The Good: Not a bad sculpt, Accessories are relevant to figure
The Bad: Terrible articulation, Light on coloring details, Accessory coloring
The Basics: A truly lackluster action figure, the Keeper is a poor execution of a seminal Star Trek villain and one hopes another company will do it better.
Back when I was in college, there was a lot for a Star Trek fan like me to be excited about. After all, Star Trek: The Next Generation movies were still coming out (and they were still generally good), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was on the air with a gritty reinterpretation of the franchise and some of the merchandising was becoming more innovative and incredible - like the release of the autograph cards in the Star Trek trading cards. Unfortunately, as Playmates Toys worked to exploit the 30th Anniversary of the original Star Trek, they released some unfortunate duds in their action figure line. One of them was their figure of the Keeper, the Talosian.
For those unfamiliar with the character, in the very firs pilot of Star Trek, "The Cage" (click here for my review of the episode!), Captain Christopher Pike's U.S.S. Enterprise was lured to Talos IV. There, he was kept in a cage by telepathic aliens called Talosians. The leader of the Talosians was the Keeper. The Keeper communicated with Pike and tried to get him do the bidding of the Talosians.
The 1996 the Keeper action figure is a decent casting for the 5" figure line from Playmates Toys, but it is fraught with too many problems - underdetailing, lack of articulation, accessories it cannot hold and that look ridiculous - to be worth buying.
The "Star Trek" 1996 Collection of action figures contained figures from Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager and the drive for collectors was to find one of the limited "Tapestry" Picard figures, with little attention paid to most of the other figures in the assortment, like Keeper from "The Cage." Because it was so limited, the Keeper sold out, though those who ended up with one and actually opened it up ended up severely disappointed. Card collectors hunted the SkyBox trading card exclusive to the action figure, though many had a bear of a time finding one for that reason.
The Keeper figure is the alien telepath as featured in "The Cage." It is wearing its long, flowing silver robe and has the oversized head distinctive of the Talosians.
Standing 4" tall, this is a fair likeness of Keeper as it appeared in "The Cage," immortalized in plastic. The character is molded with its dainty hands more open than closed and thus it cannot hold most of its accessories. The feet pop out from under the bottom of the robe, which is a solid piece. This ought to make the Keeper an excellently balanced figure, but it is not.
Keeper's face is molded in an incredible likeness of the telepath. The figure has subtle forehead veins which moved in the show when the Keeper spoke telepathically. They do not move on the action figure, but the fact that they were molded on is a nice detail. As well, the Keeper has tiny eyes with white pupils and this gives it a probing appearance.
The paint job, however, is unimpressive. The skin tones are monotonal and lack realistic shading or depth. The head veins are not accented noticeably and the medallion the Keeper wears is unpainted on mine, so it blends right in with the robe! Even the Keeper's robe is more gray than proper silver of the character.
The Keeper comes with four accessories, including the base, all of which was new for this figure! The Keeper comes with a Talosian viewscreen, Gas sprayer, Nourishment vial and the base. The Action base is a generic "Star Trek" delta symbol. In the center of the symbol, there is a peg which fits into the hole in either of the Keeper's feet! Unfortunately, even on the base, the figure tips over remarkably easy and as a result, many fans will be instantly disappointed. Because there is no articulation at the feet, the Keeper's posability is severely limited.
The Talosian viewscreen is little more than a flat box with a blank square in it that vaguely resembles the screen the Talosians used to spy on Pike with. It is cast in a terribly unrealistic yellow-orange plastic. A little larger than the other accessories, the Talosian viewscreen is not a choking hazard, though it is not quite big enough to be held by the Talosian in both hands, which it would need to support this.
The nourishment vial is a 1" long plastic bottle which is smooth and looks nothing like the vial seen in "The Cage." It is also too wide in diameter to be held by the Keeper.
Finally, there is the Gas Sprayer. This is a wand which also is too large to fit in either of the Keeper's hands. To add insult to that injury, it is cast in an ugly and utterly unrealistic yellow-orange plastic. Unfortunately, that's the way it is for all three of the Keeper's accessories; they are molded in a terribly unrealistic yellow-orange plastic. They feature no coloring accent work to make them match the coloring detail of the actual action figure. Clearly Playmates went through some effort to sculpt the accessories realistically, but the coloring minimizes the sense of realism and may clash with the coloring of the figure.
Even so, Playmates included a trading card unique to the figure from SkyBox which attracted trading card collectors to this figure in addition to toy collectors. The oversized trading card features an image of the Keeper on the front in landscape orientation. The back has the story of the Keeper and it is informative in a very basic way.
The Keeper gutted Playmates' ability to say it was making good action figures. The figure did not balance on or off its stand and as such a tippable figure, it is a disappointing tribute for the 30th Anniversary. As well, the Keeper is pathetically inarticulate. The Keeper is endowed with only three points of articulation, at the shoulders and neck. All of the joints are simple swivel joints. As a result, the neck turns left to right, but the head cannot nod. The shoulders are not ball and socket joints and only rotate. Thus, all posing for the Keeper is straight-armed and it looks silly!
Playmates seemed to gauge about the right amount of interest for 1996 wave of Star Trek figures and the Keeper sold well-enough, arguably because fans did not know how bad the figure inside actually was. The figure has not appreciated in the subsequent fourteen years, though, because of how poorly the figure was received by those who opened it and because Meg Wylie, who played the Keeper was deceased before the figure was released and could not be on the convention circuit signing them.
That said, at least Playmates tried to make the figures collectible. Each figure has an individual number on a sticker on the package. In the attempt to make them appear limited, they had numbers on the package, though one has to seriously wonder how limited something should be considered when there are at least 1600 figures out there (my the Keeper is #001579!).
The Keeper figure is a poor action figure, despite a generally decent sculpt, but the accessory coloring and the fact none of it fits into the figure's hands, knocks the figure down into below average territory.
For other Star Trek figures and toys, please check out my reviews of:
Dr. McCoy In Dress Uniform
U.S.S. Enterprise with lights and sounds
Swashbuckling Sulu & Chekov Minimates
For other toy reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.