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By Thomas Wheeler

I haven't been buying Art Asylum's line of Star Trek action figures based on the newest Trek incarnation ENTERPRISE for several reasons. I'm not that impressed with the show, although any Star Trek is still likely to be better than most of the immoral, uncreative dreck found elsewhere on the airwaves, although not by a whole lot in some instances in this case with regard to language and some sexual overtones; and frankly, the Enterprise figures are not in the least compatible with the long-running Playmates series of Star Trek figures from the 1990's. Given that I have a fairly extensive collection of those on display, that was an even bigger strike against them.

Art Asylum is planning to do figures from a wide range of Star Treks. They did several figures from NEMESIS, and there are plans to do figures from the Classic Star Trek, as well. If these do well, I'm sure they'll be looking at Next Gen, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.

I still doubt I'll be collecting. I'm entirely content with my Playmates collection. However, I might pick up a figure or two here and there, if there are certain ones that especially appeal to me. Such was the case with one recently released Enterprise figure.

ENTERPRISE may be Star Trek's weak link, but it did do one thing that I've been waiting to see done since the new Treks began with Next Generation -- Enterprise brought back the Andorians. Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with Klingons, Romulans, Ferengi, Cardassians, and we learned a great deal about all of these races, and others. But I've always liked the Andorians. There was something about the basic humanoid appearance, and yet also the blue skin, white hair, and especially those antennae, that I always found very interesting.

The modern-day Star Trek producers didn't want to bring back the Andorians. They thought they looked silly. But when Enterprise came along, and they found themselves restricted by their own concept as to which established aliens they could show and maintain some small semblance of continuity, they were sort of stuck. So they found a way to do the Andorians in what they considered a more acceptable manner -- in short, they found a way to make the antennae look more plausible by rigging up little motors in them and making them move -- the Andorians finally returned.

To their surprise but not to mine, the Andorians were a huge hit. Enough so that a couple of them turned up in a later episode, and they're likely to reappear in the second season presently underway. And when Art Asylum started producing Enterprise action figures, they included an Andorian in one of the assortments.

I was perfectly willing to make an exception and get this Andorian. There have only been three previous Andorian figures. One was part of the Mego collection of Star Trek figures in the 1970's. He was incredibly scarce, as he was part of the third assortment of figures that never saw wide release. The rest of the assortment also included an excellent Romulan, a fairly decent Talosian, and a pretty dang silly Mugato. The only time I'd ever seen a Mego Andorian was on a news report about toy companies. It took me over twenty years to finally get the Mego Andorian.

Playmates did two Andorians. They did one in the 5" scale, which unfortunately came rather late in the line when Playmates was getting both sloppy and weird, and he was pre-posed, badly articulated, and looked like he was trying to disco dance or something. They also did a 12" Andorian, and this was a truly excellent figure, probably the best Andorian of all time.

Art Asylum's Andorian from Enterprise is officially called Shran the Andorian. This was the name of the lead Andorian that appeared in the first episode that featured the blue-skins, and he also was in the second episode. Interestingly, he was played by Jeffrey Combs, who during the run of Deep Space Nine played the Ferengi Brunt and the Dominion Vorta Weyoun.

The figure is excellent, I must say. The facial likenesses of the characters are accomplished with the RealScan system, which takes a computer scan of the actor's face and then transfers it to a headsculpt for the toy. Shran stands seven inches in height and is a very solid piece of plastic. His articulation is excellent, including head, arms, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, and knees. There is some articulation in the boot, and one of the upper arms has a "swivel arm" feature that let's him hold his particle rifle with both hands, although it would've been nice if both arms had this feature. I have noticed that some other Enterprise figures are not nearly as well articulated.

Art Asylum has gone to some lengths to hide the articulation points, and while this works fairly well, it does make some of the articulation, especially in the legs, a little weird. The face is very well painted with incredible detail, especially in the antennae and eyes. There's a bit of paint-wiping in the face and hair, but it's not that bad. Normally this is a practice I frown upon, but it works fairly well here. I would hope that caution is taken during production so that this doesn't get excessive, because I can see how it could.

Overall, Shran the Andorian is an excellent figure, and if this is the level of quality that Art Asylum intends to put into its entire Star Trek effort, then I think that Star Trek action figures have a positive future, if they'd get some consistent articulation going, and those so inclined will be able to build an impressive collection. If they were size-compatible with the Playmates line, and better articulated, they'd be perfect, and I'd be snapping up every one of them. For myself, there's a few of these new ones I might pick up here and there, but I think I'll remain content with my Playmates collection. Meanwhile, if you're a fan of the Andorians like I am, and are delighted at their return, even in a series that's not as impressive as its recent predecessors, then I definitely recommend Shran the Andorian. You'll enjoy him.