Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The First Playmates Captain Jean-Luc Picard Figure Still Stands Up After All These Years!

The Good: Good balance, Good sculpt, Good accessories, Decent coloring
The Bad: Massively overproduced for collectors.
The Basics: A wonderful Star Trek: The Next Generation action figure with realistically colored accessories, the first Captain Jean-Luc Picard figure is a good one for fans.

Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation eagerly awaited the release of action figures in the early 1990s as the series grew in popularity well beyond where it had begun. Galoob had held the license for action figures, but they had made such a poor contribution to the franchise that they soon lost it to Playmates Toys. Playmates was eager to wow collectors and their first wave of Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures hit the market in limited quantities right before Christmas in 1992. It almost goes without saying that the line included a Captain Picard action figure.

What was a surprise to many collectors was that the first line of Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures included a Captain Jean-Luc Picard that was not coifed in his most universally recognizable costume and what remains impressive to us now is that this figure still stands up today. This is one of Playmates' best Star Trek franchise action figures and it is hard to come up with things to critique about it. In fact, were it not for the fact that Art Asylum did such a great job on their 6" Picard figure, this might have been the ultimate and perfect Picard action figure!


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 Captain Jean-Luc Picard "Commander Of The Starship Enterprise" figure which was widely regarded as an amazing sculpt supplemented by great accessories that actually fit in Picard's hand. The Captain Picard figure is the Command branch officer as he appeared beginning in the fifth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation (reviewed here!). This is Picard in his duty jacket uniform, so it has the jacket with the split down the middle revealing the blue-gray undershirt and the figure looks quite well detailed!

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 right fingers extended straight, so this Picard is able to do his "Engage" finger motion. Picard's face is molded in a neutral expression and it possesses such details as Picard's chiseled cheekbone. The lips are colored pink 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 great. The skin tones are monolithic light tan and lack any shading or subtlety, but the pips on the collar are perfectly presented and the communicator badge is finely detailed. The uniform is appropriately colored and the figure looks good in that respect. This includes the rolled cuffs at the bottom of the pants, which was a nice touch of realism.


Captain Picard comes with six accessories: A StarFleet Type I phaser, StarFleet tricorder, StarFleet PADD, a Personal viewscreen, Captain's Log Adventure booklet, 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 and he was more of an administrator or leader than action officer. 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 I 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 his left hand and it is molded for that purpose. Picard's right hand is molded open, so it is only ideal for making the hand motion. In the left hand, he can hold the phaser appropriately and it looks good there. Most of his equipment weapons may only held by his left hand. Unfortunately, there was no way to connect the phaser to Picard's when he is not holding it. The Phaser Type I, though has an unrealistically large base in order to fit into the figure's hands, so it is not precisely realistic in its proportions.

The tricorder is a three-quarter inch gray molded plastic device that fits awkwardly into a holster on Picard's right thigh. This accessory looks good with its molded details of buttons and viewscreens. None of these are appropriately colored, though the actual tricorder is the appropriate steel gray color. It, too, fits only in Picard's left hand.

Then there is the 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 below the sticker viewscreen. Like the Phaser Type I, it has been given a little more of a back so it does not slide out of the figure's hands.

As well, Picard comes with a Starfleet monitor, one of the desk computers on the Enterprise. The screen is a simple sticker with a schematic of the Enterprise on it and it can fit in Picard's hands if he holds it with both hands. It looks strange there, though as this was a desktop computer in the Star Trek: The Next Generation world.

The only real lame accessory Picard comes with is the Captain's Log Adventure Book. This is a pamphlet which tells the story of "Unification," which had Spock return to the franchise. The problem is this was not a high-Picard episode and the pamphlet seriously minimizes the details of the episode.


Captain Jean-Luc Picard helped establish a high expectation for quality from Playmates. Molded in a strong, authoritarian pose, this is not a badly articulated version 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 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, 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 action 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 dollar these days, this Picard 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 198000 figures out there (my Picard is #197509!).


Captain Jean-Luc Picard is an essential Star Trek: The Next Generation action figure and this is good enough to enthusiastically recommend to anyone who is a fan of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Perfect for anyone collecting the 4.5" line and still impressive for those not so inclined!

For other figures from the Star Trek: The Next Generation toy line from 1992, please check out my reviews of:
Commander William T. Riker
The Borg


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

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

| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment