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Since its debut all the way back in the fall of 1966, the Star Trek franchise has enjoyed a near constant landslide of tie-in merchandise. However, for every MEGO Mr. Spock or Playmates Phaser, there have also been a strange selection of oddities that have made fans scowl and ask ‘Why?’
From the Ahi Star Trek Sky Diving Parachutists of the late 70s to the Knickerbocker plush Kirk and Spock dolls, there have been some real head scratchers mass produced over the last few decades — this thanks in no small part to the likes of label slapping and a fair bit of poetic licensing. And, while Starfleet has always been the sort of place to encourage its members to embrace the strange and new, one has to wonder how certain pieces were ever approved for distribution.
What follows now is a list of ten truly strange items that have been privileged enough to carry the Star Trek name. And while they’re all pretty wacky, there is no denying the fact that these crazy collectibles radiate enough oddball charm to make them more desirable than a bottle of Romulan Ale…2283 vintage, of course!
#1 – Star Trek Light Up Helmet
You had to know this bizarre 1967 release from Remco was going to make the list! Looking more like something that belongs at an intergalactic police academy, this oddity resembles absolutely nothing ever worn by anyone in the history of Starfleet. With its open face, stick-on lettering, flashing red light and piercing sonic sound, this thing is just absolutely ridiculous and is a perfect example of just how weird the Star Trek merchandise game has been over the last 55 years. And yet, thanks to the first season of Star Trek: Lower Decks, Remco’s Light Up Helmet has gone on to become an actual piece of official Star Trek canon!
If you’re looking for one of your own, it may take some searching beyond the likes of Amazon and eBay to acquire. They’re more than a little rare, so be sure to also search out sites like Hakes, where they’ve been known to pop up from time to time. Just know that if you do find one, it’s not going to be cheap! The last time I saw one of these actually sell, it was over $2,000.00 without the box.
WATCH: Unboxing The Official Star Trek Helmet with Ethan Peck
#2 – Star Trek Astrotank
Another Remco oddity from the era of “Let’s Slap A Label On It” is the Astrotank! Nothing more than a rebranded piece from their once popular Hamilton Invaders line, the vehicle comes to you in bright yellow plastic and includes a team of space explorers that were actually just repainted army men figurines! Other strange sets in this series include the Astrocruiser and Astrocopter, all of which were just repainted and rebranded Hamilton Invaders vehicles. However, the Astrotank earns a spot on this list due to the simple fact that, in a show focusing on a galaxy at peace, Remco thought it was a good idea to market a tank! Clearly, authenticity wasn’t a top priority back in the late 60s.
Unsurprisingly, these are not the easiest pieces to come by. While they do pop up on Amazon and eBay once in a blue moon, your best bet is to search beyond those on sites like Hakes and iCollector if you really want to get your hands on one. Expect to fork over some serious cash depending on condition! Back in 2013, I watched a gently used one go for $1,300.00 at auction without the box.
#3 – Star Trek Astro-Helmet
This helmet happens to be yet another unfortunate victim of late 60s label slapping! Another rebranded piece from the Hamilton Invaders line, it once again resembles absolutely nothing seen on Star Trek! Besides, with that open mouth, it would be worse than useless out in space or on a planet without a breathable atmosphere! And, kids knew it!
Want one? Again these are rare, but check the likes of eBay, Hakes and iCollector. They’re not going to be cheap! I saw one of these sell at a toy show back in 2015 for over $1,000.00!
#4 – Star Trek Marshmallow Dispenser
Remco isn’t the only company responsible for some weird Star Trek merchandise. In 1989, Kraft released the Star Trek Marshmallow Dispenser in collaboration with the theatrical release of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. As a mail away promotion for Jet Puffed Marshmallows, the replica also came with some oversized utensils and is capable of holding several of the beloved confectioneries within. It’s kind of neat and, for a few proofs of purchase and a $1.99 back when it was initially released, how can you complain? But, there is no denying this is one weird piece of Star Trek merchandise — even if it does allow you to recreate at least a part of that famed camping scene in The Final Frontier. Pass the marshmelons, will ya?
