Re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation with my wife has been a treat - not only do I get to rewatch one of my favorite TV shows, but I have a solid excuse to dig out some of my old action figures like Captain Dathon. "Darmok at Tanagra!" Paul Winfield brought a lot of gravitas to the metaphor-driven alien, and I remember being somewhat stunned the one-episode character showed up as a toy late in 1993. I bought it, because why wouldn't I? He looked cool and has a place to store a knife on his chest. That's pretty awesome, even if the figure lacks a waist joint. Playmates' TNG line were probably the gold standard of 1992 and 1993, with most figures sporting 12 points of articulation. Dathon only had 11, but consider that Kenner was still largely king (excepting G.I. Joe) so anything over 5 or 6 points of articulation was some sort of divine alien magic.
The 4 1/2-inch alien figure looked like some insane creature from the future with red bobs on his head, orange skin, and bizarre head ridges. Oh, and weird inverted thumbs that stand out like (you guessed it) a sore thumb when you watch them on a big, clear TV screen. The figure's torso is covered in this colorful splotched vest which used to look like something from the distant future, and now looks like something from the distant future that was the carpet of an arcade in 1990. The asymmetrical outfit works well, mostly because the figure has a more dynamic pose as well - Playmates designed a lot of their figures to look like they're in some sort of "action" no matter what, leading to some fascinating poses and others that just look weird when posed on a Bridge playset (see: Riker, Worf.) Dathon is a character we knew mostly from fighting an energy monster with Picard, so seeing him ready to stab a dude is pretty much the only way to go here.
The on-torso storage of the knife was uncommon for this era of figures. Some Starfleet people had tricorder holsters, but they were removable and potentially easily lost. There's no way you can lose this - it's integral to the design and looks wonderful. The v-crotch doesn't really allow for sitting, but these rotating hip joints don't get in the way of the figure's design. It looks pretty, and as I assume Playmates was operating under the assumption that these were figures for kids that adults will put on a desk or leave carded, well, it all makes a lot of sense. Big heads, big hands, and amazing sculpted texture and wrinkles in the costume make this a remarkable figure for the era.
Most accessories from Playmates in the 1990s were unpainted, one-color affairs. Maybe you got a sticker. Dathon's weird - these accessories were all painted a deep orange/brown color. The entire accessory was dipped in paint for reasons unknown, so you get 2 bladed weapons, a burning stick, and a note pad. Everything appeared in the episode, essentially making this about as complete of a collecting experience as you could hope to get on the first try.
Due to their being widely collected and the numbers divulged, this line is notoriously un-wanted today making them superbly cheap collecting fodder. On eBay it's not hard to get a carded sample for $6 shipped - maybe even less if you get it as part of a lot. This was one of the first lines in the 1990s to be very widely collected from the outset, a mentality which started really kicking off in earnest with 1989's Batman line. Figures like Dathon were prized pigs when they hit - you had to pay a premium at a comic shop until they started to saturate weeks or months later at the Bests and Service Merchandises and Targets of the world, most of which no longer exist. For the asking price it's a great deal - I mean, this action figure is 20 years old and practically worthless. That's amazing and difficult for me to comprehend, as back in 1993 it seemed everything from 1973 was on the unhappy side of expensive. Ah well! Don't be shy checking your antique malls or local comic shops for these guys - I've seen collections dumped for under $4 per figure, which, let's face it, is a bargain considering the price of a new figure stamped out in China these days. Get yourself a Dathon! "Sokath - his eyes uncovered."
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