Sunday, June 1, 2014

Flea Market Finds: Star Trek and Lord of the Rings Action Figures

It's Sunday and the weather is getting warmer so that means it's flea market and yard sale season.  For a collector, there are plenty of treasures to be found amongst the aisles and driveways filled with junk and old unwanted items.  Today I went to my local Lion's Club Flea Market that is held twice a year, once in the spring, once in the fall in my town of Kingston, MA.  It's a very modest size event and the participants typically consist of people that are just cleaning out their homes as opposed to vendors that make any sort of living off of selling their goods.

I went to this market with $23 cash in my pocket, thinking I may have to find an ATM if I saw anything good.  Turns out it was the perfect amount to get the only items I saw that really interested me in any way. Those purchases being two Star Trek and one Lord of the Rings action figures.

Let's start by looking at the Star Trek figures.  Both are from a series called "Space Talk Series" which was made by Playmates and released in 1995.  The characters Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Commander William Riker from the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series.

Unlike most Star Trek actions figures made by Playmates, these are 7 inches tall rather than 5 inches.  They also have a bit more articulation, which along with the size and voice feature, were the main reasons I was interested in picking these up.

I think these are some of the few figures I own that I will be keeping in the card box because I like the presentation of the two toys more than the idea of displaying them loose. The vendor selling them wanted $5 each, but ended up selling them both for $8 total.  Considering the retail price was $9.99 each almost 20 years ago, I think that's quite a deal. Amazingly, the sound function on both still works! I've encountered plenty of new toys still in stores that can't make that same claim.  


Captain Jean-Luc Picard
   11 points of articulation
   Accessories include Federation Type I Phaser and
      PADD (Personal Access Display Device)
   Adventure Booklet: "Decipher or Die"
   Recorded phrases: 
     -"Damage Report"
     -"Captain's log supplement…"

Captain Jean-Luc Picard
   9 points of articulation
   Accessories include Federation Type II Phaser and
   Adventure Booklet: "Command Decisions!"
   Recorded phrases: 
     -"Shields up"
     -"Red Alert!"

The back of the card shows that the two other characters there were available in these series were Hugh Borg and Q. 

After doing a quick Google search for these two toys, I've noticed that the booklets for most of these figures are white with black type, but these are blue with white type.  I wonder if that was a production change or whether it signifies a rerelease of this series.

The third figure I purchased was Electronic Talking Gollum.  He comes form Toy Biz's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King line released in 2003.  The figure comes with two interchangeable heads so that he can be displayed as either the wretched Gollum or his pitiful alter ego Smeagol.  There is also a rather large base for the figure to perch himself on that plays recorded lines spoken by either personality depending on which button is pressed. The final accessory is a fish for Gollum to snack on.

The package on this figure was badly sun-bleached and the clear plastic window was all cracked, so I didn't bother keeping the box (not that I really would have even if it was in good shape). Like the Star Trek figures, I was surprised to find that the electronic sound function on this toy also still worked.  The base plays over 22 phrases and sings the "Wish for a Fish" song.

The rock and pool Is nice and cool, So juicy-sweet! Our only wish, To catch a fish, So juicy-sweet!

The figure is fairly large, standing at over 10 inches even in a very hunched position.  I seems to be sized to fit in with 1/4 scale action figures. The sculpt is very nice and looks just as the character did in the movies.  The clear plastic used for the eyes make for a great look, although I'm not a huge fan of the loin cloth that was used, but it looks just fine.

The articulation on the figure isn't too bad, but it's all very limited. Even though there are two ball joints in the neck, you can't get him to look up, heck, he can't even look forward. The arms and legs are all bendy (rubbery with wires on the inside) as opposed to articulated but, you can't really get them to move much, and definitely can't get them to be straight.  There are two v-cut swivel joints at the crotch which I've always thought was a terrible way to articulate a figure because it only ever seems to work in one position.  The most useful joints on this toy are the swivel waist and wrists, and the hinged hands.

It's a bit of a coincidence that I came across the toy just a few weeks after buying the new Smeagol from NECA at a liquidation sale.  The Toy Biz figure cost me $15, and the NECA cost me $22 (marked down from $60).  Both are meant to be 1/4 scale but they are drastically different sizes from one another.  I can't say for sure which one is correct, I do think the NECA one looks better it 1/6 scale figures, where as the Toy Biz looks much better with 1/4 scale ones. 

While the older figure looks really great for a figure made over 10 years ago, NECA has really changed the playing field. The sculpt, paint, and articulation is just so much better on the newer figure.  It almost seems like you're dealing with a different character.  Not that it really makes me like the Toy Biz figure any less, because I am really glad I picked it up, it's just a notable change in quality. To be fair, the character design has also had a few tweaks made to it in the Hobbit movies which the NECA figure is based on.  
Overall, I'm very happy to add these to my collection and I hope this is the beginning of a great season of flea market and yard sale picking

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1 comment:

  1. Those are some fantastic finds! I've got to start stopping at yard sales more often, I never think about what kinds of treasures can be found there when I drive by them!