Treknobabble is a continuing series of columns written by uber-Trekkie Reed Farrington in anticipation of the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie.
That’s not a typo in the title of this Treknobabble. For Burger King’s current Star Trek promotion, “Kingons” is the clever name given to the Burger King characters dressed in Klingon garb. There’s a rumor that a scene with Klingons was cut from J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. I wasn’t aware that there would be Klingons in the latest film. Perhaps there aren’t, but I suppose Klingons have a high recognition factor among the general populace. And I suppose the opportunity to meld the names of Burger King and Klingons was too obvious to pass on.
The Kingons have head ridges and are dressed in the Klingon garb from the Next Generation era, but based on television advertising in which they will be featured, they appear to have the aggressive tendencies of the Klingons from the Original Series era. In the ad, Kingons materialize into a living room where a couple is having Burger King meals with BK Star Trek glasses. The Kingons immobilize the guy’s dog (appropriately named Tiberius) with a weapon that I have never seen in Star Trek. Visually, the guy isn’t nerdy, but he seems nerdy in what he says. From the woman’s facial reaction, I’m guessing she isn’t a Trekkie. She is holding the Spock glass whereas the obvious choice would have had her holding the Uhura glass. The guy, of course, is holding a Kirk glass. Anyway, the Kingons beam away with the BK Star Trek glasses and the woman whom the guy willingly gives up! Once again, Trekkies are portrayed as losers. Ha ha.
So far, I haven’t seen a Kingon speak. In the Klingon language, the only word that comes to mind that I know of is qapla!Â (Success!) Oh, I guess I know the worm delicacy, gagh. And the word for Popsicle, jumbah.Â Oh, maybe that’s not Klingon.Â I used to know how to say, â€œBeam me up.â€ I figured that might be useful to know. I was a member of the Klingon Language Institute for a couple of years, but I never really learned anything. I thought being a member might enable me to understand how languages are structured by reading its newsletter articles.Â I purchased the Klingon version of Hamlet, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it. I do own a Bat’leth that I paid way too much for.Â It was a home-made job by a metal worker, I think. One of the Kingons is holding a Bat’leth in the television ad.
The Kingons made an appearance at the Hollywood premiere of Star Trek. I wonder how awkward and uncomfortable it is to wear one of those Burger King head pieces not to mention the heavy Klingon clothing in the sunny California weather. I also wonder how limited the vision is. I’m guessing there will be Kingon cardboard masks available at some point. There’s a website (www.whenkingonsattack.com) that offers some funny tutorials and tips on how to defend against the Kingons. Based on initial reactions from the Internet, I’m guessing we’ll be seeing more of the Kingons in the future.
Klingons have been featured as villains in earlier Star Trek films. They are seen in all the Original Series movies except the second one with Khan. Romulans were used in Star Trek Nemesis, the last Star Trek film before Abrams’ Star Trek. And Romulans are again featured in Abrams’ Star Trek. I haven’t read why or how Romulans were again chosen as the villains, but I suspect the older Spock’s involvement with the reunification movement necessitated the choice of Romulans once Leonard Nimoy got involved.
Klingons have evolved through Star Trek history. When the Klingon culture was fleshed out more in the Next Generation, they displayed the honor trait that was originally assigned to the Romulans in the Original Series.Â It is sort of strange how Star Trek’s alien races have stereotypical behaviors, but it enables the series to more obviously highlight the foibles of human behavior. I thought it was enlightening to have Worf, a Klingon, serving on board the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D. Our enemies eventually became our friends. But the Romulans remain as our enemies.
Klingons have a history in the world of Star Trek advertising. In a television ad for Paramount Canada’s Wonderland years ago, a Klingon is shown riding a rollercoaster. The face of a Klingon has been used on posters for Star Trek exhibits. They’ve been featured in Star Trek video games. They were the subject of the first attraction, Klingon Encounter, at Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas. They have also been featured in previous fast food advertising.
Fast food outlets have a 30-year history with movie marketing and merchandising. Arguably, the first campaign was for the first Star Trek movie in 1979. McDonald’s spent tens of millions of dollars on advertising for the film including television commercials that featured Klingons eating Big Macs. Why Klingons? Because neither Shatner nor Nimoy would agree to appear in a McDonald’s commercial. Burger King supposedly filmed some commercials on the actual sets for the latest movie, but I don’t know if any of the new actors were willing to be involved.
In order to encourage customers to visit and purchase meals, premiums were introduced and became popular with collectors. For the latest promotion, I was fortunate to receive a set of the four Burger King Star Trek glasses and sixteen Burger King Kids Meal Star Trek toys. The glasses are creatively imprinted with images of characters and ships. A transparent Starfleet emblem beside the character allows you to see the ship image on the opposite side. Each glass is slightly larger than a standard can of soda pop. I spent an afternoon â€œplayingâ€ with the toys that are based on characters, ships, and equipment. Each toy has a sound chip that plays an appropriate saying or sound with the press of a button. The ships come with decals that you can apply. The characters resemble bobble-heads and the likenesses are reasonable.
