Tuesday, November 29, 2011

As Much As We Might Want The Playmates Jem'Hadar Figure To Be The Definitive One...

The Good: Good sculpt, Interesting accessories, Decent balance and poseability
The Bad: Accessory coloring issues, Lack of highlighting details on the figure
The Basics: A powerful adversary for the toys from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Jem'Hadar figure is good, but not great.

There are very few villains in the Star Trek universe that it would be appropriate to bulk up on for action figures. However, Jem'Hadar soldiers are one of the few and yet not all toy companies that have made Star Trek figures have actually made a Jem'Hadar soldier. Playmates made two and it astonished me to realize that it has taken me this long to get to the standard 4.5" rendition of the Jem'Hadar figure. It is so surprising for me because I reviewed the 6" Jem'Hadar figure quite some time ago and found myself wishing Art Asylum would make a Jem'Hadar figure already!

For those unfamiliar with the alien race, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the mysterious Dominion was first explicitly encountered in the episode "The Jem'Hadar" (reviewed here! ). The alien race was soon revealed to be the drug-controlled warriors of the Dominion genetically bred into the service of the Founders. Because they are generally indiscriminate killing machines, one can never have too many Jem'Hadar soldiers for play or display!

Unfortunately, the 1996 Jem'Hadar action figure was underdetailed in the toy line and it leaves much to be desired. Still, as the only 5" Jem'Hadar figure, it does flesh out the full Star Trek universe surprisingly well.


The Star Trek 1996 Collection of action figures contained figures from Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager and the drive for collectors was to find one of the limited "Tapestry" Picard figures, with little attention paid to most of the other figures in the assortment, like the Jem'Hadar. Even though there were so a lot of Jem'Hadar figures produced at the time, the Jem'Hadar soldier sold generally well. This figure was never a pegwarmer because it had a collectible trading card. Card collectors hunted the SkyBox trading card exclusive to the action figure, which helped sell the stock that action figure collectors did not buy.

The Jem'Hadar figure is the alien soldier as any of them appeared in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Jem'Hadar soldiers were shown universally in their Dominion uniforms with the gray and dark purple colorschemes. The outfit has appropriate textures and the appearance of weapons molded into the dark patches on the uniform, though there are no real coloring details.

Standing five inches tall, this is a decent likeness - though under-detailed likeness - of Jem'Hadar immortalized in plastic. The alien is molded with his hands ready to hold any of his accessories in a half-closed position. His legs have an action-oriented stance, like he is ready to run or punch his way through the enemies. Even so, he has pretty decent balance and his pose is not as aggressive as the 6" casting of the figure. There is a decent level of uniform detailing, including the ketracel-white tube going from his chest to his neck. Unfortunately, that tube is not colored white and it looks unrealistic as a result. The sculpting details are pretty good through the hands, where Jem'Hadar has both molded scales and molded fingernails, even if he lacks distinct knuckles!

The Jem'Hadar's face is molded in an arrogant, faint smile, almost like the Jem'Hadar is perpetually lording his own power over all of the other action figures. This characterizes well the Jem'Hadar's aggressive nature. These were aggressive characters and between the stance and the facial detailing, the Jem'Hadar looks like an angry adversary, which suits him well. The Jem'Hadar figure is sculpted with the usual forehead horns and spikes and these lack painted accents, which is completely disappointing.

The paint job is fair, definitely less impressive than the molded details, especially for the face. The skin tones are monotonal purple with no shading or subtlety. The figure's lips are dark purple and Jem'Hadar's eyes are brown with white pupils, which is disturbing. Sadly, the lack of accents on the horned ridge of his skull makes the Jem'Hadar soldier look like he was rushed to market. Also, the Jem'Hadar's hair looks well molded, but lacks accents to make it look realistically like hair, even if Playmates managed to mold the ponytail right.


