Fire torpedoes at your friends: two starships from Dinky Toys

I love the Enterprise. Its design is both beautiful and functional, and importantly it looks great on camera from any angle. I own a number of exquisitely detailed and highly accurate Enterprise models. This is not one of those, but I like it a lot anyway.

In 1976, Dinky Toys launched the Enterprise and Klingon Battle Cruiser die-cast metal models. These were toys, rather than models, since they shot little plastic discs across the room. Ostensibly, these were photon torpedoes, but really they were just an excuse to try to ping your best friend in the head.

One clever design bit on the Enterprise is the bay doors that open at the bottom of the secondary hull. The doors serve as a stand for the ship. This is a great idea except, of course, on the real Enterprise there is no such bay. A roughly rendered shuttlecraft clips into the bay.

The torpedoes are loaded through a large hole on top of the saucer and fired by rotating the metal flange topping the bridge. (It is helpfully labeled “Turn to fire.”) I own a number of discs and the launch mechanism works but I almost never fire the discs; I am scared of breaking it.

The toy is attractive, although the nacelles are stubby and tend to droop on their plastic struts, the orange bits are a little too orange, and the saucers get a little yellow with age, but any collector who loves the Enterprise really needs one of these.

I also own the Klingon ship. It fires the same type of discs, although the launch mechanism is different, and it has no stand. The ship rests on its nacelles; this explains why these or the plastic bottom of the ship are often cracked when you find one today.

The excellent Dinky Toys blog offers detailed articles on the Dinky Enterprise and Dinky Klingon Battle Cruiser.

A catalog image showing the Dinky aluminum Enterprise and Klingon Star Trek ships, and showing that they fire round plastic "torpedoes."

A sales catalogue, from the Dinky Toys blog

In 1980, Dinky planned to release a refit Enterprise as seen in The Motion Picture and even produced prototypes and ads for it, but the company folded in 1979 before the toy hit the shelves. It did release a small, non-torpedo version of the refit, however.

I’ve seen the original Dinky Enterprise sell for anywhere between $50 and $300, depending on condition. Anyone shopping for one needs to ask if the firing mechanism still works and if it comes with the torpedos and the shuttle.

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