Monday, November 21, 2011

The Big Man In The Orange Dress, The Vedek Bareil Antos Figure Stands Up!

The Good: Good coloring, Decent variety of accessories, Good balance, Rarity.
The Bad: Accessory coloring, Poor articulation, Sculpting issues.
The Basics: A decent figure, despite the coloring issues with the accessories and the jowly nature of the sculpt, the Vedek Bareil figure is good for fans!

Sometimes, I actually feel sorry for manufacturers of swag, like Playmates Toys. Playmates had the license to the Star Trek franchise in the 1990s when there were two different Star Trek series' on the air at any given point and the company seemed to feel pressured with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and, to a lesser extent, Star Trek: Voyager to come up with a decent variety of characters that would carry on the tradition for excellence that their Star Trek: The Next Generation line had established. And with only about a year's lead time, Playmates had to guess at who some of the significant characters might end up being. Unfortunately, sometimes they guessed wrong. As a result, in their second line of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine figures, Playmates produced a Vedek Bareil Antos action figure.

Vedek Bareil, for those who do not instantly recognize the character name, appeared in the penultimate episode of the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "In The Hands Of The Prophets" (reviewed here!). He became a recurring guest star in the second season before having one of the most dramatic exits from the series, maybe even the entire franchise, early in the third season. Unfortunately for Playmates, the plan to kill off Bareil was not run by them and by the time the figure was released, the character was not only dead, but very much buried.


The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 1995 Collection of action figures contained twelve figures and it focused on recasts of the primary command crew of space station Deep Space Nine, with a few recurring guest stars like Vedek Bareil fleshing out the line. In a line with several disappointing figures made of entirely recycled parts, like the Thomas Riker figure, Vedek Bareil stood out as a real value and was gobbled up by fans right away. Despite being an obscure character only die-hards were likely to know, the Vedek Bareil figures did not last. Vedek Bareil is a Bajoran spiritual leader who was cast in his Bajoran robes. The quality of this Vedek Bareil figure, the only Vedek Bareil action figure, did not prevent him from being bought up, arguably because most collectors never took him out of the package to find the figure's greatest flaws. In addition to action figure collectors, this toy was bought up by trading card enthusiasts because it features a SkyBox SpaceCap pog, which appealed to trading card collectors.

The Vedek Bareil figure is the Bajoran Vedek (if the Bajoran religious hierarchy were analogized to the Catholic church, he would be like a Cardinal) as he appeared in all of his appearances on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where he was shown wearing clothes. As a result, he is wearing the orange and red Vedek robes, which make him look like he's in a dress. The outfit is colored appropriately, which has Vedek Bareil unadorned by any pins or rank insignia, outside his ornate Bajoran earring in his right ear. This is a distinctive Bajoran figure and anyone who saw Vedek Bareil on the show would recognize the costume fairly easily.

Standing four and three-quarters inches tall, this is a fair likeness of Vedek Bareil immortalized in plastic. The character is molded with both hands half-closed, so he has a serene, meditative look or may be posed waving. Vedek Bareil's legs are entirely hidden beneath his robes, so the figure has feet attached at the ankles to the bottom of the robe, making it an exceptionally stable toy. The sculpting details are exceptionally light on most of this figure's costume and face. Rather extraordinarily, while the face has light coloring detailing and is a little more jowly than the actual character, Vedek Bareil Antos's hands have molded knuckle joints and fingernails.

Vedek Bareil's face is molded in a serene expression and, unfortunately, the toy's jaw is a bit fatter than the actual character's jaw was. The detailing on the figure's earring and Bajoran nose ridge are exceptional and they capture the surface details of Bareil Antos well. Vedek Bareil's head features the typical Bajoran earring. The hair, which on the character is feathered up, appears on the figure with minimal detailing for the molding, so it looks enough like hair to prevent one from accusing it of looking like a helmet.

The paint job is fair. The skin tones are monotonal white and outside the knuckles on the hands and Bajoran nose ridge, there is no realistic shading or depth to the skin. The figure's lips are unpainted and the hair is only monotonally brown. As well, Vedek Bareil's eyes are brown with white pupils which is unsettling. The orange robes are clean and have realistic ripples, but look like what they are; solid and plastic as opposed to flowing and real.


