Doctor Who: The Third Doctor Sixth-Scale Figure by Big Chief Studios

It’s been a rough few years for me as a Doctor Who fan. The Chibnall/Whitaker Era is the first time in my 40 years of watching the show that I can’t find anything to like about the current series and opted out. Yeah, it sucks. But with so many different takes on the renegade Time Lord, I guess it was bound to happen eventually. And yet, it’s hard to be too bitter, when there’s such a wealth of Classic and NuWho to go back to, not to mention some new merch trickling in to enjoy. Indeed, I’ve got a ton of 5.5-inch scale Character Options figures to check out, but Big Chief’s latest offering arrived this week and I’m bumping it to the front of the line!

The Good Doctor comes in a standard shoebox-style package with a lift off top. The deco is nice looking, but why did they have to go with the current era logo? I’m not sure if this is stipulated by the BBC in the licensing agreement, but it really sucks to be reminded of an Era I don’t like when buying Classic Who collectibles. It’s worse because this is a box I plan on keeping. Oh well. Ask me who my favorite Doctor is, and there’s a good chance I’d say it’s the one I happen to be watching at the moment. But if you really pressed me, Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor will always remain at the top of the list. He was actually the second Doctor that I ever saw (my first was Tom Baker as Number Four!), but I have such great memories of being a teenager and watching The Third Doctor’s stories for the first time on an old B&W TV set in my bedroom every weekend. I loved Pertwee’s performance, I loved that he was given a new adversary in Roger Delgato’s The Master, and I loved his sometimes uneasy pairing with UNIT. Needless to say, I’m excited! So let’s get The Doctor out and have a look!

The figure comes out of the box ready for action and looking fab! Well, I say ready, but you do have to make one small correction to his outfit. Reach into the jacket’s cuffs and pull out some of that white frilly shirt inside so that it’s extending out past the cuff. Otherwise he’s good to go. Big Chief had a lot of great Third Doctor outfits to choose from, but in the end they went for his debut look from Spearhead From Space, and I’m very pleased they did. It’s a complex look that suits his dashing nature. You get black dress shoes, black trousers, and a midnight blue coat, which is fastened with one clasp just a bit above his waistline. The frilly white shirt is recreated with its flashy ruffles and capped off with a black tie. And finally, you get the brilliant black Inverness coat with a red lining and working floral-style clasps. Big Chief has had some challenges in recreating wardrobes that don’t look too puffy. You get a little bit of that here in the collar, but otherwise this outfit shows some excellent sixth-scale tailoring and craftsmanship. I think they did an amazing job here.

Big Chief’s portraits have been hit or miss, and it’s been the one determining factor that has kept me from being All-In on these Sixth-Scale Whos. To me, their Matt Smith likeness still ranks among their best, and it killed me to pass on The Fourth Doctor, but there just wasn’t enough Tom Baker in there for me. Thankfully, they are back to form with this Jon Pertwee portrait. It’s an excellent likeness with an insane amount of detail paced into the facial sculpt. All the little lines are lovingly recreated here, and they did a beautiful job on his distinctive nose (which his son Sean wears ever so proudly!) Even his eyebrows look so good they could be useful on the planet Delphon where they communicate with their eyebrows! As for the expression, Big Chief went for a serious and stoic countenance, which suits The Third Doctor so well.
Sculpted hair was without a doubt the only way to go with this head sculpt, and once again I think they did a fine job. Yes, plastic hair means that the realism takes a bit of a hit, but it’s hard to argue with the loving attention that went into this coif. If I were to nitpick anything here, it would be the plastic used for the skin has a tad of a waxy finish to it, but that only really became noticeable to me when I got him under the studio lights.

There’s plenty of useful articulation under that outfit, including double hinges in the knees, and solid joints that can hold most any pose. That is, except for the neck, which is rather loose. He can hold his head up, but it doesn’t take much jostling to get it to slump. It’s a weird flaw to have, considering Big Chief has turned out a fair number of Sixth-Scale figures at this point, but it also isn’t a fatal mishap either just annoying. You get a nice assortment of hands, including some expressive ones for different posing options. One pair of hands are black gloved, the others are bare, and the left hands include his sculpted pinky ring. I was pleased to see that one of the relaxed hands serves as a karate-chop hand, perfect for showing off his skills at Venusian Aikido. Several of the hands are designed specifically for holding his accessories, so let’s dive right into those!

