Thursday, July 21, 2011

Off Balance And Esoteric, Captain Picard As A Romulan Sinks As A Figure!

The Good: Good idea, Good general accessories
The Bad: Balance issues, Lame accessory coloring, Very specific and limited, Low articulation
The Basics: This is an easy Captain Picard figure to pass by as it tips easily and is poorly articulated.

The Playmates Star Trek: The Next Generation toy line suffered as it continued for several reasons, not the least of which was the fact that there were a limited number of ways the heroes could be presented and a similarly limited number of adversaries. The television series, being much more philosophical than action-based had problems constructing villains for the toy line that were either unique or compelling as action figures. As a result, several of the heroes were mined for all they were worth with numerous versions of Worf, Data and Picard being released. Arguably the worst Picard figure - despite being a decent idea - was the Captain Picard As A Romulan action figure by Playmates.

The Captain Picard As A Romulan figure was at least the fourth figure to use Patrick Stewart's likeness. Picard As A Romulan featured Captain Picard as he looked when he went, disguised, on a mission to Romulus. This Picard was released only once, as part of the first and second wave of the 7th Collector's series of Star Trek: The Next Generation figures. This Picard was part of the first release of eight figures and was continued part of the full line-up that was ultimately over twenty figures in the 1994 7th Season Collector Series.


The Star Trek: The Next Generation 7th Season Collection of action figures broadened the line away from the main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, at least in their instantly recognizable forms, and was largely composed of figures that would end up as pegwarmers because of the specificity of the toys. Despite the popularity within the culture of Star Trek fans, Captain Picard As A Romulan was in no way a mainstream success and was exactly the type of pegwarmer that sat around until it was clearanced, after the initial buy-up by fans of the series. This Captain Picard is fairly popular with the fans, but objectively is a rather poor action figure from the costume and accessory detailing to the inability to balance.

The Captain Picard As A Romulan figure is the Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise "As Seen In The 'Unification' Episode" in his undercover outfit from the episode "Unification, Part I" (reviewed here!). Only those who have seen the episode are likely to "get" the figure, what it represents and who it is even of, as the face is not Patrick Stewart's recognizable visage, though when one knows Stewart plays the role, they will be able to pick out the facial detailing of Stewart from this figure. Fans are likely to appreciate that Playmates bothered with making this figure . . . unless they opened the package.

Standing four and three-quarters inches tall, this is a decent likeness of Captain Jean-Luc Picard as he was disguised to infiltrate the Romulan people. The character is molded with his fingers in a half-grip position which allow the figure to hold almost all of his accessories in either hand. There is almost no level of costume detailing, made worse by the fact that the Romulan costume is a very simple one. So, this is essentially a big brown cloak with a Romulan-ized Picard head on it. The cloak has ripples molded into it and the hood is molded down, but it is uniformly colored and utterly bland.

Picard's face is molded with the Romulan forehead ridges and Romulan ears. There is only the texture detailing on the ridges, no coloring definition along them. As well, there is a lack of facial coloring detail for this Picard. Even his lips are not pink! His flesh tones lack any subtlety or shading, it essentially looks like he dusted himself in sand - his skin tones are much darker than the usual Picard. The figure includes such important details as Picard's eyebrows molded into the plastic, though the face and hair lack any sense of realistic toning and this Picard has hair that is short and lacking in any highlights. This Picard has the standard Romulan hairdo, compliments of Mr. Mott's hairpiece.

The paint job is mediocre at best. The skin tones are monolithic brown and lack any shading or subtlety. Mine had paint blobs at the eyebrows and eyeballs.


Captain Picard As A Romulan comes with five accessories, plus a SkyCap, a collectible pog: A Romulan disruptor, Federation PADD, Federation tricorder, Federation make-up kit and an action base shaped like a Romulan symbol. That Captain Picard As A Romulan comes with mostly Romulan equipment makes sense, as he had only Romulan equipment - outside his make-up kit - in "Unification." The Romulan Action base is not quite enough to support Picard and is a black and blue Romulan bird-of-prey symbol with a little black sticker that reads "Picard" to help keep it straight from the other figures. The center of the base has a peg which fits into the hole in either of Picard's feet!

The Romulan Disruptor is poorly detailed, basically being a little black plastic piece in the shape of a disruptor with a beam extending two inches out from it. It is identical to the disruptor that came with the initial Romulan and Sela figures. The beam is a nice touch, but it is inappropriately colored red - the Romulan weapons fire green beams. The figure is able to hold the disruptor in either hand and it looks equally plausible in either grip . . . save problems from the articulation issues.

The make-up kit was used in the episode to hold Picard's prosthetics while he and Data were aboard the Klingon bird of prey en route to Romulus. This is a one and a half-inch box with a handle that only fits in Picard's left hand. The case does not open and is basically a ribbed little box. It is pretty bland.

The other two accessories - the tricorder and PADD - are not at all specific to this figure. Instead, they are the same molds of tricorders and PADDs used in prior releases. They have the general shape - boxes with buttons - of the proper devices, but are utterly lacking in realistic coloring details or even surface details that have proper buttons or screen displays. Neither of these accessories fit in Picard's left hand. All four of these accessories (not the base) are cast in a nauseating pink plastic that looks nothing like any equipment seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The 7th Season line of Playmates action figures also comes with a fairly cool SkyBox Space Cap pog/card unique to the action figures. The Captain Picard As A Romulan pog features a tiny headshot of Picard with a space field that is mostly purple. The back of the Space Cap has a checklist and the character's name, but nothing else.


Captain Picard As A Romulan became one of the first figures to start gutting the Playmates toy line on the quality front. This Picard is not a terrible sculpt, but it cannot stand unaided and when plugged into its base it is still strangely top-heavy and tips over unless the arms are kept straightened. Captain Picard As A Romulan is endowed with only five points of articulation: elbows, shoulders, and neck. This is hugely disappointing for those used to Playmates's toys usual high level of toy articulation. The stiff cloak, though, makes waist and leg articulation a moot point. There are only the barest hints of Picard's boots sticking out from under the cloak, so no leg articulation was needed or practical. All of the joints, save the elbows, 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.

For use with actual play, Picard As A Romulan may bend or extend at the elbows, which offers a greater amount of movement potential making him one of the more realistic Star Trek action figures to play with (for those who actually play with these toys!). This articulation, though, is somewhat pointless as it tips over constantly.


Playmates mass produced the first few waves of Star Trek: The Next Generation figures, so this Picard is virtually worthless. Found loose for less than a dollar these days, this Picard can often be found for less than $5.00 (which was even less than its original issue price in 1994!), largely because this figure was from a series that appealed to such a small niche of collectors and Playmates flooded the market with them. They are almost impossible to use as investment pieces.

That said, at least Playmates tried to make the figures collectible. Each figure has an individual number on the bottom of his left 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 108,000 figures out there (my Picard is #107989!).


Captain Picard as a Romulan is a good idea, poorly executed. Barely recognizable as Picard, his Romulan persona tips over and is accessorized with ridiculously colored equipment.

For other Star Trek: The Next Generation action figure reviews, check out my opinions on:
Data In Dress Uniform
Esoqq Of Chalnoth
Geordi In Dress Uniform


For other toy reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

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

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