Playmates Star Trek: The Next Generation Lt. Commander LaForge as a Tarchannen III Alien Action Figure Playmates, 1994
Day #762: October 4, 2013
Lt. Commander LaForge as a Tarchannen III Alien Before The Decline
Star Trek: The Next Generation Year 3
Item No.: Asst. 6070 No. 6033 Manufacturer:Playmates Includes:Search Light, Medical Monitor Kit, Field Kit, UV Light Source Module, Federation Action Base, Space Cap (POG) Action Feature:n/a Retail:$4.99 Availability: 1994 Other: Sample #79,057
During the end of its 7-year run, Star Trek: The Next Generation was a big deal. It sold TV Guide! Playmates kept it safe, with lots of new versions of main characters - even when they looked nothing like the actor, like the bizarre Lt. Commander LaForge as a Tarchannen III Alien. I remember being very excited for him because he was so different, but he wasn't hugely popular - my sample is near #80,000 and they made more than that. This series of 8 figures on the cardback had 6 characters that already had multiple figures - so if you were me in 1994, your love of the show was chafing against your desire to not buy Picard as a Romulan, which at the time I write this I have not yet done.
The story on the show was this: LaForge was on some away team mission where he had this thing in his genetic make-up that rewrote him as this weird brown glowing alien. The regular release is brown with blue veins on it, looking more like a Wayne Barlowe design. ToyFare/Wizard magazine had an exclusive clear blue version of this figure. Under black light, the brown version isn't much to look at - see below.
The 5-inch action figure was weird, but refreshing at the time. It was a memorable episode, and Playmates was bent on reusing tooling and doing a whole mess of head-swaps which got old fast. Geordi here was all-new, but looked nothing like LeVar Burton under all that make-up. The Reading Rainbow host had been several figures in the 1990s, but this one didn't look like any of them - which was sort of exciting, mostly because how many LaForges in uniforms do you need? (At least three for the TV show and 2 for the movies.)
With 12 points of articulation, LaForge held to the standard of the line's early years - he was meant to be posed, he had no problems standing, and the sculpt was largely good. The figure is glossy brown plastic with blue veins, and his face had yellow cat-like eyes with dark brown around his eyes and mouth with pink lips. Three-fingered hands could easily grip his accessories, and his feet were basically flippers or footie pajamas. The design does nothing to hide articulation, so the waist and hip joints are sort of in-your-face.
LaForge was almost feral at this point in the episode, so the alien's gear is really for your other figures - a UV-scanner helped see him in the planet's atmosphere, and the tracking gear could go to Riker or another character needing to beam down to any planet to find weird sciencey stuff. For collectors at the time, I believe the UV-scanner was the most interesting "new" piece in the set - similar accessories were sold with other figures, so they're just OK. The Field Kit has storage space for a PADD (not included) and a bunch of sculpted, non-removable gear on the inside. A label on the outside provided deco and looked pretty great - but the gear is all baby blue, which is sort of obnoxious.
In 1992, Star Trek was white-hot, which it remained in 1993 despite almost half the line (and certainly all of the first new figures) being largely remakes of the 1992 batch. By 1994, things were slowing down as the show was in its 7th Season (hence the golden sticker on LaForge's packaging, not shown) and Deep Space Nine didn't carry the audience quite as well. The momentum was running out, but don't let this figure's worthlessness scare you off - ignoring the TV show, it's just a cool alien toy at a great price these days. If you want a weird figure that's well-made, get it. If you're a die-hard Trek fan, this may be boring to you - but alien collectors? Get one.
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