The 13th Doctor Era has been no better than The Wilderness Years for me, but I’m watching with hope and heavy heart to see what happens with Russell T. Davies’ return. In the meantime, I watched a lot of Doctor Who over the Holidays and I’m hankering to do some Doctor Who toy reviews. There’s a lot of Character Options stuff piling up around here, but wait… what’s this? A Big Chief figure I haven’t reviewed yet? Well, let’s do it!
The War Doctor! As cool as it would have been to see The Ninth Doctor on screen with his successors for the 50th Anniversary Special, The BBC made the best of Eccleston opting out by giving us a prevoiusly unknown incarnation played by the legendary John Hurt. And boy did he kill it! I absolutely adore every damn frame of Day of the Doctor. I was lucky enough to go see it with some friends at the theater the first time, and I can’t even count how many times I’ve watched it since. It’s a masterpiece and John Hurt as The War Doctor just elevates it even higher!
Big Chief always does a nice job on the packaging. It’s a window box with a front flap and two trays that slide out from the top or bottom. The top tray contains the figure and accessories, and the bottom has the stand and a few more accessories. You get some shots of Hurt as The War Doctor on the sides and a picture of the figure and some copy on the back. And I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see Doctor Who merch without the ugly new logo stamped on it.
The War Doctor comes out of the package wearing the outfit that he began piecing together on the planet Karn just before regenerating, and it’s amazing how iconic it is despite only being shown in the one story. It’s a little bit cowboy and a little bit Indiana Jones, and the state of it makes it clear he’s been knocking around The Time War for a long time. The weathered black jacket is expertly tailored with neat stitching and even has an interior lining and interior pockets! Under that he has a felt vest with double buttons down the front, plus a chain for his fob watch disappearing into the vest pockets. He’s got a pair of old brown trousers, a web-gear type belt, spats that run up to his knees, and are buttoned down the sides, and finally a scarf wrapped snuggly around his neck and the bandolier strap he took off of Cass in Night of the Doctor. Overall, I think Big Chief has come a long way in their tailored outfits, and this one shows it. The costume fits the figure very well (yup, the fit of the sleeves is intentional!) and looks great!
Portraits have been hit and miss for Big Chief, which explains why I am selective about which of their Doctors that I buy. Did I want to pass on The 4th Doctor and the 10th Doctor? Of course not, but I just wasn’t happy enough with the likenesses to bring the big bucks. They started out strong with the Matt Smith likeness, hit some bumps along the way, but bounced back strong with their Peter Capaldi and Jon Pertwee sculpts. This one definitely fits into the win category. They did a fine job capturing all the character lines in John Hurts face and the bags under his eyes. The facial hair looks good, as does his duck-tail coif, although both are a few notches below being totally realistic. The only place this portrait really stumbles is in the paint. The skin lacks that uncanny skin tone finish that the wizards at Hot Toys and Sideshow have perfected. The skin here is a tad too waxy under studio lights, but looks fine under normal conditions. Still, all in all, I think this one ranks up there among their best likenesses.
As usual, Big Chief’s bodies offer all the articulation I could ask for in a sixth-scale figure, and none of their costumes do much to inhibit that articulation. As a result, these tend to be a lot more fun to play around with than your average Hot Toys figure, which tend to have restrictive costumes. However, one thing that Big Chief still needs to work on is the strength of the joints. The War Doctor can stand on his own just fine and hold most poses with no issues, but the joints still feel a tad too loose for my liking. Let’s move on to accessories!
Naturally, The War Doctor comes with his Sonic Screwdriver, as well as left and right hands designed to hold it. It’s not one of the more interesting designs for the trusty tool, but Big Chief has captured it quite well. It fits snuggly in any one of the loops on his bandolier strap.
Next, you get The Moment, which features an absolutely stunning sculpt with some cool complexity in the layers of gears on some sides. I’m on the fence over whether it’s undersized or not. It looks about right when he’s carrying it, but when it’s on the ground, it looks a bit small. At one point in the episode Billie Piper was sitting on it, and this seems too small for that. I would have liked it if they included the burlap sack that he carried it in, as that was a pretty iconic piece of promo art for the story. A missed opportunity for an Exclusive here would have been with The Moment deploying the very rose-like big red button.
The final accessory is the Gallifreyan Staser Rifle that The War Doctor used to blast “NO MORE” into the wall. I happen to have a soft spot for pretty much all Gallifreyan tech, but I think I love the staser designs the most. I remember as a kid trying to get my hands on a piece of acrylic so that I could make the staser pistol that appeared in The Arc of Infinity, but that never happened. The Gallifreyan weapon designs in NuWho are pretty convincing as a logical progression from what we’ve seen in the past. I especially love the design on this rifle, and Big Chief did an excellent job creating this sixth-scale version. The Doctor comes with a set of special hands so that he can hold both grips.
And our final stop is the figure stand. Big Chief has been using this hexagonal mirror base with some lights in it for many of their Doctors, and I don’t really care for them. They aren’t personalized, the post doesn’t always fit the base all that well, the lighting effect is underwhelming, and the base is a tad too small. It also adds a bit too much height to the figure, which has created problems with fitting the figures in my shelving. I give them credit for trying something that does indeed feel premium, but I always wind up displaying these figures on generic stands.
The War Doctor sold out pretty quickly at all my usual online haunts, but I was lucky to grab him upon release. I recall paying around $250, and that’s the average price for a Hot Toys figure these days, so I’m tempted to say it’s about $50-25 too high for what Big Chief is offering. I’m tempted to say that, but I won’t. The truth is that Big Chief is a small company by comparison and these figures are issued in very limited quantities, with The War Doctor at only 1,000 pieces. Factor in the cost of paying for the license and likeness rights and it’s easy to see where the money goes. A few more accessories would have helped buoy the sense of value here, but in the end I love the figure, so I’m not complaining! And that catches me up on all my Big Chief Doctor Who reviews, although The Master is lurking around the corner and I can’t wait to get him!