Doctor Who: “Seeds of Doom” Collectors’ Set by Character Options

We’re just a few weeks away from the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who. Sadly, Character Options hasn’t surprised us with the Classic Console Room Playset that I was secretly hoping for, but that’s Ok because I’m making my own fun by picking up some figures and sets that I passed on the first time around. Which brings us to today’s “Seeds of Doom” set. “Seeds of Doom” is a fantastic story that I don’t watch nearly as much as I should. Seriously, if I go through Tom Baker’s catalog of stories, I tend to pop this one in fairly infrequently, and I couldn’t tell you why because it’s an absolutely cracking adventure. From the beginning scene set at a remote arctic base, reminiscent of Carpenter’s “The Thing,” to a giant plant monster wreaking havoc in the English Countryside, it’s a regular rollercoaster ride of James Bond villains, horrific people-to-plant transformations, and general thuggery. It’s brilliant! When Character Options came out with their two-pack dedicated to this episode, I dismissed it as a mere repaint set and put it pretty far down on my “To Buy” list. Now that I have it, I can see that the assessment was only partially correct. Let’s check it out…

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The set comes in a compact little window box that displays the figures nicely against an illustrated backdrop of the Arctic Base seen in the episode. I love these inserts because you can use them as a little display diorama for the figures. Granted, some are better than others, and his one isn’t all that exciting, but points to CO for carrying on this practice anyway. The box deco follows what we saw in the last couple releases using a “Doctor Who” logo that is somewhat reminiscent of the Jon Pertwee years and some of the diamond motifs usually associated with Tom Baker’s title logo.

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The back of the package shows some stills from the episodes and a little blurb about the story. We also get to see a little of the late, great Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah-Jane Smith. While we got some figures of her from her own show, “The Sarah-Jane Adventures,” I think i’s a shame we never got a figure of her from her days as a companion, especially when CO has done so many sets based on stories hat she starred in. You obviously secured her likeness, CO… What’s the deal? Why no “Pyramids of Mars” Sarah? Why no “Seeds of Doom” Sarah? And most importantly why no Sarah-Jane and Eldrad three-pack with both male and female versions of Eldrad and a little tupperware container with Eldrad’s hand? WHY??? Ok, moving on… let’s start with the Krynoid.

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Hey, that looks familiar! Well it should, because it is a repaint and slight re-sculpt of the Axon figure that was released with The Master over three years ago. Three years??? Holy crap how time flies! Anyway, before you cry foul about the repaint, it’s worth noting that the Krynoid seen in “The Seeds of Doom” was in fact a repainted Axon costume from “The Claws of Axos,” so it’s hard to gripe about CO reusing the mold for the figure when they reused the costume in the show. I seem to recall reading that The Axon figure was originally planned as a Build-A-Figure for a wave that was never released. I believe it because he’s a pretty substantial figure comprising a heck of a lot of plastic.

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I loved this sculpt back then and I love it even more now. There is so much detail baked into this mold that I dare say it looks a lot better than the actual costume, which was more akin to a green bin liner with vines glued to it. While I think the sculpt itself looks more like vegetation than whatever the Axon was supposed to be, the superb paint jobs really set these two figures apart. I’m also particularly fond of the head sculpt on this thing, which is just vaguely humanoid enough to make it creepy. There is supposed to be a human at the core of that shambling mess (people turning into plants freaks me the hell out. It did in Creepshow and Swamp Thing and it does here too). It’s also worth noting that CO also equipped the figure with some new tendrils, so it isn’t the straight repaint that it could have been. That’s class, CO. Plus, for a giant, overstuffed bag of salad, the Krynoid has a fair amount of articulation. The shoulders and hips are ball jointed, and there are swivels in the wrists and ankles. The Krynoid can also swivel his head and again at the waist. Not bad.

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And then there’s The Doctor as portrayed by Tom Baker. One of the reasons I was slow to pick up this set was because I already have almost a half-dozen 4th Doctor figures in my collection (and god help me, I have another in the mail to me as we speak). Yes, I wish I could send this feature back in time to my ten-year old self so he can hear me complain about having too many 4th Doctor figures.  His little head would explode with jealousy and rage. Nonetheless, this figure does feature Baker in one of his more distinctive ensembles, so in the end, I was willing to break down and add him to my collection. Little did I realize that this one would be one of my favorites. That’s an odd notion for me to wrap my head around because for me the iconic 4th Doctor will always be him in his brownish-burgundy coat, not this light grey one. And yet, this figure is so wonderfully executed, it’s impossible not to set it up there among my top Tom Bakers.

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Sure, there’s some parts recycling here, and to be honest, with six of these guys on my shelf now, I have no idea which one came out when or how or with what. I am pretty sure this is the same hatted head that was released as an extra with the first single carded release of Baker as The Doctor way back when. As such, it’s easily popped off, so if you want to make a version of this Doctor without his hat, it’s just a quick head-swap away. The portrait isn’t superb, but it’s Ok and to be honest it’s one that always looks slightly better in person mainly because of the eyes. Baker’s distinctive likeness must be hard to sculpt. CO has had some absolute spot-on likeness in this line, but Baker has never quite been one of them. The scarf is also a repaint of the same scarf that’s been recycled a bunch of times and the legs appear to be the same too. But here’s where we get into new territory.

