Review by EVA_Unit_4A
This toy requires three Triple-A (AAA) batteries (not included) to operate the electronic lights-and-sound feature. There is one battery compartment- on the left side of the grip.
Since the 2100s, PHASed Energy Rectifiers, or PHASERs, have become standard-issue defensive weapons aboard all Starfleet facilities and starships. Phasers vary widely in size and scale- from small hand-held pistol units to large retractable turrets located on the hulls of star bases, starships, and specially-equipped shuttlecraft. They fire concentrated & focused bursts of rapid nadions, which are easily and safely stored. On warp-capable starships, though, phasers become useless because the rapid nadions still travel at slower-than-light speeds, rendering them useless; a weakness which is countered with the use of antimatter-powered photon torpedoes. However, if not carefully regulated by the user, phasers can quickly overload their power cells due to improper discharging and explode. By the mid-2300s, hand held phasers have two general-use settings: Stun, which renders most humanoid species harmlessly incapacitated (typically forcing them into unconsciousness for several minutes with no permanent side-effects); and the more-assertive Vaporize, which effectively disrupts atomic bonds on-contact and can kill and/or literally blow apart the target from the inside depending on the frequency modulation used.
The Type-II Starfleet Phaser (opposite side) is a remake of the classic weapon from the original 1966-69 TV series which has been redesigned for the 2009 feature film reboot, “Star Trek”. It keeps the classic shape and general function, but gives it a completely new external look reminiscent of the golden age of science-fiction from the 1940-60s where technology was clean and art deco. The franchise’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, in designing the classic phaser, wanted something that specifically did not look like a gun, as the hard-to-explain concept of Starfleet being a purely exploration and peacekeeping organization rather than a military force. Therefore, it had a small stub on the front of a dish, and no extended barrel in front of the grip. (Trivial Note: many later hand-held Starfleet phasers- i.e. from the TNG-era- carried this philosophy, but were sometimes uncomfortable for actors to wield because of their intentionally-unconventional shapes.)
This new phaser has visual cues to later designs beyond TOS- notably the slim, more-streamlined & simplified one-piece design from “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1982), and the thicker/more-rugged design from “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” (1990). The barrel(s), though, are a new feature to the 2009 ver. In all cases, phasers have a status/power readout display built-in on top, with small control buttons/knobs. Though the grip is perhaps the most block-like, it has rounded edges, and there are wide groves above it to accommodate the thumb & forefinger better. The trigger is a small, rectangular button which is flush against the front of the grip, and is the only part [other than the cylinder between the two transparent barrels] that has been painted silver rather than being vacuum-formed silver. Though there are tiny holes on either side of the phaser above the grip, the speaker faces out the left side only. (The trademark information for Playmates Toys is molded-in under the left ‘speaker’ holes, but the Federal Communications Commission legal warning information is a narrow decal along the back of the grip.)
To the un-scrutinizing eye, the entire toy appears with that vacuum-form silver finish, and no paint. However, to my scrutinizing eye, this is untrue. There are indeed paint applications, but I have found them to be inconsistent! Any plastic that you touch when holding it by the grip alone is vacuum-form silver. But everything else is painted save for the two barrels and the display window on top. But here’s the inconsistent part: directly behind the barrel on the right side is shiny is silver… while the left side has been painted! The curved sections above & below the barrels are both painted silver, with no inconsistency there. To their credit, Playmates Toys did a fantastic job hiding the fact that they used paint. But, that I found the reflections to be different depending on what plastic faced me, I call an oversight.
To activate the special effects, there is an On/Off switch along the bottom of the ‘stock’, but behind the grip. There is no acknowledging sound for when you turn the battery on or off, nor an automatic cut-off after a certain amount of inactivity, so you have to watch for that yourself. (A small decal tells you which positions are On and Off.)
Now, in the Star Trek universe, there are no simple On/Off switches on phaser pistols. Usually there’s a button or knob, or it activates as soon as a power cell has been inserted. Immediately to the left of the status display on top is a toothed wheel that, when rolled backwards, with turn on a yellow LED inside the display, and a power-up whine will sound. To turn the light off, roll the wheel forward. As long as the wheel is rotated backwards, the light will remain constantly on… so this can be a good indicator to you if it’s on or not without checking the switch below, and it feels more realistic this way! However, I noticed that the LED will turn itself off after 4:20 minutes even if the wheel hasn’t been rotated forward again; you can easily flip the wheel forward and then back to make it glow again.
Turning the power indicator on or off will not affect any other function in the toy; it is an independent feature.
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The primary light-and-sound effects are activated by simply squeezing the trigger. Whichever barrel is active, you will hear the associative sound effect, but the blinking patterns for both are the same. Squeezing the trigger once with activate the light-and-sound once. However, holding down the trigger will make it rapid-fire (two times per second) until you let go.
For the first time in a Star Trek production, the phaser actually physically changes to denote a change in fire-control settings; where previously it was noted by sound- and special-effects, or dialogue, with no outward change. This change takes the form of swapping barrels between the Stun and Vaporize settings. On the left side of the above the grip, your thumb has easy access to a small round button. (Clearly in the 23rd Century, there are no left-handed humans or aliens in the United Federation of Planets. …I’m sure this greatly upset the profits of The Leftorium, har-har-har.) In order to activate this feature, the Phaser must be set to its blue Stun mode first. Then, when the round button is pressed, an internal spring will rapidly flip the two barrels around 180-degrees counterclockwise! Regretfully, pressing the button in Vaporize mode does nothing, and you have to manually reset it back to Stun mode.
I will not give my opinion on this new interpretation of the classic weapon here (see the video for that), but I will say that this is a faithful recreation physically: the sound effects are good and clear since they are straight from the film, the plastic is solid with no stubs or scratches from production, the silver finish is clean & polished, and the LED lights are very bright.
The only negative things I can pick on are that the barrels don’t rotate back again from Vaporize mode to Stun mode, the inconsistency of the paints apps (I thought there was no paint to begin with, it was so shiny out of the box!), and that the part separation lines are either hidden well in folds or just stuck out there for all to see. (Oh, yeah- sometimes the mechanism of the toy’s On/Off switch shifts inside and won’t actually turn it on unless you wiggle the switch a little. That’s an unpredictable irritant.) Having a functional, light-up power indicator- even if it does just sit there without blinking- was an absolutely awesome feature that has never been seen before on any other toy phaser! Putting the power-up sound in there just made it more epic. The flipping barrels is a gimmick from the film which is faithfully recreated here, and that was a very strong draw for me in choosing to get one. (That and the fact that I’ve never owned a toy phaser before, even though I liked several of those other designs…) In the movie, the Stun barrel is completely silver and the Vaporize barrel is only slightly covered in silver, but since this is a toy, I’ll easily give that discrepancy a pass. And the best part? It fits easily into an adult’s hand without being out-of-scale for kids either! For being one of the very few non-figure sets released in 2009, this is a far better product than the only other electronic set I have at this time, the U.S.S. Enterprise herself! This is a great little role-playing weaponwith no major questionable flaws… well, except maybe that you leave visible fingerprints all over the handle that’ll have to be cleaned off once in a while. Things I would change? Mmm… nothing, truthfully. I highly recommend getting the Starfleet Phaser!
|Posted 23 August, 2009 - 21:48 by EVA_Unit_4A|