The Story of Star Trek toys is a long and complicated one. Unlike other mainstream franchises, Star Trek toys were cranked out by many different toy companies along the way, but it all began with Mego. By 1974, Mego Toys was quickly becoming a global name in the toy industry. With the World’s Greatest Heroes line already proving to be a huge success, Mego turned their sights on other licenses from the the big and small screen, and thus, the Star Trek toy line was born. The original Star Trek television series ran from 1966 to 1969 and spanned 79 episodes. Star Trek began running old episodes in syndication in late 1969 in over 200 markets, which sparked a revival of interest in the show from old and new fans alike. This renewed interest took off like wildfire and spawned conventions and even a new animated series. Mego took notice and signed a licensing deal for a Star Trek toy line. Mego had high hopes for the line from the very beginning and put a lot of attention to detail into Star Trek, which really showed with the first series of figures and accessories released in 1974. It did well enough that a second and third series of figures were released in following years. By 1979, Star Wars had taken the toy industry by storm and all the other toy companies across the globe were just trying to catch up by finding the next big thing. Mego toys had famously passed up the opportunity to make toys based on the Star Wars movie, so they were desperate to find their own powerhouse science fiction franchise. After already snatching up licensing deals with Logan’s Run, Space 1999 and Disney’s The Black Hole, Mego now decided to produce toys based on the new Star Trek movie being released in 1979. Star Trek the Motion Picture turned out to be mildly successful at box office, but met with mixed reviews that left many fans scratching their heads. This translated over to the merchandising items for the movie as well, including Mego’s action figure lines. Mego had big plans for the line but the lack of heavy demand at the box office meant an early end to the line. Many products were left unproduced and The Star Trek Motion Picture line of action figures proved to be a bit of a disappointment for Mego, which were one of many reasons why they met with an untimely end a few years later.
By the time Star Trek Next Generation was hitting the airwaves in 1988, Star Trek toys had not had the best track record since Mego’s glory days in the early to mid 1970’s. After Mego’s failed attempt at marketing toys based on Star Trek The Motion Picture in 1979, and ERTL’s failed attempt with Star Trek III in 1984, the Star Trek toy brand was considered to be a bit toxic. After a very successful string of movies (Star Trek II, Star Trek III and Star Trek IV) it seemed that it was about time someone took a gamble on Star Trek once again……Enter the Galoob toy company. Galoob decided to take a chance on the newest Star Trek television series, mostly because the toy licensing rights came at a friendly price. The Next Generation television series was a success from the very beginning, but it gained mega status as the show went on. Despite the show’s big ratings and success, Galoob’s toy line struggled with poor sales. This was due to many reasons, but it was mostly the poor design and articulation of the figures. Most of the figures from Series 1 went through multiple variations throughout its run and they just felt rushed with very little playability factor.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation television show was a huge success and brought Star Trek back to audiences in a big way. It seemed only natural that a new toy line would be released for it, and it was in 1988 by the Galoob Toy Company. It turned out to be a disappointing line to say the least, and Next Generation toys ceased to exist before the second series in 1989 ever made it to production. Star Trek toys had not had the best track record since Mego’s glory days in the early to mid 1970’s. After Mego’s failed attempt at marketing toys based on Star Trek The Motion Picture in 1979, ERTL’s failed attempt with Star Trek III in 1984, and now Galoob’s disappointing effort, the Star Trek toy brand was in limbo. Enter the Playmates toy company. Playmates had been around had been around since 1966, and had MASSIVE success with their new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line. Now Playmates had turned their attention towards a dormant Star Trek franchise for another shot. The Next Generation television series was a success from the very beginning, but it gained mega status as the show went on. Playmates realized Star Trek already had a huge fan base, so with the right design, production lines and marketing, they felt they could turn around the bad luck that been plaguing Star Trek toys since the late 1970’s. They were absolutely correct, because in 1992, Playmates would begin a very successful eight year run of some incredibly well-done and fun action figures and accessories.
All good things must come to an end, and for Star Trek, that time came in 1999. Over the course of its Star Trek run, Playmates had released a massive amount of new products for each year, but that production greatly slowed down for 1997 and 1998. For their final release of products in 1999, almost every item was an exclusive to a retail store or site. This made collecting the final products a bit more difficult, which also makes them more valuable. The decline in sales was due to a number of reasons, but among the biggest was due to a certain other Science Fiction franchise, called Star Wars. Hasbro brought the line back in 1995 and it was posting huge sales numbers at retail. Also, the last live action Star Trek movie, Insurrection was such a disaster that Paramount shelved the entire Star Trek movie series. With no new movies on the horizon, Star Trek only had the television series and one of the biggest (Deep Space Nine) ended in June of 1999, leaving only Star Trek Voyager. Voyager would run until 2001, with modest ratings but Playmates decided that it just wasn’t enough to merit a continuation of the toy line based on that series (despite Seven of Nine). During its eight year run from 1992 to 1999, Playmates released some truly amazing and high quality products. Their figures were fun and it was obvious they paid attention to detail. When you think of iconic toy lines from the 1990’s, most collectors name Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or the Power Rangers, but Playmates’ Star Trek line should definitely stand with their head held high because they showed what a good Star Trek line could be by realizing its potential and bringing it to life.
Over its storied history many quality Star Trek products were released from 1974 to 1999 by Mego, Playmates and even Galoob to a lesser extent. Just like every toy line, the values of certain items can greatly fluctuate over time. This is based on several factors, including the item’s time period, scarcity, consumer demand and overall condition. The good news for Star Trek collectors is there always a demand for items from this era, as Mego and Playmates created some truly iconic pieces. Loose individual Mego figures can still be found on the secondary market in varying degrees, depending on which series they are from. The same goes for the playsets and accessories. Carded or boxed items can still fetch quite a bit of money, especially if they are the Series 2 or 3 alien figures. The Motion Picture figures can be found fairly easily but the accessories are becoming harder to find in good boxed condition. The ERTL figures used to be in dollar bins but they are beginning to rise in price lately. The Galoob toys are still fairly common on the secondary market, with only a few select items being worth picking up. The Playmates line is an interesting one indeed. Most of the items produced by Playmates can be found with ease on the secondary market at very reasonable prices, but prices are definitely beginning to creep up a bit. Values on Star Trek items remain steady with values and prices always inching up each year. The market remains strong due to an ever present 70’s and 80’s nostalgic desire and a rabid fan base. The figures, playsets, vehicles, and other accessories from the various Star Trek lines will only increase in value as these figures and sets become rarer and harder to find in the future.
Click These Links to See The Individual Star Trek Pages
1983 ERTL Star Trek III
1988 Galoob Next Generation
1989 Galoob Star Trek V
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