Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Tale Of Two Worfs: Lt. Worf Is One Of The Best Of A Lame Line!

The Good: Generally good sculpt and balance
The Bad: WAY overproduced, Hand molding decreases playability
The Basics: A good figure, the Playmates Lt. Worf is one of the better options for collectors of Star Trek: The Next Generation toys, even if there are better ones out now!

Looking back upon the various Star Trek action figure lines, it is interesting to see the milestones and what fans thought of as great at the time vs. now. So, for example, right now, Art Asylum and Diamond Select dominate the Star Trek toy market with the most realistically detailed action figures fans have ever seen in a 6" scale. But back in 1991 when the merchandising of Star Trek was exploding as part of the 25th Anniversary celebration, Playmates held the toy line and it impressed fans of the shows and collectors alike. The 4.5" scale Star Trek: The Next Generation figures from Playmates were a vast improvement over the anemic Galoob 3.5" figure (reviewed here!). More than that, looking back at the Playmates line, the figures were remarkably well-made even for the time and there is much to recommend them to fans, even today.

From the very first line of Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures by Playmates, one of best figures is Lt. Worf. Lt. Worf is the gold (yellow) uniformed action figure.


The Star Trek: The Next Generation 1992 Collection of action figures contained ten figures (though the tenth was not released until early 1993) and it focused on the essential characters and villains of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Enormously popular even then, Lt. Worf "Chief Security Officer Of The U.S.S. Enterprise," was a highly sought-after figure. Around Christmastime 1992, the first wave of nine of the ten figures were released and initially they were nearly impossible to find. Since then, they were so vastly overproduced as to make them worthless. Still, Lt. Worf is fairly popular and one that collectors tend to want in their collections.

The Lieutenant Commander Worf figure is the Security branch officer as he appeared in all but the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation (reviewed here!). This is supposed to be the Season Five Worf and there is no real distinction between this and, say, the fourth season Worf. Worf is wearing the Gold security uniform with the silver bandoleer molded to the chest. He has a broad chest and a Klingon head.

Standing five inches tall, this is a decent likeness of Lieutenant Worf immortalized in plastic. The character is molded with his right leg extended straight, so the most natural pose for the figure is having Worf kicking. There is a decent level of uniform detailing. Still, some of the painting is sloppy; the communicator pin is chipped on mine, for example. Worf's face is molded in a scowl and it lacks much in the way of detail, though the lips are colored more red than the dark skin tones of Worf. The figure includes such important details as the distinctive Klingon head ridges and the facial hair molded into the plastic, though most of the facial hair detailing is simply painted on. The face and hair lack any sense of realistic toning and this Worf still has hair that is short enough that the figure, appropriately, lacks a pony tail.

The paint job is mediocre at best. The skin tones are monolithic brown and lack any shading or subtlety. The shading in the head ridges is simplistic (basically little black triangles) and the eyes are similarly lacking in details. The crest on the bandoleer is only faintly detailed. 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.


Lieutenant Commander Worf comes with six accessories: A StarFleet Type II phaser, StarFleet tricorder, Bat'leth sword, a Klingon d'k'tang knife, a Klingon sword and an action base shaped like a Federation Communicator badge. That Commander Worf comes with weapons makes a great deal of sense, as his role on Star Trek: The Next Generation was that of Security Chief aboard the starship Enterprise. The Action base is just enough to support Worf and is a StarFleet delta shield with a little black sticker that reads "Worf" 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 Worf'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 able to hold the phaser in either hand, but herein lies a problem. Worf's left hand is molded almost into a fist. This allows him to hold the knife hilt perfectly, but the left hand is a bit too open to hold the phaser with a look that looks even remotely good. In the right hand, he can hold the phaser as if it were a lightsaber, but it looks ridiculous there. Most of weapons may only held by his left hand, which is molded open for just such a purpose. Unfortunately, there was no way to connect the phaser to Worf's when he is not holding it.

The tricorder is a three-quarter inch brown molded plastic device that fits awkwardly into a holster on Worf's right thigh. This accessory looks utterly ridiculous. It, too, fits only in Worf's right hand.

Then there are the two swords and the knife. The bat'leth is a curved Klingon sword molded with appropriate hand grips and four points. It looks realistically cast. Similarly, the sword looks much like the Klingon sword Worf used during his calisthenics on the holodeck in "The Emissary." It is molded with a guard that comes around, though, preventing the figure from holding it in anything but his right hand. The d'k'tang knife is a wicked little one-inch choking hazard that fits into Worf's left hand. The base of it, though, is so thin that forcing it into Worf's grip has been known to break the accessory. The thing is, all three of these accessories, like the tricorder, are molded in a gross brown plastic that is utterly lacking in realistic coloring detail. Given that the left hand can only hold the knife, Worf is over-accessorized and with the lame coloring of the accessories, it is tough to get excited about this.


Lieutenant Worf helped establish a new level of quality from Playmates and he was quite good at the time, pleasing collectors and fans alike. Despite being molded in a fairly limited, aggressive pose that looks ridiculous when the figure is on the bridge (there was a bridge playset!), this is not a bad sculpt of Worf. Lieutenant Worf 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, Lieutenant Worf 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, Worf 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 Worf is virtually worthless. Found loose for less than a dollar these days, this Worf 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 609700 figures out there (my Worf is #609680!).


This Worf has serious grip issues and is poorly colored by today's standards of realism, but when I pulled mine out for review today, I was actually impressed by how detailed the figure was and how ambitious Playmates was at the time. They struck while the iron was hot and even though the forge is long cold, this is one of the figures worth picking up if one is able to find it!

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


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

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

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