Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another Pointless Minimate, Another Pointless Review: "Captain Kirk" In The Palm Of My Hand!

The Good: Decent articulation, umm . . . nice color scheme?
The Bad: Size, Terrible likeness, Poseability, Playability, Concept, Everything!
The Basics: In the continuing saga of lame minimates in the Star Trek line, Captain Kirk bursts onto the scene, immortalized as a pathetic two-inch icon with no resemblance reality.

One of my favorite places to visit is the Celestial Seasonings plant in Boulder, Colorado. I've been there twice now and I love their gift shop. There's a pretty cool tour of the plant and on that tour, the guide speaks at length about the different products created by Celestial Seasonings and how they differ. In Europe, smaller tea boxes with fewer teabags are marketed to the apartment-bound European crowd. It has something to do with space limitations and European cupboard design or standards. Perhaps the minimate craze that swept through the United States beginning a few years back is part of the same European ideals. After all, these lame "action figures" seem to be ideal for people for whom space is at a premium. Then again, I've always thought of Europeans as people of taste.

For those unfamiliar with the minimates concept, remember playing with Legos? You know how they eventually had people for the Legos? Well, minimates are a slightly larger (two inches tall as opposed to just one and a quarter) and a bit more articulate, but just about as good as far as their look. PA Distribution (Art Asylum and Diamond Select Toys) has the license to market Star Trek minimates, like the Dr. McCoy Minimate (reviewed here!) and I wonder why they sully their reputation with this product. Art Asylum revolutionized action figured using body scans for the most accurate possible action figures yet. Minimates, they seriously do look like little Lego figures or toddler's toys, even Captain Kirk.

Captain James T. Kirk of the original Star Trek (reviewed here!), the famed starship Captain is immortalized in plastic as a minimate (usually in a two-pack with Mr. Spock). The two pack is $6.50, making them affordable, but these are still seriously overpriced. This figure looks campy and it could be a toy of Captain Kirk, Ensign Chekov or - with the big hair - Elvis as Captain of the Enterprise. The only people not discriminatory enough to notice just how lame just how lame the toy is are toddlers, toddlers who are likely to stick the phaser in their mouth and swallow it.

The Captain Kirk minimate is a two inch tall piece of plastic that vaguely resembles Captain Kirk. How William Shatner signed off on this one, I'll probably never know. Then again, I suppose you don't need to pay someone for their likeness rights when their likeness is basically a series of squiggly lines on a generic cylindrical head. Honestly, outside the packaging there is nothing that distinctly makes this figure recognizable as the cultural icon we know and love as Captain Kirk. The blockish figure comes with the phaser accessory. The phaser is quite small - only about a third of an inch long - so it seems like it wouldn't be much of a choking hazard for young children, but I'm not one who would risk it to find out. Given how easily it falls out of Kirk's hand, I wouldn't recommend keeping it around little kids!

The figure is articulated, I have to give PA 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 poseability 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 Captain Kirk to look like he's running or move his arms into a dramatic phaser-firing position, but the scale is prohibitive for playing with others and the Poseability 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 Captain Kirk minimate is neither limited nor an even passable likeness. First, the toy looks nothing like Captain Kirk, save the bright yellow shirt (which was also worn by several other bridge officers!). Indeed, seeing this figure calls instantly to mind a joke from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials And Tribble-ations" when Chief O'Brien mistakes another middle-aged yellow shirt-wearing officer for Captain Kirk. Perhaps his historical reference was this minimate! 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 character. In short, this is a dud for the likeness department and were it not for description of the figure as "Captain Kirk," it could easily have been a minimate of Ensign Chekov. Or, again, with the big hair, it could be Snake (from The Simpsons) as Captain Kirk. Yeah, I love the big hair on this toy!

And while the figure is articulated at twelve points, much of that articulation is pointless and cannot be used to pose the toy for displays in intriguing fashions. The hands do not hold the accessory and that, too, limits the playability of the toy.

Sometimes, toymakers make something that catches on, but at the end of the day, it's just crap. Well, this is just crap and it's shameful that there's a market that inspires the creation of this sort of thing. If the United States is going to virtually enslave workers in foreign nations to make cheap toys or collectibles for our people, the least we could do is have them make cool things. This is not. And that's just tragic.

For other Mini-mates and small figures, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Swashbucking Sulu and Chekov Minimate Set
Gorn and Kirk Minimate Set
Kubricks Watchmen Set B


For other toy reviews, please click here to visit my index page!

© 2011, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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