for the lucrative TV and film market, Dinky ensured both toys had plenty of fun features. The Klingon Battle Cruiser could shoot little circular discs (aka photon torpedoes) thanks to a mechanism in the toy’s front end. Meanwhile, the Enterprise could not only fire similar discs (although this time they were orange), it also had a shuttle bay that could be opened up to reveal a tiny shuttlecraft – used in the show when crew members needed to travel to a planet.
Three years later in 1980 and Dinky returned to the stars again with ‘pocket versions’ of the same ships: No.801 (371) USS Enterprise and No.802 (372) Klingon Cruiser. These tiny diecast replicas were lacking in detail and were released a year after Dinky closed the doors at its Binns Road factory. However, before the production lines finally stopped, Dinky also produced prototype versions of the same models with firing missiles, which can be found in the ‘wilds’ of toy fairs and auctions. Of course, these are typically more valuable than the standard versions, with a valuation of £50 to £55 compared to £45 to £55 for the standard issue.
While Dinky was busy making diecast versions of the spaceships, American firm Mego had turned its attentions to the crew of the Starship Enterprise. In fact, Mego was the most prolific manufacturer of Star Trek toys, producing ‘action figures’, playsets and more, featuring the likes of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.
Mego kicked off its Star Trek line in 1974 with five eight-inch figures inspired by Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy (Bones), Mr. Scott (Scottie) and a Klingon. Mego had previously found fame with its World’s Greatest Superhero line of action figures, which featured hard plastic heads and soft, fabric bodies and continued the same theme with its new Star Trek range. Unlike the original World’s Greatest Superheroes figures, Mego only released the Star Trek models in see-through blister packs, rather than cardboard boxes.
A year later and Mego was back in space again but rather than adding to the crew, it created a range of aliens for Captain Kirk and his pals to fight. Released under the generic banner of ‘aliens’, the line-up included: Neptunian, Keeper, Gorn and Cheron. The aliens proved so popular that Mego followed up with another four ‘little green men’ including: Romulan, Talos, Andorian and Mugato. These last four figures are considered to be among the holy grail of figures for Mego collectors, as they were released in limited quantities and concluded Mego’s involvement with the Star Trek franchise. The Romulan and Andorian are particularly sought after, as they bear a striking resemblance to their on-screen counterparts and sell for around the £250 mark on sites like eBay.
However, before Mego blasted off onto other projects, it did release some particularly impressive playsets. Top among these is the USS Enterprise Playset (No. 51210), which doubled as a carrying case for all your Mego toys, along with the deck of the Enterprise. The psychedelic set had a number of superb features, like a computer screen that could be switched out to show different images and a spinning box to represent the famous Transporter. It also came with several pieces of furniture so you could pose your favourite figures exactly how you wanted. Mego produced these in huge quantities and, particularly in America, they crop up fairly regularly so even when boxed, they can be snapped up for around a hundred dollars.
However, perhaps Mego’s greatest Star Trek offering was the Command Communications Console and Communicators toys. You see, in the show it was often extremely dangerous on these alien worlds, so “away teams” had to keep in constant contact with the Enterprise. Luckily Mego had just the thing for the job: a set of Star Trek Communicators, which were basically glorified walkie talkies. However, the greatest thing about the Communicators is that they could be used in conjunction with another toy: the Command Communications Console. This futuristic-looking computer acted as a receiver for the Communicators, allowing one of your pals to sit in the safety of the living room and speak to the brave explorers venturing into mum and dad’s bedroom.
PALITOY TRANSPORTER ROOM
Going back to Mego’s Transporter, UK toy giant Palitoy took the snazzy Transporting element of the Mego Starship Enterprise playset and turned it into a stand alone toy. Figures could be placed inside, while a plastic screen was spun round to give the impression the person inside was “beaming down” to a potentially hostile alien planet. Unfortunately, they’re notoriously delicate and the rotating screen is easily broken off – so much so that there’s an entire episode of The Big Bang Theory dedicated to one of the Transporters falling to bits. Still, Palitoy must have been fairly chuffed with the results because it used the same design for a Doctor Who TARDIS.