Playmates Toys

Playmates Toys

With its unprecedented advance order of 22 episodes by the network, SeaQuest DSV was a hot property and  retailers were keen to cash in.  First to pick up the license from MCA/Universal merchandising were Playmates Toys for the obligatory action figure line.  Having successfully marketed multiple lines based on Star Trek, SeaQuest seemed like a natural expansion.  The first glimpse was the prototype Captain Nathan Bridger at Toyfair in 1994 that featured an impressive likeness and 14 points of articulation…

The highlight of the 1994 Playmates catalogue  – SeaQuest was showcased over no less than eight glossy pages previewing both the action figure line and the coveted vehicles.  A multimillion dollar advertising campaign featuring everything from TV ads starring Darwin the Dolphin to an attraction in Universal theme parks were scheduled to surface that summer (click for larger)

….But the campaign would never materialise.  The significant ratings drop after the pilot premiered plus poor critical reception to subsequent episodes lead to the line being cancelled after the release of just nine figures.   Frustratingly, none of the amazing vehicle prototypes made it to production despite being most anticipated.  Meantime, sales were average but the figures were well-received by collectors due to their authentic styling and wealth of accessories thanks to the innovators at Varner Studios

SeaQuest figures in Europe were distributed by IDEAL on simplified cards similar to the Canadian versions, (lacking the details and photo on the left side but with no pink character labels).  The spread from their 1995 catalogue (below) shows the Bridger figure with white cuffs which was exclusive to the European issue.  The only other variant known is Lucas placed backward in the blister.  The assortment lists Ensign Darwin and Dr.Z for the second wave but no examples on IDEAL cards have been found to date.  This listing is also the only evidence that the Kristin Westphalen figure was next in line to be produced…

Despite its short-lived run,  the Playmates toys have stood the test of time and remain one of the best-looking action figure lines ever produced in the 4 1/2″ scale, winning awards in contemporary toy magazines and online reviews.  In retrospect, its easy to see why the line may have lacked some appeal, with five out of nine figures head-to-toe in black and casually-dressed adversaries.  The Ensign Darwin figure is a delight however and one can’t help but wonder how the line would’ve advanced through Season 2 and beyond (where changes in the theme to science fantasy would ironically make the series more ‘toyetic’).

For the completist, the answer to this question can be found here in this document I created years ago listing all the products Playmates would potentially have produced had the line been as popular as their Star Trek portfolio – SQ Action Figure Archive

While it may be a work of fiction (borne of frustration and fuelled by imagination) like most things SeaQuest its easy to speculate on what might have been…