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The sculpted tie is new to me and the cross-thatch texture on the coat is remarkably striking. It could have been a quick and dirty repaint, but instead it really makes the figure look fresh and stand out among the other versions of this incarnation. And speaking of repaints, nothing on this figure is quick and dirty, well… except maybe the sloppy hat band. The shoes are beautifully painted, as is the plaid on his vest. Even the elbow patches and individual buttons on the coat show some superb work.

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In addition to The Doctor’s ubiquitous sonic screwdriver, this set also comes with some accessories. You get a seed pod, which looks like a brussel sprout, as well as a hatching one with the vine coming out of it. You also get what the set refers to as a cutlass. I know my swords and I’m pretty sure a cutlass has to have a curved blade. Nonetheless, who doesn’t want a sword to go with their figures? I bought one of CO’s terrible Robin Hood figures just to get some of the weapons, and now I have two swords so The Doctor and The Master can dual.

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And that, folks, is “The Seeds of Doom” set. This is a set that we all knew would be coming sooner or later when we first saw The Axon figure, but I’m sure I wasn’t alone in hoping that it would be packaged with a Sarah-Jane and not another 4th Doctor. That having been said, I think this turned out to be one of the best versions of him I have, and as you can see, I have plenty. I was able to nab these figures for $25, and I’m mighty happy about it. Other, less insane Doctor Who fans would be happy to add their sixth Tom Baker figure to the shelf and call it a day, but not me. Next week, we’ll revisit CO’s Classic Doctor Who line with yet another set containing yet another version of The 4th Doctor! Please have your jelly babies ready.

Doctor Who: “Attack of the Cybermen” 2-Pack by Character Options

With the 5-inch line of Doctor Who Classics grinding to a standstill by the end of this year I am going back and hunting down some of the figures that I had previously passed on. So the irony is that while the line is only producing a few new sets in the months ahead, you’ll likely see a lot more DW figures covered here as I scramble to complete my collection before they start disappearing from retailers. Today we’re looking at a two-pack from the 6th Doctor story “Attack of the Cybermen” from 1985. I dig this episode a lot and not only because I love the Cybermen. The story is also a sort of redemption tale for Commander Lytton from “Resurrection of the Daleks.” It also features the TARDIS returning to Totter’s Lane with a temporarily repaired chameleon circuit and, of course, it co-stars Peri’s boobs. All those things conspire for a cracking story that also happens to be full of some pretty dark shit, even for 80’s Doctor Who.

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The figures come in a stylish and sealed blister pack. It’s the same packaging we saw for the “Caves of Androzani” set. The insert is a blue star field and features a Doctor Who logo that evokes the 70’s for me, although I believe it was the same style used for the 1996 TV Movie. Either way, I really love the presentation here, particularly the embossed lettering and diamond shaped bubble.

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The back of the insert has a shot of the lovely doe-eyed Peri and a Rogue Cyberman and features a blurb about the story in general and Peri’s character in particular. Naturally this package is as unfriendly to a collector as you can get, unlike the old window boxes that CO used to use. I think I prefer this style as there’s no temptation for me to fool myself into thinking that I have the space to keep the package. You’ll need a razor blade or scissors to get this thing open and get at the figures. And I’m about to do just that!

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Let’s start off with Peri. This is the third time we’ve seen her released in figure form, so I’m thinking someone over at CO must love Peri as much as I do. I mean you’d have to really love Peri to buy all three releases. Who would do that? If you guessed me, you’d be right and I especially like her here in “AotC.” The Doctor isn’t half insane and trying to kill her anymore and besides some residual bickering, I think they share some nice chemistry in this story.

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If you notice I’m not saying a lot about the figure yet, it’s because we’ve seen it before… more or less. Her outfit is a direct repaint of the Peri from the “Vengeance on Varos” set. What was blue is now painted pink, but the sculpt from the neck down is almost identical, with only the addition of a bracelet on her right wrist to set it apart. From the neck up, this does appear to be a new, or at least tweaked head sculpt. Her bangs are different and she’s wearing a hair band. All in all Pink Peri is still a nice figure, but probably not essential if you already own her. Plus, I’ll go ahead and say that while the likeness here is still plenty good, I think the head sculpt on the “Caves of Androzani” Peri is the best of the bunch. Unfortunately, that figure also shows the least amount of cleavage out of the three, so you’ll want to have at least one of each sculpt.

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Peri sports some pretty good articulation for this line. Her arms rotate at the shoulders, have hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. Her legs have universal movement at the hips, hinges in the knees, and swivels at the thighs. She can turn her head and also swivel at the waist.

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But as much as I dig Peri, she’s not the reason I bought this set. Nope, I bought it for… Creepy Rogue Cyberman! For reasons I cannot currently remember, some of the Cybermen on Telos were waking up Rogue and wandering the halls like zombies. For the most part, they were just regular Cybermen with some cobwebs and green goo on them. There is one scene, however, where The Doctor removes the face plate on one of them to activate its distress beacon. You don’t actually see inside, so this figure is CO’s delightfully imaginative take on what it probably looked like in there.

