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‘Star Trek’ explores strange new toy world

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Thanks to the proliferation of film, comic-book and cartoon characters, companies are bombarding consumers with an incredible selection of action figures. With tongue in cheek, let"s take a peek at some of the specimens worthy of a place in Zad"s Toy Vault.

Captain Benjamin Sisko

Diamond Select Toys continues to boldly go where pop-culture product-makers have already gone before with a new series of action figures based on the television series "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."

Even though the Trekkie fan base has shrunk considerably, the company has teamed up with design powerhouse Art Asylum to offer multiarticulated, 7-inch-tall gems of Lt. Cmdr. Jadzia Dax, Lt. Ezri Dax, Constable Odo and the head honcho of the outpost tasked with guarding the Bajoran wormhole.

Figure profile: According to the packaging: "Assigned to command an outpost on the edge of Federation space, Commander Benjamin Sisko's destiny was forever altered by his discovery of the Bajoran wormhole, the only stable wormhole known to exist in the galaxy."

Responsible for exploring the new gateway to the Gamma Quadrant, Sisko and his crew are the last line of defense against any number of threats: Cardassians, the Dominion, Pah-wraiths and untold others.

Accessories: With a near-perfect head sculpt of actor Avery Brooks, the figure is smartly dressed in his season five and later Starfleet Uniform, highlighted down to immaculately shined boots, and has 16 points of articulation. He also gets a PADD (hand-held computer), a detailed phaser rifle, a type 2 phaser, a baseball cap (fondly remembered from the episode "Take Me Out to the Holosuite") and mounted baseball.

Price: $9.99.

Read all about it: IDW Publishing holds the "Star Trek" sequential-art publishing rights and has only hinted at a "Deep Space Nine" series for release — maybe — later this year. Those looking for DS9 comics have a couple of options. Hunt for trade paperbacks (about $10) from the British publisher Boxtree (compiling the Malibu Comics' monthly series from the mid-1990s). Or seek out DC Comics' four-part limited series N-Vector, compiled into the "Star Trek: Other Realities" ($12.99) trade paperback.

What's it worth? The market is small but rabid for these well-designed and -equipped Trek figures. However, I expect things to heat up quickly around the holidays with the release of the new "Star Trek" film, which will expose a new generation of fans to the sci-fi franchise.

Leia as Boushh

Sideshow Collectibles continues to give "Star Wars" fans a reason to spend money with the release of more 12-inch dolls. Based on moments from the six space-fantasy movies, the latest figures pay tribute to the Heroes of the Rebellion. A few of the legends represented include Bespin Luke, "A New Hope's" Ben Kenobi, Padme Amidala and Princess Leia, a lady who even would dress up as a bounty hunter for her man.

Profile: According to the packaging: "Princess Leia Organa, disguised as an Ubese tracker named Boushh, travels to Tatooine, with Chewbacca as her apparent prisoner, in an attempt to free a carbonite encased Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt's desert palace."

Price: $59.99.

Accessories: As with all of Sideshow's 12-inch masterpieces, detailed cloth costuming and well-researched accessories make the doll.

In the case of Leia, she gets a soft pleather wardrobe highlighted by traditional Ubese boots, an Ogygian cloak and an impact armor mantle. Especially impressive are the spiked, gloved extension on the undershirt, pleated pants and weathered jacket. In the category of stuff, she gets an electrostaff weapon, canister packs and, of course, a thermal detonator. A display base and reusable packaging adorned with information, scenes from the film and a magnetic lid complete the set.

Note: Leia also comes with a second head with a detailed Boushh helmet permanently attached. Owners should be careful when changing the heads with the body. Make sure you don't damage or bend the torso's connector pin. It's a tight fit and can be a daunting task.

Read all about it: Dark Horse Comics reprints Marvel Comics' original sequential-art adaptation of the famed movie in its trade paperback "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi — The Special Edition" ($9.95). The book also includes 30 pages of sketches from the film's pre-production artists.

What's it worth: Artist Andy Bergholtz almost perfectly captures the head sculpt of a very serious-looking Carrie Fisher. This artistic vision, along with the price point and fine costuming, should keep Leia in a display case and not a bedroom toy bin.

Strange but cool

A short look at bizarre products with a pop-culture twist.

• "Spider-Man 3" Minimates (Diamond Select Toys, $6.99 for each two-pack).

These 2.5-inch figures with interchangeable parts offer a blocky tribute to last year's sequential-art-inspired blockbusters. Available in three two-packs — Transformation Spider-Man and Venom; Unmasked Black Suit Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy; and Battle Damage Spider-Man & Sandman — this 18th series of Minimates will please any Web-slinger fan.

Highlights to the minifigures (larger than Legos and way more detailed) include a removable face cover and hairpiece for the Unmasked Spidey, black web detail that pops out of Transformation Spider-Man's chest and a Sandman with extra-large fists posed in a pile of his favorite substance.

• AT-AP Walker (Lego, $39.99).

Devotees of the "Star Wars" universe are just 392 buildable pieces away from admiring a fully functional All Terrain-Attack Pod featured in the movie "Episode 3, Revenge of the Sith." Eight inches tall and packaged with a pair of mini Shocktroopers, the vehicle features opening top and side hatches to access the driver area, a retractable third leg, a heavy mounted cannon and a rotating blaster cannon.

An ambitious 8-year-old will take about four hours to construct the pop-culture piece, while help from dad probably can cut the project time in half.

This kit works great in tandem with Lego's Battle Packs ($9.99 each), which include Droids (with seven minifigures and transport carrier) and Clone Troopers (with four minifigures and speeder bike) to create the beginnings of a Clone War.

Zadzooks! wants to know you exist. Call 202/636-3016, fax 202/269-1853, e-mail jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com, visit Zadzooks at the blog section of The Washington Times' Web site (www.washingtontimes.com/blogs/)or write to Joseph Szadkowski at The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002.

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