Saturday, January 20, 2007

What the market will bear

A colleague from the Playtrek action figure collectors' mail group recently announced he would be visiting the Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton, and was there anything anyone wanted?

While browsing on Flickr a few months ago, I'd found this picture but the product item has never turned up on the STE web shopping page. As an Andorian from way back, I simply must have one - and I heard today that my friend's mission has been successful!

It will be my third Star Trek beanie character from the Star Trek Experience. When the idea factory released a batch of "alien bean" toys (what some places were calling "Meanie Beanies"), I collected the whole set of the idea factory's Vulcan, Andorian, Mugato, Gorn, Ferengi and the Klingon targ beanies locally - plus the separately-available idea factory(trilling) tribble, which contains a microchip that causes the tribble to scream as if it has been exposed to a Klingon (as in "The Trouble with Tribbles"). But... my favourite beanie would have to be their tie-in to the movie "Star Trek: Insurrection": the cute little Ba'ku rhyl, exclusively available from the STE. The rhyl, or palm pet as it was referred to in the film, resembles a cross between a fuzzy brown caterpillar and a baby seal - and fits, as you might expect, in the palm of one's hand. As before, a colleague from the Playtrek action figure collectors' mail group helped me out, and the toys turned out to be very hard to find elsewhere.

About a year ago, the Experience's online store was having a sale and I noticed a new ST beanie had become available: a facsimile Beanie Bear in white fabric, embossed with tiny sparkly stars, and a large blue United Federation of Planets insignia embroidered on his back. He was marked down to only a few dollars - quite a bargain! I did order several other large items with the bear but when a huge box arrived from the US by airmail, I literally dove into a sea of foam peanuts, searching for my beanie in every corner, to no avail. A quick email to STE saw a replacement bear winging its way but, instead of that box arriving, I received a card from Australian Customs. If I was prepared to pay many, many dollars (about $AU 60, IIRC), I could have my little white bear.

Why had my UFP bear earned the ire of Australian Customs? Because the Customs Declaration Sticker stated that the package contained: "One beanie bear". Someone assumed he contained food - as in real beans - and new changes to Customs law meant that the demand for payment was applied to the importer: moi! Thankfully, another email and a few phone calls resolved the situation, but the amount of money that the STE spent delivering me that replacement bear turned out to be quite significant!

But UFP Bear is lonely; he's separated from all the other Trek beans - and sits forlornly on one of two miniature metal chairs (actual set miniatures from the hit Australian film, "Moulin Rouge!"), but he will soon be joined by a blue, antennaed Andorian beanie bear dressed like Shran (from "Star Trek: Enterprise") in kinky leathers! I hope my Playmates colleague is careful filling out the declaration for Customs.

Back of UFP Bear and Ba'ku RhylBeanie Bear and Ba'ku Rhyl
UFP Bear lets the Ba'ku rhyl mind a seat for a currently-immigrating Andorian bear.

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