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Like Peri, the Rogue Cyberman is basically just a repaint with a tweaked head and the additional touch of completely re-sculpted boots. In this case, it’s a tweak of the “Earthshock” Cybie, which is my all-time favorite Cyberman design. The repaint consists of general weathering, which looks really nice, and some spattered green goo, which I always presumed were the spoiled organic contents starting to leak out. Ewww. The green is rather understated and all in all, this is very effective repaint if you want to display a Cyberman who has gone slightly off.

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The new bits include the new head with removable face plate. The ‘borgified skull inside is fantastic with lots of gruesome detail, although the faceplate isn’t all that great a fit. I can get it more or less on, but it’s prone to falling off fairly easily. You also get a brand new gun, which is similar in design to the one used in Earthshock but tweaked to make it more accurate to the guns used in this episode. CO could have just as easily tossed in the old gun and boots, so the fact that they bothered to do re-sculpts on these points to make the figure as show accurate as possible is just plain class.

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This set was originally released at $40! Oh yeah, now I remember why I passed on it. As thrilled as I am to be more versions of Peri and Cybermen, this is still a lot to pay for tweaked repaints, particularly at a time when CO was releasing a lot more figures and taxing my budget. I was always all for supporting this line as much as possible, but even I had my limits. Fortunately, I was able to pick up this set last week for the far more appealing sum of $25. I will, however, hand it to CO. On the surface this could have been a far more quick-and-dirty release than it actually was. They could have easily gotten away with just repainting both figures and leaving it at that, but instead they invested in some new tooling, which does indeed help to justify adding it to my collection. Good on you, guys!

Doctor Who: “Pyramids of Mars” Priory Set by Character Options

I’m sure I’ve espoused my love for the Tom Baker story “Pyramids of Mars” here on at least one previous occasion, so I’ll spare you any more of it. Suffice it to say it’s one of my favorite Fourth Doctor stories right up there with “Robots of Death” “Horror of Fang Rock” and “Hand of Fear” and about half a dozen others. Nonetheless, even I find it interesting that Character Options has devoted so much attention to this one story in their Classics line. We’ve already had a single carded release of the Servo Mummy Robot, a previous boxed set with three figures, and a special version of The Fourth Doctor was even released in the UK. Now we have another release from the story and it’s one that goes totally off the reservation when it comes to CO’s usual pattern of releases.

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For starters, there’s no window box this time. No sir. Instead, you get a completely enclosed cardboard box with images of the goods on the front. Unless you count something like the Eleventh Doctor’s TARDIS playset, this is the first time we’ve had a release in an enclosed box like this in the Classic figure line.

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Open the box and you slide out a big plastic tray with the all the goodies and a triangular shaped cardboard tray underneath with parts to build your own Osirian War Rocket. The tray contains two figures, Professor Marcus Scarman and a masked version of Sutekh. You also get two Canopic jars, a Coordinants Selector, and two halves of the sarcophagus that served as the Space-Time Corridor between Sutekh and his minions. Hot damn, this is a cool set! Let’s start out by looking at the figures.

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Professor Marcus Scarman was wonderfully portrayed by the late Bernard Archard. If you’re a fan of British TV, you’ve probably seen him before. If not, get yourself a copy of the 1983 Sci-Fi flick, Krull, and you can spot him in there. Or better yet, just watch “Pyramids of Mars” goddammit! While Scarman is one of the villains of the piece, he’s a tragic one as he spends most of the story as a reanimated corpse and Sutekh’s undead slave. As crazy as it sounds, I think this is one of CO’s best likenesses. It not only captures Archard pretty damn well, but also manages to replicate the vacant, zombie-like countenance of the character. Of course, if you have no familiarity with the character, then this is just an old dude in an early 20th century suit, but he is an exceptionally nice one!

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CO has been all over the road with the articulation in their 5” line and while Scarman lacks the ball jointed shoulders of some of the most recent releases, he makes out fine everywhere else. The arms rotate at the shoulders and wrists and have hinged elbows. The legs rotate at the hips and they do have a little lateral movement, but I think that’s just from play in the joint. He has swivels in the thighs and hinges in the knees. His head can also rotate. He’s not super-articulated by today’s standards, but just how limber do you need your undead Egyptology professor to be, eh?

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And that brings us to Sutekh, and this is where CO is making us do a little double dipping. The previous “Pyramids of Mars” set included Sutekh, but it was an unmasked version with his native Osirian Jackal head. This version has him wearing the mask that he has on for the bulk of the episode. The body is identical to the other figure. A lot of collectors were weary when CO released the jackal headed version first, suspecting that we’d be offered a masked one later on down the road. Well, they were right! I’m not too offended by this, as I like the option to display him both ways and I can always use the unmasked one as a fellow Osiran. But before we cry foul and say CO could have just released a figure with swappable heads, I submit to you… LIGHT UP EYES!!!

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Yes,  CO did go the extra mile and give him a pair of beautiful light up eyes. In the story, Sutekh’s eyes lit up green when he was exercising what little powers he had left and particularly when he was dispensing pain to The Doctor. The effect is activated by a little button on the back of the figure’s head and it is bright and looks fantastic! If making us buy two versions of this figure allowed CO to cost out this cool feature, I’m very happy they did it.

