Doctor Who: Missy by Character Options

If you’re a fan of Doctor Who than you have probably already heard that show-runner Steven Moffet is retiring from Who after Series 10 (which won’t come until 2017, BTW). Moffet has most certainly been a polarizing element in the fandom. As for me? Well, there’s been stuff about his era that I loved, and stuff that I maybe didn’t like so much, but in the end I admire him far more than I admonish him. Believe me, I could go on for hours on the subject. Of course, one of the biggest bombs he dropped on the Whoniverse was back in Series 8 when The Doctor’s oldest enemy, The Master, turned up as a woman named Missy. The idea was instantly decisive on the speculation as to whether or not Time Lords could regenerate into either gender. And thanks to the wonderful (dare I say masterful performance of) Michelle Gomez, it worked brilliantly. It worked so brilliantly that Missy was one of those characters that Character Options couldn’t deny giving us in the old 5-inch scale.

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And here she is! I’m not sure what’s going on with the world of Doctor Who figures these days. Is CO even still producing that horrid 3 3/4-inch scale? They seem to be. And yet they also seem to understand that this 5-inch scale is what we really want and they keep going back to it for these scattershot releases. Anywho, Missy comes in the same style window box that we saw a few weeks back with The 8th Doctor from “Night of the Doctor.” You get a nice blurb on the back that recounts a little bit about The Master both before and after her gender-swap. It’s a handsome package and totally collector friendly.

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Missy comes donning her prim-and-proper purple dress and looking absolutely smashing. CO continues to up their QC game in these newest batch of figures and I see no paint flubs or pulled joints or any of that nasty business. In fact, I’ve got no complaints here at all! Granted, the dress is pretty simple, but still nicely done and even the little cameo on her collar is an impressive little piece of work. If you’re feeling a little naughty and fancy a look up her dress, you’ll see that her high boots are sculpted all the way up to her knees, complete with laces.

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The portrait is quite good as well. It’s a bit soft when you get in close, but still decent. It does a great job conveying Gomez’s rather stern brand of beauty. She wears her hat cocked to the front and side and the paint here is sharp and clean.

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Alas, due to the nature of the outfit, Missy doesn’t come sporting a lot of articulation. The arms do feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, which is nice, but I’m not a big fan of the exposed hinge on the outside of the shoulder. She has swivel cuts in the biceps and wrists, and I believe this is the first time a figure in this line has had rotating hinges in the elbows. There’s a waist swivel under that coat and while there’s definitely leg articulation, the tee-pee effect of the dress renders it not very useful. The neck is ball jointed and supposedly the head can be swapped with the other version (black dress) of Missy should you be lucky enough to own her.

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Missy comes with a pair of accessories. You get her little steam-punk phone thingy, which she can hold in her left hand (“Say something nice!”) and you get her umbrella, which can be held in her right hand.

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Character Options seems to understand which characters are important enough to deliver in the nearly defunct 5-inch scale and so we continue to get dribbles of these releases each year. Indeed, Missy was actually released simultaneously in two versions: The one we just looked at today and one in a black dress and sans hat with a different head sculpt. Sadly, the other version is currently exclusive to CO’s UK website and has yet to see distribution outside a limited run in Great Britain. The version I have is a fine figure, but I would have preferred the other, or would have happily bought both. It’s also a pity that we don’t have any Moffet-era Cybermen to go with her.

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Doctor Who: “Night of the Doctor” Eighth Doctor by Character Options

It’s become part of my Doctor Who viewing routine to watch the new episodes and lament over how almost every single character would have gotten an action figure back in the heyday of Character Options’ 5-inch line. Oh, the missed opportunities over the last couple of Series. Now, we’re lucky to get a handful of figures a year. And I do mean lucky, because I’m sincerely grateful for every single release these days. That goes double for today’s because it’s the version of The 8th Doctor from the six-and-a-half minute short, “Night of the Doctor!” 

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If you picked up either version of The 12th Doctor figures last year, you’ll know just what to expect from the packaging. The figure comes in a window box very much in line with what a lot of the big toy companies are doing with their 6-inch figure lines. The deco is a sumptuous blend of old and new, the window shows off the figure beautifully, and everything is totally collector friendly. Needless to say, I like it!

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The back of the box gives you a little blurb about the great Paul McGann as The 8th Doctor and the short “minisode” that the figure is based on. When it comes to that 1996 Fox TV movie, my motto has always been “hate the movie, love The Doctor!” That’s probably why I dig this short so much. It not only gave us a precious few more minutes of McGann on screen as The Doctor, but this time it was brilliant and it finally gave him a proper (and superb!) regeneration scene as well as legitimized his Big Finish Audio Adventures by having him rattle off the names of his companions. Lovely.

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It’s no secret that I’ve been disappointed with the QC in the last few figures in this line. I’m happy to say that this figure shows improvements on a massive scale. The paint is near perfect and there are no loose, pulled, or wobbly joints. Naturally, I had to get him online, so when I was ready to cringe when I pulled the package from the shipping box. Needless to say, I was pleasntly surprised with what I got! I absolutely adore this costume. It’s like a blend of Edwardian gentlemen meets steampunk high plains drifter and the sculpt and paint used to bring it to life are both implemented beautifully. There’s all sorts of detail in the vest, including the unbuttoned bottom button and the chain to his fob watch running off to the side and disappearing under the coat. The coat is the usual vest faked out with sculpted arm sleeves and it works brilliantly here. The boots include individually sculpted laces and the open shirt collar with cravat looks great. The paint used to make the worn leather finish on the boots loos particularly nice.

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The portrait is fine, but under close scrutiny it looks rather soft. It’s a decent likeness and certainly sets itself apart from the McGann portraits Character Options has delivered in the past.

