The Good: NONE! (Seriously!)
The Bad: Small, Pointless, Not collectible, Poor playability, Poor likeness, Expensive
The Basics: One of the worst toys makes a poor recreation of two Star Trek characters who are virtually unrecognizable in this form; Sulu and Chekov Minimates flop!
Every now and then, I take delight in panning something completely and having suffered through the Battle Damaged Captain Kirk and the Gorn Minimate two pack (click here for that review!) a while back, I found myself eager to review a Minimate set that was even worse. I got the opportunity when the Sulu (Swashbuckler Variant) and Chekov two-pack crossed my desk. This is just too terrible a toy to not completely shred!
For those unfamiliar with this pointless phenomenon, "Minimates" are two-inch tall action figures that instantly remind one of the people that populate the Lego world (the toy people in Lego sets, not the people who collect Legos!). Someone, apparently, decided that major franchises like Star Trek, Marvel comics and DC comics should not limit their toy production to highly-detailed action figures that push the envelope of quality, but ought to also corner the market on pure crap that looks nothing like the supposed subject of the toy.
In the Star Trek line, Diamond Select has taken over peddling these things that take the company from being the one remembered for doing body scans of actors in costume to guarantee realism to cheap tagalongs on the worst of toy trends. At least they come from Diamond Select in two-packs, so it's not as expensive as some Minimate toys. This does not make them better, but they at least seem to try a little harder over at Diamond Select. In this case, they have released a two pack with Ensign Chekov and the shirtless, ripped Sulu with his fencing sword. Sulu, looking all manly and bare-chested, is as he appeared under the influence of a mind-altering disease in the Star Trek episode "The Naked Time.” The Chekov Minimate has the big hair which makes one suspect that he is supposed to be one of the earliest Chekov appearances, like in "Catspaw.” The two-pack of Chekov and Sulu generally sells in the $10 - $15 range and it is not worth a penny of that.
Sulu, great crazed, shirtless officer that he is, bears no resemblance to George Takei's Sulu. In fact, the only way this Minimate is at all recognizable outside his packaging is by process of elimination: only two Star Trek human characters appeared shirtless on Star Trek and this one has eyes that are more almond shaped, so it is probably not Captain Kirk. Therefore, it must be Sulu. As far as the coloring goes, though, Sulu is presented as disturbingly caucasian in his skin tones which makes one wonder if Diamond Select is just incompetent with these figures or if they preferred a colorblind approach to anything remotely resembling accuracy. That said, if one needed a bare-chested Minimate that looked like it was a Marvel superhero without being one, the shirtless Sulu might well be the way to go!
But the laughably bad figure in this two-pack is easily the Ensign Chekov one. This Chekov minimate is a two inch tall piece of plastic that vaguely resembles Chekov. More accurately, it looks like any generic yellow-shirt on Star Trek. It could be Kirk on a bad hair day, it could be Ensign Background or Replacement Helm Guy. This toy has no sophistication and the face - which one supposes is supposed to define this Minimate as Chekov - is basically a series of squiggle lines on a generic cylindrical head. Outside the packaging, there is nothing to define this as Chekov in any clear way and this toy is most like the Lego figures that people recall from their childhood.
The Chekov figure comes with an open communicator accessory. The communicator is quite small - less than half an inch long - and how this escaped the toy censors who monitor for choking hazards, we'll never know. Perhaps this is (snicker) considered a collectible instead of a toy. As it is, one suspects the communicator had to be open, lest it be too small to either fit in the minimate's hand or be lost even easier than it already is.
As for the Sulu minimate, he comes with a 1 1/4" rapier that falls easily from the figure's hand. The long, thin sword is made of stiff plastic and seems like it is ideal only for ending up in the mouths of toddlers and necessitating trips to the hospital. It is appropriately colored with gray plastic which is otherwise unremarkable as an accessory.
The figures are articulated, I have to give Diamond Select that; the head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, knees and thigh-socket are all articulated. Given, however, the way the feet are essentially little blocks, the leg articulation does little as far as posability of the figure. It needs to be stood flatfooted in order to remain up and as a result, the knee and thigh articulation are a bit of a waste.
Which leads to the question of playability. I don't get the point of this figure. Sure, you can pose the Sulu, ready to poke Ensign Chekov. Without any other Minimates, there is limited playability here. The scale is prohibitive for playing with others and the posability is pretty rotten for simply displaying. As far as a toy goes, this basically seems like an ideal toy for a young child to pick up, pop in their mouth and get lodged there as a result of the limb articulation.
I tend to look at the Star Trek toy lines through the eyes of a collector. As a fan of the Star Trek franchise, toys from Star Trek that I've collected have to be pretty special and, well, collectible. I'm not sure what makes minimates collectible other than that Trek-fans are told they can collect them. In any case, the best collectibles remind the buyer of the subject of the collectible. The best collectible toys rock because of the realism to the likeness of the character they are supposed to represent and articulation. Quite simply, the best collectible toys are the most striking likenesses of the characters they represent for collectors and great articulation for those who bother to take it out of the pack for play enthusiasts or those who want to actually display their figures.
The Chekov and Sulu minimates are neither limited nor an incredible likeness. As it is, the scale is too small for the minimate to create any realistic likeness and the generic expression on the same cylindrical head as every other Minimate lacks any real definition that would define the characters outside the color of their skin and neither one has much in the way of realistic skin tones. The figures are articulated at twelve points, much of that articulation is pointless and cannot be used to pose the toy for displays in intriguing fashions.
Chekov and Sulu are decent characters, but this incarnation of both of them they are weak, poorly rendered and not at all worth one's time, attention or money. If, however, one is into collecting bland Star Trek themed merchandise or weird bare-chested guys with the most defined abs in the galaxy, this might be for you, but for the rest of us - who want quality collectibles and toys - these should be avoided.
For other Star Trek toy reviews, please check out my takes on:
Playmates U.S.S. Enterprise toy
Dr. McCoy in Dress Uniform figure
Funko Spock Wacky Wobbler
For other toy reviews, please be sure to check out my index page! There are lists, updated daily, of my reviews simply by clicking here!
© 2010, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.