Doctor Who: TARDIS Playset (Series 5) by Character Options, Part 2

So, the tension and recriminatinos are over. The playset is assembled. How is it? Pretty darn cool. CO managed to capture a lot of this new console room’s crazy architecture and multifaceted mystery with the use of some plastic and cardboard really well. It’s scaled pretty well for the figures, although it is by no means an actual recreation of the dimensions from the show’s set. For example, there’s significantly less room on the deck around the console. My guess is that CO was more interested in showing off the vertical, multilevel orientation of the new console room. Still, everything is pretty well represented.

One of my favorite things about the set is the way the console deck is raised and has all the space underneath. The 9th and 10th Doctors spent a fair amount of time in the crawlspace under their console, but that playset was designed with the console sitting on the floor. Here, you can actually have The Doctor tinkering underneith it all. The swing is also present, although the instructions contain a strange line about it being where The Doctor goes to contemplate things. In reality, it’s just a place for him to sit while performing maintenance on his sentimental old thing. The crazy curving floor is nicely recreated with the cardboard backdrop, and there’s actually a staircase that leads down to this area.

In fact, there are a lot of staircases in this new console room. It’s definitely not K9 accessible, unless like the Daleks, he’s overcome his inability to climb stairs. Most of these staircases just lead off to nowhere, so where they go is up to your imagination. One of the biggest liberties CO took with the layout of this console room is the relationship of the external doors. Here, they’re illustrated on the cardboard wall, along with the ubiquitous coat rack, on a lower level. In the show, the doors are orientated a lot closer to the flight deck. I do wish the giant viewscreen on the wall was better implemented. It’s the one The Doctor used to talk to the Dalek ship in Victory of the Daleks. The illustration on the wall for this feature is sort of just tucked in the side.

Naturally, the console is the most detailed piece of the set. I really love the way it extends above and below the deck, as it really conveys the idea that there’s some great mechanism at work here. The console and Time Rotor shaft can easily be removed from the playset as one piece.

The console is well represented, especially considering how many tiny bits of junk are on the actual prop. CO did a fine job shrinking it all down to this scale while still maintaining the highlights of the detail. The typewriter is there, along with the wiper fluid resevoir, handbrake, bell and the phonograph speaker. There’s even a socket to insert the Sonic Screwdriver. Each of the console panels are clear plastic laid over wires and circuitry to give the controls a more complex look.

The Time Rotor is the one thing I’m not terribly keen on in the new console room design, but it’s still recreated here really well right down to the blown glass interior. Nothing inside the Rotor moves, but it does look nice. The viewscreen, on the other hand, can be rotated around the console to face in any direction.

The real controversy over this set was CO’s decision to leave out the electronic lights and sounds featured in the previous console set. It’s an understandable sticking point considering that this set is roughly about the same retail price as the earlier electronic one. I won’t deny that I’m disappointed. Even a sound chip in the console with the familiar VROP VROP of the engines would have been nice. When you get down to it, as impressive a piece as this set is, it’s hard to see where all the $65 went. But chances are, if like me, you grew up starved for Doctor Who toys when you were a kid, you won’t balk too much at the price.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no buyer’s remorse. I would get it again in a second. It’s simply awesome. But while the playset is very solid, I don’t think it would survive very long as an actual playset. In other words, if I was a kid, I would probably end up beating the hell out of this thing. So if you get one, be sure to keep it pristine, because I don’t think there will be many of these in great shape ten years down the road.

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