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With fewer figures being produced each year, you’d think that CO would have cut back on the articulation, but this Doctor is probably the best articulated figure this line has ever seen. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs feature a t-crotch in the hips with added lateral hinges. The knees are hinged and there are swivels in both the thighs and the tops of the boots. There’s a swivel at the waist and again at the neck.

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The Doctor comes with three accessories. First, you get the bandoleer strap that he took from Cass, the woman he failed to save. It’s a very key accessory, as the woman died refusing to trust The Doctor because of his connection to the Time Lords. Her death was in effect the last straw that led to him finally agreeing to take up arms and fight to end it. The strap is removable and very similar to the one seen sculpted under the jacket of The War Doctor.

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Next up you get the Sonic Screwdriver, which is a wonderful little piece because it matches the design of the ones carried by the classic Doctors.

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Finally, you get the chalice that was given to The Doctor by the Sisterhood of Karn, containing the Elyxyr of Life, which allowed him to undergo a customized regeneration. It also figured in that wonderful little sequence where he canonizes his Audio Adventure companions before drinking: “Charley, C’rizz, Lucie, Tamsin, Molly, friends, companions I’ve known, I salute you. And Cass, I apologise…. Physician, heal thyself.” Freaking brilliant.

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At this point every 5-inch scale Doctor Who figure I can add to my shelf is a rare treat. This one, especially so because a) It’s a version of The Doctor that I badly wanted and b) the craftsmanship on display here is exceptional. He’s definitely going to replace my current 8th Doctor on my Shelf of Doctors. Seeing that CO is still capable of producing a figure this nice makes me just want more. Fortunately, I do happen to have another new one to check out next week: It’s Missy! Well, she couldn’t go around calling herself The Master, could she?

Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor by Character Options

It seems that Character Options can’t quite pull the plug on their 5-inch Scale Doctor Who line. It’s all but been declared dead and yet a handful of figures still drip out each year, keeping the line on life support. And thank Rassilon for that, because otherwise I would have a giant twelve-shaped hole in my Doctors line up. It took all of Series 8 to get here, but today I’m checking out Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor.

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We’ve got some entirely new packaging here that shows CO taking a page from some of the 6-inch Scale figure lines out there. The window box reminds me a lot of the Star Wars Black and Funko Legacy style. The deco is brand new too and I really love it. You get the 70-ish style logo on the front and some very nice coloring, along with some of the clockwork gears behind the tray in keeping with the Series 8/9 introduction. The window shows off the figure brilliantly, although there’s a lot of extra room in there, and the side panel is designed to identify the figure. The fact that CO has re-designed the package makes me hope that they may be planning to churn out more than a few new figures in this scale, but that may just be false hopes on my part.

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Out of the box, The Doctor looks pretty sharp, although this isn’t exactly one of the more exciting outfits the Time Lord has worn. I would have preferred one of his more ruffly, Jon Pertwee-esque looks, but at least he’s not wearing that hoodie. No, the outfit here is a simple open jacket, trousers, and white collared shirt. Probably the biggest stand out thing about the outfit is the nice black gloss sheen on his shoes and grey border around the soles. It’s also a nice touch that they bothered to sculpt and paint Capaldi’s ring. The paint quality on CO’s recent releases hasn’t been the best and that’s exhibited here by some flubbed paint on the white shirt as well as a stroke of gray paint. There are also a few scratches to the skin tone on his face. Nothing terrible, but we’ve seen better.

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The likeness here is fair, but I don’t like it as much as the one included with The Time of the Doctor set. That could just be personal preference, though. I just thought that other head had more personality. He also looks rather sleepy. Capaldi has some super intense peepers and I don’t think those are properly reflected here. Again, not terrible, but CO has always been pretty good with the portraits and we’ve seen better likenesses on past Doctors.

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Articulation is on par with other recent releases in this line. The shoulders have rotating hinges, while the arms have hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have a T-crotch at the hips, which does allow for lateral movement. The knees are hinged, and there are swivels in the thighs and ankles. I like the design of the shoulders and hips on these figures. You can’t really tell they have the lateral movement until you have the figure in hand.

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The Doctor comes with one accessory and as you probably guessed it is indeed his Sonic Screwdriver. It’s the same design as the 11th Doctor’s and possibly a repacked accessory, although it seems a bit bigger than the Sonics I’ve had with some of Eleven’s figures. At least he didn’t come with the Sonic Sunglasses. Ugh. I’m all for the Sonic Screwdriver taking a hiatus, especially since NuWho has turned it into a tricorder, rather than just a little piece of kit that can open locks and interfere with electronic devices, but Sonic Wayfarers are a step down. Besides, the 5th and 6th Doctors did just fine without their Screwdriver.

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Just looking at this figure, anyone would think I was crazy to be as excited to own it as I am, but I’ve made no bones about my love for Capaldi and not having his Doctor on my shelf in this scale would have been devastating. I’ve enjoyed Series 8 and been enjoying Series 9, but most of that is on Capaldi’s performance because I don’t think the writing has been living up to past Series. I love him as an actor, I love his passion for the show, and I love his take on the rebel Time Lord. And yeah, I love Character Options for struggling to keep this line going, especially since they revealed figures of Missy and a new Eighth Doctor, both due out before the end of the year.

