Doctor Who: “The Sontaran Experiment” Collector Set by Character Options

So, in the past six months or so we Doctor Who fans got a lot of figures we didn’t think we were ever going to get. We got the Delgado and Ainley Masters, we got a Special Weapons Dalek [well, some bastards did, anyway -FF], classic Davros, our first classic Companion, and even our first figure from the 1996 Fox TV movie. And yet even with all of that, CO can still manage to surprise me. Today, I am holding in my hands the toy version of the Sontaran Spaceship from the 1975 episode, “The Sontaran Experiment.” It’s basically a big rubbery silver golf ball and it alone proves to me that there is nothing… nothing… in the world of Doctor Who that is completely out of the question when it comes to CO and their toys. If we can get this, anything is possible.

The package is huge and glorious and its existence seems to defy all reason. If you’ve picked up any of the Classic themed boxed sets over the last year, you’ll be familiar with the overall design and artwork. The box uses the blue swirly timefield introduced for the Series 5 toys and the Doctor Who logo introduced at the start of the 2005 series. The cardboard insert has a backdrop still from the episode, which includes a classic Doctor Who quarry representing future Earth and the robot used by Sontaran Field-Major Styre to capture and experiment on the human colonists in the episode. As with all of these sets, a little careful snipping and you can save the insert to use as a diorama to display your figures. The window shows off the contents: The Sontaran Spaceship, the 4th Doctor and Field-Major Styre himself. The back and side panels show off stills from the episode and include a short synopsis of the story. I may never display it again, but the package is so cool, I opted to save it.

I’m guessing that most collectors did not buy this set for The Doctor figure, so I’m going to get him out of the way first. I’m sure I’ve said before that I’m not big on collecting variants of each Doctor, but it’s become inevitable that I wind up with them in my collection, as they are frequently packed into these sets. I already have CO’s first 4th Doctor release as well as “The Warrior’s Gate” release, I could have done just fine without yet another 4th Doctor figure in my collection. [Yes, folks, I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone, as I’m complaining about owning too many Tom Baker Doctor Who figures. It’s not lost on me that 20 years ago I would have sacrificed kittens to the devil to have just one Doctor Who figure as awesome as this one. -FF] That having been said, I really like this one. This figure features a combination of reused parts, new paintwork and some new sculpting. The base figure is a repaint of CO’s first 4th Doctor figure, but the jacket is newly sculpted. The scarf is basically the same in both paint and sculpt, but unlike the original 4th Doc figure, which came with a serious hatless head and a grinning hatted head, this one has a serious face with a hat. It does, however, use the same peg, giving you some more mix and match options for your original 4th Doctor figure. He also comes with his Sonic Screwdriver. All in all, if I have to get stuck with a figure I didn’t want, this one is not too shabby.

Field-Major Styre is an amazing figure and CO managed to capture all the retro-awesomeness of the classic Sontarans in this guy. Don’t get me wrong, I like the modern series Sontarans enough to have purchased nearly a dozen of the figures, but I still have a special place in my heart for this original design. Collectors who are only familiar with New Who may be surprised to learn that the classic Sontarans weren’t so short, but their faces haven’t changed much at all. CO did a fine job reproducing the slight differences in the older version. I was actually about to cry foul on the figure’s fully formed fingers, but then I realized that there have been some changes to the Sontaran’s hands over the years and this figure’s digits are accurate to what was seen in the episode. The quilted leather armor is wonderfully recreated here as are all the little details like the silver belt with control box and even the tiny probic vent in the back of the neck armor. In addition to his removable helmet, Styre comes with a faithful reproduction of the infamous Sontaran ping-pong gun! Simply, awesome. If CO ever wants to release this figure on a single card, I would happily buy up a bunch of them.

And then there’s the Sontaran Spaceship. Outside of the various incarnations of the TARDIS, this is the first vehicle CO has delivered with the action figure line, although, in execution it’s more like a prop than an actual vehicle for the figures. The ship is sculpted in a dense rubbery plastic and it has some decent heft to it. The exterior is the spitting image of the design seen in the episode and if you pick it up there’s even sculpted engine thrusters inside the ring that it stands on. It’s mostly an even silver color, although there’s some paint spray along the bottom near the base to simulate mud splatter from its landing. The door opens, but there’s where things start to fall down a bit. Rather than make it a hollow like the TARDIS, there’s a slight indent with a poorly sculpted and completely non functional chair. CO really dropped the ball (har, har)on the interior of this ship. Not even a sticker with some controls or instruments or anything. I would have much rather the whole thing had just been hollow and unfinished, but I don’t want to come down on CO too hard. I’m still happy they made it, and it looks great on my shelf with Styre emerging from behind the door.

At about $60-65, this is indeed a “collectors’ set” as in you really need to be serious about your Who toy collecting to justify the price. It’s two figures and a big ball, and no matter how you break it down, it’s hard to see where the money went. It’s also worth noting that one of the two figures is one that most collectors don’t really need. I feel horrible complaining about the contents of a set that is this obscure and therefore so thoroughly awesome in its obscurity, but rather than give us another variant of the 4th Doctor, I would have much rather CO chose to pack a different figure into this set. Maybe that goes without saying, and I’ll confess to be totally surprised at how much I ended up loving this particular 4th Doctor figure, but there was so much more potential as a second pack-in figure for this set. Sarah-Jane, Harry Sullivan, a second Sontaran, even the robot, any of them would have made the price of this set a lot easier to swallow. But that’s ok, CO, I’m just really glad to have it.

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