Monday, August 21, 2006

The thrill of the hunt! Part 2


I wasn't game to mention my latest eBay purchase until it had arrived in the mail from the UK, in case I jinxed the deal, but the package arrived today, so I hereby scream,


Two tiny, white-metal Saurians from "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" officially join my extensive collection of Citadel USS Enterprise crewmembers, and United Federation of Planets' alien ambassador figures, from that movie. The miniscule character figures are intended to be used as playing pieces for roleplaying games, or in battle-scenario dioramas.

The majority of the set I bought in little twin-packs from a shop (originally hidden in the corridors above Dymocks' city store) called "The Tin Soldier". That store had a few TMP aliens missing from stock, but they sent me off to a sister store on the north shore one day, where I picked up a few more pieces - and even more, later that year, when new stock arrived from England.

Frustratingly, neither store had a packet of K'normians (described by the publicity materials for TMP as having an additional brain case) - and none of those aliens are visible onscreen in TMP, although a photo of one surfaced in Star Trek: The Magazine a few years ago. Luckily for me, one of my packs of other aliens bought from "The Tin Soldier" had a mispackaged K'normian lurking inside. (At least, I assumed he was supposed to be a K'normian, since I never saw a photo of one until a few years ago.)

Neither store ever had TMP Saurians or Klingons in stock, either. (I figured some Aussie Star Trek fan had bought them all up to make a Gorn versus Klingons miniature chess set.) I did get a whole boxed set of tiny, white-metal movie Klingons, made for FASA's post-"Star Trek II" RPGs (and the Citadel Klingons, in catalogue pics I'd seen, were fairly ugly, squat little trolls).

When I was visiting the USA in 1984, my penpal took me to a cool hobby store in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I suspected that Citadel TMP figures would be unknown in the US, although American fans were able to buy TOS miniatures and ST II, ST III and even TNG RPG miniatures. What a thrill! This shop had a lone TOS Tellarite in a drawer. He thought it had been there since 1978. Very exciting, especially since there had been no Tellarites in TMP.

Alas, still no Saurians. So - although I enthusiastically spray-painted all my tiny aliens with white-metal undercoat in about 1983 - I never did get inspired to locate my three-haired (and one-haired) brushes, plus my trusty magifying glass, to paint up all the figures in authentic colours.

I tell a fib: I did paint one figure, only to give it away. I must mention: these figures are, in real life, only 25 millimetres (1 inch) tall! When I interviewed TMP actor Billy Van Zandt in 1984, and mentioned that his likeness had been licensed as an itsy bitsy figurine in the UK, he was amazed. (I'd bought a spare set of Rhaandarites, since that twin pack contained only one ambassador, plus Billy's Starfleet ensign character, and I was planning to bend the limbs of the second ambassador enough to create a different pose. Meaning that I had a spare of Billy's character. So I painstakingly painted it up, as a thank you for doing the interview, and posted the little Rhaandarite off to big Billy's agent in New York.

I must add that I had once bought a book on painting 25 mm figures... and nearly passed out when they described how to paint the coloured iris - and black pupil! - in the centre of each white eye! No matter: Billy's character was given authentic yellow irises, even if Billy himself needed a magifying glass to check up on how well I did!

About five years ago, trawling around on eBay netted me some very nice TOS and TAS aliens in the old US range, including the rest of the Michigan Tellarite's buddies, lots of TOS-style Andorians, and a whole bagful of felinoid Kzinti (from the animated episode, The Slaver Weapon). At least a Kzin has bigger eyes than a hominid! (Hey, I could use a five-hair brush on those!)

Last week, on a whim, I returned to eBay for the first time in ages, and entered "Saurians Citadel" in the search facility - and there they were, in an auction that had only about a day to run: oop ultra rare citadel star trek st23 saurians. Wonderful! And, you know, finding them online was just as exciting as the day I found the first batch in a bricks-and-mortar store?

Pure therindipity, eh? Ah well, I need to buy myself some new paints and very-few-haired brushes. And hopefully finish painting them before I need my first glasses with bifocal lenses!

1 comment:

Pauln6 said...

Sadly I was too young to know these figures even existed until this week - I'd only just started collecting D&D figures when these came out and I don't recall ever seeing them in any Citadel catalogues at the time. TMP was my favourite era primarily because of the decent mix of crew, including my beloved Janice! I only ever painted about 100 of my D&D figures but I'd love to have a crack at some of these. Five years of trawling Ebay might be a bit too much of a commitment for me though... well done! Post pictures some time!