Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-D As Rendered By Playmates Toys Is Good (Not Great).

The Good: Decent sculpt, Interesting light and sound effects (could always use more)
The Bad: No stand, Decals instead of painted on details.
The Basics: Ultimately an average toy, Playmates's Enterprise-D toy could have been great with a stand and more light effects!

From the first wave of Star Trek starship toys, collectors were given the opportunity to own the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-D, the flagship of the Federation. Seen in every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (reviewed here!), the U.S.S. Enterprise is the defining ship of the series and was the most obvious choice for the toy manufacturer to make. It is also a favorite among collectors and this version is a decent one.


Playmates toys released the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D at the same time as it released a starship toy of the Klingon Battlecruiser and the Romulan Warbird (reviewed here!). These toys were designed to appeal to the niche of collectors who liked models, but were not married to the building of models. This toy retains the scale of the other starships and as a result, the Enterprise-D is just over fifteen inches long, eleven inches wide and just under four inches tall.

The hull of the Enterprise is detailed fairly extensively with all of the windows that the ship had, along with the nooks and crannies for weapons and similar details. What it lacks are the light effects needed to make the starship truly work in a realistic fashion. The Enterprise-D is covered in windows from people's quarters, lit from within in a rather striking and obvious way. The toy does nothing close to that and as a result, the overall effect of the Enterprise is lost.

It is similarly baffling that with such attention to detail for the sculptural lines and indentations, Playmates would resort to multiple decals for such things as Ten Forward's windows and the writing on the aft-top and bottom sections of the starship, as opposed to painting it on or making it part of the actual sculpt. This is nitpicky, to be sure, but it is annoying that Playmates does not do the work of applying the decals. The Enterprise-D is labeled in several places and it's annoying to have to put all the decals on; after all, if I had wanted a model, I would have purchased a model, not the toy. Even more annoying; some of the decals represent bars that could have been light effects.

The light effects are disappointing in that they are exclusively contained to the warp nacelles. Despite the deflector dish being made of translucent plastic, it does not light up. Neither does the bridge or any of the other lights. The light effects that the ship DOES have are decent, it just needed more to make the toy truly wow collectors.


Also disappointing is the lack of a stand. As collectors became more sophisticated with future releases and made it clear to Playmates that they wanted to be able to display the starships, Playmates began to include stands that the starships would rest upon. Alas, the U.S.S. Enterprise has no stand and as a result, those who want to display it must either hang it from the ceiling, let it rest on a display surface or make their own stand.

The toy is outfitted with four buttons on the top of the neck of the ship which generates sounds from a sound chip. When pressed, the toy emits sounds of: the Enterprise cruising, the Enterprise going to warp, phasers (with an explosion) and photon torpedo. The best sound is the going to warp sound, which is distinct and an accurate recreation of the sound effect from the show. The sound effects are easily more memorable than the light effects and they make for an interesting selling point and conversation piece.

For fans of the starships, there is also a rather unsophisticated blueprint of the Enterprise included in the box.


This Galaxy-class starship is a starship toy, so it does not open up (save the battery slot) and does not naturally interact with the 4.5 (or any other) action figure line. It comes out of the box completely assembled and the battery life may easily be extended by flipping a little button in the battery pack that disengages the light effects. When the batteries begin to fade, the light effects take a real dive in quality.

This is a toy that - outside lighting up and making noise - does nothing. As a result, it is a good toy for children who have an imagination. They interact with other children to create space battles or just soar through the galaxy until they are tired out or whatever kids do.

Honestly, this is a toy created with the intent of selling to adults who are into collectible toys. That purpose was mostly met and the Enterprise-D is a fair display piece, despite the the lack of a stand and decals.


The most severe limitation to the collectibility of the Enterprise as a collectible comes in its selling point as a toy; because the toy comes with batteries and browsers are encouraged by the box to test the sounds, collectors are left with a real dilemma. As most collectors know, almost everything that is collectible is made more valuable by being Mint In Box. The potential consequence of leaving the Enterprise truly mint in box is that the batteries, well after they are dead will leak and eat apart the starship and packaging.

As a result, many collectors - even those who do not display the ship because they want to keep it mint in package - opened the package to remove the batteries. It is difficult to assess the effect this has on the collectibility because these near mint in box ships might well be in better condition than a truly mint in box one which might reasonably have suffered serious damage from battery degradation by this point (especially in more humid climes).

That said, Playmates made the U.S.S. Enterprise-D more collectible by including a limited edition number on the box to each toy. Then again, they made it less collectible by producing the toy in the volume that they did. My toy is numbered #016689 and so with at least 16,690 of these out in the world, it's hard to consider it especially limited. Moreover, many collectors purchased these and stockpiled them when they were first released, though the market does seem to have gone up on them lately.


I loved my Enterprise-D toy when it was first released back in 1993. As time has passed and I have grown up some, I have become more lukewarm on it, mostly because the decals peel and look progressively more ridiculous and I have trouble displaying it because of its lack of a stand. Moreover, the light effects - especially - no longer impress me and it is a battery hog, so I almost never put batteries in and listen to it anymore.

It's an average toy, but I recommend it for the simple reason that it's good, though if a better sculpt with decent lighting ever comes along, I will gladly replace this one! Buyers who are looking to buy one need to be exceptionally careful about what they are buying. If the seller has left the toy truly mint in box, be sure to have some form of guarantee that if you open it and discover the batteries have bled, you'll be able to get your money back!

Anyone wishing they could explore the galaxy, this is the toy to pretend it with.

For other Star Trek vehicle toys from Playmates, please check out:
Runabout Orinoco
Shuttlecraft Goddard
Klingon Bird Of Prey


For other toy reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2012, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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