Playmobil 70548 Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 Playset Playmobil, 2021
Day #2,354: November 11, 2021
U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 Playset The Biggest Playmobil Set Ever (so far)
Star Trek Set
Item No.: No. 70548 Manufacturer:Playmobil Includes:with 7 figures, 3 communicators, 3 phasers, 6 tribbles, a tricorder, display stand, cables to suspend it from a ceiling, and so on Action Feature:Electronic lights and sounds, app compatibility, top and side of ship remove to reveal the bridge and engineering, respectively Retail:$499.99 Availability: September 2021 Other: No bloody A, B, C, or D
I could be wrong, but I'm fairly sure this U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 is both the biggest Star Trek toy vehicle and the biggest Playmobil release of all time, not counting displays for stores or things like prop replicas. In the heyday of the 1990s Playmates Trek line there was a fancy bridge for the D, and while it is arguably more of a toy, this one gives you the whole dang ship.
The ship is almost entirely new parts, but the rod in the radar dish is a throwback to older Playmobil space sets - you may recognize it from a lot of existing robots as an antenna or a weapon. The figures are mostly old parts with new deco, but it's worth noting Spock's hair and head seem to be all-new parts. I don't believe any previously released figure has ears. At $500 it is an utterly ridiculous toy - not quite as big or as meaty as Hasbro's mighty Jabba's Sail Barge, nowhere near as robust as the U.S.S. Flagg, and arguably not as fun as Playmobil's own Ghostbusters Fire House - itself a rather tremendous value, all things considered.
I like this set because of its audacity an that it's a very good model of the ship with great lights and sounds, given the cost. Star Trek turned 55 the day this toy was supposed to be released, and that makes it an item that seems out of place in terms of its timing. The kids of 1966 are grandparents now. Today's parents probably grew up with The Next Generation or no Trek at all. Also Playmobil isn't currently a big hit in the USA. No child is likely to ask for this (and get it) for the holidays, but for the adult-child in all toy collectors, I can't deny that this is something I would've killed for as a kid who watched a lot of classic TV. I have no business owning a toy this preposterously neat, and I would say Playmobil threw down the gauntlet for what a "toy" vehicle should be able to do in terms of lights and sounds. The Playmobil Ghostbusters Ecto-1A was one of the most impressive electronic lightshows I've ever seen - until this.
Let's start with the figures - they're OK! I think Playmobil has an opportunity to go back and retry these with the characters' secondary or tertiary costumes. They're still excellent given the use of existing parts, but you can't deny better hair could do wonders for these figures. Uhura lacks her nifty earrings, but she uses the skirt from recent Playmobil releases and a perfectly good existing hair element. Kirk's hair is not specific to Shatner, a man whose hair is something of a conversation starter. He uses the plain Playmobil face, as does Dr. McCoy who also just looks like some Playmobil guy - a little more decoration could help him, or perhaps a new hair piece. Chekov has unique eyebrows and his off-the-shelf hair looks pretty good, as does Sulu who makes use of the off-the-shelf Asian eye printing Playmobil has used for years. Scotty looks perfectly OK in his red uniform, but Spock's new head design and hair is arguably what sells the set. Maybe some day we'll get a Mirror Kirk or Green Kirk, but Spock had to be right the first time and I think they did a good job with the printed eyebrows. There aren't many surprises here - this is what you probably would have expected.
All of the figures have uniforms with the familiar gold trim to indicate rank on their sleeves, the mission patches on their chest, and the black collars. These are the same bodies Playmobil has used for make other figures for years, which is why their soles have much older copyright dates. Oddly the figures have printed dates of 2019, while the stickers say 2020 and the box says 2021. One could assume this set was in development for some time.
If Playmobil ever sold the crew pack apart from the ship I would recommend it for anyone with a small Playmobil collection. Have you ever wanted a toy Kirk to beam down to (and harass) a toy Renaissance Faire? Well, if you have older castles around, it's your lucky day. Did you want some cheesy 1960s-style technicolor sets for your figures? Existing Playmobil scenery, like volcanos and forests, may do the trick in replicating the DesiLu Studios' brightly-colored designs. If they ever sell the crew for $30-$40, I think Star Trek fans would like it.
The tribbles are similarly repurposed parts - it didn't immediately hit me, but they're cheerleader pompoms colored brown, gray, and white. They have a grip on the bottom - as one might want - making the designs pretty clever as reused parts go. Fans looking for a deep cut and wanting pink tribbles from the cartoon can also buy some cheerleaders and steal their pompoms. I wouldn't mind seeing Kirk in his green uniform packed with even more tribbles either at some point.
Other accessories include multi-part communicators (neat), Phasers (sadly unpainted), and a Tricorder - which is basically just a purse-like pouch. Because Playmobil toys tend to be universally good, all accessories interact with the figure without a problem. I would've loved more color detail on the Phaser, especially at the price point. Playmobil is great at molding multiple colors of plastic in a single plaything, negating the use of paint in many cases. It would've been welcome on the Phaser, but the communicator looks just fine and the Tricorder is basically just ornamental.
