Mego had experienced tremendous success in the marketing of same-scaled vehicles and environments for their World’ Greatest Super-Heroes line and their Planet of the Apes series. Almost immediately, “Trek” proved itself a runaway hit on the toy aisle. In quick order, Mego decided to provide ancillary products for the “Star Trek” figures, in much the same vein as those afforded to the WGSH and Apes. “Trek” proved a unique challenge, however. Mego was used to designing cars, helicopters, motorcycles, vinyl playsets and the like in the eight-inch scale which they pioneered. The first question the designers inevitably asked was this:
“How do you make a Starship in the eight-inch scale?”
Mego’s solution to this issue was inspired, and, in many ways, simply couldn’t be done today, with the current generation brought up on the prerequisite of ultra-realism in their toys. Forgoing accuracy and instead focusing on play-value and bright, eye-catching colors, Mego unveiled the U.S.S. Enterprise Playset in 1975. It was a tremendous success, as evidenced by the vast number of Enterprise Playsets that still turn up today; it seems that every boy in the mid-‘Seventies had one of these playsets. This playcase is laughable by today’s toy craftsmanship standards, but its charm and innocence are hard to ignore. Mego focused on the bridge of the Enterprise for its layout, but included a wing on each side of the playset devoted to two more key areas of the Enterprise. On the right was a small room that was, at least ostensibly, the Engine Room (really nothing but a non-descript corner in which to stick your Scottie figure), and on the left was the real star of the toy, the Transporter Room.
The Transporter mechanism was an engineering feat even Scottie would be proud of. To simulate the effect of “beaming,” you would put a figure in one side of a vertical tumbler, and spin the knob. Brightly-colored labels would flash by as the cylinder spun, giving a rather art-deco interpretation to the act of Transporting. By pressing one of two buttons on the top of the playset, you could stop the mechanism–on a dime!–in either the “beamed in” or “beamed out” position. A secret door, not unlike those found on the cabinets of shifty illusionists, was present at the rear of the mechanism, allowing the child to remove the figure without the rest of the crew noticing! Sneaky…
The Enterprise Playset, and its Transporter component, proved so popular that both the United Kingdom and the United States received one additional derivative playset each. The UK “Trek” fans were treated to a stand-alone Transporter Room toy, released by Mego’s British associate, Palitoy-Bradgate, in lieu of an actual Enterpise Playet. Alternatively, Mego buyers in America got, judging by the few specimens that exist, an extremely-limited Enterprise Gift Set which included the original five figures (Uhura being the odd woman out) on Type 1 bodies. Little is known for certain about this Gift Set, aside from the fact that it exists. Rumours abound that it was a Canadian exclusive, but this is unlikely, as Canada, along with France, got a smaller Enterprise Playset (about 10% smaller) for distribution, along with a smaller, bi-lingual box. It is doubtful that two Enterprises of conflicting sizes were released in the same country.
Now that kids had the Enterprise, they needed somewhere to take it for an outer-space adventure. Enter the Mission to Gamma VI Playset, a toy very loosely based on the “Trek” episode, “The Apple.” The Gamma VI Playset came with a terribly fragile plant-trap, four tiny aliens that were way out of scale with the eight-inch “Trek” figures and which were easily lost, a plastic alien throne and idol facade which drew attention away from the cardboard-construction comprising the rest of the set, and a glove monster prone to rips and tears. This playset was not widely-released to begin with; when you couple this fact with its extreme fragility and ease of piece-loss, you begin to understand the sky-high prices that this playset regularly demands.
A final eight-inch accessory was released, the Telescreen Console. This toy is notable for being the only eight-inch accessory to require batteries. The Telescreen Console was Mego’s answer to home video games in a pre-home-video-game world. A screen, sitting in front of a captain’s chair, was used to display enemy targets which could be fired upon electronically. This accessory is pretty unremarkable and primitive, and has limited long-term play value. It’s the kind of toy that a six-year old will beg his mother for, only to tire of it after ten minutes of play. Really, the only thing that qualifies this toy as an eight-inch accessory is the presence of the captain’s chair; other than that detail, this toy could easily be lumped into the role-playing category of Mego’s “Trek” offerings. The Telescreen is rare, but it is also a rather underwhelming accessory–certainly the weakest of the five–so there are few collectors out there actively hunting one.