I’ve been hankering for some Who and since I haven’t picked up any new figures lately, today I’m going to hop in the TARDIS and go back to 2006 to look at a pair of very cool figures from the 2nd Series episode, “The Girl in the Fireplace.” This episode is still one of my favorites from the early modern series. Its a great story with lots of humor, action, and emotion and The Doctor in absolute top form. But most importantly it has some really cool and creepy robots known only as Clockwork Men. These robots were maintenance bots from the starship SS. Madame du Pompadour whose misguided attempt to repair the ship took them back in time and space to seek out the brain of the ship’s namesake. Seriously… how do they make this shit up? Anyway, the Clockwork Men looked absolutely amazing, from the intricately stitched period costumes right down to the weathered porcelain masks. I think they’re extra creepy because they have a slight clown vibe going on. All I know is if Doctor Who didn’t win an award for costume design for this episode, it got robbed.
I’ve had these figures for a while, so no in-package shot, but these figures were released in the old fashioned card and bubble. That’s before Character Options went with the sealed blister packs and then back to the card and bubble. The Clockwork Man was available in two versions back then: Blue coat and black coat and we’ll take a look at both of them today. Yes, there is also the elusive purple coat variant that came out later. And, yes, elusive is my way of saying, I don’t have one. While the black and blue versions do share some parts, they also each feature unique sculpting, so they aren’t just quick repaints. Let’s start off with the blue one…
The head sculpt is pretty spot on, albeit without the fine details of the spider-webbing cracks in the face mask. The sculpted hair is beautiful and the paint apps around the eyes and mouth are crisp and executed with precision. The body uses two soft plastic layers on top of the figure’s core, one is the vest and the other is the coat on top of it, and finally there’s a sculpted ruffle tied in a bow around his neck. Its a lot of additional plastic tooling for the figure, which gives it a great layered look and yet doesn’t bulk him up too much. The fringe of the blue vest and coat features strips of sculpted finery, painted in a nice glittery gold finish, as do the pockets, and even the individual buttons are painted gold. The arms end in ruffled sleeves and he has black gloved hands. The legs feature sculpted culottes and buckled shoes. From sculpt to paintwork, this is an amazing looking figure!
The black coated Clockwork Man shares the same head, legs, and hands as the blue one, but everything else is new. He has the same sculpted and layered vest and coat, but his vest is less pronounced, and his coat joins at the chest and then parts down the rest of the way. Even his ruffled necktie is different. The jacket has a somewhat more elaborate deco of sculpted finery and buttons, all painted in the same pleasing gold, and he has some additional red paintwork around his sleeves. While this figure’s head sculpt is the same, the paintwork on the face is different to give him more of a unique look.
Articulation is identical for both figures. The necks are jointed to swivel, although with the heads on, you can’t get too much movement out of them. The arms rotate at the shoulder, have hinges at the elbows, and swivel at the wrists. The legs have universal movement at the hips, hinges at the knees, and the torso swivels at the waist. Yeah, there’s not a lot of articulation here, but the basic points are covered, and these guys moved pretty stiffly in the episode, so I’m not sure all that much more was needed in the figures.
Both Clockwork Men feature the same two gimmicks. The heads are removable to reveal the clear globe with the clockwork gears underneath. There wasn’t a lot of detail CO could get into the small globed head, but what’s here conveys the idea pretty well. They each also have the multi-function tools, which plug into their sleeves, and each figure’s tool is unique and furnished with sculpted detail and paintwork.
It couldn’t have been easy to capture all the intricacies of these guys in a 5-inch figure, and yet Character Options did a great job. Each figure is so unique looking it seems unfair to refer to them as variants, even though they do share some parts. Overall, I think this pair is a testament to why I love CO’s work so much. The Clockwork men were just one-off villains and yet they poured so much love and attention into their figures, it really shows how much they respect the property. These are two of my favorite figures from the early series. And yes… one of these days I will track down the purple coated one too.