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Next up is the Sarcophagus, which stood in Marcus’ study and served as a Space-Time corridor linking Sutekh’s prison in Egypt. The sculpting and paint on this piece is quite nice and the reason it opens is to reveal the lenticular sticker, which simulates the Space-Time Corridor effect from the show remarkably well.

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You also get some other little bits and pieces. The Canopic Jars are similar to the ones that came with the single carded Servo Mummy a while back. They have different lids, and they do not open. You also get the Coordinate Selector, a device that Sutekh sent to Scarman so that he could program their War Rocket to destroy the power source on Mars that was keeping him a prisoner in Egypt. Wait… did someone say Osiran War Rocket?

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Yup, there’s a cardboard model of the pyramid-like War Rocket. It’s an extremely simple model, with a pre-made cardboard base that is extremely sturdy. You just fold the pyramid plug it into the base, put on the ramp, and attach some velcro dots to hold the hatch open. While I would have been happy with a simple backdrop of the library and a raised space for the sarcophagus, I think this thing is pretty great too. Nothing needs to be glued or taped, so you can easily disassemble it for storage, which is good because it’s a big piece and I don’t have anywhere to display it right now.

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Everything about this set is rather unconventional. There’s no Doctor, no companions, just a couple of figures from a specific story, some accessories, and a cardboard diorama… and I love it! There’s nothing in this set that I didn’t want. Even with Sutekh featuring a completely reused body, I’m still happy to have him. It retails at about $50 and when you consider the going rate for some of the two-packs has been $35-40, I think the set is priced well. Yes, it’s likely to separate the hardcore Who collectors from the casual buyers, but that’s probably a good thing.

Oh yeah, last time we looked at a Classic Doctor Who figure, the word on the street was that the line was done after this year. That seems to have been premature. The official word now is that we will be getting two or three releases a year, possibly including the SDCC release. I’m hoping that this set is a test run of the kind of things they want to do with a lighter release schedule. If we can get two or three sets like this in a year, I’ll be perfectly happy with that.

Doctor Who: “Remembrance of the Daleks” Collector Set by Character Options

There were a couple of reasons why I passed on this set when it was first released. First off, buying a figure of a destroyed Dalek seemed like going overboard, even by my insane standards. Second, as much as I love Remembrance of the Daleks, it did contain my least favorite incarnation of Davros. Not to mention the big reveal at the end didn’t do anything for me. I called out that the Emperor was probably Davros under that thing as soon as he rolled onto the bridge of the Dalek ship, and I’m not usually that good at spotting things like that. Nonetheless, when CO finally delivered on Ace, this set seemed to be a lot better-rounded out and so I tossed it into the basket when I shipped.

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The set comes in the same little compact style of window box that CO has used for the two-packs that won’t fit into a blister pack. The deco is based off a rather retro style that gives off a 70’s vibe. There’s a timeline on the bottom showing the different Doctors and the back panel of the box has a blurb about the episode. Sure, this box is one big spoiler for the episode, but it’s been like 25 years, and if you’re like me you probably would have guessed that was Davros anyway. The inner tray has an illustration, which could be saved as a display backdrop, but it’s not one of their better ones, so I didn’t bother. The box is collector friendly, but as much as I wish I had the room to save these, with space being limited, I have to be a lot more selective about packaging I keep.

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Starting off with the destroyed Dalek, this piece is a lot better than it has any right to be. My first thought was that CO was just going to take a regular Imperial Dalek, cut it in half and melt it a bit. Nope, they actually did a lot of new sculpting for the Kaled mutant inside. The sculpt is heavily influenced by the Kaled mutants we’ve seen in NuWho and I’m fine with that since this is the last time we see The Daleks in the Classic series. The excellent sculpt and paintwork conspire to make for an appropriately disgusting mess. We never actually get to see inside the Dalek in the episode, so I really dig that they did this.

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The claw that we do get to see is recreated here, complete with articulation, as it’s actually set on a ball joint! The area around the shoulder slats are painted brown to simulate the explosion, but from there down, it’s just a regular Imperial Dalek, complete with ball jointed sucker arm, weapon arm, and three rolling wheels under the base. This figure is by no means the cheap-out that it could have been, and I find I’m a lot happier to have it in my collection than I could have imagined.

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And then there’s Dalek Emperor Davros. The design here is pretty lame and lazy. When closed up, he’s just an Imperial Dalek base with a huge sphere mounted on top. There are two ear lights and a hexagonal screen in the center. One of the things I hate about this design is that there are no Dalek arms. Ok, I get it that you’re The Emperor, but why wouldn’t you want a weapon and a sucker arm like all the other Daleks? Your Davros! People hate you! There are tons of people around the universe that want to take a pop at you! Why not have a gun arm? I know, the Emperor Daleks in the past haven’t had weapons, but it still bugs me. Granted, the figure here does a good job with what it had to work with.

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Flip open the top and you reveal… Oh. My. God! That’s Davros in there! In the episode, you just saw Davros’ head emerging from a crazy nest of cables and wires. The figure features a good head sculpt and some detail paintwork for the wires. Again, it looks good for what they had to work with, but I’m just not at all crazy about this version of Davros.

