Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Picard As A Space Pirate: "Galen" Action Figure Is An Obscure Reference, But Cool Toy.

The Good: Neat sculpt, Good conceptual accessories, Fair articulation
The Bad: Accessory coloring, Low playability and collectibility
The Basics: A good, but underwhelming action figure, Picard As Galen is intended for die-hard collectors, who are likely to be generally satisfied with this action figure.

One knows they have entered a phase of merchandising when the universally-recognized characters of a program are appearing in ways that are not universally-recognizable. In the case of Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures from Playmates Toys, the threshold was well crossed by late 1995 when they came out with their Picard As Galen action figure. If the name does not ring any bells, it is because the Galen alter-ego is one of Picard's more obscure ones, used only in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Still, Playmates Toys shows some real originality in creating the Galen action figure and the idea is a pretty sound one.

Unfortunately, the execution of that idea is a bit more mediocre than extraordinary. The figure utilizes the same recycled head of Captain Jean-Luc Picard that was used on the first figures three years prior and the costume of the action figure is light on surface details. Still, the accessories are unique to this figure and it looks just good enough to recommend.


The Star Trek 1995 Collection of action figures was a mix of Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine action figures and contained eighteen figures when it was done. It focused on alternate versions of the main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation and supplemented the characters with memorable guest stars and aliens. This series seemed to recycle parts more and it was the series which was buoyed off the popularity of the "Tapestry" Picard action figure (reviewed here!), which was highly limited at the time. This series also contained the Captain Picard As Galen "As An Intergalactic Pirate" figure which was widely regarded as a consolation prize to those cracking open the cases in search of the more rare and valuable Picard figure. This is Captain Picard as he appeared in the seventh season episodes "Gambit, Part 1" (reviewed here!) and "Gambit, Part 2" (reviewed here!). This is Picard in his brown pirate outfit with crisscrossing straps and ornamented belt.

Standing four and one-half inches tall, this is a decent likeness of Captain Jean-Luc Picard immortalized in plastic, from the head-sculpt to the costuming details. The character is molded with his fingers curved, so this Picard is able to hold most of his accessories. Picard's face is molded in a neutral expression and it possesses such details as Picard's chiseled cheekbone. The lips are oddly colored white, though (at least on mine), and the light flesh tones of Picard lack any subtlety or shading. The figure includes such important details as Picard's hair - a thin strip of white hair on the back of his head - molded into the plastic. The face and hair lack any sense of realistic toning, but the sculpting details add natural shadows to make the skin appear toned! His eyes are appropriately blue, but the pupils are white instead of black!

The paint job is good. The skin tones are monolithic light tan and lack any shading or subtlety, but the costume features such accents as the brass buckles and brads that hold the straps on. The outfit is appropriately colored and the figure looks good in that respect. The only real problem with the costume details is that they are not shaded to show any wear and that the boots are almost the identical color as the figure's pants.


Captain Picard As Galen comes with five accessories, plus a trading card unique to this line of figures. The accessories include: the Vulcan Stone Of Gol, An Alien desktop monitor, a hand disruptor and an alien PADD as well as an action base shaped like a Federation Communicator badge. Picard As Galen comes with alien equipment because in the two-part episodes, he was aboard an alien starship undercover. 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! Oddly, because of the way this figure is cast, Picard is more stable off the base than he is on it. The bowlegged way Galen is cast makes it easier to stand him up flatfooted than on his base.

The Vulcan Stone Of Gol accessory is a purple block with two antennae that looks like a small bug or a human heart with antennae. This is modeled after the prop from the television show and it fits in either of Galen's hands, though it looks best when it is held in both. The surface detailing is amazing, with the extensions having grooves to represent the runes carved into the actual stone and the base having segments, so it looks like it was assembled.

Similarly, the hand disruptor is a faithful recreation of the disruptor Galen used in the episodes, save in the firearm's coloring. This one-inch long accessory is designed to look nasty and while it is slightly out of proportion with the rest of the figure, the detailing on the grip and barrel are extraordinary and the figure looks generally cool while wielding it. Unlike many of the more standardized weapons Playmates Toys produced for the Star Trek figure line, there is no beam coming from the weapon's barrel, so those playing with this have to use their imagination!

Then there is the alien PADD. This flat little piece of plastic has a sticker on it to embody a PADD panel and looks quite good with its molded details of buttons above the sticker viewscreen. This looks generally like the one used in the show with its separate grip next to the viewscreen.

As well, Galen comes with an alien desktop monitor, one of the desk computers that Galen used to identify the artifacts while on Baran's raider. The screen is a simple sticker with wave diagrams, but the base has big buttons that look like they could hold sample containers. The monitor cannot easily be held by Galen and one must balance it between his arms if they want to support it.

Unfortunately, all of these accessories are molded in a dark purple plastic that is utterly lacking in realistic coloring detail. Given that one of the accessories cannot even be held, Picard is over-accessorized and with the lame coloring of the accessories, it is tough to get excited about this.

This action figure was released when Playmates was trying to synergize with trading card collectors and the figure comes with a trading card with a gold stripe. The card features a decent upper body shot of Galen and the back essentially tells the story of "Gambit." The card is very nice!


Picard As Galen continued the generally high quality of Star Trek toys from Playmates. Molded in an action pose, this is not a badly articulated version of Picard. Galen 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, 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, Galen 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!).


Playmates mass produced the first few waves of Star Trek: The Next Generation figures, but by the time it got to this wave, some figures were seriously limited, including Galen. Found carded still in the $10 range, this is one of the better investment figures Playmates created, if you can find it cheap now. There is added value as well in that Star Trek trading card collectors hunt for the figure for the trading card! There was only one release of the Galen figure.

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 16,500 figures out there (my Galen is #016414!).


An interesting action figure, Picard As Galen is a little more limited than some and is an intriguing, if esoteric concept for an action figure. One of the more fun Picard figures to collect.

For other Star Trek figures from the 1996 line, please check out my reviews of:
Elim Garak
Grand Nagus Zek
Commander Worf
Benjamin Sisko As Seen In “Crossover”
Jadzia Dax As Seen in “Blood Oath”
Jem'Hadar Soldier
Odo From “Necessary Evil”
The Hunter Of The Tosk


For other Star Trek figures by Playmates Toys, be sure to visit my Playmates Star Trek Figure Review Index Page!

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

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