As far as nerds go, I’m a relatively simple nerd. I might even be too simple to be one of the full-fledged nerd species. I’m not sure where the delineation between ‘nerd’ and ‘guy who likes weird things and comics and science fiction because they’re inspiring’ lies, but I believe it’s somewhere right in the middle of my forehead. What’s the one thing that pushes one from ‘guy’ to ‘nerd’? Is it the girlfriend? Is if the life-sized model of a skeletal hand on the shelf, or is it the 3-foot-tall Batman statue in the other room? Or maybe it’s the deeply troubling, ever-growing intolerance for the parts of the world that exist outside of the triangulated points between the computer screen, the skeleton hand and the Batman?
To quote the awesome John Green:
“Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. […] When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”
That’s the most empowering, and possibly enabling, definition of ‘nerd’ that’s currently floating around, and it’s definitely more uplifting than that series of photos of the guy at the Magic tournament posing with unaware buttcracks. Green’s quote really does summarize what this kind of nerdery comes down to: really liking stuff. And if you’re really nerdy, you’ll take the time to understand why it is you like stuff, and maybe make stuff using those core components of the stuff you like, and share that stuff with other people. This is the Nerd Oroborous; a bespectacled snake eating its own tail and wheezing a little ’cause of all those dang allergies.
I can’t usually quote lines from shows I like, and I don’t think I could clearly tell the origin story of Doctor Doom, even though he’s one of my favorite bad guys. So, when it comes to nerd stuff, I’m a pretty simple guy. I don’t need a perfectly articulated, realistic action figure as much as I want something that captures the spirit of the character it represents, and what that fiction means to me. Heroism represents struggles against every kind of obstacle, and being reminded of that heroism, even when fictional, can be empowering and hopeful. And it’s totally cool by me if that spirit is captured in blocky, weird Minimate form.
Diamond Select and Art Asylum have been releasing Minimates for as long as I’ve been embracing my nerdier side, and the basic format hasn’t changed: cylinder head without a nose, blocky torso, articulated tube-arms and boxy legs. They’re not much to look at in their barest form, but somehow, they’re the perfect vehicle to capture just about every humanoid character you could imagine, from Walking Dead walkers to Doc Brown to the first and only articulated figures from the excellent comic Invincible.
The most recent set of Star Trek Minimates is a kind of rebirth of the mini-Trek line; there have been multiple Trek Minimates before, but these kinda re-launch the line, and they do it smartly. This set is all about the captains.
Divided between a “comic shop” set of 8, and a Toys ‘R’ Us-specific line of 8, the set includes all five TV captains, a handful of variants, and plenty of archenemies. Rather than dangling a tantalizing full set of captains over multiple waves of figures which may or may not ever materialize, they did the right thing. (And wouldn’t it be awesome if the line continued on down through First Officers, Science dudes and Doctor people?)
Did you know that Gates McFadden carries around an action figure of herself and posts its adventures on Twitter? Star Trek people are just that cool in general.
ENTERPRISE – CAPTAIN JONATHAN ARCHER & DOLIM
I don’t make it a secret that I love Scott Bakula. Nor do I throw around the word ‘hunk’ lightly. But I’ll just leave those two ideas there to marinate. Captain Archer doesn’t get a whole lot of love, but as the guy who struggled valiantly through an occasionally unwatchable Star Trek prequel series, his inclusion here is pretty neat. It wouldn’t be a set without Captain Archer. If only awoke to find himself facing mirror images that were not his own a little more often.
I didn’t get deep into Enterprise, but I understand that this Dolim dude wanted to destroy all humans to prevent the destruction of his own homeworld. Don’t we all, Dolim.
STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES – CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK & KHAN
Here’s where Minimates start to get really interesting and reveal the breadth of what they’re capable of.
You can find Original Series (yellow shirt) Kirk at Toys ‘R’ Us, as well as Kirk variations in some of the earlier Trek Minimate lines, but here he’s packaged with Original Series Khan. Alternately, you can get ‘Wrath of Khan’ Admiral Kirk at general retail, accompanied by the older Khan. (The far-right Admiral Kirk pictured above is from Series 4 of the original Trek Minimates, and included here for comparison.) It’s kind of a beautiful tribute to the evolution of the series’ continuity. But it gets a whole lot cooler than that.
