Tuesday, March 25, 2014

About the Manufacturers

NOTE:  You can click on most pictures to get a larger view of them.

Before we get into looking at the actual collection, let's do some deeper looking at the manufacturers that I've collected.

The main driving force in my collection is this company.  These are the guys that got me hooked on collecting small model starships.

"Hallmark has been known primarily as an American greeting card company and was founded in Kansas City, Missouri in 1910.

Since 1991, Hallmark has produced many licensed "Keepsake" Christmas ornaments based on Star Trek characters, ships, props, artwork, and scenes."

I find that thier ornaments are very well detailed and for the most part, thier choices in what to produce each year are pretty good.  Their move to having the ornaments be self-powered was a good one, in my opinion as now the internal lights on the models won't burn out from being on all the time.  As I've stated earlier, I have questioned some of thier choices in ships over the years (Reman Scorpian... BAH!!!  PHOOEY!!!) and really, why do they keep making new versions of the TOS Enterprise?

Furuta became a main contender in my collection when I started looking for more ships to add.

"Furuta is a Japanese company which produced a Star Trek "gashapon" line called the "Federation And Alien Ships Collection" and was released in three volumes between 2003 and 2006.

In 2003, Furuta delved into the Star Trek universe with the release of small-scale injection-molded plastic models of starships and space stations with their release of first volume of the Federation and Alien Ships Collection. Volumes Two and Three followed in 2004 and 2006 respectively. What made these collections remarkable was that aside from well-established ships, Furuta also produced ships that were rarely touched upon by other licensed companies including the Prometheus-class, Olympic-class, Nova-class and the Species 8472 bioship."

Per Wikipedia, Gashapon is "a Bandai brand trademark (U.S.Registration Number.2864782) widely used throughout the world for their capsule toys. It is also referred to as "gachapon." Both gashapon and gachapon are Japanese onomatopoeia, made up of two sounds: "gasha" or "gacha" for the turning of a crank on a toy vending machine, and "pon" for the sound of the toy capsule dropping into the receptacle. It is used to describe both the machines themselves, and any toy obtained from them. Tomy, another major player in capsule toy market, uses "Gacha" instead of "Gachapon" for their capsule vending machines and toys.

Gashapon machines are similar to the coin-operated toy vending machines seen outside of grocery stores and other retailers in other countries. While American coin-operated vending toys are usually cheap, low-quality products, sold for a quarter, 50¢, or sometimes 75¢, Japanese gashapon can cost anywhere from ¥100–500 (approx. US$1–6) and are normally a much higher quality product. They are often constructed from high-grade PVC plastic, and contain more molding detail and carefully painted features. Many gashapon are considered collector's items, with rare ones fetching extremely high prices in secondhand market."

I found a neat video about these types of toys and you can check that out at THIS LINK.

I really liked this line of models.  The first two volumes were very close in size to Hallmark, at least closer than any of the other Gashapon type models.  They made a USS Equinox and a USS Prometheus that are really cool to look at.  I wasn't so much a fan of thier Volume 3 line up of ships.  With volume three they went weird and made the models a lot smaller, some of them were barely bigger than their Micro Machine counter-parts.  As stated earlier, the detailing on these was pretty darn good, especially given the size and the fact that they supposed to be considered cheap toys.  The prices on them keep going up as well.  The Romulan Warbird goes for $86 in Buy It Now on eBay.  Not bad for a $1-6 toy!

This was my third attempt at adding more ships to the collection.  On average, they were slightly bigger than Hallmark.

"Hot Wheels is a brand name used for many of Mattel's diecast toys and was introduced in 1968.

Mattel, one of the world's largest toy makers, announced in 2008 that it had acquired licensing to produce merchandise based on the Star Trek franchise.

Including repaints, a total of twenty die-cast metal and ABS plastic Star Trek starship miniatures have been released under the brand since 2009. Each ship is said to be in "1:50 scale" (in reference to diecast automobile scales), measures from ten to twenty centimeters in length, and is packaged with an adjustable plastic stand."

This short lived series of ships had a lot of promise.  They were priced well and the level of detailing was pretty good.  I would love to know why they stopped making ships.  The value of some of the ships has gone up a lot since they were first sold which is why my collection of these is incomplete.  The NX-01 now is going for around $70 on eBay.

Besides Hallmark, Eaglemoss is the only other currently licensed company that is producing staship models of comparative size.

"Eaglemoss Collections is a UK-based publishing company that produces specialized magazines and collectibles for a number of licensed entertainment properties such as DC Comics and Marvel, as well as other subjects.

Formed in 2011 from the merger of Eaglemoss Publications and GE Fabbri, the company focuses on "partwork" magazines. In May 2012, the company launched the Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection partwork. In Japan, the magazine was distributed by De Agostini, another partwork publisher."

I am really hoping that these guys stick around for a while.  They apparently know what they are doing as they have other brand name collectibles and the company has been around since the 70's.  What is really exciting is the line up of ships coming down the pike.  They already have 40 ships lined up for production.  And once we get past the traditional ships, they start getting interesting.  There are some ships that have never been produced by anyone else before.  The detail level of the models alone is worth the $20 a ship but you also get an informative magazine with each ship too.

Editor's Note: As of March of 2017, there currently are now more than a 100 different ships planned to be released over the lifetime of the Eaglemoss line.

This is actually my oldest set of starships, however, thier size doesn't quite match that of the mighty Hallmark fleet.

