Thursday, July 28, 2011

Valuable Recycled Picard: "Tapestry Picard" Is Playmates' Legacy Of Ridiculous.

The Good: Limited and rare, Interesting concept
The Bad: All Recycled parts, Inconsistent incentives with rest of line, Lame accessories.
The Basics: The Tapestry Picard figure has long been a coveted rarity, but time (and objectivity) have proven this to be a sad, recycled action figure!

I remember 1995 and 1996 in Star Trek collecting. In 1995, I was in college, I was holding down three jobs to pay my tuition and expenses and I was collecting a load of Star Trek collectibles. In fact, I was excited about the Star Trek toy line and I was an avid collector. In 1996, I was still in college, still juggling three jobs (though two of the jobs were different by summer), but I was no longer collecting Star Trek action figures. The "Tapestry Picard," as the Captain Picard As Seen In The Episode "Tapestry" was commonly known, was the reason why.

And it was not because I did not have one. I, in fact, lucked out and found myself in custody of two, thanks entirely to my partner at the time. As I cycled around Binghamton or bummed rides late at night, she drove to every store in the Rochester area to try to get her hands on this extraordinarily limited action figure. Her luck was much better than mine and she snagged two of these rare collectibles. But the Picard As Seen In "Tapestry" figure is far less remarkable than it is valuable and, in fact, this represents an unfortunate trend toward the lazy and dumb on the part of Playmates Toys. Those who managed to snag Tapestry Picards are ultimately ending up with egg on their faces. The value of the figure from its rarity has plummetted and those who are trying now to unload them are discovering that there was little or no inherent value in them.


The Star Trek 1995 Collection of action figures hit markets with a generic Star Trek card back (gone were the individual shows each getting a different back) and a new collecting threat from Playmates Toys: a series of three exceptionally rare action figures released with each wave. The first, the Tapestry Picard, was limited to 1701 pieces and it sent Trekkers and toy collectors on a feeding frenzy that soon saw the value of this figure skyrocketing. Captain Picard As Seen In The Episode "Tapestry" never had the chance to become a pegwarmer. He was found in so few cases of action figures that only those hunting for him found him and because of his soaring value, this Picard was almost never looked at closely by fans for them to realize and acknowledge that he was pretty much a recycled piece of crap.

The Captain Picard "As Seen In The Episode 'Tapestry'" is supposed to be the cadet (lieutenant j.g.) in his maroon outfit from the episode "Tapestry" (reviewed here!). Only those who have seen the episode are likely to "get" the figure, what it represents. Only those who are die-hard fans of the series will recognize that it does not quite live up to what it claims to be and only astute action figure collectors will note where this figure is from. Yes, this is Picard, recycled. Were it not for its rarity, it would be such an obvious disappointment that far more fans would have abandoned collecting these figures sooner.

Standing four and one-half inches tall, this is a decent likeness of Captain Jean-Luc Picard as he appeared on Earth in a Q flashback wherein Picard is taught a very valuable lesson. Actually, this Picard is woefully inadequate as he is simply a recycled action figure. The body is from the Generations Chekov figure and the head is the standard Picard action figure head. The head looks no different from that on the Galen figure from the same line.

Picard's face is molded with the trademark bald head and back hair ridge, but there is no real detail. Picard's eyebrows are jet black and his eyes are a passionless brown with white pupils. The laziness of Playmates is epitomized in this figure by the fact that his lips are not pink. His flesh tones lack any subtlety or shading. But for fans of the action figures and the Star Trek: The Next Generation series, this is a terrible figure. In the episode, Picard was taken back to his Academy days. In that era of Star Trek, the uniforms were the same as in the Star Trek films (well, two through six anyway). Rank insignias were on a pin on a special cloth bar on the shoulder. Because this is simply a figure recycled from another, this figure has the wrong rank pin and color of position cloth!

The paint job is mediocre at best. The skin tones are monolithic light tan and lack any shading or subtlety. Otherwise, the maroon uniform looked pretty well done and the painting details on such things as the pin on Picard's chest looked good.


Captain Picard From "Tapestry" comes with a sad five accessories, all recycled. Unlike the other figures in this line, the Tapestry Picard was not given a trading card. The gold bar trading cards from SkyBox which were included in most every figure in this line - save the others made of recycled parts! - was not included with this Picard. The accessories this figure did have were a three-dimensional chess board, a tricorder, a StarFleet duffel, a dom-jot stick and a StarFleet Action Base. The StarFleet Action base is more than enough to support Picard and is a gold and silver StarFleet delta 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 dom-jot cue is a ridiculously simple two-inch rod with two different diameters. This is essentially a pool cue and the variation here is that the dom-jot sticks look more collapsible. The accessory, though, does not. The Tapestry Picard may fit the stick in either hand, but not both at the same time, which lessens how cool it might appear to those who want to pose Picard in a pose like he was in in "Tapestry."

The three-dimensional chess board is a simple four level gaming table with a few pieces molded onto it. The chess board looks ridiculous in Picard's hand and may only be held by the spine that connects the boards. Rather obviously, this is a left over from the Spock figure's accessories.

The tricorder is a three-quarter inch dark purple molded plastic device that fits awkwardly into either of Picard's hands. This accessory looks utterly ridiculous. It is underdetailed and is pretty much only recognizable to fans of the Star Trek: The Next Generation series.

The duffel bag is perfectly appropriate for this Picard, as he spent part of the episode packing to leave the Academy and go to his first starship posting. The cylinder is connected to a thin plastic strap which allows Picard to have the accessory strapped over his shoulder. The blue plastic has a white StarFleet emblem silkscreened onto it and it looks good, though it does not open.

Unfortunately, all of these accessories are molded in a dark blue plastic that is utterly lacking in realistic coloring detail. Given that one of the accessories cannot even be held, Picard is over-accessorized and with the lame coloring of the accessories, it is tough to get excited about this.


Captain Picard As Seen In The Episode "Tapestry" was part of a spiraling into dismal quality that Playmates began with the Generations line (the figures did not resemble the uniforms from Star Trek: Generations and they had less flexibility than earlier Star Trek figures. Unfortunately, this Picard figure is appallingly balanced and as a result, without his base he is quite a challenge to stand up. The Tapestry Picard is underwhelmingly gifted with only six points of articulation: groin socket, shoulders, neck, and waist. All of the joints 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. This figure does not even have the usual bicep or elbow articulation, making it quite disappointing for play or display.


Playmates mass produced the first few waves of Star Trek: The Next Generation figures, but by the time they made it to this figure, they were limiting them quite a bit more. In fact, this Picard figure was strictly limited to 1701 pieces! As a result, this figure's value has skyrocketed . . . and now fallen. Because there was a backlash by collectors who wanted this figure, but were not fortunate enough to find it given how very limited it was, Playmates later would release a three pack of all three limited edition figures and that gutted the market for this cheap, recycled figure.

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 1701 figures out there (my Picard is #000449!).


This Picard is an excellent idea - the episode "Tapestry" is very popular - but here Playmates scrimped and saved on the production cost and a lot of people made money and got out with this recycled, somewhat unbalanced figure. Given that Playmates made the decision to make such a limited figure, one supposes that the least they could have done for the super limited figure was to actually make it accurately and make it so it could stand. Unfortunately, this is a valuable figure whose peak came and went and now collectors are left with a generally lousy figure that no longer is justified by the initial hunt and is hardly unique.

For other Star Trek: The Next Generation figures from Playmates Toys, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Captain Picard As A Romulan


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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