Creature Feature - TOS Aliens That Inspire Playtime Fun
Since Valentine's Day was yesterday, I thought I would devote this month's blog post to showing some love to a few of TOS's aliens/creatures. These are the species that drew my sister and me into Star Trek. They became staples of playtime, as we took turns pretending to be them--or running from them. So here it is, my list of childhood favorite TOS creatures, evaluated for playtime potential.
Me with the Gorn at the Star Trek Set Tour in Ticonderoga New York
TOS Episode: "Arena"
Air date: January 19, 1967
Okay, so it's no secret that I love the Gorn. If you follow us on social media, you may have even seen a recent collection of posts on the anniversary of "Arena's" air date, featuring me dressed up in a home-made Gorn costume (it's a work in progress). The Gorn is awesome. Yes, he's slow. Yes, his limited mobility makes him perhaps not as formidable an opponent as Star Trek wanted us to believe. And yes, he's a giant lizard. But all of those things are exactly why he's so great. The Gorn is ridiculous and I love him for it.
Me pretending I'm the Gorn with a stick I found on the beach
First of all, it's a lot of fun to walk around hissing at people and declaring that you will be "merciful and quick" if they will just come here so you don't have to chase them. Second, slow motion running after people is actually kind of a blast. Third, he's got that great pointy stabby thing. I cannot tell you how many times I've stumbled across something in nature shaped like that thing and immediately proceeded to pretend to stab someone with it (see above). Don't worry. I'm totally an adult.
The Horta, pictured in "The Monsters of Star Trek" by Daniel Cohen
Home Planet: Janus VI
TOS Episode: "The Devil in the Dark"
Air date: March 9, 1967
The Horta will always have a special place in my heart. She tunnels through anything in her way without even thinking about it, she fiercely defends her loved ones, and she can dismantle a nuclear reactor and remove the circulating pump without hands. She also demonstrates that we shouldn't kill things just because we don't understand them, because they might actually be peaceful and help us make bank on our mining operations if we take the time to get to know them.
Okay, this one takes a little more imagination. The Horta doesn't really have lines, unless you want to chant "No Kill I" at people, but I can tell you from experience that throwing a bean bag chair over your back and scuttling after people can actually be a lot of fun. Plus, there's the potential to reenact the mind meld moment if you have a friend willing to play Spock.
Mugato attack reenactment
Species: Mugato (sometimes pronounced Mugatu)
Home Planet: Neural
TOS Episode: "A Private Little War"
Air date: February 2, 1968
It cracks me up that Memory Alpha describes the Mugato as "a horned gorilla." That's actually pretty spot on. Mugatos are big white horned gorillas. Those back spines, though--those are pretty cool. Unlike the Gorn and the Horta, this fella doesn't have an episode devoted to him. He kind of just jumps on Kirk, bites him, and gets vaporized by McCoy.
Okay, so the scenario I just described--the jumping, biting, and vaporizing--that's exactly what makes it fun to pretend to be a Mugato. Who doesn't want to jump off a hill screaming and playacting like a horned gorilla while they try to "bite" their sister in the neck to inject her with poison? Nobody? Just me? Okay. Moving on.
One of our prototype Tribbles dressed as Spock defending the Enterprise
Species: Vampire Cloud
TOS Episode: "Obsession"
Air date: December 15, 1967
Okay, so I don't think the official name for this thing was the "Vampire Cloud," but it's definitely what we called it. My dad taught us a lot about literature, and used this episode to introduce us to the story of Moby Dick and the idea that pursuing something endlessly can destroy a person and everyone and everything around them. We were probably more interested at the time in the fact that Spock has green blood and is a total BA who can tell a monster cloud "nah, dude" just by putting his hands over an air vent.
Yep. Definitely a Vampire Cloud going on here.
This is kind of a scenario of opportunity. There's no great way (at least that I've discovered) to pretend to be a cloud. However, fog and low-lying clouds do appear upon occasion, and when they do one must not miss the opportunity to declare the presence of a sickly sweet smell and obsess over dikironium. Heck, I even pretend the vapor coming out of my humidifier is the Vampire Cloud sometimes. Old habits die hard.
The Salt Vampire at the Star Trek Tour in Ticonderoga, New York
Species: Salt Vampire / Nancy
Home Planet: M-113
TOS Episode: "The Man Trap"
Air date: September 8, 1966
More vampires! This one can shape-shift, though, so that's pretty cool. Plus, she's got those suction cup fingers and telepathic abilities. She can read minds. But you better not fall in love with her, or you just might almost let her kill your best friend.
You get to pretend to be literally anyone you want to be--and then you sneak up on someone and suction all of the salt out of them. There are so many potential scenarios here. Who cares if they all end the same way? It's about the journey.
Me buried in Science Division Tribbles
Home Planet: Iota Geminorum IV (destroyed)
TOS Episode: "The Trouble with Tribbles"
Air date: December 29, 1967
Of course I have to mention Tribbles. They are the beginning of my lifetime love affair with Star Trek, and the reason that Science Division exists. They are fluffy, they make nice noises, and they scream at your enemies (as long as those enemies are Klingons). And don't worry, we've taken care of the reproduction problem with the Science Division Tribbles. Tribble's aren't dangerous!
My first ever Tribble, Snowball, created from scrap faux fur when I was six
While I can't say I've ever pretended to be a Tribble, I've spent a great deal of my life pretending to own a Tribble. Making your own stuffed Tribble out of fabric scraps is practically a rite of passage. (C'mon, you know you've done it!) We've taken that process one step further by creating a pet Tribble that's pretty darn close to actually alive. Check out our App-enabled Tribbles. They'll even scream on command at your friends.
Okay, so obviously there are all kinds of other creatures and aliens in TOS. You get unicorn dogs, glowing light entity companion thingies, flying pancakes--the list goes on.
What was, or is, your favorite Star Trek species or creature? Do you have a favorite scenario you love to to play out? Tell me all about it in the comments below!