The Good: Good balance, Generally good accessories
The Bad: Underwhelming face cast, Reused body!, Miscolored accessories
The Basics: Recycled parts and a disproportionately large head prevent the Kruge action figure from being a worthwhile Star Trek toy.
Have you ever set down to review something and suddenly realized that: 1. it is nowhere near as good as you initially thought it was and 2. it is remarkably close to something you recently reviewed? I'm having that sense right now as I sit down to write the review of the Commander Kruge action figure from Playmates Toys. Commander Kruge was always a pegwarmer when the movie series of action figures came out, but I still figured it might be an average action figure. But today as I sat down to review it, I was bugged by some of the detailing and I realized that the Commander Kruge figure is simply a different head on the Klingon Warrior Worf action figure that I reviewed a few days ago! Any chance this figure had of getting a good review went right out the window.
This is especially disappointing to me, as the other Klingon action figure in this series, General Chang (reviewed here!) was not made of recycled parts, so it is frustrating that Kruge would be presented so shabbily. To be fair, I'm one of the few Star Trek fans who even recalls Kruge, much less argues for him to get the credit I feel he is due. Commander Kruge, after all, is the Klingon warrior who manages to destroy the U.S.S. Enterprise in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (reviewed here!). Often forgotten in the pantheon of Star Trek villains (he did follow on the heels of Khan, so. . .) the fact that the figure is mostly just recycled parts is the final slap in the face to fans of this obscure and deadly Klingon.
The Classic Star Trek Movie Series Collection of action figures contained only ten figures and it was released late in 1995 right before Christmas. This line-up included the Commander Kruge action figure which sat on shelves because people generally did not like the character or this sculpt of Kruge. The entire run of these figures was overproduced and the Kruge figure seems to be the only non-main cast figure from the series whose value has remained low or plummeted since the initial release of the figures.
The Commander Kruge figure is the Klingon warrior and bird-of-prey captain as he appeared in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, save that the armor is not quite right and he is lacking the robe he wore while on the Genesis Planet. Kruge here is dressed in his heavy armor and spiked boots. The problem here is that the figure is wearing a bandoleer; Kruge never did. In fact, only Worf wore the bandoleer over the armor like this! That was how I realized this was entirely a recycled body with a new head. Worf, er, Kruge's hands are molded to be able to carry his accessories.
Standing four and three-quarters inches tall, this is a fair likeness of Kruge immortalized in plastic. The armor would be accurate if it weren't for the bandoleer Kruge is wearing. The figure's painting details are remarkably light as well. While the Klingon Warrior Worf figure had accents on the boots and legs, this figure is less painted. Kruge's face is molded in a stern expression, which is character-appropriate. His face possesses pretty decent amounts of details, with his lips downturned in a scowl and buggy eyes. On the plus side, the forehead ridges are molded in and the figure has decent fleshtone detailing with dark patches on his cheeks and ridges. He also has well-molded eyebrows that is a decent detail.
The paint job is fair, but outside the fleshtones on the face, this is an underpainted figure.
Commander Kruge comes with five accessories, plus a trading card: A Klingon communicator, a Klingon Tricorder, a Klingon disruptor, the back portion that makes the disruptor into a rifle and an action base which was the standard style for the Movie Series collection. Commander Kruge is unfortunately over-accessorized, especially given the way his hands are molded. The Action base is more than enough to support Kruge and offer make the figure a decent display piece. The action base is a 2 5/8" in diameter black stand that raises the figure an additional half inch from the display surface and bears a StarFleet Delta symbol and a sticker at the base with the character's name on it. Near the top of the triangle in the symbol is a peg which fits into the hole in either of Kruge's feet!
The Klingon Communicator is a one inch long choking hazard which is surprisingly well-detailed. Unfortunately, by its size it looks more like a Klingon tricorder and it has the ribs and buttons that define the small prop. This is a pretty cool accessory regardless and it offers more play options than just the weapon would.
The Klingon tricorder is the same size and fits in either of the toy's hands. The tricorder is disproportionately large compared to the rest of the figure, but it makes for good play as the figure can be posed demanding to be beamed up.
Kruge, of course, comes with a weapon and it is unfortunate that his Klingon disruptor does not have a holster or attach to the Commander's hip in any way. Still, this one and a half inch gun fits perfectly into either of Kruge's hands and is very detailed with molded details like the double barrels that lead to the single firing point.
The final accessory is a gun butt which can be shoved into the back of the disruptor. This makes the disruptor into a Klingon rifle and that is cool, as it is what was done in the film. Unfortunately, it is still longer than the figure's armspan, so it looks goofy in Kruge's grip. Also unfortunate is that all four of these accessories are molded in a turd-brown plastic that is lacking in realistic coloring detail and cheapens the overall appearance of the figure. The lame coloring of the accessories, it is tough to get excited about this.
The Movie Series line of Playmates action figures also comes with a very cool SkyBox trading card unique to the action figures. The Kruge card is landscape oriented and features a headshot of Kruge on the bridge of his Bird Of Prey. The back of the card has all sorts of vital information on Kruge and the figure is highly sought by card collectors who collected the cards and disposed of the figures. Interestingly, many of the Movie Series figures often had multiple cards in the bag behind the primary card, so it can often save collectors money to pick up the figures that way for the multiple cards!
Kruge underwhelmed those used to a high level of quality from Playmates, though he was not bad at the time, pleasing collectors and fans alike. Molded in a pose that makes him look somewhat burly and ready to attack this is a mediocre sculpt of Kruge. Kruge is endowed with twelve points of articulation: knees, groin socket, biceps, elbows, shoulders, waist and neck. 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, Kruge 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 or off, Kruge is quite stable, making him a good figure for display as well as play.
Playmates mass produced the first few waves of Star Trek figures, but by the time the Movie Series set came along, they were a little more conservative in their production. With this toy line, they incorrectly divined an enthusiasm for main cast figures (in their outfits from Star Trek: The Motion Picture) so villains like Kruge were underproduced within the line. Still, Kruge was not popular and his value has stuck near the original release price. One suspects Art Asylum will eventually make a Kruge figure which will easily trump this one, though that would not take much to do.
Playmates tried to make the figures collectible. Each figure has an individual number on the bottom of his right 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 22,000 figures out there (my Kruge is #021834!).
A worthwhile Klingon, Kruge is poorly made by Playmates as an action figure and it is easy to pass this one by.
For other Playmates Star Trek figures of Klingons, please check out my reviews of:
For other Playmates Star Trek figure reviews, please check out my Index Page on the subject!
© 2012, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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