Star Trek: Prodigy figures| Source: Playmates Toys

Star Trek may have first flown its starships into pop culture consciousness more than five decades ago, but this ever-expanding franchise of space adventures continues to — as the Vulcans would put it — live long and prosper. Even after all these years, the Star Trek universe is constantly growing, changing, and experimenting with new types of content. 

One of the more recent additions to its expansive catalog of intergalactic stories is the animated series Star Trek: Prodigy. While Star Trek movies and shows have always attracted fans across a wide age range, this new addition is the first Star Trek title that is specifically designed for kids. 

Produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio and CBS Studios, the series debuted late last year on Paramount+ and will air on Nickelodeon in the U.S. later this year. It follows a group of teenage characters who are forced to work in a mining colony overseen by the mysterious Diviner. One day, they discover the U.S.S. Protostar, a derelict Starfleet ship. They board the ship and take off, kick-starting an epic adventure as they set course for Starfleet while trying to outrun the Diviner. 

The show is not only kid-friendly in its content, but also in its design. It is the first Star Trek show with 3D animation, and its cast of characters is as colorful and visually diverse as the worlds they explore. The intrepid young escapees include Dal R’El, a purple humanoid who captains the crew; Rok-Tahk, a Brikarian with red, rocky skin; and Zero, a Madusan (a non-corporeal, energy-based life form) who lives in a self-made suit.

A still from ‘Star Trek: Prodigy’ | Source: Nickelodeon Animation Studio

According to Veronica Hart, executive vice president of global franchise planning for Paramount, creating this diverse cast of characters was a key component of the show. “When developing the Prodigy series and toy line, we wanted to make sure that kids could find aspects of themselves reflected in the characters and that they could use that as a springboard to immerse themselves in the resulting consumer products,” she says.

Now, as Prodigy awaits its already-greenlit second season, Paramount has started partnering with merch makers to create those consumer products offerings. The first licensing partner on board for this series was Playmates Toys, which has a history with the Star Trek franchise. The company first created Star Trek toys back in the ‘90s and has also frequently partnered with Paramount Consumer Products for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys. This long-standing relationship made Playmates Toys a natural fit to create action figures, vehicles, and other toys inspired by the series.

Playmates Toys will debut its Prodigy offerings with figures of the core six characters and the hologram version of Kathryn Janeway, who appears in this series to help guide the U.S.S. Protostar. The first five figures — ​​Dal R’El with Murf, Gwyndala, Jankom Pog, Hologram Janeway, and Zero — will be available this October, followed by Rok-Tahk early next year.

Source: Playmates Toys

These 1:14-scale figures feature 14 points of articulation and come in blister packaging with updated, show-specific design elements. According to Playmates Toys’ Vice President of Marketing John Stelzner, the same sculptors who made the company’s Star Trek toys in the ‘90s returned to work on these figures (and Playmates Toys’ other new Star Trek offerings). While that aspect of production stayed the same, Playmates Toys did introduce some new technology to help capture these characters’ dynamic appearances, including a UV printing process for the head deco.

“The characters from this series all have a unique look that is both rich in detail and yet still very familiar in a lot of ways,” Stelzner says.”We love the character designs that Nickelodeon and the show producers came up with.” He also notes that this show and its premise easily lend themselves to classic play patterns for kids, including good versus evil adversarial play and figures interacting with vehicles and ships. In fact, Playmates Toys’ Prodigy collection will expand to include ships, vehicles, and role-play toys next year.

 Along with the distinct visuals, another through-line for both Prodigy and its consumer products is its cross-generational appeal. “The [Prodigy] viewer does not need to be familiar with the Star Trek universe, so it’s a great entry point for the brand, but there are enough winks and nods to its history that co-viewing parents will enjoy just as much as their kids. … We will never ignore our lifelong fans, as they are the backbone of the brand. For Prodigy, we know that both kids and collectors alike will gravitate toward the series and, in turn, the October toy launch,” Hart says.

Related: Playmates Toys Boldly Returns to the Star Trek Universe

This balance is something Playmates Toys specifically paid attention to while creating its toy line, Stelzner says. “When developing and sculpting our Prodigy figures, we want them to be able to stand on their own, but still not be completely separate from the full Star Trek universe. … Both the show and our toy line are unique, but everything about them will also thrill the long-time Star Trek fan.”

While fans’ reactions to these figures have been positive, they are just the start for the show’s consumer products line. There is already a selection of Prodigy-inspired home goods and apparel available from the Official Star Trek Shop, including mugs, T-shirts, and blankets — and Hart says there are additional partnerships on the way. 

“We’ll have updates to share soon, but key categories of gaming, publishing, and softlines are all underway and we are exploring additional partners to round out the product offerings,” she says. “This is just the beginning!”

This article was originally published in the May 2022 edition of the Toy BookClick here to read the full issue!

About the author

Madeleine Buckley

Madeleine Buckley

Madeleine Buckley was a Senior Editor at The Pop Insider, The Toy Insider, and The Toy Book. She covered all things toys and fandom, and has appeared on Cheddar and a variety of regional news networks to talk about the latest trends in both. She is a movie score enthusiast, mediocre knitter, proud Syracuse alumna, and Marvel lover. You can usually find her at the movies or hanging out at home with her super-pup, Parker.