Star Trek: The Motion Picture represented a major relaunch of the venerable Star Trek franchise. It’s hard to remember back to when the Original Series and the animated series was all that Trekies had to go on, but when ST:TMP opened up in December 1979, it was as highly anticipated as the next Star Wars film. As such, there was a massive licensing campaign that went along with the release of the movie. Mego had the action figure rights, Grand Toys picked up rights to the ships of Star Trek as well as the hand held phasers, and a slew of other companies acquired rights to everything from napkins to bed sheets.
The movie was considered mediocre to poor by many, but it’s actually grown on me quite a bit over the years. I recently bought the extended version? director’s version? of the film with added footage. ST:TMP haters will be groaning right now (you mean they made it longer!?) but I think the movie did a good job of expanding the universe of what Star Trek covered. And it was beautiful. The views of Enterprise, VGER, and Vulcan are nothing short of stunning. And the uniforms and equipment felt very, very Trekish.
But love it or hate it, there were some awesome toys…
Mego, who had the figure license for the Original Series, made a line of 3 3/4 figures, 12″ figures, a new Enterprise Bridge playset for the smaller figures, and three ships, including a Vulcan Shuttle, Klingon Bird of Prey, and, of course, the Enterprise.
The other major toy licensor was South Bend, a toy division of Milton Bradley. Their Electronic Enterprise and Electronic Phasers were two of the cooler items you could buy.