Last week was busy for Doctor Who collectors, and for many it was also a disappointing one. In one day we were hit with the 7th Doctor & TARDIS set, the 4th Doctor & TARDIS set, and a brand new version of the 1st Doctor from the pilot episode, An Unearthly Child. Besides dealing with the cost, these toys were issued in pretty limited supplies Stateside and as such unless you were lucky enough to pre-order what you wanted, chances are you missed the tiny window in which these remained on e-tailers’ websites. In many ways it was a similar experience to what Masters of the Universe fans face on Matty Collector’s site just about every month, only we Who fans didn’t even have a specific time as to when these would be available for purchase.
I was lucky enough to get a pre-order in for this, the 7th Doctor set, the one I wanted the most, but I would have liked to have picked up theUnearthly Child figure as well and I’ll have to bite the bullet and hunt him down somewhere. The 4th Doctor & TARDIS set is pretty cool, but I just couldn’t justify dropping $100 on two TARDIS sets in one month, so I went with the 7th Doctor, mainly because he’s a new version (albeit just a repaint), whereas the 4th Doctor is the exact same figure I already own.
Let’s get the figure out of the way first.
The 7th Doctor’s early stories were pretty flippant and silly, but as time wore on, they took on a much darker style and his outfit evolved to portray that change. His jacket went from cream to dark brown, his paisely scarf got darker, even his tie got darker. This repainted figure reflects those changes really well and the quality of the paint job is excellent. Unfortunately, CO didn’t take the opportunity to give us a new head sculpt, and while a smiling Sylvester McCoy may have been appropriate in the outfit from his more whimsical days, its pretty out of place in this darker attire. This figure should have definitely been issued with a more serious and somber head sculpt. Apart from that everything is the same as the previous release. He has the same articulation and the same umbrella accessory. Its a great figure, and I think the repaint makes him well worth owning in addition to the previous release.
And now… the TARDIS.
Casual and newer fans of the show may be surprised to learn that the iconic Police Box, the one constant throughout the entire series, wasn’t so constant. Sure, the TARDIS remained a Police Box, but the prop saw a number of variations over the years. You can actually go mad studying the slight (and some not so slight) differences in the TARDIS props. The package says this is supposed to be the TARDIS from the episode The Curse of Fenric, but it actually better matches the one used for the 7th Doctor’s earlier stories, or even the later 6th Doctor stories. Either way, its significantly different than the one used in the 2005 series as its slightly shorter, considerably narrower, has much smaller windows, and the sign on the door is blue instead of white.
One thing you should know about this toy is that it is not just a redesigned version of CO’s previously released Flight Control TARDIS. Its a much simpler and somewhat lesser quality toy with fewer features. There are no interior lights, which actually makes sense, since the windows on the classic TARDISes didn’t have that interior glow like the ones in the current series do. It still has the take off and landing sounds, activated by picking it up or setting it down, and a flashing lamp on top, but there’s no more vortex sound or humming when its at rest. Consider this, a stripped down version of the Flight Control TARDIS.
The doors on this model are designed to work in a similar manner to the Flight Control TARDIS, but they don’t. There is still an opening cubby for the phone, but its bigger on this model, and so that door won’t open in very far at all. The other door is designed to lock in an open position and can be released by pushing a button on the floor. Unfortunately, the door usually won’t stay open at all, instead it just springs closed. I’ve gotten it to stick open a few times, but its not as solid as my other TARDIS.
Probably the most frustrating thing about this TARDIS is that Character Option chose to leave the interior completely unfinished. Open the door and look in and its just an empty box. It would have been easy for them to include an insert of the classic console room to brighten things up.
All things being equal, its a bit tough to justify the $50 price tag on this set. Unfortunately, it had a very limited production run and even fewer than those came Stateside, so if you missed out on the initial offering, you’ll probably have to pay a premium. Some may seriously regret dropping more than fifty bucks on this set once they get it in hand. Don’t get me wrong. There was a time when this set would have been like a dream come true and I probably would have paid double to own it. But since then, Character Options has given us a huge number of fantastic Doctor Who figures and toys and now I’ve come to expect better. It just goes to show how far we’ve come that we can be so discriminating about a set of Doctor Who toys.