"Galoob was founded in 1954 in San Francisco, California and was reported to be the third largest toy maker in the US at the time of its acquisition by Hasbro in 1998.

Galoob is a toy manufacturer that held three separate Star Trek licenses: it produced the first figures and accessories based on Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1988, a line of figures for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and it released a series of Star Trek Micro Machines from 1993 to 1997."

"Micro Machines" or simply "Micros" were a line of toys originally made by Galoob (now part of Hasbro) in the mid-1980s and throughout the 1990s. Galoob licensed the idea behind Micro Machines from Clem Heeden, a toy inventor from Wisconsin. Micro Machines were tiny scale component style "playsets" and vehicles that were slightly larger than N scale."

I was surprised to figure out that I have a Galoob diecast Enterprise D in my collection.  I played hard with that thing too and it has held up well over the years.  I am also proud to say that about six months ago, I completed my Star Trek Micro Machines collection.  WOW, have these little ships gone up in value.  Some of them are rather common and go for around $10 on eBay but some of the more rare ones are going for $80+.  Now that is impressive considering that these are small little 2-3" pieces of plastic.

AMT or Aluminum Model Toys is not really a toy company per say, but rather a manufacturer of plastic build it yourself model kits.

"Aluminum Model Toys (AMT) was the original producer of Star Trek model kits and acquired the license in 1966, shortly after the premiere of the original series. This licensing deal was brokered between Gene Roddenberry and Stephen Edward Poe, an employee of an advertising firm which had been retained by AMT for marketing and communications purposes."

The reason I have included them in this blog post is because I have built and painted a couple of these models and included them in my collection as they matched the size of Hallmark pretty good.  I have a Constitution Refit, an Excelsior Refit and a Ferrengi Marauder model.  I also heavily use AMT kits for many of my kitbashing projects.

Since we're on the subject of full fledge build yourself models, I also have a Polar Lights kit in my collection.

"Polar Lights Models is a manufacturer that produces Star Trek model kits, starting in 2003, as then regular kit producer, AMT/Ertl, started to wane in their releases of its Star Trek-line. Currently featuring a substantial line for themselves, two releases in particular, the highly detailed 1:350 scale models of the original USS Enterprise and its refit successor, are highly acclaimed in the Star Trek modeling community."

The USS Enterprise NX Refit model is what got me interested in the company.  I really liked the ENT series and had they continued on to a Season 5, this is what the ship would have looked like.  And I have to say, it was a pretty cool looking ship.


There were other companies that I had considered while looking to increase the collection.  Most of these companies were Gashapon producers so naturally, thier ships were small enough to fit in the plastic capsules.  this of course meant that they were too small to blend well with my collection.

Because Furuta never produced a NX Enterprise, I did buy an F-Toys variation of her and her Mirror Universe counterpart just to compare sizes as well as add a Furuta like model of this ship to the collection.  I was not impressed with the quality.  The paint job was shoddy and the display stands barely hold the ship upright.

Memory Alpha Link

"F-Toys is a Japanese company which manufactured small pre-painted plastic models of Star Trek starships in 2008 and 2010 as the Star Trek Fleet Collection. They were retailed in Japan by Platz as a "gashapon" toy line.

The ships were designed for F-Toys by FineMolds, a Japanese modeling company. Ships in the collection measure nine to thirteen centimeters in length and each is packaged with an adjustable, individually labeled stand. A small amount of assembly is required. Most ships are produced in 1/2500 scale excepting the USS Enterprise-D which is 1/5000 scale."

Memory Alpha Link

"Johnny Lightning was formed in 1994 as a subsidiary of Playing Mantis and is a company primarily known for producing collectible toy cars.

It produced a line of small painted Star Trek miniatures called "Legends Of Star Trek" from 2004 until 2008, after the parent company was acquired by the RC2 Corporation. The RC2 Corporation was acquired by Tomy in 2011. The ships measured from ten to twelve centimeters long and were made of PVC plastic while their display stands were cast in metal.

Platz, the distributor of many Star Trek models in the Japanese market, re-released the line in Japan from 2011 until 2013."

"Konami (pronounced ko-NAH-mee) is a leading developer and publisher of numerous popular and strong-selling toys, trading cards, and computer and video games. The company was founded in 1969 as a jukebox rental and repair business in Osaka, Japan by Kagemasa Kozuki, the still-current chairman and CEO. The name "Konami" is a conjunction of the names Kagemasa Kozuki, Yoshinobu Nakama, Hiro Matsuda, and Shokichi Ishihara, who were partners acquired by Kozuki and the original founders of Konami Industry Co., Ltd in 1973. The word "konami" also means "small waves" in Japanese."

Memory Alpha Link

"Romando is a Japanese company which manufactured small pre-painted plastic models of Star Trek starships in 2003 and 2004. The 1/7000 Scale Star Trek Official Museum Series was retailed in Japan as a "gashapon" toy line by Yamato Co. Ltd.. Yamato is now rebranded as Arcadia Co. Ltd. in Japan.

The in-scale Deep Space 9 space station and additional ships in other scales were also included in the series. Many of the smaller ships were similar in size to Galoob's Star Trek Micro Machines while the larger ones were comparable to Furuta's releases.

Ships ranged in size from three to nine centimeters in length and came with individually-labeled stands displaying Japanese text. Once assembled, the Deep Space 9 station measured twenty centimeters in diameter. A small amount of assembly was required. The "dark" versions of the ships were detailed in fluorescent paints that glowed under UV black light."

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