Published Sep 5, 2017
By Maria Jose and John Tenuto
The events in John Jackson Miller’s new Star Trek trilogy of Prey novels are set in motion due to the demise of Commander Kruge, one the original crew’s most-dangerous foes. Indeed, Kruge inflicted some permanent and emotional damage to our heroes, resulting in the destruction of two Starfleet vessels, including the beloved original U.S.S. Enterprise, and the death of Kirk’s son David Marcus. David’s death would continue to haunt Kirk, bringing him to the brink of prejudice, throughout Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Lord Kruge as a character was originally designed as a Romulan, according to writer and producer Harve Bennett’s original story treatment from September 1982 (this is why the Klingons have a Bird-of-Prey ship in the film, something that carried over from the original versions of the outline). When the decision was made to make the villain more ruthless and less politically motivated – in essence, the Star Trek version of a warlord – Kruge was born. Christopher Lloyd’s performance, with all its aplomb, Harve Bennet’s charming writing, Leonard Nimoy’s thoughtful direction, and the art design and makeup artists combined to create a worthy adversary for Kirk and company.
Indeed, Kruge continues to pop up in the recent extended Trek universe – from John Jackson Miller’s novels to being a featured character in Disruptor Beam’s Star Trek Timelines free-to-play mobile game. Kruge also pops up frequently in the world of Trek collectibles. These are some of our favorite “Kruge-llectibles” from the past three decades.
1) Taco Bell Glasses –for 69 cents with the purchase of a medium or large soft drink, fans visiting a local Taco Bell restaurant during the summer of 1984 could purchase a Kruge themed glass along with three others depicting scenes and spoilers from the film. One of the favorite aspects of this glass is the excellent artwork, which features Kruge on the front, and the famous “I…have had…enough…of you” Kirk-Kruge fight scene on the back.
2) ERTL Klingon Leader action figure–Star Trek III: The Search for Spock had four action figures released at the time of its premiere by ERTL: Kirk, Spock, Scotty, and the Klingon Leader. Although not specifically named as Kruge, this figure’s likeness and the inclusion of “the Klingon beast” make it undeniably the character. Playmates Toys also produced a Kruge action figure in their 4” line in 1995. (Special thanks to James Sawyer and his A Piece of the Action toy blog http://www.apieceoftheaction.net/ for these images)
3) Hamilton Collection Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Collector’s Plate – part of the Hamilton Collection’s 1995 “Star Trek Movies” plate line, TSFS offering included spectacular original art by Morgan Weistling. The dynamic many-faces-of-Spock and the villainous scowl of Kruge make this a favorite item featuring the Klingon Lord.
4) Bif Bang Pow! Kruge Bobble Head – January 2015 saw the release of the Kruge Bobble Head as a welcome addition to the Bif Bang Pow! line of Trek bobbles. What’s more fun than tapping Kruge’s head to get a bobbling “yes” gesture of agreement at whatever you say?!
5) Diamond Select Toys Klingon Bird of Prey – offered in many versions, including a regular edition, partially cloaked, and cloaked, these impressive Birds of Prey join the expansive line of DST starships. Our favorite of the group is the partially cloaked version, featuring the voice of Kruge and a cool paint scheme and design. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaLmHW-gPgc
All of these Kruge-llectibles point to the popularity of the character and Kruge’s ability to capture the imagination. It appears, despite Kirk’s protestation, that “we…haven’t had…enough of…Kruge!”
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.