(written from a Production point of view)
|Run time:||45 minutes|
|Release date:||25 May 2018 (Netflix, "Star Trek" episode)|
|Language:||English, German, Spanish, Catalan, French, Italian, Chinese, Polish, Portugese and Turkish (end credit roll)|
The Toys That Made Us is a documentary series produced by Netflix, and aired as one of its "original series". Debuting on 22 December 2017, the series covers the histories of toy brands that have made a significant impact on the awareness of customers, collectors, and fans, as well as on pop culture in general.
Two seasons of four episodes each have been produced to date, each episode (running approximately forty-five minutes in length) dealing with a specific brand. The series explores both toy brands proper, such as Lego, Barbie, or G.I. Joe, and toy lines based on popular media franchises, including Star Wars – its episode actually kicking off the series in 2017 – , He-Man, Transformers, and Star Trek.
"Star Trek" Edit
The first episode of season two, released on 25 May 2018, focused on the history of the Star Trek franchise's various toy lines, looking in a chronological order at the companies Remco, AMT, Mego, Ertl Company, Galoob, Playmates Toys, Art Asylum, and McFarlane Toys.
The documentary, paraphrasing Captain Kirk, details how the franchise kept "missing the target" for over three decades by making decisions that demonstrated a persistent lack of understanding of the fan base, aggravated by questionable decision-making by the toy makers themselves in the early decades, AMT and Mego (initially) being the exceptions. According to the documentary, it was only with Playmates and Art Asylum that the Star Trek toy franchise started to hit its stride by releasing products that satisfied both children and the Star Trek collectors' desire for accuracy, or as it was put in the documentary, "Kids got detail, whether they wanted it or not". The Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection from Eaglemoss Collections is featured in passing as an additional example for the increased level of accuracy.
The documentary repeatedly compares, in a humorous manner, the franchise's toy merchandising to that of Star Wars; noting that, while Star Trek had a ten year head start on Star Wars, the Star Trek toy franchise never even came close to the levels of the latter. Highly successful right from its very inception, and with a reported US$14 billion worldwide aggregate turnover as of 2017, the Star Wars toy franchise is arguably the most successful one of its, media franchise based, kind in financial terms, having become the second most important pillar of its entire franchise after the live-action productions themselves. (S01E01; See also: main article) In comparison, a US$3.5 billion aggregate merchandise turnover has been reported as of 1998 for the Star Trek franchise – which is otherwise loathe to report revenue streams – , but that included all customer merchandise excepting the home media formats , whereas Richard Arnold has reported a US$10 billion total turnover in 2016, which constituted a franchise total up until then, thus also including box office takes and home media format sales.  This meant that the Star Wars toys revenues alone, already exceeded the entire revenue stream of the Star Trek franchise as a whole.
A multitude of interviewees are featured throughout the documentary to elaborate on the subject matter, ranging from toy makers themselves through collectors (some of them scientists) to former Star Trek production staff. The documentary ends with the conclusion that, of all the Star Trek toys and models ever made, it was the various incarnations of the USS Enterprise – perceived as the real star of Star Trek – that captured the imagination of generations of Star Trek fans in particular.
- Interviewees in order of identification:
- Rod Roddenberry – Son of Gene Roddenberry
- Doug Drexler – Special & Visual Effects Artist
- Gene Roddenberry (archive footage)
- Russell Meyers – Collector
- Gene Winfield – Automotive Designer
- Steve Dymszo – Co-founder of Master Replicas
- Karl Tate – Collector
- Steven Kelly – Author & Collector
- Maria Jose Tenuto – Sociology Professor & Collector
- John and Bjo Trimble – Fans
- Mark Bellomo – Author
- John Tenuto – Sociology Professor & Collector
- Chris Byrne – Toy Expert
- Marty Abrams – President of Mego, 1971-1983
- Ian Roumain – Director of 50 Years of Star Trek
- Marc Pevers – Former VP of Licensing, 20th Century Fox
- David Galoob – Former CEO of Galoob Toys
- Steve Varner – Sculptor Playmates Toys
- Karl Aaronian – Senior VP of Marketing at Playmates Toys
- Manny Jesus – Former Senior Art Director at Art Asylum
- Nelson Asensio – Former Lead designer at Art Asylum
- Zach Oat – Diamond Select Toys
- Patrick Pigott – Sculptor Diamond Select Toys
- Todd McFarlane – McFarlane Toys
- David Vonner – Toy Designer
- Donald Ian Black – Narrator
- Tom Stern – Director, Executive Producer
- Benjamin J. Frost – Writer, Executive Producer, Lead Editor
- Anne Carkeet – Executive Producer
- Neil Fellah – Line Producer
- Michael Greggs – Producer
- Robin M. Henry – Co-executive Producer
- Cisco Henson – Executive Producer
- Brian Volk-Weiss – Executive Producer
- James Anderson – Co-editor
Content gallery Edit
In the episode on GI Joe, during the interview segments with former Mego president Marty Abrams Star Trek toys are visible in the background.