RTVF professor discusses collection of Spock action figures

Peter Kotecki, Reporter


Radio, Television and Film department chairman David Tolchinsky owns a collection of nearly a dozen Spock action figures.

Tolchinsky watched Star Trek as a kid and always had an interest in Spock, he said.

“He’s a really interesting character that is partly very logical and controlled, and he’s also kind of both cool and nerdy,” Tolchinsky said. “Nerdy in that he’s smart, but cool that he has funny lines and also he has unexpected physical powers.”

Tolchinsky said the figure that means the most to him is a model he bought in an Evanston shop, because his wife painted it to make it look like Spock.

RTVF Prof. Debra Tolchinsky, David’s wife, elaborated on her connection to David’s Spock collection in an email to The Daily.

“In terms of Dave’s Spock collection, I only painted one. On a whim Dave bought a model Spock from Tom Thumb, the hobby & crafts store that used to be in Evanston,” she wrote in the email. “He diligently glued Spock all together and then dreadfully realized what painting entailed. Dave proceeded to beg me to paint Spock.”

Debra Tolchinsky, a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago with a Master of Fine Arts in painting, agreed to paint the model but did not have the proper colors, she wrote.

“In the end, I mixed in some old blue nail polish that was in the cupboard,” she wrote. “I believe my interpretation of Spock is quite glamorous and a bit Lladro. Bottom line: Expect your education to pay off in unorthodox ways.” 

In addition to the origins of his collection, David Tolchinsky also discussed the similarities between Leonard Nimoy and Spock. Nimoy, died Friday, had a lasting impact through his character, he said.

 “I think it’s not a tragedy because he lived a long, interesting life,” he said. “I think he created an iconic character that has stayed with all of us through the last 50 years.”

Tolchinsky said Nimoy initially rejected being seen as Spock, because the image of the character was goofy and silly.

“He wanted to be much more high brow, he wanted to be a poet or an artist, and then later in his life he actually embraced this part of himself and continued to do the role and actually enjoyed the art of it and enjoyed the popularity,” he said.

Nimoy’s dilemma with embracing the iconic role he played closely paralleled the fictional life of Spock, he said.

“Like Spock was at war with two sides of his personality, I think Leonard Nimoy had ambivalent feelings about being Spock, but ultimately he embraced the character — yes, Spock was goofy, but Nimoy must have seen how Spock had meant so much to multiple generations,” Tolchinsky said. “And at a much simpler level, Spock gave him fame, admiration and a very lucrative source of income.”

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