In addition to satisfying the Classic Whovians with their Leela figure, CO also delivered on a modern companion at the SDCC this year. Alas, no, not Rory, but the enigmatic River Song. Yes, we’ve had a River figure before, way back from her debut episode Silence in the Library, but she’s been back on the show quite a bit since and a new figure was certainly overdue. Much to some collectors’ chagrin, CO decided that instead of her being a single carded release, she would be bundled with the chair from The Pandorica. So is the set worthwhile? Let’s take a look…
The set comes in a nice window box with the 11th Doctor’s logo and a blue swirly spacey-waycey deco. The Pandorica chair and base takes up a good portion of the package with River standing off beside it. I like the overall packaging, but it’s kind of an odd display since the chair seems out of place without its walls (more on that later) and it’s just empty with River standing next to it. I don’t suppose I should complain, because CO could have just as easily repacked another 11th Doctor figure in the chair and charged us another $10. So, yeah, I’ll shut up now. I’ve been saving a lot of the packaging from my Doctor Who sets, but I’m not compelled to keep this one.
Let’s start off with River, as there’s a lot to like and a few things to dislike about the figure. From the neck down I’ll say she’s pretty darn marvelous. She’s sculpted with the garb she wore throughout most of The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang episodes, and it’s a great choice, as it’s a sort of generic space swashbuckling outfit. She has a sculpted jacket, a belt with some pouches, and a working holster on her leg. While I still wouldn’t mind getting a River in her “church” fatigues from The Time of Angels, I think if there’s a chance we only get one River figure, than this is the one I would want.
It’s the head sculpt that’s really caused a lot of fuss. I think the likeness is ok, although some have taken issue over her smiling quite so much. I don’t have a big problem with it. The likeness is there, the paint is clean, and hey, she tends to smile a lot on the show, so no biggie. And then there’s the hair. CO opted to sculpt the hair separately from the head, so what you get is a sort of hair helmet effect. I’m hoping they did this to make it easier to produce some variants, but it does create an unfortunate gap between head and hairline. I do think the figure looks better in hand than it did in the initial photos, but there’s no doubt that this method of sculpt isn’t optimal.
What is pretty optimal is the articulation. As with Leela, River has the additional lateral movement in the shoulders, which is new to the Doctor Who figure line. She also keeps the sturdier and better designed swivel/hinge joints in the hips that give her legs a good range of movement. Other articulation includes swivel cuts in the neck, biceps, wrists, and above the boots; And hinges in the elbows and knees. She also comes with her blaster gun.
And then there’s the Pandorica chair, a piece that I’m still pretty mixed on. The chair itself is nicely done and includes articulated restraints for the wrists and torso and shoulders that will fit many Doctor Who figures. The problem is that it looks very incomplete without the walls. As it turns out the walls that were issued with each figure in the wave based on The Pandorica Opens work with this piece, so if you want it complete you have to buy those figures too. Problem is, it wasn’t exactly a “must-own” assortment of figures, but rather a wave stacked with variants and re-issues. The original release of the figures came with walls that doubled as CD holders for CDs with audio adventures. CO has since re-released the wave without the CDs and with walls that are simply sculpted plastic. Either way, you really need at least a few of these walls to make your Pandorica chair complete, and even then, they aren’t designed to open or slide apart or anything.
No doubt, I would have preferred to get River as a single carded figure. The Pandorica chair is ok, but I didn’t feel that it was missing from my collection, and since I don’t have the walls for it, it’s even less relevant. It’s probably the only piece in my Doctor Who collection that will be relegated to a box in the bottomless pit of my toy closet rather than be displayed. On the other hand, the whole set was only about $30, so it could have been worse. If you weren’t able to pick this up, you shouldn’t pay a premium for it. I think we’ll be seeing River again in some variant or another, and possibly bundled with something (or someone) better. On the other hand, if you did pick up the Pandorica wave and have the walls, than the value of this set increases quite a bit.