The Good: Excellent sculpt, Good coloring, Decent variety of accessories, Fairly limited, Accessories fit in his hands
The Bad: Accessory coloring
The Basics: With great balance, awesome detailing and above-average posability, the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Gul Dukat action figure is a real winner!
One of the problems virtually every series of Star Trek action figures has had is finding compelling villains to flesh out the toy lines with. With the first line of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine action figures, this was less of a problem because from the very first episode of the television series, there was a recurring villain, Gul Dukat, the former commander of space station Deep Space Nine (or Terok Nor, as it was called when he commanded it). So, when Playmates produced its first line of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine action figures late in 1993, alongside figures of Commander Sisko and Morn, there was a Gul Dukat figure and to date, this is the only Dukat figure made!
Gul Dukat, for those not versed on their Star Trek lore, is the Cardassian station commander who popped up more and more frequently as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (reviewed here!) progressed. Having had relationships with Kira and Odo, Gul Dukat pops up to menace Kira, ally himself occasionally with Federation interests and ultimately sell his people out to the powerful Dominion in order to advance his own career and save Cardassia from extinction. Even from his first appearance, he was a compelling character and it is rather unsurprising that Gul Dukat was part of the first wave of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine action figures. It is equally unsurprising that fans of the series were pretty much the only ones to buy up these figures. However, given that this was one of the shortpacked figures in the first assortment, this was not a problem. Ever since, Gul Dukat, has been steadily increasing in value on the secondary market, arguably in part because this is the only Dukat figure any toy company has bothered to make.
The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 1993 Collection of action figures contained nine figures and it focused on the primary command crew of space station Deep Space Nine, along with the alien bartender, Quark, and two other aliens. Gul Dukat was one of those two other aliens that helped the line avoid the monotony of a bunch of uniformed officers. Gul Dukat was actually very popular, despite the fact that the character did very little in the first season of the show - he only appeared in the pilot and then "Duet" before getting more returning trips in the subsequent seasons. Gul Dukat was shortpacked in this assortment and he was never been recast or re-released, so the figure has generally maintained its value in the secondary market. Like the rest of the figures in this assortment, it features a SkyBox trading card exclusive to the action figure, which made it hunted by trading card collectors as well.
The Gul Dukat figure is the Cardassian commander as he appeared almost every time he was on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the first six seasons of the show. Gul Dukat is outfitted in his Cardassian armor and heavy, textured boots. The alien has a military-thin frame and a reptilian face with prominent, recognizable Cardassian neck ridges. The outfit is colored appropriately and what is even more surprising is the quality of the coloring for the facial features.
Standing five and one-eighth inches tall, this is a decent likeness of Gul Dukat immortalized in plastic. The character is molded with his hands ready to hold any of his accessories in a half-closed position. His legs have a very neutral stance, so this figure stands up and looks like he is ready to be displayed, as opposed to fighting or doing other action-oriented things. Gul Dukat has good balance on or off his stand. There is a decent level of uniform detailing and while the legs of the figure are very simple, the boots are sufficiently intricate. As well, the chest plate has incredible detail down to and including the Cardassian script along part of the armor. The figure's detailing only falls down at the hands, which do not have defined knuckles or fingernails.
Gul Dukat's face is molded in an incredible likeness of the Cardassian. This features his spoon-shaped ridge on his forehead as well as the forehead ridges and neck ridges. He has tiny gray eyes with white pupils and along the ears and jawline, he has appropriate reptilian ridges which looks exceptional from the molding and the coloring support detailing is great as well!
The paint job is as good as one could expect given the figure is based upon a character who is created with latex pieces stuck to his face and then painted on. The skin tones are gray and lack any shading or subtlety. Even so, there are highlights along all of the ridges and under the eyes, which gives the figure the appearance of realistic depth. Even the figure's gray lips and monotonal hair look wonderful!
