Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Terrible Balance, Very Average Everything Else, Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge In Dress Uniform Flops!

The Good: Generally decent sculpt, Good articulation, Decent sculpt on accessories
The Bad: Balance is terrible, Hand molding allows accessories to fall easily.
The Basics: Easily tipped over, the Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge In Dress Uniform looks good, though is light on human surface details and is an early dud from Playmates.

Sometimes, the obscurity of an action figure sculpt is obvious, like one where one walks into the store, sees the new toy and says "That doesn't look anything like X!" With Star Wars. toys, at least, this is a pretty obvious thing and I've been pleased to note concept figures in Hasbro's Star Wars. toy line where I am able to walk into the store and say, "That's new; it wasn't in any of the movies." But there are action figures that look right and become baffling to fans and collectors only when they take a moment to actually consider them. Tonight I am there because of the Star Trek: The Next Generation action figure line and the Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge action figure.

I'm finding myself miffed because rationally, I know that Geordi La Forge appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation in his dress uniform (there's a picture of him in it with the figure as part of the exclusive SkyBox trading card). But when I tried to figure out an example to cite where Geordi La Forge actually wore his dress uniform. I ended up finding it; despite numerous occasions he ought to have worn one, he wore the stiff, tube-like uniform during the wedding scene in "Data's Day" (reviewed here!). Beyond that, it is exceptionally difficult to find examples of Geordi in his dress uniform (there are, for example, no trading cards of him in it outside the one in this action figure), despite there being two Geordi In Dress Uniform figures from Playmates!


The Star Trek: The Next Generation 1993 Series of action figures contained twenty-three figures released in two waves and the Geordi In Dress Uniform was released in the first wave of sixteen figures in that assortment. This collection focused more on the supporting and background characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation as opposed to the main crew. Still, there were two Geordi La Forge figures in the assortment. The Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge In Dress Uniform is the Chief Engineer of the U.S.S. Enterprise N.C.C. 1701-D as he appeared in the infrequent plots which required him to use a dress uniform. This figure was the more popular of the two Geordi's in the assortment and it has La Forge in his more recognizable yellow uniform. Still, it was never a big seller (though it was more popular and a better seller than the Lieutenant (j.g.) Geordi La Forge figure from the same assortment - in his first season red uniform).

Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge In Dress Uniform appears in the standard Engineering colored uniform, but in the style of the Dress uniform as opposed to the duty uniform. What this means in most obvious terms is that Geordi's outfit is not designed to look like a one-piece uniform. Instead, it is a formal gold uniform which has a stiff shirt, almost like a dress that ends right below the groin. Playmates recreates this pretty faithfully, though they gave Geordi a twisting joint at the waist, which they broke the outfit for (it actually comes at about the figure's abs); the usual striking, solid one piece is then split by a joint!

Standing four and one-half inches tall, this is a generally decent likeness of Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge immortalized in plastic. The character is molded in a stiff, formal pose, though the head is the same head that had been used on prior Geordi figures. The character is recognizable from his VISOR and flattop haircut. There is a decent level of uniform detailing, from the communicator on his chest to the extended piping which goes around the whole collar and into the shoulder. As well, the figure includes the pips in the correct place on the shoulder. Ironically, this is where the paint job is excellent; there are actually four pips molded into the figure's body, but only three are visible because of the way they are painted (which is appropriate). Geordi's eyes under the VISOR are appropriately white and pupil-less and the stiffer posture of the figure fits the concept of wearing a dress uniform. Still, the face and hair lack any sense of realistic toning.

The paint job is fair, but not realistic for a human being. The skin tones are monolithic brown and lack any shading or subtlety. There is no shading to the hair, either, so Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge In Dress Uniform looks like he has burned noodles on his head as much as he might appear to have hair. The uniform is appropriately colored and the figure looks good in that respect, down to the piping at the bottom of the figure's pants. There, though, it is quite possible the legs were recycled from an earlier figure.


Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge In Dress Uniform comes with only five accessories and a trading card and these are generally good for the figure. The accessories are: a StarFleet desktop viewer, a type II hand phaser, a tricorder, a plaque of medals and an action base shaped like a StarFleet Symbol. That Geordi LaForge comes with more equipment than weapons makes a great deal of sense, as he would only wear the dress uniform for ceremonial occasions. The Action base is just enough to support Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge In Dress Uniform and is a StarFleet symbol appropriately colored in gold and silver-gray. The center of the symbol on the base has a peg which fits into the hole in either of La Forge's feet!