The Jem'Hadar comes with four accessories, including the base, most of which were new for this sculpting! The Jem'Hadar comes with a Jem'Hadar pistol, a Jem'Hadar rifle, a Jem'Hadar knife and the base. The Action base is a wormhole base which was used on several figures. The 2 1/2" in diameter ovular base features a sticker with the open wormhole on it. Offset on one side of the base is a peg which fits into the hole in either of the Jem'Hadar's feet! When the Jem'Hadar stands flatfooted on the stand, he is stable for balance and has a decent, neutral display appearance. The base is also enough to support Jem'Hadar in more outlandish poses, which is nice.

The Jem'Hadar pistol is a very cool inch-long beam weapon gun. This features the handle guard and that actually makes it look more aggressive in either of the Jem'Hadar's figure's hands! This is molded with extensive detailing on the body and barrel of the gun, though the Jem'Hadar pistol is unrealistically cast in purple plastic.

The Jem'Hadar rifle is similarly menacing-looking based on the molded details of the weapon. This 2 1/4" long pulse rifle features two grips, which allows the Jem'Hadar soldier to hold it in a menacing two-handed grasp. The Jem'Hadar rifle has a blocking and contained feeling to it that makes it seem solid and dangerous.

Finally, there is the Jem'Hadar knife. The knife is an example of a good idea poorly rendered. In one episode that featured a Jem'Hadar youth, the boy used a curved blade which had a short hilt and a long knife edge perpendicular to the hilt. It was a fairly cool weapon. This plastic rendition of the blade, which is only 1" long would be cool if it weren't cast in a purple plastic that made it look entirely ridiculous.

Unfortunately, that's the way it is for all four of Jem'Hadar's accessories; they are molded in a terribly unrealistic purple plastic, but then features no accent work to make them match the coloring detail of the actual action figure. Clearly Playmates went through some effort to sculpt the accessories realistically, but the coloring minimizes the sense of realism and clashes with the coloring of the figure.

Even so, Playmates included a trading card unique to the figure from SkyBox which attracted trading card collectors to this figure in addition to toy collectors. The trading card is a movie-sized card which has a shot of a Jem'Hadar soldier in a landscape orientation with a purple background. The image is big and clear, even if the card size is irregular! The back has general information on the Jem'Hadar, but it is still a pretty cool card!


The Jem'Hadar soldier continued a generally high level quality from Playmates and he was quite good at the time, pleasing collectors and fans alike. The Jem'Hadar is appropriately stiff, but has decent posability. Jem'Hadar is endowed with twelve points of articulation: knees, groin socket, biceps, elbows, shoulders, neck, and waist. All of the joints, save the elbows and knees, are simple swivel joints. As a result, the neck turns left to right, but the head cannot nod. The Jem'Hadar's head is inhibited some in its movement by the ketracel-white tube embedded in his throat, which prevents the figure's head from moving more than a few degrees. As well, the shoulders are not ball and socket joints and only rotate. Still, Playmates dealt with this limitation by having a swivel joint in the bicep, that allows everything below to turn and offers real decent posability!

Moreover, for use with actual play, Jem'Hadar 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!). On his base, the Jem'Hadar is exceptionally stable, even in the most ridiculous poses. He actually looks very aggressive and ready for battle in his innate pose, which is appropriate for the soldier!


Playmates seemed to gauge about the right amount of interest for 1996 wave of Star Trek figures and the Jem'Hadar sold fairly well, probably because fans bought more than one for their play and display purposes. Even so, this figure has not appreciated much since his initial release almost fifteen years ago.

That said, at least 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 20,000 figures out there (my Jem'Hadar is #019915!).


The Jem'Hadar figure is a good figure, but the accessory coloring easily robs the figure of perfection and the lack of painted details is also troubling for a sculpt that was so well made. Even so, most fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and of the Jem'Hadar in general will want one (or more) of these for their collection!

For other Star Trek figures from the 1996 line, please check out my reviews of:
Odo From “Necessary Evil”
The Hunter Of The Tosk
Jean-Luc Picard As Seen In “Tapestry”


For other toy reviews, please check out my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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