Sunday, April 29, 2012

As The Line Was Dying, We Got "Kang:" A Better Sculpt With Less Articulation!

The Good: Generally good sculpt and balance
The Bad: Unfortunately less articulated, Accessory coloring
The Basics: Despite being a generally good sculpt, Kang is poorly colored (especially on the accessories) and poorly articulated, making for a mediocre Klingon figure.

When toy companies are in danger of losing the toy license for their previously most successful toy lines, they either push out the last few amazing toys or they churn out some real crap. Unfortunately, in the case of Playmates Toys, which dominated the Star Trek toy market in the 1990s, they went the latter direction. In 1998 when the Warp Factor Series 4 set of toys was being released, they were desperately filling in gaps in the Star Trek franchise and Series 4 was released only for the die-hard collectors.

It is in this series that we got Kang, the venerable Klingon warrior as he appeared on the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Blood Oath" (reviewed here!). And while the idea for a Kang figure is not an inherently bad one, Playmates released the figure hastily with less articulation than earlier Star Trek franchise figures. Playmates had improved their ability to produce wicked sculpts and even improved the paint process with Kang, but the figure is still far less than it could be because of the lack of articulation.


The Star Trek Warp Factor Series of action figures contained only five figures in the Series 4 Assortment and it was an unfocused collection that featured supporting and background characters from Star Trek and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In fact, only the real fans who truly loved the Star Trek franchise were likely to even recognize Kang the Klingon, Keiko O'Brien (reviewed here!), Intendant Kira or Trelane and the Andorian. I suspect most random toybuyers saw the blue guy in the pink feather boa and used this as an argument to never watch Star Trek! Still, Kang is a pretty popular Klingon, at least with those who follow Klingons and Klingon collectibles.

The Kang figure is the aged Klingon warrior as he appeared in "Blood Oath," so this is the typical Klingon appearance, as opposed to his appearance in the original Star Trek. This is Kang with a white streak of hair, a fur outfit and medals on it. The action figure is made entirely of plastic, but with a good sense of texture to sell the concept of the outfit and the armor.

Standing four and one-half inches tall, this is a decent likeness of Kang immortalized in plastic. The character is molded in a battle-ready semi-squat with his hands molded opposite ways (the right is facing down, the left if palm-up. There is a decent level of uniform detailing. Still, some of the painting is sloppy; the medals on Kang's chest have a sloppy coat of paint that did not even cover all of the molded pieces, for example. Kang's face is molded in a determined and neutral expression which lacks much in the way of detail. The lips, for example, are not even colored. The figure includes such important details as the distinctive Klingon head ridges and the facial hair molded into the plastic and then highlighted with paint details. The face and hair lack any sense of realistic toning and Kang's hair ends in a ponytail which inhibits most of the head's movement.

The paint job is mediocre at best. The skin tones are monolithic brown and lack any shading or subtlety. There is no shading to the head ridges. The uniform is appropriately colored and the figure looks good in that respect. The fact that Kang's leather pants look a little too orange is a little disappointing, but not a dealbreaker.


Kang comes with only four accessories and the lack of quality to them is what ultimately sunk my ability to recommend this figure. The accessories are: A Klingon Disruptor pistol, Bat'leth sword, a Klingon Mevak dagger and an action base shaped like a Klingon Symbol. That Kang comes with weapons makes a great deal of sense, as his appearance on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was a mission of vengeance where he went off to kill an albino Klingon. The Action base is just enough to support Kang and is a Klingon symbol appropriately colored in red and yellow. The center of the spike on the base has a peg which fits into the hole in either of Kang's feet!

The Klingon disruptor pistol is the exact same one that had been used with Klingon figures since the Klingon Warrior Worf action figure. This is a 1 1/2" little gun that has decent surface detailing, but no coloring detail. It has the appropriate curved stock. Unfortunately, while it may fit in Kang's left hand, it looks pretty ridiculous there and the only way for him to look like he's aiming it to shoot is to have him do a sideways grip (a la Pulp Fiction).

The bat'leth is a curved Klingon sword molded with appropriate hand grips and four points. It looks realistically cast, but is larger than the previously molded bat'leth swords. The figure is molded with the intent that Kang would hold the bat'leth in a two-handed grip and he may do that . . . poorly. The accessory is poorly colored featuring no surface details, so it looks like a big brown boomerang in his hands.

The Mevak dagger is a wicked little one and one-half inch choking hazard that fits into either of Kang's hands, but he may look only like he is about to stab himself! All three accessories outside the base are cast in a turd-brown plastic that is utterly lacking in realistic coloring details.


Kang came at the end of the line, as Playmates abandoned trying to keep customers happy and churned out some figures that were just lame (almost literally). Molded in a very limited pose, this might not be a bad sculpt of Kang, but it is very low on the playable aspects. While Kang stands up while flatfooted or on his action base, he barely moves when there. Kang is endowed with only eight points of articulation: groin socket, elbows, shoulders, neck, and waist. All of the joints, save the elbows, are simple swivel joints. As a result, the neck turns left to right, for example, but the head cannot nod. Kang's head is further inhibited by the pony tail which is made of stiff plastic on the back of the head. Similarly, the shoulders are not ball and socket joints and only rotate and the Kang figure does not feature the usual bicep joints to mitigate this limitation.

For use with actual play, Kang may bend or extend at the elbows, which offers a greater amount of movement potential . . . unless one has him holding his bat'leth. With his major accessory, he is very limited in his movement and without it, he can shoot the floor or stab himself! On his base, Kang is quite stable, so he may display well if one finds a good pose for him.


Playmates under produced the final waves of Star Trek figures, including the Warp Factor Series 4 set. Even so, collector demand for Kang was easily met and this figure has generally not appreciated since.

That said, at least Playmates tried to make the figures collectible. The Kang figures have 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 15,000 figures out there (my Kang is #014847!).


Kang might be a decent sculpt, but he has a mediocre paint job and represents a lowering of quality standards at Playmates Toys. Even die-hard fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would have to figure out a good reason to keep this very average figure around.

For other Klingon figures, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Ambassador K’Ehleyr
General Chang


For other Star Trek toy reviews, please check out my Star Trek toy review page for an organized listing!

© 2012, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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