If you were keeping up with the Cardassians in the 1990s, you probably remember Elim Garak as one of the first not-evil members of the species to appear on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Granted, we weren't quite sure what he necessarily wanted, as some level of ambiguity was implied in the writing and the performance. Was he a spy - and for whom? What exactly did he want from Dr. Bashir? And how did he get to be so good at fixing clothes? The greyer characters of the show like Quark, Odo, Garak, and countless others made for fascinating viewing for a kid or a teen in that era, especially as the virtues of leadership in the real world continued to be called into question and - let's face it - everybody realizes it's hard to go through life without getting your hands dirty.
At 5-inches tall, this particular Garak wears the outfit he had on in the episodes "Improbable Cause" and "The Die Is Cast," and possibly others. It's not an exact match - the ribbed part of his shirt is much more colorful in set photos, as opposed to the brown it is here. Given the lower definition of old TVs and the often dubious quality of reference (and over-the-air broadcasts) it's possible that the figure is simply as good as Playmates could do given the reference they had. The neck area is also not quite a perfect design match, but it's pretty close - and thanks to the variety of costumes in the show as well as the vast number of appearances, fans seemed to be a lot more forgiving when a Trek toy wasn't quite perfect. In Star Wars they would - and do - demand a resculpt before the toy even hit shelves.
The pants are glossy and bland, but decent. Andrew Robinson's make-up is replicated fairly well, plopped on a body with articulation just below the norm for this line. There's no waist joint, but there are 11 total joints and because of the long shirt, Garak won't be doing any sitting - the articulation helps him stand on a shelf or on the included Cardassian display base. Since it was the 1990s and toy companies felt shame when there were problems with figure/vehicle compatibility at times, this one works well. The phaser fits right in his hand, as does everything else in the package. Each accessory is cast in a nice blue color, which looks absolutely nothing like any of the props on the show - the forms are right, but the colors aren't even close. This was normal for Playmates in the 1990s, as you'll see wacky colors on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well. Things were a little better in seaQuest DSV, but you still saw bright orange gear with some figures too. The trading card is also nice, a common pack-in of the mid 1990s as nice, cheap paper was a strong selling point and things like exclusive cards or promo cards helped to cross-brand with SkyBox or Topps or another manufacturer. Playmates frequently jumped in with other manufacturers and products to get the word out, but today the card has a lot less weight than it did 20 years ago. After all, 20 years ago people more frequently purchased trading card packs and they were a heck of a lot cheaper.
Like Grand Nagus Zek, Garak has been on my wish list for years and I've finally bought one. The market settled down and he's $5 or less at most collectible shops that are not run by insane people. The 1990s is filled with near-worthless toys that are pretty good, and if you want a Garak figure you don't have all that many options. Why not get this one? Odds are he's just going to stand around on your desk, and super-articulation is overrated for toys not going in vehicles or into combat. I'd rank him as good enough - not perfect, but a figure with good enough sculpting to warrant the lower-end of the current asking prices.
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