Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Leader Of The Political Klingons, The Gowron Action Figure Is Still All Right!

The Good: Costume detailing, Accessory variety, Decent articulation
The Bad: Accessory coloring, Collectible value, Mediocre balance
The Basics: Good, but in no way extraordinary, the first Playmates Gowron The Klingon figure leaves a little to be desired by fans and collectors alike.

When a toy line begins, it is always interesting to see what characters are highlighted and featured to sell the initial offering. So, when Playmates won the Star Trek: The Next Generation action figure line, there was some amusement on the part of fans when Gowron, the leader of the Klingon High Council garnered a position in the assortment of the first ten figures before such regular characters as Dr. Crusher, Tasha Yar or Wesley Crusher. No, Playmates needed adversaries for the main crew and even if Gowron was not an enemy, he looked like an enemy and children who might play with the toys were thrilled to have a Klingon to fight with their six StarFleet heroes. And for more mature collectors, Gowron could be posed with Gowron in a moment of quiet contemplation and real character development.

From the very first line of Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures by Playmates, one more interesting figures is Gowron The Klingon, one of only four non-StarFleet characters in the line-up. Attired in Klingon armor, Gowron is distinctly different from the other figures in the line and he scowled his way into the collections of many fans. Easily available even now, the leader of the Klingon Empire is a good idea for a figure, adequately rendered by Playmates for posterity.


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. Fairly popular, at least among the fans (a pegwarmer in general society), Gowron The Klingon "The Leader Of The Klingon High Council" 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, Gowron is fairly popular and one that collectors tend to want in their collections. Even so, recently Art Asylum released a Gowron figure that most fans will find to be vastly superior to this one.

The Gowron, Leader Of The Klingon High Council figure is Klingon leader as he appeared the moment he first showed up in the episode "Reunion" (reviewed here!). This is supposed to be the Season Five Gowron and there is no real distinction between this and the fourth season Gowron, when he first appeared in "Reunion." Playmates released a second figure which was Gowron in his ritual attire (the same figure with a set of robes) which would be a more accurate sixth season and beyond Gowron. Gowron is wearing silver Klingon armor, spiked boots and gauntlets. He has a broad chest and a Klingon head.

Standing five inches tall, this is a decent likeness of Gowron The Klingon immortalized in plastic. The character is molded with his hands ready to hold the Klingon painstick in a thrusting motion, so his legs are most naturally cast so he is standing in an almost-squatting pose. There is a decent level of uniform detailing, including the cord cutting across his chest for the blaster holster on his thigh. Gowron's face is molded in a scowl and it lacks much in the way of detail, though the lips are curled out to reveal bright white teeth that are individually painted for distinction. 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.

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 uniform is appropriately colored and the figure looks good in that respect. The holster on Gowron's right thigh is a nice detail and it adequately holds the Klingon blaster that the figure comes with.


Gowron, Leader Of The Klingon High Council comes with five accessories: A Klingon pain stick, Klingon disruptor, a Targ, a ceremonial war club, and an action base shaped like a Klingon symbol. That Gowron comes with weapons makes a great deal of sense, as his role on Star Trek: The Next Generation was that of the leader of a warrior people. Still, things like the war club are ridiculous as they never appeared on the show! The Action base is just enough to support Gowron and is a Klingon symbol cast in bright red and gold. The center of the base has a peg which fits into the hole in either of Gowron's feet!

The Klingon disruptor is poorly detailed, basically being a little gold gun that bears little resemblance to the Klingon firearms shown on Star Trek: The Next Generation. It is an inch and a half long choking hazard which fits into either of Gowron's hands. The disruptor also fits nicely into Gowron's holster and it looks good - though still not terribly accurate - there.

The painstick, on the other hand, is a pretty cool accessory. It is a 3 3/4" plastic tube with a nasty looking end for shocking Klingons. The staff looks mostly like a Klingon pain stick with a wooden handle and a business end that would electrocute a rhino. The figure is molded so that Gowron might hold the painstick in a two-handed grip. In this regard, the figure is well made and well-conceived. For the one pose, Gowron looks pretty awesome.

Then there is the ridiculous Klingon war club. There is some debate as to whether this was ever in the series - I suspect it was part of Worf's calisthenics program on the holodeck in the second season - but it was never seen in Gowron's hands, for sure. This fits awkwardly into Gowron's hands and looks ridiculous.

The Targ is a Klingon dog and the one that comes with Gowron has its forelegs up in an action pose, so it tips right over with an ease that is disturbing. The thing is, all four of these accessories are molded in a silly gold plastic that is utterly lacking in realistic coloring detail. Gowron is over-accessorized and with the lame coloring of the accessories, it is tough to get excited about this.


Gowron The Klingon 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 odd in some collector's displays, this is not a bad sculpt of Gowron. Still, there is a figure from Playmates which offers one more accessory option and a new one by Diamond Select which is a more precise sculpt (reviewed here!). Gowron The Klingon 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 posability!

Moreover, for use with actual play, Gowron The Klingon 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, Gowron 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 Gowron is virtually worthless. Found loose for less than a dollar these days, this Gowron 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 90500 figures out there (my Gowron is #090426!).


This Gowron is good, but not wonderful. As one who is looking back through the old collections, I can see why one would want a Gowron, but the new sculpts are better. And for those collecting the Playmates figures, the other Gowron - even by virtue of adding the robes - gives collectors a little more than this one had.

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 toys, be sure to 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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