Big Chief rarely skimps on the accessories, and you get a decent assortment of goodies here. A lot of them are pretty small, but then The Doctor usually only carries what he can fit into his bottomless pockets. The one accessory I won’t picture here is the TARDIS key, because it’s so tiny that I’ve already misplaced it. I’m sure it will turn up!

Two of the items here are weapons, which may seem odd inclusions for The Doctor, The Third Doctor was quite the action hero and occasionally had the need to take up arms. The first is the Ultrasonic Disintegrator Gun carried by the guerilla forces in Day of the Daleks. I love the design for this thing, and was very happy to see it in the box. The Doctor made good use of this weapon to take out some Ogrons.

The second weapon is the Sea Devil Heat Ray Gun, which is a very simple and unique design. None of the hands seemed especially well suited to holding it, which is kind of wielded like a clothes iron, but I was able to make it work OK.

The Metebelis Crystal was a recurring namedrop throughout The Third Doctor’s run, and it played a significant part in his ultimate demise and regeneration, making it a rather essential accessory. This is another one of those little items that I would have considered an unforgivable omission had Big Chief not included it.

Next to the TARDIS key, the smallest accessory is The Doctor’s wristwatch. It’s a very well detailed item considering how small it is, but it’s pretty hard to see it when he’s wearing it on his wrist.

You get Bessie’s remote control unit, which I believe turned up in The Daemons. It’s another very well detailed little accessory, missing only the lettering that was on the original prop that called out the functions of the buttons as Hood, Horn, and Lights, as well as the label Steer near the miniature wheel, and Modulation on the bottom gauge.

The magnifying glass is a pretty simple item, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s something they repurposed from one of their Sherlock figures. It didn’t seem to work perfectly with any specific hand, but again I was able to make it work pretty well.

And of course The Third Doctor saw the first use of the Sonic Screwdriver, so we can’t forget that! This original design remains the most iconic for me, although it didn’t change too much over the following years. I actually didn’t know it had the yellow and black striping for a while, because, as I mentioned earlier, I watched The Third Doctor’s entire run for the first time on a B&W TV set! I go back and fourth on whether or not I prefer the striping or the more utilitarian all silver shaft.

Naturally, you get a stand and this one is more or less the same one we saw with The Twelfth Doctor. I appreciate the effort that went into the design here. The mirror base is flashy and it has a light up feature. But, ultimately, I think the base is way too small, and the electronic feature doesn’t do much for me either. I would have preferred something simpler with a Classic logo on it. It’s worth noting here that this figure was limited to a run of 1,000, although there’s no stated limitation on the stand, only on the box where it is hand numbered. What number do I have? Hell if I can read it. It looks like it might be 312, but I honestly have no idea.

One last bonus is the illustrated insert is printed with a backdrop of the TARDIS console room and the fact that it’s a tri-fold piece of cardboard means it can stand behind the figure. I honestly love when companies include something like this. It’s such a simple little thing, but it goes a long way to make for a more compelling display.

While Big Chief still wavers a bit on their consistency, this latest release just goes to show how great they can be when they’re on their game. I had high hopes for The Third Doctor’s final release and now that I have him in hand, I can happily say I’m not disappointed. I think they did a fantastic job on the costume, and I’d argue that the portrait is the best one they’ve turned out since Matt Smith as The Eleventh Doctor. At $260, Big Chief is definitely asking Hot Toys prices, and while the quality is high, it’s not yet reached Hot Toy’s unbridled level of excellence. I’m guessing the higher price is also driven by the rather low limitation, and The Third Doctor sold out at Sideshow shortly after it began shipping. Roger Delgado’s Master is due to ship soon as well, and I can’t wait to be able to display these two together!

Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor Sixth-Scale Figure by Big Chief

It was three years ago that I Featured Big Chief’s Eleventh Doctor Sixth-Scale figure here on FFZ. It was a somewhat expensive gamble on an untested company, but ultimately it paid off. While the tailoring on the outfit wasn’t quite up to Hot Toys’ level, the likeness was excellent and I wound up with a solid figure at a good, but admittedly deep-discounted, price. Jump into the TARDIS and travel three years into the future, or now as we like to call it, and I find history repeating itself. This time, I was able to pick up The Twelfth Doctor at a decent price and everything I said about Eleven pretty much applies here.

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There can be no denying that Big Chief has the presentation down pat. You’re paying for a high end collectible, and everything about this package sells it. At first glance, the package appears to be a simple blue shoe box style affair illustrated with the gears from the 8th/9th Season openers, the Doctor Who logo in the center, and “Twelfth Doctor” down in the bottom right hand corner.

