Monday, September 21, 2009

It figures: a female Andorian

TMP Bridge

I love customising "Star Trek" action figures. Here's what I finally got up to when I tracked down the elusive UFP aliens that were featured in Wave 2 of Mego Corps' "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" 3.75" action figure line!

Custom action figure triptych 1triptych 2Custom action figure triptych 3

In early 1980, Mego Corporation released 3.75" action figures of characters from "Star Trek: The Motion Picture". They proved impossible to find in Australia, so I tried ordering them by mail order from a shop in the USA called Heroes World. Ironically, Heroes World was sold out of the regular crew (Kirk, Spock, Ilia, etc) but had most of the alien ambassadors in stock. At the time I wondered about why I needed figures of aliens, who had scarcely been seen in the movie, when I couldn't have the Enterprise crew. I passed on the offer.

Mego TMP action figures ad
Mego "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" action figures advertisement,
Marvel Star Trek comic, issue #2, 1980.

To accompany the regular Starfleet crew, Mego had produced a small range of Star Trek aliens: Klingon, Betelgeusian, Megarite, Arcturian and Saurian (incorrectly named by Mego as a Rigellian). No Andorian. Of course, a year later, Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Decker, Ilia and the Klingon turned up on bargain tables all over Sydney. And, of course, I couldn't resist colour-correcting the Enterprise crew's insignias! And turning a spare Will Decker into an Andorian!

Will Decker, Andorian custom, w/ AMT figures
3.75" Will Decker with 3.75" Andorian custom
(using a Luke Duke head),
plus small AMT Bridge figures.

Over the years, I've developed a fascination for Star Trek aliens, especially the members of the United Federation of Planets glimpsed in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture". Just to tease me, photos of the "missing" Mego aliens were on all the 3.75" Mego cardbacks! The alien ambassadors were never seen at retail in Australia - and the prices for these "rare" figures began to soar through the roof, even in the US.

What made it worse for this Trek completist was that I knew that, even if I bought a set, I'd not be satisfied with the alien figures' slap-dash sculpting, painting and costuming errors. In 1999, I discovered eBay. Loose aliens were finally mine. Let the customising begin!

Female Andorian custom, ST:TMPMOV Female

Group of Andorian ambassadors
Costume stills from Star Trek: The Motion Picture
© 1979 Paramount Pictures Corp.

After twenty years of contemplation, I finally customised an Andorian female to scale with the 3.75" line of Mego action figures (1980) from "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"! Andorians had been better represented in the extensive range of tiny, white-metal wargame figures released in Britain by Citadel Miniatures in 1980.

Citadel Andorians

Available in pairs of each alien, the long-haired male Andorian Ambassador (above right) came complete with a flabbjellah (combination weapon and musical instrument). Unfortunately no Andorian female in national costume was produced by Citadel; she was omitted in favour of a male Andorian Enterprise crewmember (above left).

Had the Mego ST:TMP line (and the first movie) been popular with children and collectors, Mego would probably have released more of TMP's barely-glimpsed alien ambassadors to cash in on the success of the similarly-scaled "Star Wars" action figures by Kenner in the 70s. Coincidentally, it is the recent 90s versions of 3.75" "Star Wars" characters that have inspired my latest customising activities.

Did you guess the "ingredients" for creating Andorian females?

1. Simply take the head and arms of a Queen Amidala "Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace" action figure and the robed torso of the Rune Haako figure.

Customising - body parts

2. Amidala's hair is made a little more elaborate with quick-setting putty.

3. Her antennae are made from bendy wire from inside a plastic-coated "twist tie". This is heated, inserted into the forehead and cut off to desired lengths. Note that the Andorians depicted in ST:TMP had very different, tendrill-like antennae emerging from the forehead rather than the crown of the head.

4. Rune's robe needs some trimming to bring it to scale with the male Mego ST:TMP aliens. A chunk is cut from the middle of each thigh and the legs rejoined. Rune's shoulder hump has to be trimmed down. Some more putty changes the dimensions of his chest.

5. From there it's a (fairly) simple paint job: blue for the skin, white for the hair, off-white for the dress, decorated with pale blue swirls and a darker waistband.

6. The addition of real Australian gem stones, to represent the geodes used for waist and hair decoration, completes the female Andorian ambassador.

Female Andorian custom, ST:TMP

Andorians sketch
Original costume design artwork by
Robert Fletcher for TMP.

Click here to read about my other Mego 3.75" TMP customs.

Click here to see recipes for my Playmates customs.

Two Andorians

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know what to expect when I googles "Andorians" and I am so grateful to find this site!


Thanks so much for your comment!