Trek Trinkets vs. Star Wars Wares: Lucas Loves Us Fanboys More…

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jan 24, 2009 in Hobbies and Collections, Star Trek, Star Wars |

Star Trek: Countdown's first issue vs. Star Wars: The Clone Wars #5

At first I had my doubts — but the one thing that won me over to the up and coming Star Trek film is the trailer — to be blunt it kicks ass! So as a fanboy who’s been following the show forever when I read that there was a comic book attached to the film (Star Trek Countdown) I was psyched. But then I glanced at the cover and I was in shock: The illustration looks like a bad tracing from a photo featuring some of the worst Photoshop coloring work I’ve ever seen in my life. I realize the cover is trying to match the posters for the film, but couldn’t they have put more than just ten minutes worth of work into it?

But then again I’m not surprised — if it’s one thing that Paramount has never done well it’s to put out proper merchandise for Star Trek. This is the opposite situation of when I was a kid in the 70s when part of what kept the series alive was the merchandise attached to the show which very specifically were the model kits put out by AMT. With the kits you could build an entire Starfleet armada which could go up against both a Romulan Bird-of-Prey or a Klingon Warship. But you could do more than have mock spaceship battles as they also put out full sized models of every bit of hardware that you’d need as part of a landing party: phaser, communicator and tricorder! It’s these toys that have me brainwashed with the Trek brand over thirty years later.

AMT Model Kits: The golden age of Star Trek merchandise!

But alas after Gene Roddenberry died it seems that no one cared anymore about Star Trek merchandise. The trinkets associated with the show have always been an after thought — a license to print money for Paramount. But in sharp contrast to this you have George Lucas on the other hand who puts out the best goodies associated with Star Wars. Now I may have hated the last trilogy and don’t get me started on our friend Jar Jar Binks, but if there’s one thing that Lucas knows how to do it’s to create high quality merchandise which the fans love.

After looking at that dreadful Countdown cover which I wouldn’t use as to clean my toilet with I did a quick google for “Star Wars Comic Book” and within seconds was looking at the covers that Dark Horse has been producing for Mr. Lucas. And you know what? Every damn one of them was so good that you wouldn’t mind buying a poster of the artwork and displaying it on your wall.

Star Wars comic book covers: Good enough to be posters!

There’s that famous Jesuit saying “Give me the child for seven years, and I will give you the man.” And I have to say that George Lucas understands that — which is why we’re now seeing the dawn of second maybe even third generation Star Wars fans. From the dawn of the Ewoks to the latest Clone Wars cartoon Lucas has always worked to hook young kids early on, something which is difficult to do with the sophistication of Star Trek. But yet the original Star Trek series did hook me as a kid, and I think part of that was the rough and tumble of William Shatner, but another big part of that were the toys that let me as a child feel like a participant in the show. Lucas clearly understands that engaging his audience is more than making films, but in allowing his fans to further explore his universe in every medium from comic books to video games.

Star Trek Mego action figures from the 70s

So if Paramount is going to reinvigorate Star Trek they’re going to have to do more than have a kick ass film because even if that film inspires multiple sequels — they need to start to put the same amount of energy into the merchandise if they’re going to get on the radar of the next generation of fanboys. Or as the rock stars say “Do it for the kids yeah!”

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