Star Trek premiered on the BBC in 1969 and was quite popular but there was scant homegrown merchandise and most of the Trek products on British shelves were US imports.
That changed a little when Palitoy landed a Star Trek licence in 1975. The company, originally called Cascelloid, produced its first toy in 1920. It was renamed Palitoy in 1935 and its business was mostly built on UK versions of American toys. Its popular Action Man figures, for example, were copies of Hasbro’s GI Joe line.
One of the company’s few original products was its Star Trek Game. (Quick aside: coming up with game names was not anyone’s strong suit, as four different companies each produced a board game between 1967 and 1979 and all were called Star Trek Game.)
The instructions for Palitoy’s game tell players that “the Enterprise is menaced by a deadly Klingon War Ship. Only Zithium and Beton crystals from the Planet of Fire and the Ice Planet can destroy it.”
The mission is to “Bring back both crystals and plant them in the War Ship.” The player then uses the Baroom card, which blows up the Klingon ship.
But getting those crystals is not easy, because four Klingons chase you around the board, and each planet has its own protector: the Spider on the Planet of Fire and the Blurg on the Ice Planet. An encounter with these adversaries delays, but does not kill, players. Luckily, Kirk and Spock are hanging around and are available to stun opponents.
And that’s a strange element of the game design: you can’t play as Kirk, Spock, or any crewmember. Instead, you get to be one of six generic game pieces. This seems like a big miss. Kids (and adults) would rather play as a character.
Big collectible value
I am not a gamer so, although I have owned this for years, I only played it recently to write this article. But if I don’t love it as a game, I do love it as a collectible. The artwork – which was based on both the Mego and Gold Key takes on Star Trek – is fantastic. It’s colourful and silly and fun. And it is from the 1970s, a decade of fandom that continues to fascinate me.
My game includes all the original pieces, except for a few of the small plastic tubes that represent the crystals. I have five of the orange and three of the blue pieces, instead of six of each. And some of them are fused to the plastic tray in the carton. This is apparently common with this game, as the chemicals in the pieces can react with the plastic carton, making it appear partially melted. This can also happen with the Blurg and Spider figures, although my bad guys are in good shape. The box on my game is also in good condition, considering it’s almost five decades old.
Palitoy also included an ad for its Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, and Space: 1999 figures, all UK versions of the Mego products. The company also manufactured a stand-alone Transporter Room toy but did not sell versions of the full Enterprise Action Playset.
I also own the 1976 Hasbro Star Trek Game, which I will cover.