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BBTS05E20: The Transporter Malfunction

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Will's Guide to the Universe

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Set Phasers to MEGO!

March 28, 2012 (Revised, March 31, 2012), by Will Hoover

It's hard to imagine how The Big Bang Theory could have made it through four complete previous seasons WITHOUT a single guest appearance by the legendary Leonard Nimoy himself, but thank goodness he's finally more than just a regular reference on the show.

In any case, it may be a bit hard for the uninitiated to tell from first glance at the clip from the season five episode of BBT alone, whether the Spock action figure pictured is an authentic vintage MEGO original series Spock or an EMCE Toys repro, but a closeup of the figure shows that it is indeed a MEGO original.

How on Earth can we know that for sure?  Why, the starfleet emblem on Spock's 1:9 scale shirt for starters.

Although the EMCE Toys reproduction is almost identical in many respects to the original MEGO Spock, the most obvious way to tell them apart is by looking at the Starfleet insignia.

The original MEGO emblems featured a thin layer of foil over the actual grayish sticker that was attached to the shirt itself AND... the insignia is somewhat smaller than the oversized EMCE version.

Further, the EMCE Starfleet insignia isn't just oversized, it's not even the correct shape.  It looks more like a metallic arrowhead than a genuine Starfleet symbol, but I guess it does do the trick overall.  Other telltale signs to look for include the fact that the EMCE Star Trek figures feature much lighter blue shirts than the original Megos.  And perhaps most telling of all is the fact that the vintage figures' head sculpts were usually cast from a rather dark, almost tan looking vinyl.

Not all vintage Star Trek Megos featured a dark skinned complexion, but the vast majority of the overall production run seems to have had this interesting anomaly.  Then, there's the tricorder.  A closeup of the vintage and EMCE tricorders seems to indicate that they are shaped somewhat differently.  Hmmm....  Fascinating.


Night & Day? - Notice the flesh tone, gold braid, hands, insignia, shirt color, & tricorder

There are other, very minor differences between EMCE Trek figures and classic Megos as well, most of which arise from the use of somewhat different manufacturing materials.  For example, original MEGO hands were made of the same hard poly plastic that the majority of the body was cast in.  EMCE Toys hands are made of a softer, more pliable plastic and will NOT crack the way MEGO hands and feet sometimes do.

The increased durability is a distinct plus for EMCE, but unfortunately, the tradeoff here is that EMCE hands usually don't look as realistic as their MEGO counterparts, in that the softer plastic doesn't seem to hold the same definition of tiny sculpted details that the hard poly shows quite readily.


Sheldon may only be "half human" just like Spock, but he too has his moments

In any case, take a close look at Tiny Spock when he is admonishing Sheldon in his dream about having broken the transporter toy.  The inset photo shows that the Starfleet insignia is indeed a vintage MEGO sticker since the rigid tricorder strap tended to rub against the foil layer and peel it up during even light play.


Yep, that's a genuine vintage MEGO "Tiny Spock" alright!

Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and the real Leonard Nimoy

Interestingly enough, the moment season five, episode twenty (The Transporter Malfunction) aired, the MEGO fan community was abuzz because of a line of somewhat inaccurate dialogue in which "Tiny Spock" tells Sheldon (in his dream, no less) that he comes "from a factory in Taiwan."  I suppose that is indeed incorrect, since MEGO Star Trek figures that were released in 1975 were usually labeled, "Made in the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong."

If that was the only mistake the writers (Steven Molaro, Jim Reynolds & Steve Holland from a story by Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady & Maria Ferrari) of the show made however, I'd say it was reasonably minor.  The fact that they got pretty much everything else correct should be laudable enough.  And come on, it's not every day that a hit sitcom with millions of fans worldwide features the guest appearance of a vintage toy action figure that was originally produced nearly four decades ago!


He wasn't made inTaiwan because... IT WAS ALL A DREAM!!!

Sheldon and Tiny Spock face off

Overall though, fans should be extremely grateful to EMCE for reproducing original MEGO licensed properties such as Star Trek and Planet of the Apes.  Most of their products just keep getting better and better.  Well, their Universal Monsters are killer awesome anyway.  The most recent Star Trek offerings of Captain Pike and Salt Vampire weren't quite as realistically done, but it's still wonderful to see the two classic characters finally produced in ninth scale.


The Star Trek influenced alien planet set in Sheldon's dream is TOTALLY AWESOME!!!

Perhaps Pike and the Salt Vampire were but the latest casualties in a long standing battle between some diehard collectors of classic Megos (who seem to think that 8" figures should continue to look kitschy, the way many were often produced in the 1970s) and the opposition, who are quick to point out that the '70s are most definitely over, and new ninth scale figures can and should be produced in the spirit of the originals without necessarily having to resort to downgrading the product to a more or less archaic state, presumably just for the sake of nostalgia.


A Gorn attack is apparently what you get from tossing your vintage MEGO Spock!

And let's face it, not all vintage MEGO products looked cheap or kitschy and what defines such things may be completely subjective anyway.  Whatever the case may be, there are surely invaluable lessons to be learned from this wonderful episode of The Big Bang Theory.  For starters, time waits for no one.  Further, nothing and no one is perfect.  Even good ol' Shelly Cooper... who has even been known to break his vintage MEGO Transporter Playset and then try to swap it with someone else's.  As for Mr. Spock and the magnificent Leonard Nimoy....  Ah!  Who's counting anyway?

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