04 April 2011

Diamond Select Toys "First Contact" Data

About a decade ago, Art Asylum acquired the Star Trek toy license.  The emphasis of their collection has been highly sculpted 7" tall action figures.  Collectors liked that they were larger and less cartoonish than the figures produced in previous years by Playmates Toys.  I had exhausted my interest in Trek merchandise by the time Art Asylum took over, so I took the opportunity to jump ship altogether.  I kept abreast their releases, though, and actually bought a few of them.  I have little positive to say about Diamond Select Toys (which absorbed Art Asylum by the time I made my purchases) and this is the story of what cost them my admittedly limited purchasing power.

Picture this, with one less arm.
I bought a First Contact Data as a companion piece to my First Contact Picard, it being my favorite of the Next Generation movies.  Data has an alternate head and arm that depict the way the character appears in the end of the movie.  (Otherwise, it's just a generic Next Generation movie-era Data.)  For whatever reason, DST packaged Data with the alternate head, but the regular arm.  This necessitated a switch of arms and in case you can't already see where this is headed, it didn't work out right for me.

Someone had the genius design idea that the interchangeable arms should be affixed to the torso by way of a dumbbell-style joint.  There's a ball inside the shoulder of the arm, connected to a second ball that (allegedly) inserts into the torso.  I received my Data, opened the package (more on that in a bit) and stared for ten minutes at the plain arm with the alternate head.  I looked through the included paperwork and found nary an instruction pamphlet.  I rotated the arm some to see what kind of give it had, and then pulled to extract the arm.  That's when I discovered that the cheap plastic DST used to create the joint was worthless.  It broke immediately, leaving me with a big fat, inextricable ball of plastic inside Data's torso where the alternate arm joint is supposed to go.  I now have a one-armed Data.

I contacted DST customer support the next day via e-mail and to this day I have not heard a thing from them. I ordered Data through the official Star Trek Fan Club store and informed them of the problem with my merchandise; they, too, failed to ever respond.  Now, at the time I got Data for about $20 including shipping. I don't know about you, but if I pay $20 for an action figure I expect its interchangeable arm to be a practical, working item.  I wasn't about to throw away another $20 out of pocket.

It gets better.  DST got cute with Data and limited production on this specific figure to 1701 units (for non-fans, the registry number of the U.S.S. Enterprise is NCC-1701, and licensors often produce items in that gimmicky quantity).  Naturally, there were more than 1701 Star Trek fans who wanted this Data for their collections.  I just looked on eBay and there is only one of these Datas currently listed.  It's currently on sale, at 30% off: a mere $349.99.  That's right.  Three hundred and fifty bucks is the sale price.  I won't be replacing my poorly made Data with a different, poorly made Data any time soon.

One amusing note: My Data is numbered 1502/1701; the one on eBay is 1501/1701.

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