I’m sure I’ve espoused my love for the Tom Baker story “Pyramids of Mars” here on at least one previous occasion, so I’ll spare you any more of it. Suffice it to say it’s one of my favorite Fourth Doctor stories right up there with “Robots of Death” “Horror of Fang Rock” and “Hand of Fear” and about half a dozen others. Nonetheless, even I find it interesting that Character Options has devoted so much attention to this one story in their Classics line. We’ve already had a single carded release of the Servo Mummy Robot, a previous boxed set with three figures, and a special version of The Fourth Doctor was even released in the UK. Now we have another release from the story and it’s one that goes totally off the reservation when it comes to CO’s usual pattern of releases.
For starters, there’s no window box this time. No sir. Instead, you get a completely enclosed cardboard box with images of the goods on the front. Unless you count something like the Eleventh Doctor’s TARDIS playset, this is the first time we’ve had a release in an enclosed box like this in the Classic figure line.
Open the box and you slide out a big plastic tray with the all the goodies and a triangular shaped cardboard tray underneath with parts to build your own Osirian War Rocket. The tray contains two figures, Professor Marcus Scarman and a masked version of Sutekh. You also get two Canopic jars, a Coordinants Selector, and two halves of the sarcophagus that served as the Space-Time Corridor between Sutekh and his minions. Hot damn, this is a cool set! Let’s start out by looking at the figures.
Professor Marcus Scarman was wonderfully portrayed by the late Bernard Archard. If you’re a fan of British TV, you’ve probably seen him before. If not, get yourself a copy of the 1983 Sci-Fi flick, Krull, and you can spot him in there. Or better yet, just watch “Pyramids of Mars” goddammit! While Scarman is one of the villains of the piece, he’s a tragic one as he spends most of the story as a reanimated corpse and Sutekh’s undead slave. As crazy as it sounds, I think this is one of CO’s best likenesses. It not only captures Archard pretty damn well, but also manages to replicate the vacant, zombie-like countenance of the character. Of course, if you have no familiarity with the character, then this is just an old dude in an early 20th century suit, but he is an exceptionally nice one!
CO has been all over the road with the articulation in their 5” line and while Scarman lacks the ball jointed shoulders of some of the most recent releases, he makes out fine everywhere else. The arms rotate at the shoulders and wrists and have hinged elbows. The legs rotate at the hips and they do have a little lateral movement, but I think that’s just from play in the joint. He has swivels in the thighs and hinges in the knees. His head can also rotate. He’s not super-articulated by today’s standards, but just how limber do you need your undead Egyptology professor to be, eh?
And that brings us to Sutekh, and this is where CO is making us do a little double dipping. The previous “Pyramids of Mars” set included Sutekh, but it was an unmasked version with his native Osirian Jackal head. This version has him wearing the mask that he has on for the bulk of the episode. The body is identical to the other figure. A lot of collectors were weary when CO released the jackal headed version first, suspecting that we’d be offered a masked one later on down the road. Well, they were right! I’m not too offended by this, as I like the option to display him both ways and I can always use the unmasked one as a fellow Osiran. But before we cry foul and say CO could have just released a figure with swappable heads, I submit to you… LIGHT UP EYES!!!
Yes, CO did go the extra mile and give him a pair of beautiful light up eyes. In the story, Sutekh’s eyes lit up green when he was exercising what little powers he had left and particularly when he was dispensing pain to The Doctor. The effect is activated by a little button on the back of the figure’s head and it is bright and looks fantastic! If making us buy two versions of this figure allowed CO to cost out this cool feature, I’m very happy they did it.
Next up is the Sarcophagus, which stood in Marcus’ study and served as a Space-Time corridor linking Sutekh’s prison in Egypt. The sculpting and paint on this piece is quite nice and the reason it opens is to reveal the lenticular sticker, which simulates the Space-Time Corridor effect from the show remarkably well.
You also get some other little bits and pieces. The Canopic Jars are similar to the ones that came with the single carded Servo Mummy a while back. They have different lids, and they do not open. You also get the Coordinate Selector, a device that Sutekh sent to Scarman so that he could program their War Rocket to destroy the power source on Mars that was keeping him a prisoner in Egypt. Wait… did someone say Osiran War Rocket?
Yup, there’s a cardboard model of the pyramid-like War Rocket. It’s an extremely simple model, with a pre-made cardboard base that is extremely sturdy. You just fold the pyramid plug it into the base, put on the ramp, and attach some velcro dots to hold the hatch open. While I would have been happy with a simple backdrop of the library and a raised space for the sarcophagus, I think this thing is pretty great too. Nothing needs to be glued or taped, so you can easily disassemble it for storage, which is good because it’s a big piece and I don’t have anywhere to display it right now.
Everything about this set is rather unconventional. There’s no Doctor, no companions, just a couple of figures from a specific story, some accessories, and a cardboard diorama… and I love it! There’s nothing in this set that I didn’t want. Even with Sutekh featuring a completely reused body, I’m still happy to have him. It retails at about $50 and when you consider the going rate for some of the two-packs has been $35-40, I think the set is priced well. Yes, it’s likely to separate the hardcore Who collectors from the casual buyers, but that’s probably a good thing.
Oh yeah, last time we looked at a Classic Doctor Who figure, the word on the street was that the line was done after this year. That seems to have been premature. The official word now is that we will be getting two or three releases a year, possibly including the SDCC release. I’m hoping that this set is a test run of the kind of things they want to do with a lighter release schedule. If we can get two or three sets like this in a year, I’ll be perfectly happy with that.