I was impressed with both the glasses and the toys. I like the Spock glass because it has images of both the younger and older Spocks. I like the communicator and tricorder toys the best. Not because they’re the best designed, but because I like role-playing equipment! Disappointingly, but understandably, there is no phaser toy. There is a Warbird ship toy. Some people only familiar with the previous Star Trek movies might think this is a Klingon ship, but as a cost-saving measure, the Original Series had Romulans using this type of ship as well. Each toy has a four-digit code that can be used on a website (www.clubbk.com) for some online fun. I wonder if this nifty idea has been done before.
I thought I would try out the Club BK site and see what the four-digit codes are used for. In order to redeem the codes, I had to register. The registration is only set up for Americans. If the toys will be made available in Canada, then I’m wondering if the website will be revised or if there will be a separate website for Canadians. Anyway, I faked a zip code and state. After registering, I selected a character and was given some options to change the appearance of the character. If you’re familiar with setting up a character on the Nintendo Wii, then you’ll have no problem with this. You will then be dropped into a virtual universe where you can do things like shop and play mini-games. I tried redeeming a toy code, but I got a message saying I needed parental validation first. This was strange because I registered my actual birth date and the registration process even acknowledged that I was an adult. I thought maybe I needed to respond to an e-mail first, so I checked my mail at the e-mail address I registered with. No e-mail.
I re-logged into Club BK, and thought I would try redeeming a code again to see if I could find out more information about what I needed to do. But this time, I was allowed to redeem a code without any problem. I redeemed the code on the U.S.S. Enterprise toy and I got a virtual T-shirt with the Enterprise on it. Through the â€œMy Stuffâ€ icon, I was able to put the shirt on my virtual character. Nice! I redeemed the code off the hover bike and was rewarded with a virtual captain’s chair. You have a cabin in the virtual universe. So I went to mine and dragged my captain’s chair into it. I could see how this could get addictive.
In Club BK’s virtual universe, I played the game Kling Ball. It’s basically a billiards-type game where you use the Enterprise as a pool cue to fire the ball to destroy Klingon ships. Oh, wait, maybe they’re Kingon ships. I couldn’t get pass Level 1. I’m not much of a video game player. I managed to earn 100 crowns. I went to a shop in the virtual universe and wanted to buy some virtual eyeglasses, but they cost 750 crowns. There was another shop where you could buy items for your cabin, so I wanted to buy a computer monitor. I soon found out that you can’t get much with 100 crowns.
I’m probably spending too much time writing about Club BK’s virtual universe, but it was kind of fun. You can also travel to other worlds that have activities. I didn’t exhaust all the possible things to do. It took me a while to figure out how to leave the virtual universe while keeping everything the way I left it. Simply closing the window will cause you to lose your changes, but rewards do remain in your â€œMy Stuff.â€ I spent time looking for an exit portal to send my character through when I should have simply used the logout menu entry at the bottom of the screen.
One last thing about Club BK’s virtual universe. You can see other characters who I assume are other registered characters. I don’t know if you can interact with other characters. It would be cool if you could invite other characters to your cabin. Oh, I forgot this was a kid’s site. Anyway, if you do register and join the virtual universe and you see a character called Pacifistopheles, that’s me!
Each glass costs $1.99 US. That will probably be $2.49 CDN. That’s a bargain! One new glass is supposed to be released each week, but I hear some Burger King restaurants are selling all four glasses right now. You’re supposed to purchase a BK Value Meal in order to purchase a glass as well. A selection of the toys will be available each week with your choice of one with the purchase of a BK Kids Meal. I noticed at a local Burger King that a sign was posted indicating that the Kids Meal was only available for kids in a certain age range. I’m guessing that this sign is meant to deter adults from purchasing the lower cost BK Kids Meal. But does this mean that an adult has to bring a kid along with him in order to purchase a BK Kids Meal to get a toy?
I’m sure this question is weighing heavily on the minds of the many adult collectors out there. I tried to get an official answer, but I don’t think my question was taken too seriously. By either cajoling the cashier or asking to see the manager, I would think it shouldn’t be too hard to purchase the glasses and toys.
I haven’t eaten at a Burger King in a while, but it’s not because I dislike the food. I crave fast food of any type, but for health reasons, I tend to stay away from it. I remember when Hostess had its Star Trek promotion in which Star Trek mini-cards were inserted inside potato chip bags. I ate potato chips for lunch and supper for over a month! I managed to survive that. I will have to do some Burger King runs in order to get extras of the glasses and toys as well as samples of the Trek-themed bags and food containers.
Although I have yet to see or hear any mention of the Canadian Burger King restaurants having a Star Trek promotion, I was told that Canada will have television, radio, and restaurant advertising and will indeed have the Burger King Star Trek glasses and Kids Meal toys. I don’t think the Kellogg’s Star Trek promotion is coming to Canada. Canada is a relatively small, unimportant market, I would guess. I remember when Dairy Queen had its Star Trek Deep Space Nine promotion, and it never came to Canada. So I drove across the border into Buffalo only to find out that the franchise outlets there opted not to join the campaign. Hopefully, the majority of the Burger Kings in Canada will participate in the Star Trek promotion, especially after they see the huge box office that the movie will surely generate.
Thanks to Lauren Ross of Edelman, the promotional firm handling Burger King’s Star Trek campaign, for providing information and images. As well, she was kind enough to send me two Burger King Star Trek promotional kits, one of which we will be giving away to a Film Junk listener / reader. The kit contains the four Star Trek glasses and the sixteen Burger King Kids Meal Star Trek toys! Details of the giveaway will be forthcoming.