Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Drastically Less Than She Could Be (But At Least They Tried...) Playmates' Keiko O'Brien Figure!

The Good: Decent balance, General sculpt
The Bad: Coloring, Limited nature, Accessories
The Basics: A terrible, though fairly articulated, version of Keiko O'Brien, the Playmates action figure is completely disappointing for fans.

As Playmates Toys moved closer to letting the Star Trek action figure line drop, they put out some figures that were of decidedly less quality than their earlier releases. Chief among them, in my mind, is Keiko O'Brien, whose figure is average-at-best. In fact, the more I write about the figure, the more I am forced to accept that effort is not enough when it comes to making quality action figures. The execution counts and with Keiko O'Brien, the execution is just terrible, no matter how much I want it to be a figure worth recommending. It, quite simply, is not.

Of all the supporting characters of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Keiko O'Brien is arguably one of the most neglected when it comes to merchandising, despite the fact that she was one of the characters who made the transition from Star Trek: The Next Generation to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (here!). The Keiko O'Brien figure is the human teacher as she appeared on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but the costume is not episode-specific. In fact, I cannot recall ever seeing her in an outfit like the one she is cast wearing, which might just be because the outfit it terribly colored. While the idea for a Keiko O'Brien 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, but sadly they did not execute that for this figure.


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 Keiko O'Brien, or Intendant Kira, Kang or Trelane and the Andorian. Keiko O'Brien is only a moderately-popular supplemental character to begin with and this figure is not likely to make a surge in her fan club.

The Keiko O'Brien figure is the wife of Chief Of Operations, Miles O'Brien in an outfit that looks somewhat padded. She is not a StarFleet officer and appears in a simple black outfit. The action figure is made entirely of plastic, but with a good sense of texture to sell the concept of the outfit.

Standing four and one-quarter inches tall, when she stands, this is a terrible likeness of Keiko O'Brien immortalized in plastic. The character is molded in a battle-ready semi-squat with her hands molded almost entirely open so she cannot actually hold her accessories. There is a very poor level of detailing to the costume, which only on close inspection reveals itself to be slightly brown with black diamond-shaped holes in it. Keiko O'Brien's face is molded in a neutral expression which lacks much in the way of detail and is entirely the wrong color - Keiko is played by Rosalind Chao, who is of Asian decent and this figure is very caucasian. Her lips are bright red and the paint job on mine is terrible, with her lipstick running out onto her cheek! Her hair is mildly textured but monolithically colored and what I would presume is supposed to be a headband in her hair makes her head look more like she is wearing a helmet.

The paint job is mediocre at best. The skin tones are monolithic white and lack any shading or subtlety. There is no shading to the cheeks and her nails are not painted.


Keiko O'Brien comes with only four accessories and they are just as terrible as the rest of the figure. The accessories included are: A StarFleet phaser, a thermal bottle, a desktop monitor and an action base shaped like a StarFleet Symbol. That Keiko O'Brien comes with a weapon makes no sense, as she was never once shown with one on either series. The Action base is just enough to support Keiko O'Brien and is a StarFleet symbol appropriately colored in gold and silver plastic. The center on the base has a peg which fits into the hole in either of Keiko O'Brien's feet!

The StarFleet Type II Phaser is oversized and goes not come close to fitting into either of Keiko's hands. It is inappropriately colored in gold plastic and it has decent molded surface details, but no coloring details that make it look even remotely realistic.

The unique to Keiko accessory is a thermal bottle (what we tend to call a Thermos, even though that is a trademarked name). I suppose this figure is just preparing women of the future to wait upon their men by giving Keiko a chance to prepare Miles for work with his coffee. Or go on a picnic. This, too, barely fits in one of her hands.

The desktop monitor is a strangely generic accessory unique to this figure. It does not fit into either of Keiko O'Brien's hands, but she may balance the two inch long plastic box awkwardly on her arms! All three accessories outside the base are cast in an utterly unrealistic gold plastic that looks absolutely terrible.


Keiko O'Brien 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 is a bad sculpt of Keiko O'Brien and it is fairly low on the playable aspects. While Keiko O'Brien stands up while flatfooted with a bit of work or clumsily on her action base (she tips over even when on her base), she barely moves when there. Keiko O'Brien is endowed with twelve points of articulation, which seems pretty good until one tries to balance her using those joints in other ways. All of which the joints save the knees and elbows are simple swivel joints. She may be twisted at the groin socket, shoulders, thighs, neck, and waist and bent at the knees and elbows. As a result, the neck turns left to right, for example, but the head cannot nod. Similarly, the shoulders are not ball and socket joints and only rotate and the Keiko O'Brien figure does not feature the usual bicep joints to mitigate this limitation.


Playmates under produced the final waves of Star Trek figures, including the Warp Factor Series 4 set. Keiko O'Brien was a standard in the box, but the boxes were underproduced, so she is fairly rare. Even so, Keiko O'Brien is such a poor sculpt that she was as much of a pegwarmer as most of the rest of the Warp Factor 4 set and she never appreciated much in value.

Playmates, even as they were overproducing other figures, tried to make the Star Trek figures collectible. The Keiko O'Brien figures have an individual number on the bottom of her right foot. In the attempt to make them appear limited, they had numbers stamped on them, but Keiko O'Brien is hardly very limited as there are at least 26,000 of this figure released (my Keiko O'Brien is #025119!).


Keiko O'Brien is a terribly colored, mediocre sculpt of an essential support character on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This figure is enough to make fans of that show hope Art Asylum will make a decent and recognizable version of her.

For other Star Trek: Deep Space Nine figures, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Leeta The Dabo Girl
Captain Kurn
Elim Garak


For other toy reviews, please visit my Toy Review Index Page for an organized listing of the toys I have reviewed!

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