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The back of the box shows off the figure against the backdrop of the TARDIS console room and you get a blurb introducing The 12th Doctor and how he got his new set of regenerations. On closer inspection it turns out that the front and side panels are actually a tri-fold wrap-around that’s held on by magnets. When you remove it…

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You reveal a window showing off the figure and a heavy cardboard stock backdrop of the TARDIS interior to display the figure in front of. I absolutely love this idea! The layout of the interior of the box should be familiar to anyone collecting Sixth-Scale figures these days. You get two trays. The top has the figure resting in a molded plastic cradle with his accessories and extra hands around him. The lower tray consists of the figure stand and, in my case, an empty space where the miniaturized TARDIS from “Flatline” would be. There’s some confusion over this accessory. It wasn’t advertised as part of the initial promo pitch, it’s definitely been bundled in some of the Con Exclusive releases of this figure, but apparently not all of them. It’s odd, because as the box proclaims, this is a Limited Edition figure and at only 1,000 of the regular release produced, it seems like they could have included that accessory in with all of them. Well, let’s get out The Good Doctor and see what he’s all about…

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First up, let’s talk wardrobe. Throughout the 8th and 9th Series, Twelve has been all over the place with his costumes. He’s gone from finery that would have made The Third Doctor jealous to slumming it with a hoodie that even Nine probably wouldn’t have worn. Happily, Big Chief decided to go with the outfit that Peter Capaldi wore in the first official images of him as The Doctor. It features his gorgeous navy blue coat with red liner, a navy sweater, a white button down shirt, black trousers, and shiny black boots. Straightaway, something here felt off, and I quickly identified it as the sweater. He wore it initially, but not enough that I associate him with it. It’s definitely the weakest part of this outfit and it’s hard to get it to sit right on the figure, especially when articulating the arms a lot. Also, it made the jacket feel way too snug and restrictive in the upper body and shoulders. That sweater has to go!

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Much better! The button down shirt here is a huge improvement over the one on the 11th Doctor figure. It’s made of lighter material and not nearly as puffy, but the collar still has a habit of popping up and I’m considering pinning it down, as I think it will make a huge difference. The shirt features nice stitching, tiny buttons, and even french cut sleeves. The belt makes the waist look a bit too small, but then Capaldi is a pretty thin guy, and the jacket conceals most of that issue.

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The stitching on the jacket is splendidly done and includes the buttons on the sleeves. The inner lining is also gorgeous. You even get a breast pocket for you know what! There’s a magnet placed inside the jacket if you want to display him with it closed.

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The Capaldi portrait here is quite good. After several different Doctors, I’ve found Big Chief to be a little hit and miss with their likenesses. I’d rank the Matt Smith sculpt and this one as their best. The Tennant, Eccleston, and Tom Baker likenesses are close, but a little off. And I’m at odds with their William Hartnell likeness. In this case, I think the actual sculpt is spot on and they’ve made a valiant effort at painting that eerie spark of life into the eyes. The skin tone is good, but it’s the paint that keeps this from rising to the ranks of the top tier Sixth-Scale competitors. Still, not bad at all.

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As for the body itself, it feels very similar to the Matt Smith body. The joints are looser than Hot Toys and more on par with Sideshow, however they are capable of holding any pose I put him in and supporting the weight of the figure. The generic stand I’m using is entirely for balance issues. Happily, the outfit is not at all restrictive, making The Doctor a lot more fun to play around with than most of the other Sixth-Scale figures in my collection. Of course, you also get a bunch of hands, which include: Relaxed hands, fists, accessory holding hands, and the right hand to mimic that wonderful pose in that instantly iconic initial press photo, which introduced Capaldi to us as The Twelfth Doctor. The hands use a peg system practically identical to Hot Toys and Sideshow and they are very easy to swap in and out. You get plenty of extra pegs too, but I can’t see ever breaking one of these.

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Big Chief has been great about including a lot of nifty accessories with these figures. And as before, none of these are mind blowing, but they are good selections and lots of fun. First and foremost are a pair of Sonic Screwdrivers, one with the tip open and one closed. These are essentially the same pieces that came with The Eleventh Doctor. As already shown, there’s a pocket in the jacket to slip it into and the hand designed to hold it works perfectly.

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Next up, is The Doctor’s yo-yo, which he uses as a super high-tech instrument for measuring gravity.