If you’d like one of these, they pop up frequently on Amazon and eBay. Heck, I’ve even seen these at garage sales and swap meets quite a few times over the years. $40 – $50 should buy you a real nice one!
#5 – Star Trek Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
In the early 1990’s, Playmates was sitting pretty with two very successful toylines in both Star Trek and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles respectively. So, what was the next logical step? Why, merge them together of course! Enter the Star Trek Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a spinoff line that hit store shelves in 1994 and transformed the Heroes In A Half Shell into the intrepid crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise! As collectibles go, they’re pretty unique. However, there is no denying these four radical reptiles represent one of the most bizarre Trek tie-ins of the last five decades.
If they happen to be just what you’re looking for, you can find them on Amazon and eBay every so often. I’ve also seen them for sale at numerous toy and comic conventions over the years. $20 – $30 will get you out of package versions, while you’ll have to spend upwards of $60 for mint on card examples.
#6 – Star Trek Barbie & Ken Giftset
From Beauty And The Beast to The Wizard Of Oz, Barbie knows a thing or two about executing a successful crossover. And in 1996, she and boyfriend Ken boldly went where no doll had gone before! The Star Trek Barbie & Ken Giftset was released by Mattel to celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Original Series, and saw the world’s most famous doll trading in her sundress and stilettos for an iconic Starfleet uniform and phaser. Add to that some collector friendly packaging and matching anniversary badging, and you’ve got a piece that represents one of the quirkiest franchise crossovers the world of Star Trek has ever seen!
If you’d like to add this set to your Star Trek collection, it shouldn’t be too hard to track down. They’re out there, and they’re waiting for you. While I’ve seen some sell on eBay for $25 over the years, they more commonly fetch upwards of $40 – $75 depending on condition nowadays.
#7 – Star Trek Mr. Potato Heads
Like Barbie, this sensational spud has enjoyed his fair share of crossover fun! He was Boba Fett. He was Iron Man. And, thanks to PPW Toys, he was also Captain James T. Kirk. Available individually and in gift boxed sets of two, the Star Trek Mr. Potato Heads are highly detailed and include a variety of different components to mix and match! Perfect for play or display, these sets have been marketed as every fan’s dream. And while there is no doubt that they certainly offer plenty of novelty charm, there is no denying that these plastic potatoes represent one of the oddest pieces of Star Trek merchandise in the known universe.
If you’d like to grab a few of these Trek Taters, they’re pretty plentiful on your regular handful of online auction sites. I’ve also seen them at numerous toy shows, garage sales, and thrift stores more than a few times, so keep your eyes open! $70 should net you a really nice box set.
#8 – Star Trek Model Trains
Anyone remember that classic episode of Star Trek where Mr. Spock took the train to work? Can’t say I do. And yet thanks to the fine folks at Lionel, we live in a world where Star Trek branded model locomotives are a real thing! Offering an out of this world selection of iconic O Gauge trains brandished with beautiful Star Trek imagery, the Lionel line is guaranteed to let your true Trek heart live long and prosper in a very unique way. And while they may not be the cheapest collectibles around, each is certain to serve as an oddly charming centerpiece to any Star Trek collection!
If you want a few of these, look no further than the official Lionel online store. You can purchase a full set for $499.99, while individual cars can be yours for between $75 – $80.
#9 – Star Trek Sushi Set
This one straddles the line between slick and strange! Released by ThinkGeek, the Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Sushi Set is a full set of sushi-ware shaped like the beloved starship from the original Star Trek TV series. The wooden display base is a sushi plate, while the removable top of the saucer section doubles as a little dish for your soy sauce! Not enough? Well, if you slide out the warp effect from the nacelles, you’ll even have a pair of chopsticks! The full set measures over 14″ long and is just the thing guaranteed to launch sushi into the final frontier. No matter how weird the whole concept happens to be!
At one time, everyone from Big Bad Toy Store to Entertainment Earth had these available. Now, you’ll have to track one down over on the likes of Amazon and eBay. While I’ve seen them go for $60 – $70 in recent years, boxed examples are now fetching over $150.
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John DeQuadros is a writer and toy photographer based in Ontario, Canada. You can find a portfolio of his work on Instagram & Twitter right now @RipRocketPix
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