Doctor Who: K9 Mark II Quarter-Scale RC figure by Character Options

I don’t like to throw around the term “Grail Piece” all that often, especially with something that was first released as early as seven or eight years ago, but today’s feature brings me mighty close to it. I’ve reviewed at least a few K9 figures on FFZ before, but they were mere trifles compared to this one. Originally released in 2007, I didn’t even know this toy existed until several years later when I was viewing a picture gallery of someone’s Doctor Who toy collection and saw the robotic dog standing majestically on a display shelf towering over the regular figures. I quickly inquired as to what it was and I was told it was Character Options’ Quarter-Scale version of the metal mutt based on his NuWho appearance in “School Reunion.” WHA-WHA-WHAAAAAT??? I’m pretty sure that was my reaction. I instantly became obsessed with tracking one down, but I quickly learned that there were few available on the secondary market and the ones that I did find were prohibitively expensive and would also require shipping from Great Britain. For a while I let the dream die, but in 2014 CO tweaked the toy and re-released it as a proper Classic Who version. and in doing so, made me very happy dude.

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And there he is in his gloriously large window box. The package features the current style deco that CO has been using for the Classic Who releases. I honestly still can’t believe I’m the proud owner of this toy! To understand my pure joy, first you must understand my childhood adoration of The Fourth Doctor’s best friend, K9. The precocious dog first appeared in the episode “The Invisible Enemy” in 1977, the very same year that Star Wars was released. Of course, I probably didn’t first see the episode until four or five years later, sometime around the age of 12 or 13, but I do remember that K9 almost instantly replaced R2-D2 as my number one childhood robot crush. Ever since then I dreamed of owning a really good K9 toy. Fast forward almost 30 years later and I’ve got a few decent K9’s on my shelf, including a couple of the 5-inch Scale versions from CO and an Eighth-Scale figure from Biff Bang Pow! They’re perfectly fine figures, but I was yearning for something that would bring me closer to the neigh impossible dream of owning an actual full-sized electronic K9, and while he’s not full-sized, this bad boy certainly scratches that itch!

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Sorry, I got a little side tracked there! Getting back to the box, it’s pretty standard stuff for this toy line only a lot bigger than what we’re used to seeing. K9 is secured inside with his access panel off and a “Try Me” button that lets you sample just a few of his voice clips. I will take this opportunity to squeee at the fact that John Leeson’s name actually appears on a toy box. SQUEEE! There, I did it. Leeson, of course, was the original voice talent behind K9, and although he was briefly replaced by the late David Brierly, Leeson eventually came back to the role and even reprises it several times for K9’s apperances in NuWho as well as K9’s own (terrible) Australian spin-off series. Leeson’s K9 voice is as iconic to me as anything in all of sci-fi-dom so it’s just nice to see him get credit.

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Just look at the size of this box! I snapped a picture of it beside the 5-inch Scale K9 figure for comparison. I’ll also note here that getting K9 out of his box was a royal pain in the ass. He was screwed into four plastic retaining straps from the bottom and one of the screws was quick to strip. It probably took me a full 20 minutes to finally free him, but once I did everything was most satisfactory! Speaking of screws, it’s worth noting that while K9 includes the AA batteries to make his “Try Me” mode work, he does require a 9-volt for the remote control unit, so you’ll need to keep that screwdriver handy. Also worth noting, this US release features an FDC sticker on one of the compartments. It came off fairly easy, but I still need to clean some of the sticker gunk off of him. But before we get to the electronic features, let’s look at the toy itself.

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With a few exceptions, the attention to detail and screen accuracy of K9 is quite well done. Some particular points of note include his antenna tail, the black bumpers around his base, the multicolored collar and accompanying dog tag, and the pull handle under his neck. He has his keypad positioned appropriately on his back, his name is on his right side panel, complete with sculpted faux screws and he has his computer monitor on his left side. The proportions here look great and while the coloring may be a little darker than what I’m used to seeing on screen, it could just be from the studio lights. On the downside, the left side of K9 exhibits gray circular plugs to cover the screws. It’s a little unsightly and obviously not screen accurate, but then I tell myself if Hasbro had done a toy like this, they probably would have just left the screws exposed, so I’m willing to live with it.

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K9’s head features a few other minor points of contention when it comes to accuracy. The antenna dishes used for the ears are solid plates, where they should be mesh, but I can certainly understand why that change had to be made. Secondly, K9’s blaster is positioned slightly lower than it should be. I believe the show prop had the blaster coming directly out of his nose. I’m guessing the change was made to make the mechanics easier to work with. Lastly, there’s no “mouth” slot for K9’s tape printer. It may sound like I’m nitpicking a lot, but honestly none of this concerns me or dampens my love for this toy. It’s just fun and worthwhile to point out the differences.

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K9’s removable panel lets you see his inner workings, although it’s really just a sculpted wall of components. It’s also clearly not been changed from the previous NuWho release and varies quite a bit from when we saw inside K9 in the days of Classic Who, which was usually just a mess of circuit boards, wire, and ticker tape. Anyway, taking off the side panel leads us into the electronics. When you first get him out of the package, you have to turn him from “Try Me” mode to the On position and doing so causes K9 to light up and go through his boot up routine. In addition to the lights inside the access hatch, the keypad on his back lights up and the red panel on his face lights up too. I’m going to break tradition, bust out my shitty phone camera, and get all video up in your faces…

Aw, yeah. That’s some good Leeson! The quality of the voice is absolutely fantastic. Once you’ve played around with the “Try Me” function and booted him up, it’s time to get serious and get out the remote control.

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It seems to be more or less the same remote that came with the 2007 release only it no longer has a huge antenna coming off of it. You get two control sticks to drive K9. Pushing both forward moves him forward, pulling both back moves him back, and combinations make him turn. He controls really well and I’m amused by the fact that the super loud electric motors in the toy sound about as obnoxious as the prop did in the show. The buttons activate different voice clips on K9 and some of them will say different things when pressed multiple times. I’ll bust out a video clip again as I run through his voice clips, but I don’t have enough surface on my studio desk to really drive him anywhere.