Packaged with elder Kirk are a ton of extra accessories. Once in a while, the Minimates packaging will hide a surprising array of extra parts. Usually, these are weapons or stands, but sometimes, it’s enough to make a completely different figure. Kirk is packaged wearing his thick movie overcoat, but that coat is removable, revealing a shirt underneath. He also comes with white arms to match his shirt, and a screaming “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!” head – all perfect for immortalizing one of the most notably weird scenes in Trek, and Shatner, history. It’s all such an interesting and nerd-centric inclusion, and it’s not even advertised; it’s just kind of a surprise after you get the whole thing home. And when you realize what all of these mystery parts are, you appreciate the nod.
It’s one of those times to be unashamedly excited.
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – CAPTAIN JEAN-LUC PICARD & THE BORGS
Picard, whom everyone knows is the best captain, is accompanied by the Borg Queen at regular retail, and Hugh (the sensitive Borg) at Toys ‘R’ Us. Also, ‘Picard and The Borgs’ should be my band’s name. In case you need every possible Picard, you’re about 25% of the way there with these three: regular Picard, Jacket Picard and Movie Picard. Of course, in the complete lexicon of All Picards, there’s still Long Fancy Shirt Picard, Locutus, Old Man Picard from the Series Finalé, Picard as a Romulan, Picard as Probe Flute Dude, Child Picard, and probably a few others. I’m sure I slept through a few. You can see above how the general art style of the figures has shifted a bit over time.
The Borg Queen is another one of those figures that harbors a handful of surprises; her upper body can be removed from her torso, and her “head skin” (for lack of a better term) can be removed to reveal a skeletal robot face underneath. All of these states have appeared in her appearances in both First Contact and on Voyager, so it’s another one of those bonuses which spans a variety of media and moments – and if I collect at all, it’s to collect moments.
DEEP SPACE NINE : CAPTAIN BENJAMIN SISKO, GUL DUKAT & JEM’HADAR SOLDIER
Captain Sisko was probably the most complex Star Trek captain of all; he’s tortured by memories of losing his wife in a battle with a Borg-ified Picard, and he was dropped into being the spiritual leader for a bunch of aliens he’d just met, but most of all, he just wants to play baseball and cook food with ingredients not barfed out of a replicator. Those things made food out of re-arranged space dust and excrement, no joke. Space is no place for hangups about eating leftovers and do-overs.
I’m a Deep Space Nine nerd, and I know that’s an unpopular thing to be, so I’d go for a full DS9 crew before I’d go for any others (and that should include Worf and O’Brien). Regular Sisko can be found at your comic shop, while vest Sisko (with Gul Dukat) is exclusive to Toys ‘R’ Us. These guys don’t come with a lot of fancy accessories, like a baseball or one of those prophet orbs, but screaming Kirk makes up for any other deficiencies in the whole line.
VOYAGER : CAPTAIN JANEWAY & SEVEN OF NINE
The Janeway set is exclusive to Toys ‘R’ Us, so isn’t subject to the same variations as many of the others. Voyager represented a time in Star Trek canon that really, actually started to explore the unexplored, and completely by accident. Technology felt like it was actually moving forward, instead of Next Generation‘s monster-of-the-week and sudden ban on going over Warp 5 because it was tearing holes in space, or the general feeling on Deep Space Nine that everything was just kinda made of garbage they found lying around. Voyager was real progress in a Trek narrative that often lapsed into feeling like a series of dungeon crawls, and even though Trek has been full of female captains, Voyager was the first time one was given a starring role.
Despite this progress for the females of Trek (who have warranted their own trading card line from Rittenhouse), Janeway still doesn’t get boob art, while Seven of Nine has the most pronounced rack in Minimates history – except for the times when they give Hulk a vest with sculpted-on pecs. It’s a weird dynamic in interpreting these into their simplified forms. Sure, Janeway was criticized as being mannish, but to square her off like your garden-variety Kirk?
Overall, Diamond remains unable to say if this Trek line will continue as of this post, but here’s hoping it will. They’ve done some pretty great things with the Trek license, and it would be admirable to keep at least one aspect of it within the affordable range of Minimates.
And for the heck of it, here are a few other Trek Minimates from past series. Enjoy!
C. David is a writer and artist living in the Hudson Valley, NY. He loves pinball, Wazmo Nariz, Rem Lezar, MODOK, pogs, Ultra Monsters, 80s horror, and is secretly very enthusiastic about everything else not listed here.