The Type II phaser is poorly detailed, basically being a little silver plastic piece in the shape of a phaser with a beam extending two inches out from it. While this makes play easier, it is a tough sell as far as detailing goes. The buttons and displays are molded into the weapon, but it is not colored appropriately. At least the phaser beam is colored pink, which is appropriate. The figure is not able to hold the phaser well in either hand due to the way the fingers are molded. Unfortunately, there was no way to connect the phaser to Geordi's belt when he is not holding it.

The tricorder is a three-quarter inch teal colored molded plastic device that fits awkwardly into Geordi’s hands. This accessory looks utterly ridiculous. The tricorder has realistic molding details, but does not open and close or have any sense of realistic coloring details for the buttons or panels.

The StarFleet Desk Monitor, or Personal Viewscreen, is an odd accessory for this action figure. While Geordi was frequently seen using one, this is usually seen on desks around the Enterprise, not in character's hands and never while Geordi was in his dress uniform. With the right arm movements, Geordi may hold his desk monitor - which looks very much like the ones on the show, save the coloring, and has a sticker to represent what is on the screen - in both hands, but he looks odd doing it.

The plaque of medals is a 1 1/8" long by 7/8" wide flat plastic chip that has a sticker with four (or eight) medals on it in brightly contrasting colors. This is a good concept accessory, but it does not fit in either of Geordi's hands and ultimately it looks quite ridiculous there because of the coloring of the base. There was a similar prop in the actual show, but it was used for Data and instead of being ridiculous-looking and plastic, it looked like hardwood. Playmates truly skimped on this one!

Unfortunately, all three of these accessories, outside the phaser, are molded in an inaccurate teal plastic that is utterly lacking in realistic coloring detail. Geordi In Dress Uniform is over-accessorized and with the lame coloring of the accessories, it is less exciting than it otherwise could be.

The 1993 line of Playmates action figures also comes with a very cool SkyBox trading card unique to the action figures. The Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge In Dress Uniform card features a big shot of Geordi's head and upper body with a warp field background that is quite striking. The back of the card has all sorts of vital information on La Forge and the figure is highly sought by card collectors who collected the cards and disposed of the figures. Interestingly, the repackage that used the SkyCap often had multiple cards in the bag behind the SkyCap, so it can often save collectors money to pick up the figures that way for the multiple cards!


Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge In Dress Uniform came early on in Playmates Toys's tenure with the Star Trek: The Next Generation toy line. As a result, the company was still trying to prove itself to fans and collectors. As such, they created a figure that was surprisingly articulate. Unfortunately, the figure has no ability to stand. Standing even on his base, Geordi tips over (this is one of the few Playmates Star Trek figures that actually tips over and takes the base with it! Rather inconceivably this figure appears to be too topheavy, despite it not having an unrealistically broad chest. Because of the curve of the StarFleet communicator symbol the figure stands on, with one foot plugged into the base, the other is actually suspended awkwardly over the base, causing it to tip. Rearranging the figure becomes problematic because there is no joint in the groin socket (it is entirely inflexible below that "dress!").

This Geordi figure is endowed with ten points of articulation: thighs, knees, elbows, shoulders, neck, and waist (abs). All of the joints, save the elbows and knees, are simple swivel joints. As a result, the neck turns left to right, for example, but the head cannot nod. Similarly, the shoulders are not ball and socket joints and only rotate, though this limitation is dealt with in the Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge In Dress Uniform figure by the swivel joint in the bicep.

For use with actual play, Geordi In Dress Uniform may bend or extend at the elbows, which offers a greater amount of movement potential, though the knee joint is somewhat ridiculous given the lack of flexibility in the groin socket. None of the weapons or equipment fit well in his hands as they are molded almost entirely open. The monitor and plaque of medals are both too big for a single hand and the phaser falls right out of either hand as well. The tricorder may be carefully balanced in his grip, but that falls out when Geordi falls over!


Playmates mass produced the first few waves of Star Trek: The Next Generation figures, but still Geordi In Dress Uniform seems to have held his value on the secondary market. This is one of the figures almost never found below its original issue price of $6.00, which puts it above several of its peers from the time. Playmates flooded the market with these figures and they are almost impossible to use as investment pieces, but this Geordi at least is not a losing proposition!

Playmates tried to make the figures collectible. Each figure has an individual number on the bottom of his right foot. In the attempt to make them appear limited, they had numbers stamped on them, though one has to seriously wonder how limited something should be considered when there are at least 200,000 figures out there (my Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge In Dress Uniform is numbered 199673!).


Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge In Dress Uniform is an obscure concept for a figure - Picard, Riker and Data all appeared more memorably in the Dress Uniform - and this figure is seriously hampered by the inability one has to get the figure to actually stand up. Add to that the terrible coloring of most of the accessories makes this figure pretty easy to pass by.

For other Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures, please check out my reviews of:
Galoob Lt. Worf


For other action figure reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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