Synopsis of Toy
If there was ever a television series destined to inspire successful merchandise, it was Star Trek. This three-year mission into outer space not only became one of television’s greatest cult phenomenons, it also went on to spawn several sequel series (and imitators) on both the big and little screens. It’s the kind of show all toymakers dreams about, but Mego was the lucky company tapped to make the first Star Trek action figures. The result was a line that has become one of the most prized toy collector's items of all time.
Released in 1974, the first Mego Star Trek figures were eight inches tall, made of plastic, and came with removable uniforms. There were just five figures in the first series: Captain Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty and an anonymous Klingon figure. All the dolls boasted bendable joints and well-sculpted facial features that closely resembled the actors they were based upon. Accessories provided the crowning touch: all the figures came with a phaser, communicator and belt, and the Spock and McCoy figures also had tricorders. However, the costumes were not entirely accurate, as faithful Trekkies soon noticed: the Klingon was dressed in a brown uniform that did not resemble the silver and black uniforms that Klingons wore on the show.
The initial Star Trek figures did quite well and were followed by another line later that year that added a new character: Lt. Uhura. She was the only female figure of the series and also the only one to utilize real hair instead of the molded-plastic hair that crowned the other figures. In terms of accessories, the Uhura figure came with a tricorder but did not have a phaser or communicator. The other characters in the second series were simply reissues of the rest of the characters used in the first.
A third series of Star Trek figures followed in 1975, and this time the focus was entirely on the show’s alien characters. The Gorn, The Keeper, The Cheron and a Neptunian each boasted specially-molded features (like the lizard-like head of The Gorn) and colorful, cleverly-designed outfits (the half black, half white uniform that perfectly matched The Cheron’s half-black, half-white head). Despite these pluses, this series of figures once again came under fire from Star Trek fans for factual errors. For instance, the Gorn was wearing a uniform that belonged to the Klingons, and the original Star Trek series never featured a character known as a Neptunian.
In 1976, Mego released the third series of Star Trek figures. Like the second series, they were all aliens and consisted of four characters: a Mugato, a Talosian, a Romulan, and an Andorian. These alien figures were not dogged by the mistakes that plagued the first set of aliens, but they did contain one noticeable gaffe: the Mugato, a furry alien creature that wore no clothing in the series, was given a full outfit complete with funky 1970’s bellbottoms! The final Star Trek figures released by Mego in their initial line of Star Trek merchandise, these third series figures were also the rarest, meaning they command big prices on the collector’s market today.
Mego’s Star Trek figures were complemented by two playsets. The first was the U.S.S. Enterprise Action Playset, a box-shaped craft adorned with a lovely rendering of the Enterprise on its exterior, opening up to reveal a faithful, nicely-crafted replica of the Enterprise’s main Bridge. Its accessories included a captain’s chair, two stools, a computer console and three screens that each included a double-sided image to view. Creative owners of this playset often drew their own fanciful space vistas to insert in these screens.
The coolest feature of the U.S.S. Enterprise Action Playset was its Transporter. The owner placed a figure within its cardboard chamber and turned the knob, which caused stickers on its side to whirl around in a convincing display of transporter trickery. Meanwhile, the spinning chamber spat the figure out a back door, thus creating the illusion that the figure had been “transported.” The Mission to Gamma VI Playset was the follow-up to the Enterprise playset. It consisted of a huge idol built into the side of a creepy mountain that boasted glowing eyes and movable jaw to chew up figures. It also included four alien figures and an alien-skin glove built into its side to allow users to “grab” figures in the guise of Gamma VI.
For the lucky kids who still had money left after getting all the figures and playsets, Mego also created a series of toys and accessories to complete their Star Trek merchandise line. There were Star Trek Communicators, which were walkie-talkies designed to resemble the show’s communication devices, and a Star Trek Command Communications Console that was really a CB-Radio in disguise. There was also a Star Trekulator (a calculator that could also make space noises), a Tricorder (a cassette player), and Star Trek Planetarium set that included a 20-minute informational audio cassette.
The phaser guns used on Star Trek also inspired plenty of merchandise. For instance, there was a Phaser Battle Game including Toy Phaser guns that made a phaser noise when shot at special reflective targets. This was followed by very sophisticated item known as the Star Trek Phaser Battle Game. It was one of the first tabletop video games and allowed the user to battle Klingon and Romulan ships in a flight-simulator styled game. There was also a Telescreen Console game that worked in a similar fashion and could incorporate a Star Trek figure into the action via a command chair.
Although the Star Trek figures and playsets stopped being made after 1976, the non-figure accessories continued to be made through 1978. Just when it seemed that Mego was going to end its Star Trek toy line, the company was given a commercial shot in the arm by the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The hoopla surrounding this film led to a new line of Star Trek action figures in 1979. This time, the figures came in both small (3½ inches) and large (12 inches) sizes.
The small Star Trek figures came in two series: the first included Kirk, McCoy, Decker, Spock and Ilia, and the second was an all-alien line consisting of a Klingon, an Arcturian, a Betelgeusian, a Zaranite, a Megarite and a Rigellian. These aliens were only sold in the U.S. through mail order, so they are quite rare. There was also a Bridge playset for the 3½ inch figures.
The large series included Kirk, Ilia, Spock, Decker, an Arcturian and a Klingon. The Decker and Klingon figures are the rarest of the 12-inch series and command three times the amount of money that the other 12-inchers go for.
Another important item of Mego Star Trek: The Motion Picture merchandise was the Wrist Communicators Set. Modeled after a similar device used by the characters in the film, these were miniature walkie-talkies that were worn on the wrist like a watch and powered through a battery-pack that was worn on the user’s belt. The movie’s merchandise was rounded out by a series of three spaceship toys: there was a 12-inch U.S.S. Enterprise that included a detachable saucer, an 8-inch Klingon Cruiser and an 8-inch Vulcan Shuttle.
Mego did not issue any further Star Trek toys after their Star Trek: The Motion Picture line, but these toys continue to be popular today. Since these items appeal to both toy collectors and Star Trek fanatics, the result is a twice-as-intense demand for these items. Because of this, these items are very hot on the collector’s market and cost quite a bit of money today. The fervor that these toys continue to inspire prove that Mego’s Star Trek toys truly transport both toy lover and Star Trek fans to a “brave new world” of fun.
Release History of Toy1974 - Star Trek figures
1979 - Star Trek: The Motion Picture figures
Sub Categories of Toysgames