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Jelly Baby, anyone? Yes, you get the posh little cigarette case that The Doctor used to store his favorite sweets in “Mummy on the Orient Express.” It’s a static piece, sculpted in the open position with individually painted Jelly Babies inside. I love that they included it as an accessory, especially since it was used as basically a one-off gag and never seen again.

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The Psychic Paper! Easily my favorite addition to The Doctor’s arsenal since the show returned in 2005. Yes, this is essentially the same accessory included with The 11th Doctor figure.

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Moving on, we have a gloved hand and spoon! This pair of extras were inspired by that episode that I adore and everyone loves to hate on, “Robots of Sherwood.” The premise was ridiculous, the resolution was dumb, but it was such a fun ride and Capaldi’s sheer annoyance with Robin Hood was absolutely fantastic. Also, that whole dungeon scene ranks up pretty high on my list of favorite Doctor Who moments. I love that they included these, because again they are pretty much one-offs.

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And, finally… it’s The TARDIS in Siege Mode from “Flatline.” This is a really nicely sculpted accessory, but also one that I can’t get terribly excited about because, a) The Doctor was inside The TARDIS at the time, so having it as an accessory to interact with the figure is a little odd. b) It looks way too much like a miniaturized version of The Pandorica.

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Before wrapping up, we have to talk about the stand. Oh, God, the stand! It’s so hard to imagine that Big Chief put so much work into something like this and screwed up the basic premise of its functionality. You all may remember that I was less than pleased with the stand that came with The Eleventh Doctor, but that piece is like an engineering marvel when it comes to this one. The base is a mirror and there’s a light up feature that illuminates some Gallifreyan writing, which is a really neat effect, but one that I couldn’t really capture in a picture. Unfortunately, the post that’s designed to support the figure does not attach securely to the base, so when you put the figure on it, the post immediately pushes away and falls off. This is a relatively easy fix, by gluing the post to the base, but then it’s never going back in the box again. I have yet to decide whether I’m going to do that. For now, I’m making use of the inexpensive and generic figure stand that you’ve seen throughout these pictures.

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I love this figure and it makes for a wonderful display next to my Big Chief Eleven. But in the end, so much of collecting comes down to money and Big Chief has been asking a lot for these figures. Twelve debuted at $239, which is even higher than many of Hot Toys’ standard releases these days. Of course, Big Chief’s figures are a lot more limited, and as popular as Doctor Who has become, it’s safe to say these figures are more niche than the box office juggernauts of Marvel and Star Wars. But even with that being the case, my satisfaction with their Eleventh Doctor figure coupled with my unending reservoir of adoration for Peter Capaldi as Twelve couldn’t get me to pull the trigger at $239. As good as these are, they’re not comparable to the insane level of craftsmanship that goes into a figure at the Hot Toys price point. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, Big Chief, as few figures can compare, but if you’re going to market a product at the same price, you really should be offering the same level of excellence. These are on the right track, but they aren’t there yet. Ultimately, I found Twelve for $150 shipped, and that was the number that made me take the plunge and I feel it was worth it. I’m still in a holding pattern on some of the others, but if any of those hit that magic number, then Big Chief’s Sixth-Scale Doctor Who may return!

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor Sixth- Scale Figure by Big Chief Studios, Part 1

I don’t think I’ve ever done as much hand wringing over buying an action figure as I have over The Good Doctor here. I wanted this figure so, so badly when it first came out, and I even had the money set aside for it. But some of the early in-hand pictures of the outfit worried me. At $200, the price worried me. The fact that it was Big Chief’s first attempt at an action figure of this type, well that really worried me. In the end I took a pass. I just couldn’t justify $200 on such a risky venture. But $120? Yeah, I could do that. And that’s the deal I got on this figure last week from the fine folks at TFAW.com. I don’t mind telling you, that I was still a little squeamish about doing it. But in the end I couldn’t resist. You’ll find that comparisons to Hot Toys products are going to be a running theme in this feature. Hey, if you’re going to put out a 1:6 scale figure and charge $200 for it, it’s only fair to be judged against the quality of your peers. There’s a lot to say about this guy, so I’m going to start out today with a look at the box and the figure, and then tomorrow I’ll be back to look at the accessories. Let’s get to it… Geronimo!!!