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The real reason I stayed away from this set in the past is that it retailed for $39.99. I’m the last to complain about the cost of Doctor Who figures, but that’s a lot of damn money for what you’re getting here. Nonetheless, now that I have an Ace with an RPG and an Anti-Dalek baseball bat, I thought it would justify having the destroyed Dalek in my collection. As for Davros, like it or not, it’s part of his history and it deserves a place on my shelf. I’m no fan of Eric Roberts as The Master, but if CO had put a figure out, I’d be obliged to get it. To be honest, with the line ending, I’ll likely be hunting down the few sets that I passed on, just so that I can have closure when there are no more figures forthcoming.

Doctor Who: Ace by Character Options

The Classic side of Character Options’ Doctor Who line has slowed down a bit, and now it’s all but confirmed that the line will likely end with this year. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping for something big for the 50th Anniversary and the news that the line was being shit-canned was not that something I was hoping for. Nonetheless, there have still been some important releases this year and a few more to come. Certainly one of the biggest holes in the collection for many fans has been Ace, spunky young companion to the 7th Doctor. To me, Ace’s relationship with The Doctor was very similar to Leela’s. Both ladies were prone to violence and despite The Doctor’s frequent cries of “No more Janus Thorn/Nitro-9,” Ace and Leela allowed The Doctor to remain conveniently detached from the violence that sometimes needed to be done. Well, we’ve already had several figures based on Leela, and now it’s time for Ace to get her due. And the cool thing is that this version of Ace is like several figures in one!

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The packaging is fairly similar to the style used for Peri, Leela, and some of the other recent companions and two-packs. Ace was on the show in the 80’s, but the packaging still has a very Classic Who feel to it, and I’m talking more like the 70’s. Technically, Ace was billed as a 2013 San Diego Comic Con Exclusive, but as is often the case with these releases, there’s nothing on the package to signify that and she was readily available for purchase at various retailers after the Con. She comes in a sealed blister pack with a printed insert. The front shows off the figure wearing her jacket and with all her accessories and extra limbs arranged around her. The reverse side of the insert has a little backstory. Obviously, this package is not collector friendly and you’re going to need a trusty pair of scissors to get Ace out of there.

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So, let’s start with Ace as she comes out of the package and wearing her signature leather jacket… the very reason this figure could not have been an easy one to make. Besides having her adopted name beautifully painted on the back, the figure recreates her habit of collecting patches, pins, and badges and affixing them to her jacket. CO did an incredible job reproducing them in all their tiny colorful glory. The jacket itself is actually a vest with the sleeves sculpted onto her arms. We’ve seen this done plenty of times by the likes of Hasbro and Mattel, but in this case it actually serves a purpose in making the jacket removable… but more on that in a little bit. The jacket remained constant through various other little tweaks and bobs to Ace’s ensemble so it’s awesome that they were able to get it this right. Besides the jacket, you get a soft plastic skirt, black matte painted leggings, and glossy black boots.

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The likeness is serviceable but not exceptional. Ace’s portrait is not one of CO’s slam dunks, as they have done some really great head sculpts over the years, but she’s definitely not bad either and the likeness definitely looks better in person. I’m not sure that Sophie Aldred was all that easy to sculpt, so I’m willing to give some leeway here. They definitely got her cheeks right and I like that her little pony tail is a separate sculpted piece. She is definitely a lot better than the Jo Grant and some of the Sarah Janes. Overall, I approve. Holy shit, I definitely used the word definitely way too many times in this paragraph!

To take off Ace’s jacket, you pull off her arms, remove the jacket vest and pop on her white sleeved arms. If you have the Jo Grant figure, than you’ve likely already done this sort of thing. It’s easy to do and it really does transform her into a mostly new figure. Again, the paintwork on her T-shirt is really phenomenal. It’s crisp and colorful. I really dig this option, but my guess is most collectors will want to display her with the jacket.

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Ace’s articulation varies a bit depending on which arms you attach. With her jacketed arms on, she has ball joints in the shoulders, swivel cuts in the biceps and wrists, and hinges in the elbows. The t-shirt arms do away with the wrist swivels. The bicep swivels are there, but mine appear to be stuck and I’m not about to force it. The rest of the figure stays the same, with universal movement in the hips, swivels in the thighs, hinges in the knees, and a rotating head.

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Accessories! Ace comes with some cool gear! For starters, she has a backpack that can be worn and actually store some of her stuff. The back comes off so you can fill it with her three silver canisters of Nitro-9 explosives and there’s a slot on the top to slide in her baseball bat. The baseball bat is a nice addition since The Doctor energized it using The Hand of Omega and turned it into a Dalek busting bludgeon. You also get an RPG launcher with detachable grenade. That’s a lot of cool stuff, especially for a Doctor Who figure!

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Ace retails for around $20. It’s a fair amount of money to pay for a single 5” action figure, but it has been the going rate for the single figure exclusives in the past. Plus, Ace really is like two figures in one and comes with a lot of stuff, so I think the value is there. I may even get a second to display her with and without jacket. I was originally surprised that CO gave away so much with one figure, as they are the king of tweaks and repacks, but with the line ending, I’m guessing they wanted to get her all out in one shot.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back to check out a two-pack that I finally broke down and purchased to go with her.

