Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The One Figure Of Worf's Brother: Captain Kurn Is Pretty Cool!

The Good: Good sculpt, Good skin coloring, Decent variety of accessories, Balance
The Bad: Accessory coloring, Very limited costume choice, Costume coloring
The Basics: A very average action figure, the only Captain Kurn figure is still worth it for collectors and fans.

It always amazes me which recurring characters or background characters from television shows and movies that have extensive merchandising get done first or before others. In the case of the Star Trek franchise, there have been a load of action figures over the years and the most extensive line, to date, was in the 1990s by the company, Playmates Toys. For years they had the license to Star Trek action figures and with the 1996 assortment, they stopped breaking the figures down into individual series' and went with a generic Star Trek card to encompass the entire franchise, which allowed them to release simultaneously Star Trek figures like the Dr. McCoy In Dress Uniform (reviewed here!) and the Captain Kurn figure.

For those unfamiliar with the character, in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Worf's brother, Kurn was introduced. When Worf appeared on Deep Space Nine, a few months later, Captain Kurn showed up, begging Worf to kill him so he might regain his honor in the afterlife. It is from that episode, "Sons Of Mogh" (reviewed here!), that Playmates chose to cast their Captain Kurn action figure. Ironically, the figure captures one of the last times Kurn was seen and the casting is meant to portray a very specific moment in the show, the moment before Worf buried a dagger in his brother's chest!


The Star Trek 1997 Collection of action figures contained figures from Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager and the drive for collectors was to find one of the limited Dress McCoys, with little attention paid to most of the other figures in the assortment, like Kurn. But having succeeded in getting the rare figure early on, I soon started inspecting the other figures and while there is much to like about the Kurn figure, his coloring and sculpt illustrate how Playmates was already lowering its standards. Even so, this figure was seldom a pegwarmer because it had a collectible trading card. Card collectors hunted the SkyBox trading card exclusive to the action figure, which helped sell the stock that action figure collectors did not buy.

The Captain Kurn figure is the Klingon officer as he appeared after being disgraced in the fourth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, with the brown and tan Klingon civilian clothes. The outfit is open at the chest, exposing the Klingon chestplate which Kurn had. The outfit is colored generally appropriately, but it does not have the same level of detailing as Kurn's ribs and sternum plate.

Standing five and one-quarter inches tall, this is a decent likeness of Captain Kurn immortalized in plastic. The character is molded with his hands ready to hold most 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 an action pose which made some of the earlier Star Trek figures more problematic for posing in displays. Even so, Captain Kurn has good balance on or off his stand. There is, however, a poor level of uniform detailing, as this is textured and three essential colors - brown and tan for the shirt, brown and silver for the legs - but the accents that were part of the actual outfit are missing. This is actually like the hair; the texture lines are there, but the figure is cast in monotonal plastics, which lack the highlights. Even the sculpting details lessen at the hands, where Kurn has less detailing, including a lack of defined knuckles. He does, at least, have fingernails.

Captain Kurn's face is molded in a bland, neutral expression that fits Kurn's suicidal mood in "Songs Of Mogh" and the sculpt does look pretty much like Tony Todd as Kurn. The hair is a pretty bold mane, as appropriate, which cascades in a solid clump and prevents the figure's head from having a real range of motion.

The paint job is fair at best, especially for the uniform. Where the paint job succeeds are on the skin tones. Kurn's skin is monotonal brown, but all along the character's head ridges and chest detailing, there is shading and definition to compliment the molded aspects of the toy. Unfortunately, the figure's lips are uncolored, but Kurn's eyes are brown with white pupils, which is not a bad amount of detailing.


Captain Kurn comes with five accessories, including the base, some of which had noticeably been recycled from Star Trek: The Next Generation figures. Captain Kurn comes with a Klingon disruptor pistol, two Klingon knives, the cup of Adanji herbs and the base. The Action base is a Klingon symbol. The center of the base has a peg which fits into the hole in either of Captain Kurn's feet! When Captain Kurn stands flatfooted on the stand, he is stable for balance and has a decent, neutral display appearance. The base is also enough to support Kurn in more outlandish poses, which is nice.

The Klingon disruptor pistol is the same one which was first made for the Gowron figure in the first line. It is decently molded, but is cast in brown plastic, which looks unlike the Klingon firearm. With a little effort or balance, Kurn may hold the 1" gun in either hand.

The knives are little daggers which seem to be made for this figure and are 1 1/4" and 1 1/2" little plastic knives which look silly given how they are molded to look like they have leather-wrapped hilts, but then end in little plastic chips for blades which are the same color. Kurn can hold these, but his left hand is ideal for them. Unfortunately, he comes with no scabbards to put the blades in to hold them on his person when he does not have them drawn.

Finally, Kurn comes with the character-specific Adanji container. This 3/8" tall cylinder is little more than a cup that Kurn may hold and only fans will truly know what it is. He may hold it only in his right hand and it looks pretty goofy there as it is a little brown dart without the point.

That is the unfortunate aspect of all four of Captain Kurn's accessories; they are molded in an unrealistic turd-brown 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. Captain Kurn is over-accessorized and with the lame coloring of the accessories, it is a bit of a 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 is a movie-sized card which has a shot of Captain Kurn in a portrait orientation from the actual show. The image is big and clear and this makes for a great card to get signed by actor Tony Todd, who played Kurn and does a lot of conventions! The back has information on Captain Kurn, mostly from "Sons Of Mogh" and it's easy to see why card collectors happily hunted these down!


Captain Kurn continued a generally high level quality from Playmates and he was quite good at the time, pleasing collectors and fans alike. Captain Kurn is appropriately stiff, but has decent poseability. Captain Kurn 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, but the head cannot nod and in the case of Kurn, the hair prevents more than five degrees of head rotation. As well, 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, Captain Kurn 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, Captain Kurn is exceptionally stable, even in the most ridiculous poses. He actually looks very dignified and ready to die in his innate pose.


Playmates seemed to gauge about the right amount of interest for 1997 wave of Star Trek figures and Captain Kurn sold fairly well, probably because Tony Todd still does quite a few conventions a year and people wanted something different for him to sign. Even so, he has not appreciated much since his initial release almost fifteen years ago.

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 2800 figures out there (my Captain Kurn is #002740!).


The Captain Kurn figure is a good figure, he balances well, but the problems of underdetailing do make it much more average than extraordinary.

For other Star Trek: Deep Space Nine figures, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Captain Benjamin Sisko
Security Chief Odo


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

© 2012, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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