Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Spotlight: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Phaser (Diamond Select Toys)

Since I was a wee lad, I've been collecting Star Trek toys. Action figures, playsets, model starships, replica props, the works. For a number of reasons, my collecting tapered off in the mid-'90s, but I have been known, especially in more recent years, to pick up the occasional Soverign-class vessel to display on top of my computer or, in this case, Type II phaser to fire at my wife.

We're very much in love, I assure you.

On a recent trip to a mall I've never had the chance to explore, she and I happened upon a Local Comics Shop peddling Star Trek merchandise on top of the regular fare of Ultimate Comics Ultimate Crisis Crossover Calamity and 6" statues of naked women with just enough clothing to suggest they're supposed to be dressed as superheroes. Within minutes of entering the store, I had spied the only thing, aside from my wife, I was planning on taking home with me from there: a Diamond Select Toys replica of the style of phaser used in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, but consider which movie the average fan gets more excited about seeing listed on the side of a box).

In my possession already from the Diamond Select line were a tricorder and Type II phaser from The Original Series. On the one hand, they look and feel authentic, right down to the sound effects and flashing lights. On the other hand, I call into question the technical design, or possibly the craftsmanship: The "on/off" switch for the tricorder is buried inside a compartment within a compartment; the fold-out panel of the outer compartment needs to be popped out of place completely to actually reach anything inside of it, and the panel covering the inner compartment with the switch needs to be pried open.

The phaser features a smaller detachable Type I phaser with a flip-up "targeting grille" (which barely flips up at all) that doesn't lock back into place properly; pulling the trigger on the main body of the Type II phaser actually makes the Type I phaser pop back out, and extensive fiddling only occasionally seems to fix the problem. On top of that, the electronics don't always respond as expected--I know what the buttons and knobs are supposed to do, but sometimes the lights don't light up properly, and sometimes nothing happens at all. And yes, I've checked the batteries.

When they work, however, they're tremendous fun. Even when they don't, it's still neat to have a part of my favorite fandom in a tangible form. The Wrath of Khan phaser suffers from the same kinds of issues as the aforementioned toys, but at the end of the day, it's the most fun with new Star Trek merchandise since the resurgence of Star Trek toys around the release of the 2009 Star Trek film. Plus, my collection is severely lacking in TOS movie-era memorabilia, so I'm always happy to make an addition there.

This phaser is a button-presser's paradise: there's a big, glowy "on" switch, a mode selector that allows you to cycle through the various settings of Tickle, Stun, Kill, and Disintegrate (with pleasantly distracting light-up indicators showing your current setting), a big ol' trigger, and alternate fire buttons on the detachable Type I phaser (yes, it's detachable!). These buttons can be used in conjunction with the mode selector button to trigger a power cell overload that will destroy the phaser and anyone in the vicinity (for pretend, silly) after a short countdown filled with flashing lights and oddly transporter-esque sound effects.

My wife suggested that setting the phaser to self-destruct on the coffee table and then taking cover behind the couch would not, in fact, protect me from the blast.

I appreciate the extra playability that a detachable phaser brings, but as with its TOS counterpart, this little Type I phaser is almost more trouble than it's worth.

While it's incredibly simple to detach and reattach this phaser thanks to a crazy-powerful magnet, there's a crazy-powerful magnet on my electronic device. I saw no warning on the package or instruction manual about it, so I can only assume it's well-shielded, but the force with which the smaller phaser snaps back into place is slightly frightening. The trouble is that (a) it sometimes takes some adjustment to get the electronics to work again once the whole phaser is reassembled (because all the functions of the larger phaser are based on a connection with the smaller one), and (b) the smaller phaser looks kinda dorky.

It's a little awkward to hold, too.

The fact that this detachable action was never seen on-camera also makes this feature feel a little unnecessary. But hey, it's one more feature for the people who want it, and it doesn't affect the use of the Type II phaser for people who don't.

Overall, I'm pleased with my purchase. I am easily enthralled by flashing lights, and I approve of the number of functional buttons. The phaser is sleek, fits comfortably in the hand, and just plain looks good. The only oddity is that holding down the trigger does nothing--the lights and sound effects don't happen until after you release the trigger. Still, that didn't stop my wife from scoring a few good hits on me while I was typing away on the computer. Can't say I didn't deserve it.

Next time she wants a phaser fight, though, I'll be prepared.


JoeReviewer said...

Perfect shirt to wear into battle. Absolutely no repercussions what-so-ever.

Flashman85 said...

Hah! I'm glad you caught that. :D