Doctor Who: Character Options Shows New Who at UK Toy Fair

I know, I know, I don’t do news and even my coverage of next month’s NY Toy Fair will likely only add up to a couple of lists of what I like and don’t like. But Doctor Who going to 3 ¾” scale this year is undoubtedly going to be my biggest industry event of 2013, so I thought I’d chime in with what’s been shown.

To see the pictures, hop on over to the excellent photos on The Doctor Who Site.

50th Anniversary Dalek: A giant Dalek deco’ed out with the flag of the United Kingdom and a big “50.” It looks like it’s a repaint of one of the RC Daleks. It’s kitchy, it’s crazy, I like it, but probably not enough to buy it. CO is hinting at other possible variants. I can’t imagine what they’re going to be.

More 5” Scale Talking Daleks: I don’t own any of the last wave of these, but I did get a chance to play around with a couple. I love them, but at around $25 per Dalek, that’s just too steep for me. On the other hand, I noticed that one of Bracewell’s Ironsides from “Victory of the Daleks” is in the new assortment. If that thing actually screams, “WOULD YOU LIKE SOME TEA???” then I’m already sold.

The 3 ¾” Scale TARDIS: It looks fantastic and I’m buying it as soon as I see it. First, it’s going to be part of a GI JOE caravan with Cobra trying to steal it. Next up, Indiana Jones will likely team up with The Doctor for a trip to the present, and lastly, Cable and Deadpool are going to take it for a joyride. Thank you 3 ¾” scale… so many possibilities!!!

3 ¾” Figures: So, CO showed off The Doctor, Clara (or whatever her next name will be), a Weeping Angel, a new Cyberman, and a modern Dalek. I think these look really great. Well, Clara’s accessory looks like crap, but the figures themselves look great. I really dig the finish on the Cyberman and HOLY SHIT IT’S A DALEK ON A FLIGHT PLATFORM LIKE IN THE OLD COMIC BOOKS!!! Yes, I still lament that we won’t be getting Clara or the new coated Doctor in 5-inch scale, but I do really like what I’m seeing here and I am most definitely on board. C’mon CO, bring on the new console room playset!

5” Iconic Scenes Collector Sets: They’re basically Classic Who 2-packs, a Doctor and an enemy, with a diorama backdrop. These look really cool, but I don’t know if I’ll buy any. The Doctor figures don’t appear to be variants, and while the backdrops look cool and I could always go for more aliens, I think they’ll be too expensive. I’m concerned about CO taking a beating on these because so many collectors already have the figures and won’t want to double-dip any more then they’ve already had to. I just hope they aren’t going to gauge the popularity of the Classic figures based on the sales of these sets.

There is also tale of a new 11 Doctors set and they showed off some weird Stress Balls shaped like the heads of Ice Warriors and Weeping Angels. Yeah, odd. These goodies are due to start hitting around May or June and I am officially excited. I am, however, also a little dismayed at the lack of new Classics figures and I’ve been putting a lot of hopes in the idea that CO will do some kind of Classic console room playset for the 50th. I know the fact that these things weren’t shown doesn’t make them impossible, but it would have been cool to see some confirmation.

Doctor Who: “The Three Doctors” Collectors’ Set by Character Options, Part 2

So, last time I got a little sidetracked over my bromance with The Brigadier. Today, let’s set that aside and actually look at the figures. Having gassed on a lot about The Brig, I don’t want to sell the other figures in this set short, so I’m actually going to start with them and save Alistair for last. In fact, let’s get what is probably the least anticipated “figure” out of the way first. The Gel Guard!


Yes, it’s a lump of bubbles with a single eye and a crab claw, but I don’t want to hate on him, because I think he’s cool. The Gel Guards were globs of anti-matter that Omega was able to conjure up and animate with his pure will. He used them as scouts to venture into our Universe and further his plot to escape his anti-matter exile. One of the things I always loved about Doctor Who was the show’s unwillingness to just glue some ridges on a person’s nose and call them an alien. Nope, aliens were truly alien looking, even if that meant an actor crawling around in a bin liner. The Gel Guard represents all that is awesome about Doctor Who’s truly alien aliens.

Sure, he’s rotocast, which makes him a bit like a glorified hollow chew toy, but I can’t deny he looks great and he actually does feature one whole point of articulation, which is rather impressive for the design of the monster. You can even pop a small mag light in him and he’ll light up! It’s only natural that this guy would take a back bench to the other highly demanded figures in this set, but that doesn’t make him an unwelcome addition to my collection. In fact, I’d rather like two more, so CO can feel free to repack him with a Mike Yates or Sgt. Benton and I’ll fork over the monies.


And then there’s the lovely Josephine Grant. I’ll confess Jo was never one of my favorite companions, probably because I resented her for replacing Liz Shaw, even though it wasn’t Jo’s fault. Nonetheless, I will gladly scarf up every companion figure CO releases (yes, even Adric and Turlough… and Mel… well, probably Mel… well, maybe Mel… on clearance.) and Jo was part of UNIT so she can’t be all bad. Early test shots of this figure have been floating around the Interwebs forever and even actress Katy Manning played fast and loose with her figure by twittering it all around. Based on early shots, I was concerned about the head sculpt but now that the figure is in hand, most of my fears have been dissuaded. The likeness is ok, albeit not perfect. I think the eyes are too small and if you’ve seen Katy recently, I think you’ll agree that the figure looks more like her older self. Still, all in all I’m happy with the portrait.

