Toy Tribute: Galoob Star Trek: The Next Generation Starfleet Officers


When I think of Galoob, I think of Micro Machines, not action figures. It turns out that Galoob did produce a few action figure lines, but none were particularly memorable (at least, to me). Case in point: a few years before Playmates scored the Star Trek: The Next Generation license and began producing its now famous (and in some ways infamous) action figure line, Galoob held the license and produced a less commonly-known line of 3 3/4" scale figures from the first season of the show. In this Toy Tribute, let's take a look at Galoob's take on the crew of the Enterprise D.

A Star Trek Take on a Star Wars Scale

The first thing you'll notice is that these Galoob figures are in-scale with Star Wars figures, standing between 3.5" tall (Geordi, Yar) to 4" tall (Worf, Riker). The variety of sizes reflects the proportionately different heights of the actors, a concept that eluded the Star Wars line for decades.


The figures sport Season 1-style uniforms that look just as unreasonably tight as those in the show, with seams that I never noticed before on the "real" uniforms. Overall, the sculpts are more realistic than the caricatured Playmates figures, featuring accurately-scaled proportions, neutral stances, unique parts (no figures share arms or legs, for example), and surprisingly realistic face sculpts. Not to throw my precious Star Wars line under the bus again, but the realism of the Galoob Trek figures surpasses that of the vintage Star Wars Power of the Force figures from just a few years prior. Sure, the POTF85 line featured a few strong sculpts like Anakin Skywalker, but there were many others that were embarrassingly abysmal in terms of realism, like Han Carbonite and Luke Stormtrooper. Compared to those two contemporaries, the sculpts of the Galoob TNG figures are surprisingly awesome.


Strangely, each Galoob TNG figure has a Type II Phaser sculpted in one of his/her hands. The Phaser is definitely the doofy "Dustbuster" Phaser from Seasons 1 and 2. Also, each figure comes with a Tricorder with straps. I think the TNG Tricorders were always carried in pouches on the sides of the pants and had no straps at all. I suspect Galoob included the straps to add some size to the Tricorders so that they didn't scream "choking hazard". Unfortunately, the non-Phaser hands are tightly fisted, so they can't hold the Tricorders anyway.

Enough with the overview, let's check out the crew of the Enterprise!

Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Picard is a great figure with a cool likeness, but I would have preferred him to have one hand in the "make it so" gesture.


Commander William Riker

I love the tall and commanding proportions of this Commander Riker figure compared with the rest of the crew.


Lieutenant Commander Data

Data is the strangest dude in this wave. Shown below are two variations: one with tan skin and green flecks, and one with cream skin and gray flecks. I'm not sure what the story was behind the tan-skinned Data. Maybe the coloration is based on concept art instead of production stills. I initially thought that the flecks were some sort of production error or degradation of the plastic, but nope... the pattern looks like it was intentional. Which means that somebody along the line thought that a flecked-face works well for Data. Weird. The cream-skinned figure looks okay even with the gray flecks, but I'm confused as to why the flecks are there in the first place. (It turns out there were two additional variations: flesh and blue colored faces.)

One other thing: check out Data's bio on the back of his card. "Origin: Android fabricated by unknown aliens." Maybe this bio was written before the episode "Datalore" in which we learn of Data's origin.

Interestingly enough, the figure holds his Phaser in his left hand, which seems to be the hand that Data favored in the TV series. Score one for screen-accuracy.


Lieutenant Geordi La Forge

Like Data, Geordi holds his Phaser in his left hand. Unlike Data, Geordi actually was not left-handed, as explained in the episode "Ship in a Bottle". Oh well... at least it makes the figures seem less uniform.

Geordi's bio totally underestimates the power of his VISOR. It not only helps Geordi see, it can also be hooked up to a Tricorder to solve pretty much any problem the Enterprise might encounter.


Lieutenant Tasha Yar

It would have been cool if Tasha had the blotch on her cheek from the episode "Skin of Evil", although I'm sure that when these figures were released, Galoob couldn't have possibly known that Denise Crosby didn't want to come back for another season and that her character was destined to be killed off.


Lieutenant Worf

Worf is the only figure from this group with iffy proportions. Not only is he abstractly beefy, but also his head is too small for that beefy bod. Still, it's the only reasonably accurate figure of Worf from the first season. (The Playmates Season 1 Worf had many inaccuracies due to its reuse of parts from a Season 4 figure.) Like Geordi, Worf is misrepresented as being left-handed.


All Good Things

Tragically, the Galoob TNG line lasted only one or two waves before it was cancelled. Why it was so short-lived, while the Playmates line exploded just a few years later, is anyone's guess. It could be that TNG wasn't as popular during the first season of the show when the Galoob line was released. Playmates, by contrast, released its TNG figures during the 5th season when the show was nailing record ratings (The Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, pg. 173). It could also be that the cartoony character of the Playmates figures resonated with the fans, while Galoob's realism fell flat. Regardless, like the Playmates Toys figures, this Galoob ST:TNG line is a pretty interesting oddity in its own right and certainly worthy of display in a Trekkie's collection.

10 comments:

  1. Jason here. . .Wow! Awesome! I can just hear Riker in the Rancor's mouth. . ."Data something's got mayyyyyyyy!!!!!!" Love the tribute to this line! I'm so proud to display mine (though I only have the brown skin Data). I just realized that my Data and Yar, like yours, are missing the black paint on their sides.

