Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Generic, Disposable Soldiers From Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; The Jem'Hadar Made Into A Lousy Figure.

The Good: Decent sculpt, Good accessory
The Bad: Poseability, Coloring, Lack of articulation, Could use more accessories!
The Basics: The Jem'Hadar might make for disposable soldiers for the Dominion, but Playmates makes an utterly disposable toy for Trekkers, which is just not cool.

There is something odd about reviewing older action figures - other than the fact that so few people actually read and utilize such reviews. I suspect that when we have better options for action figures we become a little more cruel in our evaluations of older figures. What was once top-of-the-line becomes passe as new, better sculpts of beloved characters are introduced. Improvements in technology lead to greater articulation, more realistic coloring, an improved sense of collectibility that comes from action figures that are equally display pieces as they are toys. Fortunately for me in the case of Playmates' 6" Jem'Hadar this was never the top-of-the-line figure, so as harsh as this critique may seem, it is well-deserved by this toy and would have been the same when the toy first came out as it is now.

The Jem'Hadar action figure was a 6" figure from the Playmates Warp Factor series line of action figures. This is an older figure and is actually fairly common in the secondary market, which is not surprising considering that it is a rather disappointing action figure, though it is one of only two villains in the Warp Factor Series 2 figures.


Beginning in the second season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Jem'Hadar appeared as the soldiers of the Dominion, the anti-Federation on the other side of the Wormhole near Deep Space Nine. Because the Jem'Hadar are mass produced, drug-addicted soldiers bred solely to serve the Dominion, they make for a wonderful action figure . . . in theory. There are no recurring Jem'Hadar characters, so a generic Jem'Hadar works well to establish the villain as a toy. As a result, there is some flexibility to the sculpt; Playmates did not have to get a specific likeness right in order to effectively sell a Jem'Hadar soldier to the fans.

The Warp Factor Series 2 set of action figures contains a standard Jem'Hadar Soldier ready at its station. Standing 5 1/2 inches tall, this is a fair - if terribly miscolored - likeness of a Jem'Hadar Soldier immortalized in plastic. The uniform is well-detailed for the character and the face is a strong likeness of the make-up for a Jem'Hadar. The figure includes such accurate and important details as the feeding tube for the Ketracel White on the left side of the character's body. The reptilian skin is well-detailed on the dace.

The first severe down side is in the paint job. The Jem'Hadar Soldier is homogeneously colored a sick pea soup green. While the fingernails on the figure are painted - several are chipped - the facial horns are not colored. Given the sophistication of the facial detailing, it seems odd that the figure could not be colored properly, especially given that the eyes are detailed. That the Ketracel White tube is not - at the very least - white is ridiculous and seriously disappointing. This whole color job smacks of a lack of effort on the part of Playmates and it is a huge disappointment.


The Jem'Hadar Soldier comes with only one accessory: the four control pedestals from a Jem'Hadar ship. All plastic, the four four inch tall controls allow the Jem'Hadar to guide an imaginary Jem'Hadar ship. This gives the soldier an appearance somewhat more clerical than the violent nature of the beings on the show. It is an intriguing accessory and given that it is entirely plastic, instead of cheap cardboard like some of the others in this series, there is some value in this. The control posts are well-balanced and stand up without any risk of falling over unless seriously jostled.

The Jem'Hadar comes with no sidearm, kartarkan or other accessory. Given that the show characterizes the Jem'Hadar as bred killers who delight in shooting, stabbing and slaughtering others, that the figure does not come with a single weapon is a serious disappointment. At least it can fly its imaginary ship (there was never a Jem'Hadar ship released by Playmates).


Unfortunately, the specificity of the lone accessory, in combination with a low amount of articulation, makes this a very difficult toy to play with. Sure, it's a fair toy for making displays with and truth be told the average buyer of this figure is more likely to be an adult collector as opposed to a child player, but it is almost impossible to play with this action figure.

The Jem'Hadar Soldier is cursed by having only seven points of articulation: groin socket, shoulders, neck, waist and left elbow. Furthermore, the neck articulation is severely limited because of the Ketracel White tube in the figure's neck. This makes turning the Jem'Hadar's head very difficult. Moreover, that only the left elbow bends is somewhat ridiculous. This makes the Jem'Hadar able to do something vaguely resembling a karate chop.

Moreover, because the figure is molded with a foot in an angled position (balls of the feet down, heel raised), there is a very specific pose Playmates has in mind for the collector. If one tries to do their own thing with this toy, it becomes almost impossible to get the toy to stand on its own, much less put in a pose involving him twisting at the waist. The hands are designed to hold something, curled as they are with a nice open grip, which is odd because there is nothing for the figure to hold. Standing quasi-flatfooted, in the manner the manufacturer seems to intend, the Jem'Hadar figure is still a pain to balance because of the toy's inflexibility and lack of articulation.

In short, like most of the Warp Factor Series 2 6" figures, the Jem'Hadar Soldier appears designed as an inaction figure, ready to be posed, but not played with.


Playmates mass produced the Warp Factor Series 2 figures, including the Jem'Hadar Soldier. None of them appear to be more or less common than the others. To encourage collectors, every figure in this line has an individual number stamped on bottom of the toy's foot. It is hard to consider something with at least 14,000 pieces a limited edition (my Jem'Hadar's # is 013832), but Playmates made fans believe by putting the number stamps on each figure.

The problem from a collector's point of view is simple: there were no other 6" figures at the time these figures were released and there have been very few since, none from Playmates, if memory serves. As a result, the five figures in this line (along with the five from the prior line) more or less stand alone. This makes them generally less collectible because people tend to want to be able to put all of their figures together and these stand out like sore thumbs.


It is easy to complain about this sculpt, given that these are overproduced and might never appreciate significantly in value. Ultimately, this is a below average action figure and is bound to disappoint any real fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

This figure utilizes an image and style of a Jem'Hadar soldier, which first appeared - appropriately enough - in the episode "The Jem'Hadar," reviewed here!

For other figures of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine villains, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Intendant Kira
The Hunter Of The Tosk
Gul Dukat


For other toy reviews, be sure to check out my Toy Review Index Page for an organized listing of all of the toys I have reviewed!

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