Jo features the outfit she wore in “The Three Doctors”: A lavender outfit with a furry coat and her trademark platform Go-Go boots. It’s a good recreation of the outfit, and CO even went the extra mile by allowing collectors to display her with her jacket off. Yes, she comes with an extra set of arms without the sculpted jacket sleeves. All you have to do is pop out the arms, take off the jacket, and pop the other arms on. I think I like the jacketed look better, but she has better articulation without the jacket. Either way, the ability to display her in two ways is really going above and beyond for CO, especially considering this set doesn’t rely on repacks or repaints. My only complaint with Jo is that her left leg pops off rather easy at the thigh swivel. It plugs right back in, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.


Jo’s articulation features ball joints in the neck and shoulders. Both sets of arms have swivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinges in her elbows, but the elbow hinges on the coat arms are virtually useless. Her legs feature movement at the hips, which is mostly marred by her dress, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the knees.


And then, there’s The Brig and he is one outstanding looking figure. The likeness to a young Nicholas Courtney is perfect, and he sports that wonderfully stoic look that only he can pull off when being faced with a weekly alien invasion. He has his peaked officer’s cap, which is not removable, but does appear to be sculpted separately, which means The Brig in a beret may not be far behind! Either way, I think this is one of CO’s best likenesses.

The Brig’s uniform is an amazing piece of work. Every little detail is sculpted on from the epaulettes, pockets and buttons, rank and medals, sidearm holster, gloves, belt and shoulder strap. Yes, even the UNIT patch on his arm is accounted for. It’s all here and he looks every bit the dashing hero! Aside from a small black mark on his left elbow, the paintwork on this figure is otherwise immaculate and there is quite a bit of fine paint detail, right down to the buttons and buckles. The Brig does come with his automatic sidearm, but sadly no swagger stick. I’ll also toss in that the holster is non-functional.

 

Alas, The Brigadier’s articulation conforms more to the older Who figures, meaning you don’t get ball joints in the shoulders. I’ll admit this is rather disappointing, since I was hoping to get some cool dynamic poses out of him. Let’s run down the articulation: The arms rotate at the shoulders, have swivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinges in the elbows. The legs have universal movement at the hips (although the tunic hinders it quite a bit), swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the knees. The head rotates. Part of me wants to bitch about the lack of ball joints in the shoulders, but when I look at how awesome and unlikely this figure is, I’m content to shut the hell up and be thankful.

 


There have been a lot of outstanding Classic Who Collector Sets, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is probably the best of the bunch. The sculpts are all excellent and the paintwork (black elbow mark notwithstanding) is among the best quality that CO has ever done. These figures are gorgeous! Between the overall quality and the great extra touches, this set really gives me a renewed confidence that CO will continue to pour the love into the Classic Who line even after the NuWho figures have gone to their new scale. And beyond the quality and the workmanship, this set crosses two very important characters off my need list and tosses in a cool monster as well. CO, if you guys were to produce only three or four Classic Who sets of this quality over the course of 2013, I would be a very happy Whovian.

Doctor Who: “The Three Doctors” Collectors’ Set by Character Options, Part 1

If you collect CO’s Classic Who line, then you know you’re forced to buy a lot of rehashed figures bundled with the figures you really want. It’s just one of those things that we Who fans have had to accept in order to make the line cost effective, and for the most part, I think it’s been a worthy trade. But as The Doctor once said, “The universe is big, it’s vast and complicated, and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.” And here, folks, is one of those miracles, because not only does “The Three Doctors” set contain no rehashed or repainted versions of The Doctor, it actually has no repacked, repainted, or remolded figures at all. It also bestows upon my collection one of my most anticipated figures that this line can produce… oh yes… it is my favorite of all The Doctor’s companions: Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.

Before moving on to the goods, let me indulge myself with story time. It was the mid 80’s, and every Saturday night a teenaged Figurefan warmed up the old B&W TV (complete with faux wood grain cabinet) in his bedroom and tuned in to watch Doctor Who. It was usually the highlight of my week, and the best thing about it was PBS had finally started over and began showing the stuff from before Tom Baker and Peter Davison. It was brand new Who to me, and I was positively glued to the TV. I delighted in seeing the origins of the series with the 1stDoctor and the little bits of the 2nd Doctor that still survived. But then we hit The Pertwee Era, I became totally engrossed as The Doctor found himself marooned on Earth and made to forge an uneasy alliance with UNIT and The Brigadier

Over the course of the episodes that followed, the somewhat adversarial friendship that formed between the Time Lord and soldier was so gradual and natural that it really served to enrich both characters through their interactions. The Brig was the perfect Yin to The Doctor’s Yang. He was skeptical, parochial, a jingoistic patriot, a bureaucrat, and best of all, the poster child for “the military mind.” In a lot of ways he was the opposite of The Doctor and they played so well off of each other. And yet as much as The Doctor exasperated The Brig with his pacifism, scientific gobbledygook, and anti-military ways, in the end The Brig best summed up his feelings for his old Time Lord friend as a “wonderful chap… all of them.”

