Playmates seaQuest DSV Darwin the Dolphin Playmates, ca. 1993
Day #327: February 3, 2012
Darwin the Dolphin Scene-stealing kid-appeal character
seaQuest DSV Action Figures
Item No.: No. 1508 Manufacturer:Playmates Includes:Display stand, translator (not shown), dolphin gear, and some other thing Action Feature:n/a Retail:$5.99 Availability:ca. 1993 Other: Playmates did one series of these guys
After the massive splash made by Star Trek: The Next Generation, Playmates quickly signed and produced seaQuest DSV toys and one of the last ones released was Darwin the Dolphin here. The show ran for a few years and the character is probably better remembered as a throwaway joke on The Simpsons, but at the time the Sunday evening sci-fi show was reasonably fun and also starred one of the dudes from Jaws upstaged by some kid and a dolphin before he was replaced by some guy who bossed around John Connor.
At about 5 1/2-inches long, Darwin has very little articulation. The dolphin is a hard plastic figure with jointed fins which cause his mouth to open and squeak, which is obviously adorable. The grey plastic creature has tons of light and dark grey detailing painted on his person, giving him a lot of extra detail which almost makes up for the fact that there's no obvious sculpted blowhole. What were they afraid of, kids mistaking it for a cranial vagina?
The figure adapted the display stand with an added column and a platform which held him in the air, looking like he was floating. It's a nice touch, and a firm reminder of the time when companies actually worked hard designing and refining figures to be better playthings-- the humans in this line had large hands to grasp accessories, and were an evolutionary step beyond the Trek toys with better leg and hip articulation than their Roddenberry-descended ancestors. In addition to these, he came with a communicator for his human friends and some sort of blue thing he can carry in his mouth. In addition to this, he comes with a bunch of junk on his back which I'm guessing lets him defuse bombs and get ladies.
While it didn't sport the amazing detail of the uniforms and the articulation of his human friends, it's not like there's a lot you can do with a dolphin- ask LEGO or Playmobil, adding posability or play features is difficult. His main purpose is to stand around and look good, but sometimes character transcends quality, and this is one of those times. It doesn't matter if you like the toy or not, you're buying it because you watch the show and you like the talking dolphin.
While his deco and accessories do make him a worthwhile purchase for fans of the show, odds are you won't be impressed by the design in its own right. I watched the show and marveled at the idea of a dolphin or whale action figure outside Street Sharks so I got it, and it aged quite well-- the name plate on the stand is still in place, the paint hasn't rubbed off, and while his harness did stick to his back it did peel off nicely. So yeah, even at 19 years old, I like it.
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