Doctor Who: Leela by Character Options

Character Options kept us waiting a long time to find out what the big Doctor Who Classics reveal was going to be at the SDCC this year. Turned out I wasn’t disappointed as it was everybody’s favorite sexy savage and my favorite companion of all time, Leela. Not only was she tops on my list of figures I wanted to be produced, but she comes to us introducing a brand new level of articulation for the Doctor Who line.

There are two important things worth noting about the packaging. First off, it’s brand new and obviously designed expressly for Classics figures. You get the retro-style logo, which fits much better than the 2005 logo that CO has been using on the Classics stuff. Some may note that the packaging bears a passing resemblance to the cardbacks used by DAPOL on their craptacular Doctor Who figures from way back when. The other thing worth noting is that Leela isn’t a two-pack. It’s been some time since we’ve seen a newly sculpted Classics figure released without a repack figure or something else packed in to inflate the price. Could all of this point to a new strategy or push for the Classics line? Well, I can hope. Apart from all that, the figure still comes sealed in a clamshell with an illustrated insert inside. The back panel of the insert features a brief synopsis of the episode, The Face of Evil. Overall, the presentation here is really nice, although it’s worth noting that there is no indication anywhere that this release is an SDCC Exclusive.

I wasn’t sure about this sculpt when I saw the first pictures. Now that I have the figure in hand, I think it’s much better than I gave it credit for. It’s not quite one hundred percent percent Louise Jameson to me, but it’s close enough. Of course, I’m talking about the face here, the rest of the body and outfit is totally on target. There have been a lot of QC issues reported with this figure, particularly where the paint is concerned. Mine is overall decent, but Leela does have a couple of scratches on her arms and legs. I’m still deciding whether or not they’re even worth fixing. Either way, she isn’t up to the QC standards I’ve seen in most of my Doctor Who figures, and that’s a shame.

As mentioned, Leela features brand new articulation, which results in a lot of good, and a little bit of bad. On the bad side, CO went with a new style of ball joint for the hips. Nice idea, in theory, but I pulled one of her legs off just trying to remove her from the package, and I know that I wasn’t alone. Sure, they’re ball joints and they just pop right back on, but having them come off while posing her is more than a little annoying. Considering the old style hip joints gave us better articulation than these new ball joints, I don’t think this was a worthy or even logical trade off at all.

On the other hand, the new hinge/pin ball joint used for the shoulders, is much better than the standard swivel we’ve been getting in the past. You can debate whether Leela or River Song is the first to introduce this, but Leela’s the first of the two I’m looking at so it’s new to me. The introduction of lateral movement to the shoulders in the Doctor Who line is a most welcome addition to the line’s articulation. Leela also features swivel cuts in the neck, waist, biceps, wrists, and just above the boots. She also has hinged elbows and knees. It’s worth noting, however, that her sculpted hair does interfere with her neck articulation.

As a fierce warrior, Leela certainly loved her weapons and CO packed her with a mini arsenal. She comes with a crossbow with an arrow, a Tesh gun, and of course her trusty knife. What? No Janus Thorn? Probably too small to sculpt. [Actually, on closer examination, I’m pretty sure it’s sculpted in a pouch on her belt. – FF] The crossbow is nicely sculpted, although it seems rather oversized compared to the one she carried in the episode. The arrow is also kind of useless and easy to lose. The gun, on the other hand, is pretty spot on and a very welcome accessory. Her knife if good too, and it fits nicely into the sheath on her belt.

Leela the action figure has about 25 years of my anticipation to live up to, so it’s only understandable that she may fall a little short. Unfortunately, the QC issues with the figure’s hip joints and scarring to the flesh paint are issues that make the figure feel a bit more like a custom than a professionally finished product. I applaud the addition of the lateral arm movement in the shoulder hips, but CO really needs to deepsix these new ball joints in the hips and go back to the solid swivel and hinge system they’ve been using. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it… and definitely don’t replace it with something worse. Knowing CO, I’m betting she’ll turn up again in a repack of some sort, so there’s always a good chance they’ll clean up some of the QC issues on a later release. Until then, I’m still happy to finally have a Leela figure in my collection, flaws and all.
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