TOS Science Tricorder
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
This toy requires three Triple-A (AAA) batteries and two LR44 batteries to operate the electronic lights-and-sound feature. The AAAs fit into the lower panel of the tricorder, behind a false display on the left side; while the two LR44s fit into the back of the smaller Science Scanner unit.
In the 23rd Century, humanity has become peaceful with itself (eliminating or changing many sicknesses, breaking down political & social barriers, and dissolving conflicting cultures & religion), healed the Earth of its artificially-created wounds, and is now a major race among many extraterrestrial alien civilizations in an intergalactic organization known as the United Federation of Planets. The Federation has an armada of peaceful exploration & colonization starships, space stations, and star bases under the authority of Starfleet Command, which are manned by multi-species crews of the best and brightest. Starfleet’s flagship, the U.S.S. Enterprise, is a Constitution-class starship dispatched on a five year-long mission of solitary deep-space exploration, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk. Tricorders are a standard-issue, hand-held multi-use sensor unit regularly used by Starfleet personnel when they are separated from a starship or star base since the early 22nd Century. They provide multi-spectral imaging, measurements on electromagnetic fields & radiation, temperature, long-range motion, geological features & motion, and can detect the life signs of various types of beings, all across several kilometers. For close-range, detailed scanning, a smaller sensor pod can be removed from the lower compartment and passed over the surface in question. To protect the interior instruments and displays from casual damage and wear, tricorders are designed to be compact and covered with small access panels. A convenient shoulder strap is also provided to free-up the user’s hands when not in use. A portable multi-function sensor which can be held in one hand- even by standards in the early 21st Century- remains an elusive accomplishment. Several companies have tried to make real tricorders that read light, infrared, and other non-invasive effects, but the use of such compact and advanced technology is expensive, and difficult to design & maintain. Typically what happens is that while one sensor may be of use, the others may not. And, certainly, active sensors (where the sensor projects something, like sound or light, to get a reading) are even more difficult to integrate. And so for now, the tricorder (back) remains only a work of science-fiction. But, as we all know, technology is growing by leaps and bounds every day, and so it is only a matter of time before practical hand-held multi-sensor units truly become marketable… The toy is composed entirely of ABS, with an adjustable-length false-leather strap, and a solid foam grip around the base of the smaller Science Scanner unit. The Science Tricorder replicates in minute and fine detail every aspect of the original prop, and even extrapolates a little on how it functions! The exterior has a false off-black leather texture, with several featured lines of painted metallic silver along the exterior. The two panel grips are also silver-painted plastic. The strap is ¾”-wide and 50”-long. Both side panels can be removed, and the strap shortened as you wish. With me being 6’ 3”-tall, the top of it hangs just above my navel when it’s extended to full length. It is also long enough that it can be positioned under-the-arm if you wish like they did in the series.
. . .
There are three basic functional sections: the top display and controls, the middle library access section, and the bottom storage compartment. The top section flips up and backwards 90-degrees to reveal the display screen and control buttons. The display window at left features a single static local-vicinity sensor readout. In this case, it shows the location of the Landing Party (the user and two other individuals), an “Unknown Energy Source”, an “Indeterminate Life form”, and six positively-identified “Life forms”. Along the right side of the screen are environmental status indicators: “Class-M” (i.e. a planet which humans can exist on without need of life-support equipment), a “3.6km” total scanning range, a local temperature of 68°F (odd, considering they always use the metric systems of measurement in “Star Trek”, which would be degrees listed in Celsius), ultraviolet radiation (“low”), and O2 Level (oxygen, “normal”). To the right of the display screen (from the top-down) is the speaker grille, three LED lights, and three push buttons. The middle section is covered by a panel which flips downwards. To the left are immovable library data discs, while to the right is a circular display that features a moiré pattern. Other than the panel, there are no interactive parts in the middle section. The bottom section has a larger panel that also flips downwards. There are silver-painted arms on either side of it which intentionally restrict how far the panel opens to less than 45-degrees. However, their grip along the insides is not tight, and you can easily override them to open the panel further. To the left, disguised as a dual cache of more immovable library data discs, is the battery compartment. To the right is a compartment in which to store the Science Scanner. (Unfortunately, the Scanner is not secured in its compartment, and can easily rattle about!)
The Science Scanner (opposite side) is 2 1/2” tall and 1” in diameter. Black foam is wrapped around the back half for an easier grip. There is a black On/Off switch along one side of the silver cylinder.
The electronic display and LEDs will immediately turn on once the top section has been flipped upwards 90-degrees. When they turn on, a short audible chirp will come from the speaker. It will also chirp when the center & left buttons are pressed, and when the lid is closed again. (Does it chirp in the series? Not this frequently, but usually when a button was pushed.) Inside the battery compartment is a toggle switch which has three positions: Try Me, Off, and Play. It is important to remember to switch it to the Play selection or else the full electronic features won’t activate! But, you are not required to turn it Off; you can close the top lid and everything will shut down. (The Off switch is so that you can display it opened without the lights coming on.) The Science Tricorder has three sets of effects, all activated from the top section. If no action is taken by you, the center orange LED will blink on and off on its own, with the two blue LEDs remaining constant. Two orange LEDs will always shine behind the sensor display screen no matter what buttons you push. The tricorder will turn all of its lights off automatically after three minutes if you don’t press any of the buttons. If you push the left button, all three LEDs will turn on in sequence, from left-to-right regularly. This means it is ready for you to close the top section’s lid. When the lid is raised in this mode, the left blue LED will blink with the syllables of the voice, while the orange one blinks normally, and the right blue one stays constant. When you close the lid in this mode, you will get two different reactions:
- It will chirp an alert. When you open the lid, it will chirp again in acknowledgement, and then you will hear the voice of Mr. Spock say, “Captain, tricorder picking very faint life readings approximately 700 meters from here.”
