Monday, June 25, 2012

The Most Feared Villains In The Galaxy, The Borg Make Their Toy Debut From Playmates!

The Good: Good sculpt, Good accessories, Generally good posability
The Bad: Arm-swapping issues.
The Basics: One of the first real hits Playmates Toys had from the Star Trek: The Next Generation line, the Borg is still problematic with its key selling point.

The Borg. For fans of the "modern" Star Trek series' - beginning with Star Trek: The Next Generation, there is no more recognizable villain. The Borg are a cybernetic organism that came from the deepest regions of space to assimilate all technology they could find with little regard for the biological entities which produced such technology. They do not so much kill their enemies as they absorb them into their collective hive mind, with no desire for anything but their technology and information.

Because they are so universally recognized by fans, they made for the perfect addition to the very first run of Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures from Playmates Toys. Moreover, because there were no Borg personalities (until they were ruined by writers much later on), fans could end up with more than one of the same figure and still be happy. Having a legion of monolithic, identical Borg actually makes more sense than limiting one's collection to only one. With the Playmates action figure, fans are encouraged to pick up three of the identical figures. Read on for why!


The Star Trek: The Next Generation 1992 Collection of action figures contained only ten figures and it focused on the main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation and supplemented the characters with memorable guest stars and aliens. The first series of figures contained a Borg "Mechanically-enhanced Cybernetic Humanoids" figure which was widely regarded as THE figure in the line to pick up (at least until the Deanna Troi figure was belatedly released). The Borg figure is the armored automaton as they generally appear throughout the episodes they are featured in, most notably “Q-Who?” (reviewed here!).

Standing four and three-quarters inches tall, this is a decent likeness of a Borg immortalized in plastic, especially given the monolithic, armored nature of the entities in the series. The figure is molded with its left fingers slightly bent, like a powerful mechanical claw ready to dig into flesh. This makes the Borg look menacing right off the bat! The Borg's face is molded in a blank expression and it lacks much in the way of detail, which is appropriate given the dead-eyed stare Borg give their victims on the show. Its lips are colored gray and the flesh tones of Borg lack any subtlety or shading and are a drained white. The left eye of the figure is covered by an enhanced eye which is also realistic for the Borg drones. The other eye is black and eerie in its glazed look.

The paint job is quite good. The character's skin ought to be monotonal and the armor of the borg looks appropriately mechanized. As well, it has little panels and accents that have been painted gray or silver to highlight the figure and give it a sense of depth. The coloring details on the boots the half-robot is outfitted with make them look heavy and given the stomping sound Borg make from their movement, that is an excellent detail!


Borg comes with five accessories: three hand attachments and two tubes as well as an action base shaped like a Borg symbol. That the Borg comes with little equipment makes perfect sense as each Borg is outfitted with a mechanical eye and a seemingly unique hand attachment. As a result, the fact that this Borg comes with multiple hand attachments that may be swapped out makes perfect sense and is a great detail. The Action base is more than enough to support the Borg and is a red Borg symbol with the black circuitboard background that seems to be the symbol of this enemy. The left side of the base has a peg which fits into the hole in either of Borg's feet!

The additional tubes that come with the Borg are one and a half inch long rubber rubes which fit into tiny holes in the back and shoulder and leg of the Borg. These have the added benefit of adding more realism to the figure, as the Borg are noted for having tubes coming in and out of them all over. This also allows one to vary the figure's look some as they may choose to use the smooth or rippled tube in different holes. The problem here is that the tubes are a bit short and are a pain to get into the holes and keep them there.

The three arms of the Borg are cool accessories, though and all three fit into the socket below the right elbow. Each arm attachment must be pulled out - and herein lies the problem with the figure - and the replacement forced into the socket. Unlike later Borg figures, like Locutus, the knobs on these were tiny and the connection was very tight. Moreover, the arm attachments were made out of plastic soft enough to tear out of the socket and hard enough to keep the appendages locked within the socket to promote breakage. In other words, these were a real good idea that was a pain in the butt to execute.

The three arms included the standard scanning, electrifying claw which is a dead ringer for the one used by the second Borg to invade the Enterprise in "Q-Who?" It is silver-gray and molded with an exceptional amount of surface details and even has a place where a tube can be inserted into it!

There is a replacement arm which is essentially a two-barrel gun which is very much unique to the Playmates Borg. Still, the upper barrel rotates and for a killing drone, this is very cool for play. The final replacement hand is a gloved human hand which has its fingers splayed out for cupping things, I suppose. It is the least impressive of the Borg hands. It is also the one that broke first when I first purchased one of these and was tugging the replacement arms out of the sockets and swearing up a storm trying to shove the next one into the hole.


The Borg helped establish a high expectation for quality from Playmates, despite the arm-replacement issue. This is not well-articulated version of the Borg, especially considering that the Borg seen on screen lumber around as if they are about to fall over anyway! The Borg is endowed with twelve points of articulation: knees, groin socket, left bicep, right forearm, 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, for example, but the head cannot nod. Similarly, 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 or forearm, that allows everything below to turn and offers real decent poseability!

Moreover, for use with actual play, the Borg may bend or extend at the elbows, which offers a greater amount of movement potential making it one of the more realistic Star Trek action figures to play with (for those who actually play with these toys!).

On its base, the Borg is quite stable, even in fairly ridiculous action poses, making it a great figure for display as well as play.


Playmates mass produced the first few waves of Star Trek: The Next Generation figures, so this Borg is virtually worthless. Found loose for less than a dollar these days, this Borg can often be found for less than $5.00 (which was even less than its original issue price in 1992!). Playmates flooded the market with these figures and they are almost impossible to use as investment pieces.

That said, at least Playmates tried to make the figures collectible. Each figure has an individual number on the bottom of his left 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 210000 figures out there (my Borg is #209499!).


Because the Borg are monolithic enemies that are generic, unceasing in their attacks and offer little differentiation, I strongly recommend fans who want this figure pick up three. Go through the motions of swapping out the arm that comes attached with one of the other two only once and enjoy menacing your StarFleet heroes. But for actual play with frequent swaps of the arms, this figure is just likely to annoy fans.

For other Borg toys, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Borg Head statue
Art Asylum Klingon Borg


For other Playmates Star Trek toys, be sure to visit my Index Page on the subject for a complete list of the ones I have reviewed!

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