As a kid and budding Star Trek fan growing up in the 1970s, I used to watch the reruns on a little black and white TV, moving the antenna around in order to get the channel to come in, and sometimes the signal was so bad that I’d have to decide between picture and sound. Those were the days, right? Along with that, I managed to get my grubby paws on a few toys, books, models and so on. I still get the odd Trek gift, though nowadays I’m usually filling a hole in my collection, or else it’s a poster or print, or a humorous knick-knack of some sort. You know...Mr. Potato Head, Pez dispensers, and so on. But, when I was ten or twelve years old? It was all about the play time and the make-believe.
I used to “play” Star Trek outside with my friends, the way you played “Cowboys & Indians” or “Army.” We had those oversized communicator walkie-talkies and cap guns standing in for phasers, and that big ball at the center of the playground with all the windows and slides and ladders was our Starship Enterprise. Action Jackson or G.I. Joes often filled out my Enterprise crew when I needed redshirts to be led by Mego Captain Kirk. Growing older, toys gave way to other things like books and models, and then things went really off the rails when I supposedly “came of age” with more disposable income to direct toward the acquisition of Cool Trekkie Stuff.
Yes, I’m a geek. Have we met?
So, with long range sensors detecting Christmas approaching on an intercept course, I decided to dig deep into the memory bank and come up with ten favorite Star Trek gifts delivered by ol’ Saint Nick (or his designated representatives), particularly those given during my oh-so impressionable youth:
The Tracer Gun - So far as I can remember, this was the very first Star Trek toy I ever received. Even though it had a pseudo-Star Trek logo and Kirk and Spock’s picture on the blister pack, the gun looked nothing like a phaser, but wow! Was this thing awesome. It fired those little plastic discs, and I spent who knows how many afternoons exchanging fire with my neighborhood friends as we pretended to be Kirk, Spock, or the Klingon commander. How I made it out of childhood with both eyes intact, I’ll never know.
Mego Kirk and Spock Figures – I remember my grandmother handing me a square, lightweight package and thinking, “Great, a shirt.” Lo and behold, my crafty grandma had arranged the two blister packages so that I wouldn’t be able to tell right off that I was holding the two coolest action figures that weren’t The Six Million Dollar Man or G.I. Joe. The rest of the crew soon would follow, along with that hokey vinyl bridge play set, but the continuing Enterprise adventures all started right there on my grandparent’s living room floor.
AMT U.S.S. Enterprise Model –
TOS and Animated Series View-Master Reels – Long before the era of VCRs, Blu-rays and Netflix, View-Masters were one way to revisit favorite characters from TV and film. In addition to reels for Superman, Batman, Planet of the Apes, and Lost In Space, I also got to relive the exciting adventures of Captain Kirk and his crew from... “The Omega Glory?” Yeah, maybe not the best choice of episodes to represent Star Trek, but that was the one they were filming the day GAF showed up to shoot pictures with their fancy-schmancy cameras. The set from the animated series redeems Trek a bit, showcasing the popular episode “Yesteryear” while carrying the title “Mr. Spock’s Time Trek.” Unlike the previous gifts I’ve already listed, I still have both of these sets.
Star Trek Blueprints – The other gift from my aunt that same year? BAM. Right here. It’s perhaps one of the coolest Trek collectibles ever devised, at least so far as ten- or eleven-year-old me was concerned. Every deck, every room of the Enterprise, laid out in painstaking detail across twelve sheets, and all hand-drawn by Franz Joseph Schnaubelt. There was a point where I could close my eyes and trace my finger from the bridge to the transporter room, boring to death my parents and everyone else around me while I did it.
“The City on the Edge of Forever” Diorama – For a time, my mother would send me all sorts of Star Trek stuff for Christmas or my birthday courtesy of the Franklin Mint. I have the pewter U.S.S. Enterprise, and a few medallions, and even a tankard celebrating Trek’s 25th anniversary from 1991, but it’s this diorama—recreating the scene of McCoy jumping through the Guardian of Forever while Kirk and Spock look on—that is my favorite. The attention to detail, including the Guardian and the surrounding alien ruins, makes it a really beautiful piece. My writing partner, Kevin Dilmore, has already made me promise to amend my will so that it’s left to him.
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