- You will hear the crackle of static. When you open the lid, you will hear Spock first say, “It’s locked onto my tricorder!” Then, you will hear an energy weapon firing and an explosion, followed by Spock remarking, “Very ingenious- they’ve fed-back my own impulses and built up an overload.”
These two effects will always repeat in this order, never repeating until the other has played. You can disable this feature by pressing the button under the blinking blue light again.
. . .
For this next feature, you need both the top section and center panel opened. (This is the typical configuration, by the ways, when it is in use.) Now, if you push the center button, the orange and blue LEDs will alternate on and off the whole time, you will hear the tricorder making a continuous scanning sound, and the moiré pattern in the circular display will activate. All of this will continue until you press the center button again to turn it off.
. . .
If you push the right button, you will hear the voice of Spock say all of the following phrases, the right LED blinking along with the syllables:
- “Captain- impulses that direction. Very weak, possibly a survivor.”
- “Getting another life reading, Captain: azimuth 93°, range 1-5-7-0 yards.” (Is it 157 yards? Or 15.7 yards? He doesn’t specify with a decimal, but… why is he using standard measurements again? One of many inconsistencies with TOS, I assure you.)
- “An alien metal of some kind, an alloy resistant to probe.”
- “Seems to be some disturbance coming from that cave.”
- “How strange… Readings indicate a life-form in the vicinity, apparently human.” [This is also heard in Try Me mode.]
- “Impossible to calculate, we lack data to analyze.”
Now, I don’t know why they don’t mention this in the instructions, but if you keep holding down the right button during a phrase, a second will kick in almost immediately. When that happens you can let go, and all of the phrases will play once automatically, in the order listed above.
The Science Scanner operates independently- it will not affect the Science Tricorder, and vice versa. It does not make any sounds, but when you turn it on, three LEDs (red, green, and blue) will flicker for one second each, followed by three combos of two colors (orange, turquoise, and purple) for one second each, and then quickly flash for three seconds together.
In the interests of fair judgment, I must confess this up front- this was an impulse [power?] buy. I was aware of it while looking up some of the other Star Trek toys that Diamond Select Toys had on their site, but wasn’t really intent on getting one. (I am planning to get a few Enterprises, and one of the TOS phasers.) And while other tricorders in later series were more flashy (literally and figuratively), the black box purse approach from the late-1960s didn’t do it as much for me. However, I am now aware of DST’s reputation for its fine workmanship first-hand (that was never in question as I got this). If it had been the Classic Medical Tricorder (which looks and acts more-or-less the same as this one, but has distinct differences) on the shelf as opposed to this one, I would probably have gone for it as well; either way, I wouldn’t have cared. (I may end up getting the other just for me to compare/contrast in a CDX review!) While obviously more complex compared to the TOS Communicator, it delivers just as powerful a presentation. One of the little details I found, well- fascinating (no pun intended), was that not only did the display screen have rounded corners like a ‘60s TV screen, but the transparent window itself also bulged outwards like the cathode-ray tube TVs of that time! The LEDs behind the screen weren’t as powerful as the ones above the buttons (don’t look directly at them in the dark, seriously- they hurt your eyes!), but you can still see what it is showing. The sounds are also very clear… though listening to that scanning sound makes my ears ring after a few moments! I also suspect that DST sped-up the audio clips of Spock a bit- actor Leonard Nimoy has a deeper voice, but compared to watching the show online or on TV, they seem higher-pitched than one would expect even though it is him saying the lines. The Science Scanner is simple to operate, but I love how they incorporated multiple lights activating at the same times for different colors. (I just wish it didn’t rattle around so much when you simply pick the toy up…) While I wish one-or-two of the library data discs could have been removable, I could see how they might get lost, and would have no real value as far as interaction with this or other TOS toys. While the ‘latch’ on the lower panel is appreciated, it becomes flimsy, but that’s because it allows you to get your hand in there to take out the Scanner and replace the batters easier. Admittedly, I was surprised that, in the toy markets in 21st-century America, they would actually include a false-leather strap that doesn’t pop-off without removing the lock first! So it is no small wonder that the box says this toy is for ages 14-and-up compared to other DST products. While I may be biased as far as the look of the classic prop (which was handled directly by DST’s designers in creating the molds for this replica!), they have very faithfully recreated the Classic Science Tricorder to exacting detail, and delivers a great product without breaking anyone’s wallet, and that is impressive!
|Posted 4 September, 2009 - 11:59 by EVA_Unit_4A|