    I love how real these little guys look at arms length. It's great how they added details I never noticed in the show like the v-shaped seam you mentioned, the sewn in Phaser holster and the flap on the top of their boots. I believe the actors in the show really only used 7 points of their own articulation (maybe 8 for Picard for his "engage" arm extension) so these figures got that right. I just wish they had open hands with separate Phasers (like they originally intended). I think it's funny though that they are all equipped with Medical Tricorders, and yet there's no physician around to use it.

    I thought the Galoob figures were a bit boring when I was a kid, but then again the show hadn't grown on me yet either. Once the Playmates line came out I was full on obsessed with TNG. The show wasn't really an action show but here were these dynamic Playmates figures on crazy exploding pastel colored cards with tons of accessories and articulation. The figures actually made me enjoy the show more. The Playmates line hoisted these "solve the problem through intellectual means" characters to action heroes! Unfortunately, I was always hoping the show might reach the excitement level implied by the Playmates figures. The show taught me to have lowered expectations, so I actually got excited when their uniforms were updated in season 3, and Picard got his individualized outfit in season 5.

    I'll always love the Plamates figures for their "toy like" energy, but as an adult fan (who love's the show for everything it is) I think the Galoob figures represent the tone of TNG better by showcasing it's restraint and dignity.

    If only Galoob had waited 5 years to make these, we might have had the entire saga of Star Trek in 3 3/4".

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  2. Wow! These fell under my radar! I had no idea anyone else but Playmates messed with TNG as far as action figures. And as soon as I saw the great likenesses and scale I fell in love!

    I never liked the doofy looks of the playmates line myself. And never was into the idea of Trek figures anyway. But these are just different.

    Thanks man, now I have to get a set of these....expcept that ugly ferrengi... hate those guys. I think I'll try to snag a set and hide them among my Vintage Star Wars collection. :D

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  3. Very cool. I got the whole crew when the set first came out, but I always wanted a bridge playset, and I always wanted some aliens to fight! Playmates had the advantage in that they released some bad guys in their first wave--a Borg, a Ferengi, and a Romulan, if I recall.

    Of course, time, active use, and moving to a new house several times over have taken their toll. Q must have swooped in and made all the tricorders vanish. Worf was mysteriously killed off between episodes, never to be seen again, up until years later when his counterpart from an alternate universe stepped in to fill his place. Tasha Yar broke her arm clean off, and in the absence of a Dr. Crusher action figure, local surgeons used Crazy-Glue to permanently reattach the limb.

    And let's not even talk about the poor condition of the shuttlecraft toy. Hopefully the force fields are strong enough to keep them from getting sucked out into space. Ya gotta review the shuttlecraft, if you haven't already.

    I think the tricorders came with that loop so the crew could carry them over their shoulder or around their neck; I imagine it's difficult to sculpt hands that can grasp such a tiny object, plus the risk of losing so small an accessory is high enough that I don't think it's be worth the effort.

    Incidentally, a friend bought me the bridge playset from the new 2009 Star Trek movie, and it turns out the Galoob figures fit perfectly. I wrote up a post that sort of combines old and new, if you're interested:

    http://www.exfanding.com/2010/01/star-trek-toys-past-and-present-part-2.html

    I totally wasn't intending to self-promote; it just happens sometimes.

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  4. Love the egg speckled Data, lol.

    Great review as always.

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  5. The Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion says that, when the series was in its planning stages, Data was going to be the work of mysterious aliens. I guess this is one of those things like the Generations uniforms where the toy company was working from outdated info.

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  6. Geordi was an instructor??

    LOL.

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  7. I wanted Q and the three aliens more than the heroes, but never saw any of them in stores (Playmates never made a Selay or Antican). The permanent phaser hands were strange, and didn't get them until the line ended and rows and rows of them in stores clearance out (Data being oddly hard to find). The last two figures were never mass produced, Romulan (based on THE NEUTRAL ZONE commander with the red sash) and Wesley (first season tights).

    I bought a Ferengi Fighter at a comic show in the early 90's, which I didn't even know existed. Cool made-up toy, actually. Nearly 2 decade laters, I still don't have a Galoob Ferengi figure, though.

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  8. The many faces of Data is not in any way intentional. It has to do with several variations of paint Galoob used to try to achieve the same gold hew seen on the face of Data. My mother collected this set when they first came out and has 3 Datas each with a different face problem. One has the flecks and they have gotten worse as the years go on almost to the point of us wondering if it might be some kind of mold. When first packaged most of the Data figures had a fairly accurate paint job but as the years roll on they all degrade to one of the four known oddities.

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  9. ya the galoob line rocked, wish they would have continued it, I used have dreams about finding the bridge , wanted that so bad as a kid , i would cry for it, luckily playmates took over the license in 1992 however i wish galoob would have stuck with it,

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  10. I have the whole set besides the playscapes and the ensign and romulan figures those are like 3,000$ a piece. But i have multiple Q,FERENGI,ANTICAN,SELAY. I have the ferengi fighter & shuttle craft gallileo along with the diecast enterprise ship and a full scale phaser all moc in the boxes never opened. I was always a star wars fan but when i grew up i started collecting both trek and wars i have most of the vintage dolls from both in the boxes im just gonna sit on them til they go up even more in price.If i could get the ensign and romulan figure i would be a happy camper.

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