I like how the ears move when he says scanning now and I should point out that they also move whenever he’s in motion. It’s a shame they couldn’t get his eye to extend, but I guess that would have required a lot more engineering. You also have to be careful, because if you activate each button going up or down the controller you will unlock a secret little sequence where K9 goes absolutely berserk, rolls all over the place and babbles about detecting Time Lords and recognizing you as his Master. It’s a cool little easter egg.

Last, but not least, you have the blaster…

Like I mentioned before, the blaster is positioned lower than it should be, but I’m impressed at how far out it deploys and the sounds of it extending, firing and retracting are all spot on from the Classic show. Oddly enough, K9 will not move when his blaster is extended.

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Well, I’ve prattled on about my new robot pup long enough and all that’s left to say is he was expensive, but not unreasonably so. At $100, he’s a bit more than what I paid for either my 12-inch RC Dalek or Davros, but he does a bit more than those toys do. Is a hundred bucks a reasonable price for what you get here? Hell if I know. You see, even though now I have a huge display case overflowing with Doctor Who toys, I still remember that feeling as a kid when there was nothing at all. Without the Internet I didn’t even know those shitty Dapol figures existed. The best thing I had as a kid was an unpainted pewter K9 miniature intended for use with the Roll Playing Game and I thought that little piece of junk was pure gold. And so I still kind of have that mentality which could totally spawn conversations like this…

“How much would you pay for a Quarter-Scale Electronic K9 figure that’s remote controlled and talks.

Me: “A BILLION DOLLARS!!”

“It’s only $100”

Me: “SOLD!!!”

Yeah. So, when a measily three of them dropped onto the website over at Who North America, I jumped on it faster than you can say “Jelly Baby.” Considering how much the original 2007 toy went for on the secondary market, I’ve got no complaints. Indeed, I’m actually glad I never broke down and spent it, because I’m much happier with this Classic Who version. He’s not a perfect replica, but then he’s not meant to be. He is, however, a really solid and impressive toy, and I have a feeling that K9 will be residing on my desk for a long while before I finally find a place for him on my Doctor Who display shelves. That is, when he’s not chasing around the cat!

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor and Amy Pond (3 3/4” Scale) by Character Options

There’s just one more dose of Doctor Who coming on Christmas before we enter the long, dark wait for Series 9, so I thought I’d help tide myself over by opening some Doctor Who figures today. Sadly, these are not the proper 5-inch scale but the new(er)(ish) 3 3/4” line, which have generally been not so good, unless you happen to be a Dalek or a Cyberman, or maybe a Zygon. These have been turning up at Walgreens, of all places, here in the States, but so far I’ve only found a single, lonely Dalek at any Walgreens so the two I’m looking at today came from an online retailer. I really have no idea what to expect from this line anymore, so let’s take a look at The Doctor and Amy Pond…

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Wave 3 introduced this new packaging, which we’ve seen before and I still rather like it quite a bit. It’s not as conventional as the old style, but it’s quirky and colorful and I think it has a funky design that matches the show’s kitchy nature. It’s not collector friendly, not even if you have a sonic screwdriver, so you just gotta tear them open.

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Kicking things off with The Doctor, this is how he appeared in Series 6 when he started donning his long green coat. Honestly, when I ordered the figure, I thought I was getting the Series 5 tweed jacket version, but I must have messed up when ordering. As a result, it’s sadly just a repaint of the Series 7 version I already have. I can’t say as I’m enough of a fan of these figures to be a completist and so I really didn’t need a second figure with a recolored jacket in my collection, and yet here he is. I’ll have to try again to get the one I was looking for.

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Everything about this figure screams mediocre, and I think that’s even with me being a bit generous. The sculpt is passable considering the scale. These are considered 3 3/4” but they actually feel a little under-sized for that scale. I can recognize who it’s supposed to be and I think the portrait here is slightly better than my Series 7 version, but that probably has more to do with the paint than anything else. There are a few additional paint apps on the jacket to try to make it look different from the previous release, but it really just looks cheap. Everything about this guy feels like a quick and dirty re-paint cash-grab.

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The articulation is pretty middle of the road. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the wrists. The legs feature a T-crotch at the hips, hinged knees, and swivels at the boots. There’s no articulation in the torso, but the head can rotate. The Doctor does come with his tiny sonic screwdriver and a red “DWARTIS” style figure stand. I liked these stands when they were blue, but then they went to grey, and now they’re red. The coloring makes no sense and even the use of the now defunct logo as a stand feels like a mismatch.

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Moving on to Amy, and things only get worse. The sculpt is fairly solid for a figure of this size. I’m not saying it’s great, but like The Doctor, it’s a passable likeness and certainly far better than the Clara Oswin sculpt that they’ve churned out at least two times in this scale. Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from there. My Amy’s left arm is dangling from the swivel cut in the bicep and the hinge in the elbow below it is painted shut. I’m not even going to bother trying to free it because I’ll probably wind up pulling the arm off. As a result the only useful articulation here are the rotating hinges in the shoulders, the hinges in the knees, and the rotating head. There appear to be swivels at the boots, but they aren’t budging. Amy comes with the same red figure stand as The Doctor. I have plenty of good Amy Pond figures in the 5-inch scale, which begs the question, “Why did I even buy this?”

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I’ve been teetering on this line for a while now, but I think this pair may have been the final straw. I want to support Doctor Who toys, I really do, but it’s really hard when they suck this badly. After giving us so many years of great 5-inch scale figures, Character Options really needs to rethink this strategy with the smaller figures, either by making them a whole lot better or just giving up and letting someone else take a crack at the license. This Doctor figure is at best a mediocre repaint and the Amy figure is just plain garbage with really poor QC. If it weren’t for the fact that these only set me back ten bucks a piece, I probably would have been a log angrier. Anyway, I have one more of these figures to open, The 10th Doctor, and if that one doesn’t really wow me then I’m probably going to call quits on this line. Stay tuned for that one some time next week.