While some very high-priced releases from Hasbro and Mattel aren't playthings, this is a real toy. It feels like a Playmobil toy with that unique texture of plastic, and that oh-so-familiar lid fits on top of the bridge. Similar lids were on the old Playmospace space ship as well as the recent Mars space station. The ship's bridge has seven seats - six office chairs which must have sticker upholstery added, plus the captain chair. If they ever put out more figures, you'll get lots of workstations at which other figures can stand. Maybe you'll get Reily or Darnell some day.
Star Trek's set design was at least partially inspired by the desire to sell then-new color television sets, and you'll note all kinds of colorful, dynamic lighting all over the show's already vibrant sets and costumes to illustrate this point. The set design's color palette is largely replicated successfully, but your memory will no doubt remember many more colorful lights which aren't actually on this toy. It's still good - you have the bright red rails, the dozens of screens, the illustrations of controls. There's even a few lenticular stickers to represent various read-outs, a Klingon D-7 on the viewscreen, and surprisingly the turbolift. (There are many frames of animation there, too.) Given the vintage Playmobil space sets it's obvious this company was thinking about Star Trek for years, and they put a lot of love into the control center of this famous starship.
One of my favorite "toy" elements on the bridge is a storage area for accessories directly under the viewscreen. It's a little thing, but it's important and helpful so fans don't lose their spare dilithium crystals or communicators. Beyond that, the bridge has few moving parts - just seats. There are three big buttons at the helm so you can initiate a Red Alert, the warp engines, or the photon torpedoes. Ambient bridge noises play when the item is powered on when the item is plugged in via USB-C (cable not included) or your batteries. The switch is hidden in Engineering, a rather tiny area on the side of the ship's body. I'm not going to sugarcoat it - it's tiny. You can't reenact a fight in here with Khan, it's too small. However, it does allow you to have Scotty be a miracle worker and you can plug in the dilithium crystals in a removable chamber. A separate Engineering environment would be a welcome purchase.
With places for all of your stuff inside the ship and a nice stand keeping it upright during assembly and display, you'll be glad to know the ship itself is sturdy as all heck. You have to snake various cords through the ship's nacelles to get the lights and everything working, but once you do it's pretty awesome. The ship is made of the same sturdy Playmobil plastic as your other vehicles and buildings - you'll immediately recognize it - while the caps on the nacelles have an especially trippy light show. White lights in the bridge light up the top and bottom of the saucer, and some lights in engineering also glow. Sadly some of the other external lights are merely decorative, but considering the end user has to wire this thing up, presumably they didn't want to complicate it beyond the "ages 10 and up" grade that the box seems to assume will be buying this.
Assembly took me a few hours thanks to the stickers, the tight fit of some pieces, and the fact that it was hard to tell if the nacelles were wired up to the cables properly. It's an afternoon or a late-evening project, set aside at least three or four hours and have a screwdriver handy. Due to the fact it uses System-X fasteners and a few screws to keep it together, I would not recommend zooming around your house with this in your hands. While the panel covering Engineering secures nicely, the lid on the saucer is not quite as perfect of a fit as some of my other sets, including some nearly as old as I am.
Big toys are all the rage lately, with giant Sail Barges, Unicron, Sentinels, and more - "holy grail" toys are something toy companies realize fans want as Hot Toys and the like have been gobbling up hundreds of dollars for each releases. Rather than make an eerily realistic figure, or a prop replica-quality toy vehicle, Playmobil made the Playmobil-est Enterprise ever. The ship's shape doesn't lend itself to being a toy with playsets inside, as we saw in a limited capacity with the Innerspace line in the 1990s. You're going to have to make some concessions, like the thicker saucer of this release - but it's still genuinely amazing.
My understanding is that this release is a de facto online exclusive in the USA, which is kind of a pity. If you saw it in person at a convention somewhere, or in a hobby store, you'd want it. I'm not saying you'd buy it, but nobody else makes a space ship toy quite like this - even Hasbro's biggest and best Star Wars ships are more limited in what they can do, but Hasbro's toys do tend to have fancier paint and more moving parts as of late. This baby has a demo mode you can leave plugged in and running for a couple of hours. The build quality and aesthetics say "toy," but it's really more of a collector's display piece. There's not a lot of action to be had in the bridge and most of the play comes from play that's not unlike a doll house - you set them up, you pretend they're talking, you push the buttons (or use your app on your phone, if you dare.) Along with Unicron and Hasbro's X-Men Sentinel, this is one of the more impressive toys of the year. If your budget allows, and you like this kind of thing, don't let me stop you from getting it. Having said that, you could probably have a lot more fun spending $500 on Playmobil - you could get several cars and sets from multiple series, and have cash left over.
...but you're still going to want this one. No other Trek sets are announced yet, but I hope we get an Advent Calendar next year. The Back to the Future ones have been marvelous.
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