Product: Starbug Electronic Playset
Supplier: Product Enterprise
Price: £29.99 from Product Enterprise (+ £3.50 P&P), £34.99 from RDSUK (+ £2.99 P&P)

Since the 14th November 1989, fans have been waiting for this. So, how does the mass-market version of Rocky’s pride and joy bear up?

RDSUK My Balls

First, a complaint. I’ve moaned a lot about RDSUK in the past, and their prices can still be expensive compared to other companies (the Playset itself costs £4.50 more compared to direct from Product Enterprise). But for all that, the shop has gained a new lease of life recently with a lot more products being added – and when I ordered the Playset, I recieved it in two days. Excellent service, you might think.

But when I got the Playset, the four crew figures were missing. Even sillier, the crew figures are supposed to be clearly visible on the front of the packaging. To be fair, when a complaining email was sent, I recieved the figures very quickly – but having only just fully investigated the Playset, I’ve found out that the launching probe is missing as well. So now I have to send off for that.

I really want to support RDSUK – but when things cost more and stuff arrives with bits missing, I find myself unable to do so. Go direct to Product Enterprise.


Starbug taking off. Sans difficult packaging.FUCKING HARD TO GET INTO would sum it up. I spent ages fiddling around. Still, once you get the damn thing loose, you can appreciate it more – having the packaging as the cargo pad landing pad is a brilliant idea.

Also, as with the Corgi models, the quality of the blurbs on these things has increased. “The ‘Bug’ is designed for any atmosphere or terrain – traversing frozen wastes, swampy marshland through to underwater salvaging and deep space travel – yet somehow the Dwarfers still find new and interesting ways of wrecking it’. Although I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t point out that that comma should really be an ‘or’ – this kind of mistake on a blurb really isn’t good enough. The packaging also loses the bonus points it would have acquired if it hadn’t used the word ‘Smegtastic’. Ah well.

In Flight

Starbug being flown by an ugly cunt. But enough about Craig Charles!!!!!!!11111Thankfully, you’re all spared the picture taken of me flying the thing in one hand and masturbating with the other. Although it is indeed what you should all do when you first grasp hold of the thing.

The outside really is lovely. A pity the legs don’t move, and it could do with a bit more shading in certain areas, and the kerning on the STARBUG 1 lettering is a bit off, but fuck it – it looks like Starbug, it’s mine, and I can fly it around the room. End of story.

Be quite careful of it, though – I can imagine the two protruding antennae snapping off if you treat it too roughly. Such as doing pretend crashes and the like. MUST…RESIST…

“Highly Detailed Play Interior”

Inside Starbug. What I really wanted to do was get some string, attach it to the model, and fly it round the room, in a hilarious fashion. Sadly, I couldn't be arsed.Takes a bit of a knack to get it opened, but easy once you’ve got it. Included is the cockpit, the mid-section, the galley, and the sleeping-quarters. The way the last two are done is very clever – they’re in the hinged section that opens up. A great way of putting them somewhere that makes sense, considering that until VI, the bug was supposed to be a three-roomed ship.

As for which series it’s supposed to represent – it’s a bit of a mixture. With the two-seated cockpit, lack of Kochanski, and Rimmer’s red costume, it most closely resembles Series V – but the bunkroom is pure Series VI, and Holly’s presence indicates Nanarchy, of all things. It also features the IV Talkie Toaster. To be honest, whilst conveniently suiting the requirements of the Playset to have many elements that aren’t in the same series, this also really suits the show – Doug Naylor has said that “I find it very, very funny to be quite as inconsistent as we’ve been from beginning”. Or: this reality’s unstable, and anomalies have merged from both dimensions to cope with the paradox.

The incidental detail inside is also lovely, with Lister’s guitar, and spilt curry. Perhaps the only complaint it that the cockpit controls look a little simple, and the galley doesn’t look much like any set the show has ever had. Although it’s difficult to see what else they could have done with it, with the limited space, and indeed, limited inspiration in the show. Pity there isn’t space in the model for the engine room…

The pop-up Holly is quite nice, although the squiggly green line on the monitor he replaces isn’t very Dwarf-like, and neither is the round monitor – unless I’ve blocked out more of VII than I think. It would have been better to have had a square monitor, with the classic wireframe bug on it.

“Articulated Figures”

The Playset Figures. Lying on my bed.Firstly: NO KOCHANSKI YAY. Although I suppose it’s a bit of a pity, as shoving her up my arse might have been the only pleasure her character had ever given me.

These really are excellent. Articulated at the waist, so you can have them sitting down (or bent over throwing up, or taking it up the chuff), for 3cm figures the likenesses are excellent. The one sticking point is (again) the faces, with my Rimmer in particular looking like he’s melting, but I didn’t really expect Michalangelo for this size and price. The costumes are superb, particularly Cat’s yellow zebra skin. No felt tips here.

“Authentic Dialogue From The TV Series!”

MY GIRLFRIEND SHE'S GORGEOUS I'M NOT A GEEK I WIN.OK, let’s get straight to the problem here. All the quotes from the show that the bug makes when you press the button: they sound very peculiar indeed. In fact, they sound as if they are speaking in slow motion. It’s like having a conversation with Paul Robeson on dope.

My first instinct was that it must be the batteries. So, techie Tanya got to work and replaced them. It made no difference whatsoever. Until I heard the bug emanating “Smoke me a kipper, skipper – I’ll be back for breakfast”, I was unaware that Ace Rimmer sounded like Issac Hayes.

I don’t know whether this is a problem with just my model, or a batch of them, or the entire production run. It is, however, incredibly annoying, and means I shall be actively avoiding the button on mine, lest I throw it across the room in anger. A pity.

Just one further point, though – instead of dialogue from the show, wouldn’t various Starbuggy engine noises have been more appropriate to whizz around to?


Lister on the floor of Starbug, whilst Kryten pilots. You could do your own stopframe animation with this. Hmmm...Despite my last complaint – buy it. It really is worth it. It’s rather too big to place on the monitor – but it’s perfect for the bookcase, or windowsill. Or ideally, hanging by some string from a ceiling fan.

It’s not enough. I want more. How about an original Red Dwarf next, fellas – we need one of those…

5 comments on “Starbug Electronic Playset

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  • It’s taken me 7 years to stumble on this article and realise that mine shipped with two of the figures missing…. GAH!

  • I’ve had two of these. I used the first in a quick shot in my Fan Film Competition entry ‘Afternoon Of The Polymorph’. Unfortunately, my German housemate, who was ‘directing’ the piece, snapped the front leg, and I made him give me the money to buy a replacement. I did so, put it on a high shelf out of harm’s way, only for my brother to pull it off the shelf and break the same leg.

    The voice unit worked on neither…does it work on *any*?

  • No, none of them work properly. I think. Lot of people had the problem with the front legs being brittle. The front left on mine broke when it took a tumble too.

  • I always thought the batteries on mine were running out but couldn’t be arsed to replace them.
    Also, does anyone else constantly lose the probe (usually after trying to fire it into somebody’s eye)?

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