Doctor Who: Time of the Doctor Collectors Set by Character Options

Series 8 of Doctor Who is over and that makes me a very sad Whovian. However, it’s November 12th and what better day could there be to look at an action figure set that includes both the 11th and the 12th Doctors? Eh? 11-12? Get it? Anyway… besides commemorating the episode “Time of the Doctor” in which Matt Smith handed the torch off to Peter Capaldi, this set also proves that Character Options can’t seem to let the 5-inch scale action figure line completely die out. And that’s alright by me! There have been lots of “Regeneration” figures in this line, depicting a new Doctor in the previous Doctor’s costume, but this is the first time CO has put out a figure that can be changed. And no, I don’t count The War Doctor with Paul McGann’s head because that one didn’t even make sense. Ah, but the fun doesn’t end there, because with a third head offers a figure of the really old 11th Doctor who aged while guarding Tranzelore. Let’s take a look at this curious set!

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A unique set deserves unique packaging and CO certainly delivered here. The figure comes in a window box with two front flaps illustrated to look like the TARDIS. They are hinged at each end and held down by velcro. I was expecting just a regular blister pack or a tube or something, but certainly not this. The presentation is great and the whole thing is totally collector friendly so no matter which way you choose to display the figure, you’ll have a place to keep the extra parts.

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So, speaking of extra parts, here they all are and here’s how it works. The heads are simple swaps, but the real kicker is the ability to change the front of the torso to reflect the bowtie-wearng 11th Doctor (bowties are cool!) or the no-bowtie, newly regenerated 12th Doctor (with eyebrows like these, who needs a bowtie!). These fake shirts are made of soft plastic and tab into the figure’s torso and tuck under the jacket for a pretty cool switcheroo! It’s very similar to the way they did the removable shirt on the Professor Bracewell figure. The figure is packaged as straight up 11th Doctor, so let’s start there…

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We’ve certainly had no shortage of 11th Doctor figures, but I think many fans will agree that this is a most welcome version. I’d also say that even with the potential complications of the chest-swap gimmick, it’s one of the better executed ones and certainly far superior to the one that came in the last set with Clara. The sculpting and paint on the vest piece is really good, especially the now iconic bowtie and the chain for the fob watch. The same goes for the shoes. In every way it feels like this is CO trying to make up for the lackadaisical effort that we got for the 11th Doctor figure from “The Snowmen.” And it is most appreciated!

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Articulation is right on par with what we’re used to seeing in the recent 5-inch scale releases. That means the head rotates, the arms feature swivels in the biceps and wrists as well as hinges in the elbows. The legs have universal movement in the hips, swivels in the thighs, and hinged knees. But, wait… what’s this? Rotating hinges in the shoulders! Happy day!

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The second version is the aged 11th Doctor after he has spent centuries protecting the town of Christmas. This look is achieved with a mere head swap and while I can’t say I was really clamoring for this figure, it’s certainly nice to have options, especially when it consists of merely including an extra head in the package and you can take it or leave it. CO did an exceptionally nice job on this sculpt, even making the glasses work as a separate piece attached to the head. And aged 11th Doctor even has his cane so he can twirl it at the Daleks in defiance while shouting, “this one’s going to be a whopper!”

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Lastly, you get the swap out chest and head to make the newly regenerated 12th Doctor. The vest is identical save for the omission of the bow tie, which the 11th Doctor dramatically pulled off before regenerating. The Capaldi likeness isn’t bad, although with one eye arched upward, the expression is pretty specific. I thin they were going for that crazed look he gave Clara when asking her if she knew how to fly the TARDIS.

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Ah, but we’re not done yet. The set also includes the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver and… HANDLES! Yes, we finally have a 5-inch Handles accessory. It’s a beautifully detailed sculpt of the poor wrecked Cyberman head. Is this the closest we’re ever going to get to a 5-inch Series 7 and 8 upgraded Cybermen? Possibly.

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After being underwhelmed with the last 11th Doctor and Clara set, I have to say that I am both pleasantly surprised and impressed by the way this one came out. I feared that CO might have been phoning in the 5-inch scale releases now, but the quality and execution of this set certainly suggests that the last one was an exception rather than the new rule. I’ll refer back to the Capaldi portrait as my only real nit-pick and even that’s just a matter of personal taste and I’d still gladly by a 12th Doctor figure in his regular outfit even if it simply recycles the same portrait.

Doctor Who: Daleks (3 3/4” Scale) From “Asylum of the Daleks” and “Day of the Daleks” by Character Options

If you haven’t heard by now, Wave 3 of Character Options’ 3 3/4” Doctor Who figures have officially become a Walgreens Exclusive, which is pretty cool because prior to that deal the figures were not available at any brick-and-mortar stores in the US. On the other hand, I’ve had no troubles getting the figures from my preferred Who online retailer and so I was a little worried how this deal would effect the US distributor (Underground Toys) and their ability to supply to online US retailers. Turns out it didn’t complicate things at all and I was still able to pick up most of the wave online. Today I’m checking out two more Daleks in this series, one from Classic Who and one from Series 7 of NuWho.

