The Good: General sculpt (it’s obvious who it is), Can be found dirt cheap!
The Bad: Overproduced, Unbalanced, Lousy accessory, Terrible coloring and detailing.
The Basics: The only beardless Riker figure to date is the Star Trek: The Next Generation Commander Will Riker action figure from Galoob!
Despite the popularity of Star Trek The Next Generation, there are some characters from the show that are surprisingly under-represented in the merchandising. Despite all of the various Commander Riker action figures that have been produced, there is (to date) only one figure of Riker without his trademark beard. While Riker shaved his beard in Star Trek: Insurrection, the 12” dolls from the movie cheated; only one had the barefaced Riker. Playmates even cheated when it recycled the figures, making the Riker In Second Season Uniform (reviewed here!) figure so they could reuse the bearded Riker head. As a result, it’s only Galoob that offers a first season, beardless, Will Riker action figure.
One of the four most common Galoob Star Trek: The Next Generation figures was Commander Will Riker. Commander Riker was popular, but the figure was released after promo images from the second season were leaked and viewers were already liking the bearded Riker quite a bit! As a result, the Riker figure was a universal pegwarmer, often remaining on clearance racks even after the Picard figure from Galoob (reviewed here!) was bought up!
The Star Trek: The Next Generation 1988 Collection of action figures contained six figures (though two were quite rare and another four were later released) and it focused on the essential characters and villains of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Enormously overproduced even then, Commander Will Riker was one of four figures that was so common by 1989, most toy stores were trying (unsuccessfully) to blow their stock out in the dollar bins. Will Riker suffered additionally because Riker had a beard for most of the time the figure was stuck in the discount bins, so he didn’t look much like the action figure when people went to buy it!
The Commander Will Riker figure is the Command officer as he appeared in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation (reviewed here!). Will Riker is wearing the maroon command uniform which should have the piping on shoulders unique to the first two seasons, but is missing from the figure.
Standing three and a half inches tall, this is a poor likeness of Commander Will Riker immortalized in plastic. The character is molded in a generic standing position that makes him look like he is in a coffin. He is molded with a phaser in his left hand, so he is ready for combat, so long as it is straight in front of him! This Will Riker figure has a terrible level of detailing, with the head being disproportionately small compared with the rest of his body. As well, the uniform detailing is poor with accents like the piping on the pants and shoulders not being painted on. To add further insult to collectors, some of the painting is sloppy like the communicator pin, which is not clearly defined by the coloring, only the molding! Will Riker's face is a generic, neutral expression that contains no emotions. His eyes look dead and are little more than black dots on the white fields of the eyeballs. Will Riker’s skin is also monotonally colored, so there is no depth or shading realism to the figure’s features. He is obviously the Commander, but the molding and paint details are so minimal. He lacks color for his lips, too.
Commander Will Riker comes with only one accessory, considering that the phaser is molded into his one hand. That accessory is a tricorder and it comes with a strap that was never used on the actual tricorders on Star Trek The Next Generation. Instead, this looks like a generic phone from the late 1980s hanging on a plastic loop. The accessory is light on molding details, looking nothing like a tricorder, and is absent any coloring details. As such, it is just a slightly gray plastic piece that hangs from the figure’s shoulder.
Commander Will Riker is terrible as a toy, for several reasons outside just its sculpt. First, Will Riker has terrible balance, light articulation and the molded phaser limits the play options as one whole hand is unavailable for posing or holding items (if there had been more accessories), unless one wants to have Will Riker shooting someone. This was pretty lousy as one of the few playsets Galoob produced was a shuttlecraft and it is hard to imagine Will Riker effectively navigating that craft if he only had one hand available to do it with! Commander Will Riker is endowed with five points of articulation: groin socket, shoulders, and neck. All of the joints 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.
Will Riker, unfortunately, is topheavy with his broad chest and as a result is poorly balanced. This Will Riker tips over and I’ve not found a way to get him to stand unless one has him leaning back from the waist, so it looks like he is doing a groin thrust! This is a terribly balanced toy and the inability to stand is the final nail in the coffin for this figure.
Galoob mass produced the four figures from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and made the others exceptionally rare. Will Riker was one of the four ultra-common figures and this Will Riker is beyond worthless. Found loose for less than a dollar these days, this Will Riker can often be found for less than $3.00 Mint on card! Galoob flooded the market with these figures and they are almost impossible to use as investment pieces.
Even though Galoob might have the only little, all-plastic, beardless Commander Riker figure, it is not worth hunting down.
For other Commander Riker figures, please check out my reviews of:
1992 Playmates Commander Will Riker
Commander Will Riker As A Malcorian
For other toy reviews, please visit my Toy Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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