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The box is right in line with what I expect when I buy a higher end collectible figure. In fact, it’s a little more elaborate than what I got with my Hot Toys’ Black Widow. The front panel has gold printing with “Doctor Who” in the center along with the “DWARTIS” logo. The side panels feature shots of Matt Smith and the BBC logo. The back panel shows a full shot of the figure and a blurb. I grant bonus points for mentioning his “cool bow tie.” The blurb also points out that it is officially licensed from the BBC. All in all, this is quite an attractive box, which feels right at home next to any of my Hot Toys figure boxes.

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A number of people have reported receiving the boxes in rough shape, and the consensus seems to be that a lot of the wear happened in the factory or warehouse, rather than from retailers. Mine certainly has a few scuffs on it, but overall it’s in pretty good shape.

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The box features a wrap-around front flap that opens to reveal the figure behind the window. The inside of the flap shows an assortment of shots of the figure holding the various accessories. The box is easily opened from the top to reveal two trays. The first holds the figure and accessories; the second holds the stand in two parts and has a packet with a few more accessories. Again, with the exception of the second tray for the stand, I’m getting a major Hot Toys vibe off of the way the figure sits in the tray, plastic wrap around the head, and accessories and extra hands fanned out on each side. Overall, I give Big Chief high marks for the presentation.

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Let’s start out with the likeness… Yep, that’s Matt Smith alright. It’s obvious that Big Chief studied some of what Hot Toys does with their head sculpts, because the influence on this piece is telling. Besides the likeness being pretty damn close, I’m really happy with how the sculpted hair turned out. You could argue that the bangs coming down the right side of his face are a tad chunky, but overall I think it’s good. The paint on the lips and eyes are extremely similar to what Hot Toys does, giving the figure that undefinable spark of life. Even the paint that makes up the skin tone looks quite lifelike. For their first figure, Big Chief really slammed the head straight out of the park. I don’t think it’s on par with Hot Toys’ best efforts, but it’s definitely in the same league as their more average efforts, and that’s not a bad thing.

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The articulation on this figure is what surprised me the most, because The Doctor has some crazy articulation going on. Big Chief devised an excellent and quite durable base body for this figure. I’m not about to strip him down to see what’s going on, but Big Chief provides a nice shot of the body’s articulation HERE.  Between the excellent articulation and the fact that his outfit isn’t at all restrictive, I find I can get a lot more poses out of him than most of my Hot Toys figures. Granted, The Doctor doesn’t necessarily need to be super-articulated, but it comes in handy when he needs to bust out the Venusian Aikido. It’s also great for any of the normal poses like checking his watch or wielding his Sonic Screwdriver. I’ll also note that some of the joints in the body are designed to pull out if placed under too much stress. One time when I was swapping his left hand, I was absolutely certain I broke his arm. Nope, it just pops right back in.

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So far, so good. But it’s the outfit where I was afraid the figure would stumble, and while it looks a lot better in person than in Big Chief’s production shots, there are certainly some nagging issues here. The jacket is an impressive piece of tailoring on a number of levels. The pattern on the tweed looks excellent, the teeny-tiny buttons look great, the elbow patches are awesome, and the lining is particularly good. There’s even an inside pocket for his Sonic. Indeed, the jacket would be perfect if it weren’t for the bit of puffiness around the seams of the front flaps, particularly on the left flap. It makes the jacket look like it’s a little thicker and heavier than it should be. Yet touching it, it feels just right, as it’s totally soft and pliable. I’m tempted to try to iron it to get a sharper crease, but I don’t want to risk damaging it. The tiny buttons do terrify me, as a couple of collectors have had them pop off while changing around the hands. Mine are fine so far, and I’ve done a lot of fiddling about with this figure, but they’re so tiny, if one were to pop off, I’m pretty sure it would be gone forever. The Doctor also sports a wrist watch on his left hand.

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The shirt underneath the jacket has a collar which looks a tad too puffy and heavy. It can be fussed into control, but one side of the collar often wants to pop up in front of the bowtie. The bowtie itself looks like it’s actually tied, proper and that’s cool. Bowties are cool, even in one-sixth scale! In truth, the bow tie is on an elastic band, although you can make adjustments to the front. The elastic suspenders are nicely done, and the trousers look and fit great. The shoes are nicely sculpted as well. Honestly, if Hot Toys hadn’t raised the bar so high for 1:6 scale costume tailoring, I wouldn’t even be dwelling on the issues here. The outfit is very good, especially for a first attempt at a figure like this, but it simply is not up to the Hot Toys standards.

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Ok, I’m well past my average length for a feature, so I’m going to break here and come back tomorrow to start checking out The Doctor’s crazy amount of accessories, as well as the figure stand.