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Here they are both in the packages, which have been redesigned for this wave. While the re-branding has received a fair amount of criticism from collectors, I kind of like it. It’s bright, attractive and as quirky and kitchy as the show it’s based on. The Asylum Dalek is pictured on the back as part of the Wave, but the Classic Gold Dalek is something of a mystery because the Classic Dalek in this wave is expressly listed as the “Genesis of the Daleks” even on the back of the figure’s own card. Interesting! Maybe the Classic Dalek is a rotating slot of variants? I just don’t know, but I’m not going to complain about getting an extra variety of evil 70’s pepperpot. Both of these little fellas are repaints of figures that I’ve already reviewed HERE and HERE, so there isn’t a whole lot new to talk about, so I’ll pad things out by discussing the episodes a little bit. Let’s start with the Asylum Dalek…

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“Asylum of the Daleks” aired in 2012, (holy hell, has it been that long already?) and is one of my favorite NuWho Dalek stories. It’s creepy, it gives us some truly scary Daleks, and Matt Smith looked like he was having a blast doing it. It also gave us Jenna Coleman in that red dress and had a mind-blowing twist at the end that I sure as hell didn’t see coming. But perhaps best of all, it gave us all a sense of relief that the Skittles Daleks revealed in “Victory of the Daleks” weren’t going to replace the regular RTD Daleks after all. The Dalek zombies were a cool new idea that seemed like a great amalgamation of the 1960’s Robo Men and the 1980’s Duplicates that the Daleks have used in the past. Sure, some things about the story didn’t make a lot of sense (How is Skaro still around? A Dalek Parliament? Really??) but it was still a cracking good episode as far as I’m concened.

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What we have here is a regular NuWho Dalek repainted to look all warn and neglected. CO used some kind of heavy, greasy paint for the weathering and man, it stinks! I mean that literally. When I opened the package, it smelled like this guy really has been rotting in an asylum for a couple of hundred years! Apart from the initial odor shock, the weathering looks amazing and it even supplies some panel lining, which brings out the sculpt in a way the regular Dalek figures never quite did. You also get a symbol painted on the side of his dome. I don’t remember ever seeing these in the episode, but it looks good and it’s another nice little touch to separate him from the regular Daleks. It would have been nice to see a little more distress here, like maybe a missing ear light or a few missing sensor globes, but, for what is a quick repaint, this one works pretty well. You get the same old articulation, which includes a dome that can turn 360-degrees, an eyestalk that hinges up and down, and two arms that are on ball joints. The undercarriage has three wheels, two fixed and one that rotates 360-degrees.

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“Day of the Daleks” first aired in 1972, which coincidentally is the year I was born! It features a great time travel story about guerrillas from the future coming back in time to assassinate a politician and prevent their rather unpleasant future from ever happening. It’s a Third Doctor story, starring the late great Jon Pertwee, and prominatly features both UNIT and the Daleks, hell it even featured the rarely seen Ogrons… what more could you want? “Day of the Daleks” marked the first return of the Daleks to the show in about five years. Rumor has it that no one on staff knew exactly how to recreate the voices and so the Dalek voices heard in the episode are pretty annoying, out of character, and off-putting.

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The figure is a straight repaint of the “Genesis of the Daleks” release that I looked at just a couple of weeks ago. The body of this one is all metallic gold with black sensor globes and black trim around the skirt. It makes for a pretty attractive looking Dalek, but the paintwork on this one isn’t as good as it could have been. There’s some chipping around the neck rings and a little scuffing on the dome itself. I’ve thought about possibly trying to touch it up with a metallic Sharpie. It also looks like a couple of his rear sensor globes are leaking. But in fairness the Dalek props that were used in the show were often beat to hell, so I kind of think the scuffs add character to the figure. The articulation on this Classic Dalek mold is identical to the NuWho Dalek.

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Both the NuWho and Classic Dalek are easily the best molds that this 3 3/4” line has produced so it’s no surprise that these repaints would be great figures. These fellas set me back about ten bucks each, which feels about right to me considering that they are technically imports. I’m not sure there’s a lot more that CO could do with the NuWho Dalek in terms of repaints, but I’ll be interested to see the Classic figure reappear. I wouldn’t mind getting him in the original grey and powder blue coloring with the mesh slats replaced. In the meantime, I’ve still got two more figures in this wave to check out, so next time we’ll check out the 3 3/4” versions of Amy Pond and The 10th Doctor.

Doctor Who: “Genesis of the Daleks” Dalek (3 3/4” Scale) by Character Options

When it comes to toy hunting, hitting the pavement has long been a thing of the past for me. I will still sometimes go out of my way to buy groceries at Walmart or Target just to take a pass through the toy aisles, but these days, 99% of my toys come from online retailers. That’s not my choice, but that’s the way things have evolved due to the horrible distribution among the big chains. That having been said, I have been doing some little toy runs these last few weeks and to the strangest place one could imagine… Walgreens! For whatever reason the drugstore chain has decided to edge their way into the action figure market by offering a number of exclusive figures in lines that range from Marvel Legends to Game of Thrones to Star Wars. And they even have exclusive US distribution rights for an entire line of figures based on Doctor Who. Yup, Doctor Who action figures in an American drugstore. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around that one!

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In case you’re confused, what we’re dealing with here is just a rebranded continuation of CO’s 3 3/4” line. Wave 3, to be precise. These appear to be identical to the wave that is being widely distributed in the UK, only with an Underground Toys label slapped on the back of the card. I didn’t have a problem with the old packaging, but I kind of like this style too. It’s bright and colorful and it has an almost kitchy 70’s vibe to it that suits the show I love so much. This wave consists of The 10th Doctor, The 12th Doctor, Amy Pond, an Asylum Dalek, and this Classic Dalek taken from the 1975 story “Genesis of the Daleks.” Why toss in the one Classic figure? I have no idea. Maybe it’s a tie in to the older Daleks that had cameos in “Asylum of the Daleks” or maybe CO just wanted to capitalize on the crazy popularity of Daleks by including them in this new scale. Let’s bust this little hate-monger out of his package and check him out.

