Monday, August 20, 2012

The First Odd Recast By Playmates: "Captain Jean-Luc Picard In Duty Uniform," An Average Figure. (My 100th Star Trek Toy Review!)

The Good: Decent poseability, Good accessories, Generally decent sculpt
The Bad: Light on coloring details, Odd uniform choice.
The Basics: Even with a mediocre uniform, the second Captain Jean-Luc Picard figure from Playmates is worth the attention of those collecting Playmates Star Trek figures.

In creating the second line of Star Trek: The Next Generation figures, Playmates Toys made some interesting decisions. Some of them made a lot of sense, like recasting the Commander Riker figure so it looked good enough to appear on the bridge. But the original Jean-Luc Picard figure that the toy company made looked fine by the standards of most fans. The fifth season Captain Picard had Picard in his casual duty jacket that he began wearing in the fifth season. It was a good outfit and a recognizable one. But in order to keep up with the apparent demand for more Picard figures, one of the first recasts was Captain Picard in his first and second season uniform. This looked - generally - more like his long-standing outfit, but still had some uniforming details that make it less desirable to die-hard fans.

Still, the Captain Picard in Duty Uniform figure could be worse. It was released twice, at least in Canada in order to promote both the second line of figures (Playmates's second wave of Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures was released in 1993 and included twenty-three figures, several of which were re-released in a later line in Canada where the only difference was that the trading card that came with the twenty-three line was replaced with a SkyCap (a pog). The figures inside were identical. For fans of the Playmates Star Trek line, despite its flaws, this might be the most recognizable uniform for a Picard figure they produced.


The Star Trek: The Next Generation 1993 Collection of action figures contained twenty-three figures and it broadened the line away from the main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation and supplemented the characters with memorable guest stars and aliens. The second series of figures contained a Captain Jean-Luc Picard "In Star Trek: The Next Generation Second Season Uniform" figure which was actually something of a pegwarmer. Fans were more neutral to this figure than the recast Riker because the first Picard figure was so good. As well, they were so vastly overproduced as to make them worthless.

The Captain Picard figure is the Command branch officer as he appeared in the first and second seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation (reviewed here and here, respectively). This is the same Picard head that was originally made and distributed, but popped onto a new body. Actually, the body might just be a recolored Data or Geordi body now that I look at it. Rather nicely, though, the hands are remolded so that this Picard may hold accessories in either or both hands.

Standing four and one-half inches tall, this is a decent likeness of Captain Jean-Luc Picard immortalized in plastic. There is a decent level of uniform detailing. Picard's face is molded in a determined expression and it lacks much in the way of detail, though the lips are colored pink - which is way too light and noticeable - and the light flesh tones of Picard lack any subtlety or shading. The figure includes such important details as Picard's tuft of hair around the back and his dark eyebrows. The face and hair lack any sense of realistic toning. His eyes are appropriately blue-gray, but the pupils are white instead of black!

The paint job is mediocre at best. The skin tones are monolithic light tan and lack any shading or subtlety. The uniform is appropriately colored and the figure looks good in that respect. This includes the piping at the bottom of the pants, which was a nice touch of realism. What separates this Picard from the most-desired one is the fact that the first and second season uniform has piping at the top which was removed from the costumes beginning in the third season, so this is much more specific to the first two seasons than the rest of the series.


Captain Picard comes with six accessories, plus a trading card: A StarFleet Type II phaser, StarFleet tricorder, a StarFleet desk monitor, a PADD, and an action base shaped like a Federation Communicator badge. That Captain Picard comes with more equipment than weapons makes a great deal of sense, as his role on Star Trek: The Next Generation was that of command, not security. The Action base is just enough to support Picard and is a StarFleet delta shield with a little black sticker that reads "Picard" to help keep it straight from the other figures. The center of the base has a peg which fits into the hole in either of Picard's feet!

The Type II phaser is poorly detailed, basically being a little silver plastic piece in the shape of a phaser with a beam extending two inches out from it. While this makes play easier, it is a tough sell as far as detailing goes. The buttons and displays are molded into the weapon, but it is not colored appropriately. At least the phaser beam is colored pink, which is appropriate. The figure is only able to hold the phaser in either hand, though his right hand has the thumb raised as if to hit the trigger. In his left hand, the phaser looks more like a lightsaber. In the right hand, he can hold the phaser appropriately and it looks good there. Unfortunately, there was no way to connect the phaser to Picard's when he is not holding it.

The tricorder is a three-quarter inch dark blue-gray molded plastic device that fits awkwardly into a holster on Picard's right thigh. This accessory looks utterly ridiculous. It fits in either of Picard's hands. The tricorder has realistic molding details, but does not open and close or have any sense of realistic coloring details for the buttons or panels.

The PADD, Personal Access Display Device, is a flat little piece of plastic about the same size as the tricorder. It, too, fits in either hand - though better in the left hand - and has good molded details, but is utterly lacking in coloring or display panel details.

The StarFleet Desk Monitor, or Personal Viewscreen, is an odd accessory for this action figure. While Picard was frequently seen using one, this is usually seen on desks around the Enterprise, not in character's hands. With the right arm movements, Picard may hold his desk monitor - which looks very much like the ones on the show and has a sticker to represent what is on the screen - in both hands, but he looks odd doing it.

Unfortunately, all three of these accessories, including the tricorder, are molded in an inaccurate blue-gray plastic that is utterly lacking in realistic coloring detail. Picard is over-accessorized and with the lame coloring of the accessories, it is less exciting than it otherwise could be.

The 1993 line of Playmates action figures also comes with a very cool SkyBox trading card unique to the action figures. The Captain Jean-Luc Picard card features a big shot of Picard's head and upper body with a warp field background that is quite striking. The back of the card has all sorts of vital information on Picard and the figure is highly sought by card collectors who collected the cards and disposed of the figures. Interestingly, the repackage that used the SkyCap often had multiple cards in the bag behind the SkyCap, so it can often save collectors money to pick up the figures that way for the multiple cards!


Captain Jean-Luc Picard helped continue a high level of quality from Playmates and he was quite good at the time, pleasing collectors and fans alike. Despite being molded in a costume that was not the most universal, this is not a bad sculpt of Picard. Captain Jean-Luc Picard is endowed with twelve points of articulation: knees, groin socket, biceps, 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. 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, that allows everything below to turn and offers real decent poseability!

Moreover, for use with actual play, Captain Jean-Luc Picard 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, Picard is quite stable, even in fairly ridiculous poses, making him 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 Picard is virtually worthless. Found loose for less than a three dollars these days, this Picard can often be found for less than $5.00 (which was even less than its original issue price in 1993!). 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 100,000 figures out there (my Picard is #099868!).


This Picard is quite average, but not bad. For those needing a Picard figure and collecting only the old Playmates line, you can do much worse than this one!

For other Playmates Star Trek: The Next Generation figures from the 1993 line, please check out my reviews of:
Commander Riker In Second Season Uniform
Geordi In Dress Uniform
Ambassador K'Ehleyr


For other toy reviews, be sure to check out my Toy Review Index Page for an organized listing!

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