Over the decades, Star Trek characters and ships have all gotten the plush treatment, with some being made into teddy bears. One of the more recent offerings include the 2009 Vermont Teddy Bear Company’s Kirk and Spock styled heirloom bears, perhaps the most elaborate Trek themed bears ever produced. The Toy Factory, which manufactures plush toys retrieved from claw machines, has during recent years transformed characters like Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Khan, Picard, and Data into cute toy versions. And who wouldn’t like to cuddle up to the either the ThinkGeek plush U.S.S. Enterprise or Romulan Bird of Prey?
Not all cute items are huggable and snuggable. The original crew was transformed into the famously cute Precious Moments styled statues by The Hamilton Collection in 2012. Available by subscription, there have been five statues released so far in the line. While difficult to cuddle, the cuteness factor is high with these handcrafted 4½ inch resin statues.
Big or Chibi-styled eyes are one of the common design elements that are found in cute items. This is especially seen in the new lines from Funko and QMx. The Funko Star Trek action figure line includes cute versions of characters like Kirk, Spock (in regular and Mirror universe versions), Scotty, an Orion, Andorian, and Klingon (in addition to Big Bang Theory characters who are dressed in Trek costumes). QMx has released several Trekkies Q-Pop figures to date, each with a note board to write messages on and big eyes to adore.
In 2011, PPW Toys released four Star Trek-themed Mr. Potato Head toys. Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and Kor had all the trappings of any Mr. Potato Head, including swappable facial features and accessories. When assembled in their intended style, there is no denying the cute factor of these items which blend nostalgia with the future.
What these cute collectibles teach us in part is that the audience for Star Trek is as diverse as the characters on the shows themselves. Star Trek items come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and for a variety of intended audiences and collectors. To get philosophical and psychological, there is also perhaps something comforting about these kinds of toys that reflect the comforting qualities of Star Trek itself – that everything will be okay in the future and that the world will be a better place.
A bonus: In 2007, The Hamilton Collection had planned to release a “Captain Kirk in Command” bear statue that was never produced to date. This is the advertisement mailed to the public and included in newspapers announcing the never-produced cuteness.
Maria Jose and John Tenuto are both sociology professors at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois, specializing in popular culture and subculture studies. The Tenutos have conducted extensive research on the history of Star Trek, and have presented at venues such as Creation Conventions and the St. Louis Science Center. They have written for the official Star Trek Magazine and their extensive collection of Star Trek items has been featured in SFX Magazine. Their theory about the “20-Year Nostalgia Cycle” and research on Star Trek fans has been featured on WGN News, BBC Radio, and in the documentary The Force Among Us. They recently researched all known paperwork from the making of the classic episode "Space Seed" and are excited to be sharing some previously unreported information about Khan's first adventure with fellow fans. Contact the Tenutos at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.