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Yup, that’s a Classic Dalek alright! And one of my all time favorites, too! The gun-metal-blue and black Daleks that amok during The 4th Doctor’s reign always looked so cold, utilitarian, and extra sinister to me. While a good portion of this 3 3/4” line has been mediocre at best, CO did manage to get the Daleks in this scale right from the start. They’ve done three variations of the NuWho Daleks and every one of them has felt like a shrunk down version of the excellent 5-inch scale figures. Well, the same can mostly be said of this little guy here. The sculpt is completely new and while it lacks a lot of the fancy panel lining and such from the current Dalek design, this little figure is faithful to their appearance back in 1975.

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The biggest thing that sets this guy apart from his 5-inch cousin is the ear lights. Instead of using clear plastic like they did for the 5-inch figure (and even the 3 3/4” NuWho Daleks) the ear lights here appear to be part of the dome and just painted over white. The ears are also the only part on this Dalek where the paint isn’t quite all it could be. It’s not terrible, but there is a bit of slop and rubbing. The rest of the paintwork is quite good and they even got some silver spray on the mesh in between his shoulder slats. Cool!

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If you own any of Character Options’ Daleks than you should know what to expect when it comes to articulation. This little guy rolls along on three wheels under his skirt. The back two wheels are fixed and the front one spins 360-degrees. Both the gun arm and the plunger arm are each mounted on ball joints, the eye stalk can raise and lower, and the dome will rotate 360-degrees. It’s basically all the articulation you can hope for in a Dalek.

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And that opens up the debate on whether or not all Classic Who is now fair game for this smaller scale. It’s true that this line doesn’t really impress me, but the idea of having Doctor Who figures that are more compatible with many of my other playsets and figures makes me a little more forgiving than I should be. It also leads me to be perfectly honest and admit that if CO were to start releasing the Classic Doctors in this scale I’d be all in, but that probably goes without saying. Right now, it could just be that CO recognizes the repaint potential of getting a Classic Dalek mold into the mix. Either way, I’m very happy to have this little guy in my collection.

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I found this Dalek just lying on the shelf of a Walgreens that I was visiting while on the hunt for Marvel Legend’s Agent Venom. There didn’t appear to be a peg for the Doctor Who figures and there weren’t any other to be found. Nonetheless, I scooped him up. The price was $9.99, which is about what these figures have been selling for through my regular Doctor Who retailer. Right now he’s just a lone curiosity among my Who figures in this scale, but I’ll be on the hunt for the rest so if luck is with me, it’s very possible a few more of these Daleks will follow me home.

Doctor Who: “The Impossible Set” by Character Options

For a line that’s been canceled, Character Options’ 5-inch Doctor Who figures keep limping along thanks to a handful of special releases like the one I’m looking at today. CO seems to be empathizing enough with the fans to be releasing some of the staple characters for our 5-inch scale collections and in this case, they are delivering on filling that one big hole… Oswin “Clara” Oswald. Sure there are still a lot of 11th Doctor Era figures we’d like to see in this scale (Series 7 Cyberman, please!), but since the line went the 3 3/4” route during the 11th Doctor’s tenure, it seemed like Clara was that one character missing from an otherwise clean break. And that brings me to this “Impossible Set” which gives us The 11th Doctor from the story, “The Snowmen” and Oswin Oswald from Jenna Coleman’s first appearance in “Asylum of the Daleks”

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Character Options put together a really nice bit of presentation for this set, making me think it might have been originally intended as a special SDCC release. It’s a double sided window box with a hexagonal cross-section. You get The Doctor on one side and Oswin on the other. Each side of the package is decked out to represent each respective story. The Doctor’s side has some Victorian shutters and one of the Great Intelligence’s evil snowmen. Toss in some nice shiny foil and damn it looks great!

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The flipside, however, is even better as it’s made up to look like the head of a Dalek with the eyestalk forming the portal to view the figure through. The presentation here is obviously a spoiler as it was eventually revealed that Oswin had been converted into a Dalek a long time ago and her appearance throughout the episode was just a projection of herself within her own insane Dalek mind. So cool! Anyway, the box here is very creative and it may just get me to save the packaging on this set because it is so unique and striking. Let’s start things off by looking at The Doctor!

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And here we have the 11th Doctor in all his sulky, brooding Victorian garb. It’s a fun figure, particularly since this was a one off look for him. There is some nice detail work on his vest, particularly the pocket watch and chain, which looks fabulous. Unfortunately, the rest of the figure doesn’t showcase some of CO’s best work. The coat and top hat both look a bit off to me. It’s like they’re made out of putty. I’d say it’s the soft plastic used for the coat, but the finish looks the same on the sleeves. I’m not sure what material that coat was supposed to be made out of, but it doesn’t look natural on the figure.

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If the coat looks like it’s made out of putty, the hat looks like it’s made out of chocolate. I’m also a bit bummed that it’s not removable, but I can’t say as I didn’t expect it to be one piece with the head. The portrait here is passable, but it’s certainly not up to par with the previous Matt Smith likenesses in this scale. The paint on the face is a lot simpler and more cartoony looking too.

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One nice surprise is that The Doctor actually features rotating hinges in the shoulders, a feature that has been hit and miss in the line. On the downside, most of the joints on my figure were stuck and while I didn’t have to bust out the blow dryer, I did have to do quite a bit of finessing. And even after the fact, some of the joints feel rather loose and wobbly, particularly those bicep swivels.

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The Doctor comes with his trusty Sonic Screwdriver, which may sound like a given, but there have been more than a few sets where CO declined to toss one in.