Vedek Bareil comes with only four accessories, including the base. Vedek Bareil comes with an orb case, snake in ceremonial encasement, candleholder and the base. The Action base is a Bajoran symbol. On the end opposite the ball on the symbol, near where that sticker is, there is a peg which fits into the hole in either of Vedek Bareil's feet! When Bareil stands flatfooted on the stand, he is stable for balance and has a decent, neutral display appearance. However, because there is only the one stance for Bareil (the feet don't truly move), Bareil Antos is as stable, if not more so, off his stand.

The other accessories Vedek Bareil comes with are specific to the episode "The Collaborator" (reviewed here!). In that episode, Vedek Bareil has visions from the Prophets while using an orb. In the temple where he has a vision of becoming Kai, he sees a snake being given to him in a giftbox. That temple is lit by candles, so the figure seems like it could be used to recreate those moments. Unfortunately, it is a very limited sense of what the recreation could be as the accessories are off-color and generally bear a better molded resemblance to the items they are supposed to be, as opposed to a well-rounded and well-colored resemblance.

The orb ark makes a lot of sense for a figure of Vedek Bareil. The Tears Of The Prophets, a Bajoran relic introduced in the pilot episode, are kept in ornate boxes and the Bareil Antos figure features one of these boxes. It will only precariously balance in Bareil's grasp with both hands under it. This is cast like the box, down to the jewels on the sides, but it is monotonally colored in dark purple plastic.

The candleholder is a 4" tall plastic rod which resembles well a giant, multi-tiered candleholder. The detailing on this is cool and one only wishes the colors were better. The flame, for example, is molded in the same color as the candle and the holder itself. The result is a somewhat clumsy execution of a good idea for an accessory, especially for those who use this figure in a display.

Finally, Bareil comes with a snake in ceremonial encasement. This is essentially a 3/4" in diameter coiled snake molded into the bottom of a very simple 1 1/4" in diameter simple disc that vaguely resembles a hatbox. This "encasement" comes with an equally simple cover which pops on or off to obscure or reveal the snake in the box. Sadly, the snake and the box are cast in the purple plastic which looks nothing like the prop or a real snake.

This is the unfortunate aspect of all three of Vedek Bareil Antos's accessories; they are molded in an unrealistic dark purple plastic which looks unlike what any of the props looked like on the show. 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. Bareil is over-accessorized and with the lame coloring of the accessories, it is a bit of a drawback for the overall figure.

Despite only having the three accessories, Playmates included a pog unique to the figure from SkyBox which attracted trading card collectors to this figure in addition to toy collectors. The SpaceCap has a headshot of Vedek Bareil with a wormhole image behind him. The back has a checklist of all of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine figures that were intended to have pogs come with them. While this is a fairly unremarkable pog, the added incentive did generate interest with card collectors.


Vedek Bareil illustrates a fair level of quality from Playmates, at a time when many of their Star Trek figures were being produced with lower standards, Vedek Bareil came out looking average. While other characters were either uninspired sculpts or made entirely of recycled parts, Bareil was a fair sculpt made almost completely immobile in order to make the character in his robes work. Vedek Bareil, one of the few completely original figures in this assortment, balances exceptionally well and it is virtually untippable on or off his base. Vedek Bareil is endowed with only nine points of articulation and some of them are ridiculous. Bareil rotates at the: ankles, biceps, elbows, shoulders, and neck. All of the joints, save the elbows, are simple swivel joints. As a result, the neck turns left to right, but the head cannot nod. 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 poseability! The ankles, though, are weird and the feet turn at the bottom of Bareil's robes, but they look pretty silly there.

Vedek Bareil may bend or extend at the elbows, which makes up for the fact that the bulk of the figure is a solid plastic piece. On his base, Vedek Bareil is stable enough and he can be posed well for action. He looks good and remains standing on his base flatfooted.


Arguably because of the generally decent sculpt and coloring of the actual figure, Playmates made an investment winner with Vedek Bareil. The figure was not terribly common and each case had only one to two of the figure. As the only Vedek Bareil figure, fans bought it right up and it has doubled in value (or more) in the secondary market. Even so, one suspects that when Art Asylum gets around to making a Vedek Bareil this figure's value will waver.

On the plus side, 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 12,500 figures out there (my Vedek Bareil is #012113!).


The Vedek Bareil figure is a fair addition to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine figure line and his inclusion prevented Playmates, apparently, from devoting the time and attention to making a Kai (or even Vedek) Winn figure. So, for symbols of the Bajoran religious hierarchy, this is it!

For other Star Trek: Deep Space Nine action figures, please visit my reviews of:
The Tosk
Gul Dukat
The Hunter Of The Tosk


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

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

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