Gul Dukat comes with five accessories, including the base, most of which were created specifically for this figure. Given that, at the time that this action figure was made, Gul Dukat had only been shown twice, it is remarkable how cool the figure is and how much effort Playmates put into the Cardassian accessories he comes with. Gul Dukat comes with a Cardassian disruptor pistol, Cardassian rifle, Cardassian field control unit, Cardassian PADD and the base. The Action Base is shaped like a Cardassian symbol which is three inches long and looks just like the purple and green Cardassian symbol. On the bottom of the plastic symbol is a black sticker which says "GUL DUKAT" so those looking at the bottom of the toy know which Cardassian this is, presumably. The center of the base has a peg which fits into the hole in either of Gul Dukat's feet! When Gul Dukat stands flatfooted on the stand, he is stable for balance and has a decent, neutral display appearance.
The Cardassian disruptor pistol is three-quarter inches long and is so detailed that it has the tiny "fins" (ridges) along the barrel that one might have thought impossible to make for this scale. Playmates pulls it off, though and even the detailing on the grip is exceptional. There is nothing this could be mistaken for, save a Cardassian disruptor and it fits into either of Dukat's hands.
Similarly, the Cardassian disruptor rifle may be held in a two-handed grip by Gul Dukat. The hands seem specifically intended to hold the firearm in both hands. This two and a quarter inch long weapon looks awesome with realistic detailing on both of the grips and the targetfinder ridge on the top of the weapon. This would look amazing, if only the molded details were enhanced with appropriate painted details.
The Cardassian field control unit is a 5/8" by 3/8" choking hazard that Dukat was never shown with (in my memory) in the series. Still, it is clearly a Cardassian device (Gul Madred used one while torturing Picard) and while it only fits in Dukat's right hand, it looks good there with the row of buttons and an emitter node poking out from between the spines.
The Cardassian PADD is a distinctive Cardassian instrument and one which Dukat was shown with many times in the series. Unfortunately, the PADD has all of the appropriate buttons, but nothing to make the screen stand out (like a little sticker, which other Star Trek toys usually have). As a result, this ends up looking like a big blue plastic chip 3/4" long and tapering from 3/8" wide down. This only fits in Dukat's right hand and it looks pretty ridiculous there as it is bright pearlescent blue.
This is the unfortunate aspect of all four of Gul Dukat's accessories; they are molded in a terribly unrealistic pearl-blue plastic which looks absolutely terrible. Clearly Playmates went through some effort to sculpt the accessories realistically, but the coloring guts them of any sense of realism. Gul Dukat is over-accessorized and with the lame coloring of the accessories, it is the only serious drawback for the overall 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 has a shot of Gul Dukat with a black starfield behind him (this makes for a great card to get signed by actor Marc Alaimo, who played Gul Dukat all seven years!). The back has information on Gul Dukat which filled in some of his backstory and the trading card looks excellent.
Gul Dukat continued a generally high level quality from Playmates and he was quite good at the time, pleasing collectors and fans alike. Gul Dukat is appropriately stiff and, he is exceptionally poseable. Gul Dukat 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 (in its very limited range of motion), but the head cannot nod. Similarly, 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!
Moreover, for use with actual play, Gul Dukat 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, Gul Dukat is exceptionally stable, even in the most ridiculous poses.
Playmates seemed to gauge about the right amount of interest for the first wave of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine figures, and with Gul Dukat appearing only one to two per case, he was harder to find and is a bit more limited than the command crew figures. As well, trading card collectors helped buy these figures up because of the collectible card and fans are likely to find this figure a little harder to find now, with the average price being almost double what it originally sold for when found now on the secondary market. Still, this is not the best investment figure and one suspects its price will plummet if Art Asylum ever gets around to recasting the figure.
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 4200 figures out there (my Gul Dukat is #04183!).
The Gul Dukat figure is an excellent figure of a great character from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and it would be a perfect figure if only the accessories were better colored!
For other Star Trek: Deep Space Nine action figures from the original 1993 collection, please check out my reviews of:
Dr. Julian Bashir
Major Kira Nerys
Chief Miles O'Brien
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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