Much like the good Doctor himself, Character Options’ 5 1/2-inch Doctor Who action figure line continues to defy death. Despite being more-or-less cancelled a while back, CO manages to let a slow drip of releases trickle out each year. Sure, many of these are repacks and repaints, but some are new! I’ve been picking up a lot of these sets over the last year or so, but with how bad the show has been these last two series, I wasn’t too eager to start opening them. Luckily, when I was recently on vacation I got a couple new Classic Who Blu-Ray palate cleansers and now I’m psyched up and ready to start tackling some of these!
Today I’m checking out the latest release, which is The Second Doctor and TARDIS from the 1967 serial, The Abominable Snowmen. CO teased this one, along with a prototype of The Yeti a long while back, and while I’m sad to say there’s no Yeti in here, I’m glad to see The Doctor figure finally made it out! If you’ve picked up any of the MANY of these Doctor and TARDIS releases, you should know what to expect. The goods come in a window box with the toys positioned against a printed background, making for a wonderful display if you are inclined to leave it sealed. Sadly, my box got a bumped corner while making its way across The Pond. Character Options shipped it fast, but put no packing in the box whatsoever.
Yup, while most of the recent releases have been widely available online, this one is a Character Online Exclusive, so I had to go right to the source to get it. The back of the package has a copious amount of copy about the story, which sadly remains one of the lost ones. About the only thing I don’t like about the packaging is that it’s branded for the current series. I’m not a fan of the logo, and I think one of the Classic logos would have been a lot more appropriate here. If you haven’t experienced this story, The Abominable Snowmen is currently available as an audio track drama, there are some pretty cool fan recreations online, and I’ve enjoyed the story at least a couple of times through the novelization. OK, let’s get this open! And if you stick with me until the end, I’m going to do a little bonus comparison and bonus mini-review of the last Second Doctor and TARDIS release from The War Games!
The TARDIS lands in The Himalayas in Tibet (Not India, Victoria!!!), and before going out on his expedition, The Doctor dons a mighty fur coat, which later leads to Jamie mistaking him as a Great Hairy Beastie! This coat has become something of an iconic look for The Second Doctor, probably because he wore a variation of it in The Five Doctors, which makes this figure a double treat! And what a great figure it is! The sculpting on the coat is absolutely magnificent. The texturing is brilliantly done, and the darker patches are not only painted in, but part of the sculpt as well. The wooly garment is cast in soft plastic and attached over a standard Second Doctor figure, resulting in some nice depth, while also making it look appropriately bulky. You can see his collar and tie peeking out from the top, while his checkered trousers protrude from the bottom to his brown shoes. The sleeves are sculpted as part of the new arms and match the coat perfectly. The sculpted string that ties the coat closed is a little understated. I may actually tie a real string around it for better statement.
Character Options has delivered some great portraits of Patrick Troughton in this line, and this one is another cracker! Actually, they may be all the same sculpt! His facial details are nice and sharp, as is the sculpted hair. It’s the usual serious expression that we’ve seen in the past, and while I’d love to see a smiling portrait for The Second Doctor, I realize that CO is dependent on recycling parts to keep the cost of these sets low.
The articulation here harkens back to the older figures in the line, which mainly means that the shoulders simply rotate and do not have any lateral movement. In fairness, I don’t think CO has turned out anyof the older Doctors with the updated articulation, and I’m not sure how well that would have worked with the fur coat anyway. In addition to those rotating shoulders, the arms have bicep swivels and elbow hinges which can do a full 90-degrees, which is impressive with the bulk of the coat. His wrists swivel, and I love how the hands are half obscured by the sleeves. The legs are the normal t-crotch, thigh swivels, and hinged knees, but with the coat going all the way down to the knees, the hip articulation is rendered inert. At least the knees allow him to go into a walking pose. The Doctor doesn’t come with any accessories, and while I understand that the only thing making these possible is CO doing them on the cheap, I can’t help but wish they had included the sacred Ghanta in there. Ok, let’s move on to the TARDIS!
I was extremely excited to get this TARDIS, because it’s the Error TARDIS that was used when the BBC crew rebuilt the doors on the prop and put the sign on the right door instead of the left. It appeared that way for a bunch of stories, and as such it makes this an extremely unique addition to my fleet of CO TARDISes. As we’ll see in the comparison shots in a bit, this is just a redress of The War Games TARDIS, which includes the flat roof. Although this one does omit the handle and simply has the keyhole. After watching a lot of modern Who, it’s sometimes shocking to see just how battered the old Type-40 often was in Classic Who. I actually liked it better that way. It made the TARDIS look appropriately ancient and well-traveled.
So naturally, it’s the deco that really makes this one sing to me! The distressed paint job is fantastic and really hammers home the decrepid look of some of those early TARDIS props. It appears to use a white wash in with the blue to give it that look and I just love it. Each window has two of the six panes frosted, and the POLICE BOX signs are appropriately faded stickers. As usual, the back of the TARDIS features the rather unsightly speaker. These piercings have been included on the TARDIS releases that were gutted of the electronics, but here we see the triumphant return of the lights and sounds! With the help of three AAA batteries, the roof lamp will flash yellow and the glorious wease of the engines will sound when you either pick up or put down the toy. It sounds great and, I gotta tell you, I still smile from ear to ear like a kid whenever I activate it. I simply couldn’t have imagined owning a toy like this back in the day.
Once upon a time, CO used to use printed inserts inside these TARDIS toys to show the interior, and I really wish they still did that. It would probably be pretty simple to print out an image, at least for someone with more time and motivation than me! As it is, the interior is completely unfinished. I may be content with just putting some black construction paper in there. As usual, the right door is spring loaded and will lock open, and uses a button on the floor to slam it closed. OK, let’s bring in The War Games set for some comparisons!
We get the same basic sculpt, but different coats and arm sculpts. The new release has a touch of blue in his collar, and the trousers and shoes are different colors. For the life of me, I can’t tell if the head sculpts are the same or not. They look different, but I’m possibly attributing that to the dramatic variations in the paint. The War Games release has a much more heavy handed paint job. It’s not bad, but I definitely prefer the newer release, as it just looks more natural to me. Either way, both are excellent figures.
As I mentioned, the TARDISes are the same sculpt, with the exception of the handle appearing on this one, and the older one missing the light in the roof lamp. The War Games TARDIS has a darker and more uniform paint job. Interestingly, the front POLICE BOX sign is black lettering on a white background, but that’s inverted for the other three sides. I never noticed that before getting this toy in hand. These signs are still well worn, but much easier to read than the ones on the newer release. Obviously, the PULL TO OPEN sign is back where it belongs on the left door, and it is printed with white letters on a blue backdrop with a much neater presentation. And, as I mentioned earlier, the speaker is still there despite no electronics, and the battery door is glued shut.
Any Classic Who set that Character Options releases is an instant buy for me, and The Abominable Snowmen set is an absolute treat. I had all but given up on this ever seeing the light of day. Yes, I wish it came with the Yeti we saw a while back, but getting the Error TARDIS ain’t too shabby. Besides, I would not put it past CO to re-release this Doctor with The Yeti at some point down the road, and I will happily throw my money at it if they did. Who knows? Maybe even with Victoria or Jamie. Hey, CO just revealed that we’re finally getting Ian Chesterton, so anything is possible! And with that note, I really enjoyed reviewing this release, so I’m going to make it a habit to start working some of the Doctor Who sets that I picked up over the last year or so back into my normal rotation!