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And that brings us to what is for most the real star of this set… Oswin Oswald, or if you prefer, “Souffle Girl.” Now, I’m sure there are collectors out there who would have preferred a proper Clara. This version never actually met The Doctor until she was turned into a Dalek and it does seem odd that CO didn’t go all out for “The Snowmen” but I’m glad they went this route if for no reason other than that red dress kicked all sorts of ass. Plus, now that they got the portrait sculpted, I highly doubt this is the last we’ll see of Clara in the 5-inch scale. So, let’s go ahead and start with that portrait.

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It’s garnered some criticisms early on, and I’ll concede it isn’t up there with some of CO’s finest work. It is, however, one of those sculpts that looks passable until you get up too close and then it starts to fall apart. The neck seems way too chunky and the sculpted hair defeats the neck articulation. Also, like The Doctor, the paintwork on the face here is rather simple and cartoony. Let’s be fair, Jenna Coleman is a shockingly attractive young lady and I think getting it perfect in this scale was never going to happen. We’ve certainly seen better, but at this point I’ll take what I can get.

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The dress is soft plastic and layered onto the figure, which allows for a surpisingly functional waist swivel. I also like the work they did on her tool belt. All the little bits and bobs are nicely sculpted and painted and the belt itself just hangs loose around her waist. The paint and detail on Oswin’s sneakers are also well done.

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Like The Doctor, Clara features the coveted rotating hinges in the shoulders. She is missing swivels in the waist, but the rest of the articulation is what we’re used to seeing in this line. She even has a surprisingly good amount of hip articulation, thanks to the rubbery material used for the dress.

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Of course, they don’t call her “Souffle Girl” for nothing and Oswin does indeed come with her very own burnt souffle. Where does she get the eggs??? If this isn’t the first time an action figure came with a souffle as an accessory, I’d like to know what that first figure was. Maybe The Swedish Chef from Palisade’s Muppets line?

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I nabbed The Impossible Set for $35 from my regular Who Merchandise Provider and tossed in some DVDs I was missing to help offset the shipping. It’s a damn good price for two niche figures, particularly considering that any 5-inch figures from this point on are special releases and I would have expected an accompanying price hike. I should be more disappointed that the overall production quality on these figures isn’t quite up to par, but the truth is that I’m just so happy that they were released I’m willing to be more forgiving. As a collector, that’s not a great position to be in, but it’s the truth nonetheless. I’m also happy to say that Character Options has another 5-inch scale set due to turn up soon. It’s based off the episode “Time of the Doctor” and it will give us our first look at the 12th Doctor in this scale!

 

Doctor Who: The 7th Doctor and Renegade Dalek by Character Options

It’s long past time I revisit those Doctor and Dalek 2-packs that Character Options put out earlier this year. This time we’ll check out one inspired by the story “Remembrance of the Daleks.” A long time ago, CO put out another 2-pack from the same story with a different version of The 7th Doctor and an Imperial Dalek. They gambled that we crazy collectors would pony up for a similar set and in my case they were correct!

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There’s nothing new about the packaging so I won’t dwell on it very long. The figures come in a compact window box with a cool retro-style deco and a printed insert that shows a scene from the story and can double as a display backdrop. There’s no synopsis of the story, but we do get a little blurb about The 7th Doctor and the Daleks. Let’s start with The Doctor.

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This release is the third version of The 7Th Doctor that I have in my collection and it is definitely my favorite one. The first version features The Doctor with a smiling portrait and wearing his hat. The second version is a direct repaint of that one depicting him in his darker coat. This version is identical to the first from the neck down. The only difference is the portrait has a more serious expression and is sans hat. The 7th Doctor’s more memorable stories were when he adopted a sinister and plotting personality, so I think this figure suits him best. I also think the likeness to Sylvester McCoy is just a tad better than the alternatives.

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Yes, from the neck down it is the same figure, but it’s worth mentioning what a great job CO did on the sculpt and particularly the paintwork. In addition to his paisley scarf and matching tie, he has his handkerchief hanging out of his pocket, again fully painted. The paintwork on his question mark jumper is absolutely immaculate as is the plaid deco on his trousers. They even bothered to sculpt and paint in the gold chain for his fob watch. On the downside, CO couldn’t be bothered to toss in his umbrella. Since this figure will be the Number Seven that I display in my Doctor lineup, I just borrowed the brolly from one of the other Sevens.

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The Doctor may be a newer release, but he features the older standard style of articulation, and sadly that means no ball joints in the shoulders. Instead you get arms that rotate at the shoulders, have hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have universal movement at the hips, swivels in the thighs and hinges in the knees. The head can rotate.

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Moving on to the Dalek, the story “Remembrance of the Daleks” featured two warring factions of pepperpots. The Imperials were the white and gold and the renegades were the gun metal blues, which is the kind included in this set. My favorite of all the Daleks were the ones from “Genesis of the Daleks” and this guy is pretty close to that deco with a few minor cosmetic differences in the shoulder slats and eye stalks. He may not be the flashiest Dalek out there, but the drab coloring makes him akin to a piece of military machinery and I just think that’s cool.

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I’ve looked at dozens of CO’s Daleks here on FFZ and there’s not a lot new to be said about this one. He has the same three wheels under his apron, the front of which can rotate 360 degrees. The gun and sucker arm are on ball joints, the dome can rotate 360 degrees and the eye stalk can raise and lower. There’s a tiny bit of slop on the silver mesh around the slats, but otherwise the quality of paint on this figure is quite good.

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This set was an instance where I actually bought it more for The Doctor figure than the Dalek. Don’t get me wrong, I can never have enough Daleks, but it was the serious and hatless Doctor that made this set a “must have.” At just under forty bucks, it certainly wasn’t cheap, but I’ve never been frugal when it comes to my plastic addiction and that goes double when dealing with Doctor Who figures.