For the first time I found myself watching Doctor Who not just for The Doctor, but for another character as well. The Brigadier was just awesome. Naturally, the character owed some of his appeal to the writers, who weren’t content with just creating a two-dimensional tin soldier for The Doctor to butt heads with. No they created a rich character, which just had his own way of doing things. He gradually opened his mind to the possibilities that The Doctor represented, but he never compromised his core philosophy of strength through superior firepower. I’ll never forget his greatest lament: “Just once I’d like to meet an alien menace that isn’t immune to bullets!” Of course, what really made the character work so well was the great performance by the late Nicholas Courtney. He was the perfect choice to breathe life into the role and while companions have come and gone, The Brig has always remained my favorite. I wish he lived to see this action figure, but I know that he lived to understand how timeless his work had become. Ok, enough sentimental stuff… let’s take a look at the packaging…


And there it is: One of the coolest sets to come out of CO’s Classic Who collection. Sure, it’s been a crazy, mind blowing ride getting figures of all The Doctors and some of the Companions, but this is the friggin Briagadier and Jo Grant!! I know I’ve said this before with other Classic Who sets, but holy shit, I can’t believe these figures finally exist. I am so damn happy! Wait… where was I? Oh yeah, the packaging. The style and deco of the box is very similar to what we saw with “The Pyramids of Mars” set. As with all the Classic sets, this one uses printed inserts to recreate a display inside the box, and this one does it better than any so far. It’s a deep interior tray dressed up to look just like the set of Omega’s antimatter palace. The Brig and Jo Grant are to the left and the menacing Gel Guard is to the right, all held in place with string. I really hated to open this thing up because it displays so damn well just the way it is, but I had to get at my figures and saving boxes is just no longer possible for me because of lack of space. The back of the box has portraits of each character from the episode and a blurb about “The Three Doctors” story. Hey, look! The episode originally aired in 1972, the year I was born. Cool! All in all, this is an amazing piece of presentation.

Ok, obviously I got a little off track today, so I’m going to break now and come back tomorrow to actually take a look at the figures. And no, it has nothing to do with me trying to pad out the week because I finally replaced my Xbox and I’m anxious to get back to it and start killing things again.

Doctor Who: “Pyramids of Mars” Collectors Set by Character Options

There’s something comforting about having a new classic Doctor Who action figure set after the news that the modern figures are changing to 3 ¾” scale. Even though this set was planned long before the demise of the 5-inch modern figures was announced, I still find it something of a reassurance that this line will go on. While I’ve still got a couple of past Classic Who sets to pick up, I had to buy this one right away simply because “Pyramids of Mars” is one of my all-time favorites. Not only is it Tom Baker and Liz Sladen at their best, but it has a great story, superb acting, and it even looks fantastic. Even in the dark days when most of my Who collection consisted of scratchy recordings off of PBS, I always had an official release of this one on VHS or DVD.

This set comes in a nice window box with a printed backdrop inside. It uses the new classic-style box deco, although the “Doctor Who” logo looks different from the ones on the last classic sets I picked up. The window shows off the figures very well and the back panel of the box has a blurb about the story. Oddly enough, the set is called “’Pyramid of Mars,’ Mars Collectors Set.” At first, I thought it could be to distinguish it from some “Pyramid of Mars” figures that were released a while ago in the UK, but those were released in a “Fourth Doctor Adventure Set.” More likely, it’s part of the double-dipping shenanigans that I’ll touch on later. The set includes an unmasked Sutekh the Osiran and his two Guardian Mummies. Let’s bust them out and see what we’ve got!

Let’s start with Sutekh. If you aren’t familiar with the story, Sutekh is a very powerful and very evil alien being kept prisoner in a kind of stasis cell on Mars. He spends the bulk of the episode trapped in a throne with a mask on. It’s not until the end when he’s free that he reveals his “Jackal” face. [I should note here that he’s freed because a possessed Egyptologist and his force of robot mummies build an interplanetary missile and use it to destroy the power source of the prison on Mars. God, I love Doctor Who! –FF] Here’s where those shenanigans come in. It’s probably a safe bet that most collectors were hoping to get the more iconic version of this figure with the mask on. When the set was first revealed, the optimistic speculation was that he would have interchangeable heads. Alas, this is a case where CO is going to force us to double dip by undoubtedly releasing a masked Sutekh later on. And naturally they release the less desirable one first so collectors will buy it just in case it’s the only one released. If this were any other line of figures, this sort of thing would enrage me, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep the Classic Who line afloat. If that means I’m going to buy another masked version of Sutekh later on down the road, then so I shall!

As for Sutekh himself, he’s a relatively simple sculpt but he suits the character’s on screen appearance quite well. His sculpted robes are nearly all black with a little red piping and red gloves. His head looks a lot better than the prop that was used for the actual character in the show and the glowy paint used on his eyes is pretty effective. Seriously, when I first saw them I thought there was some light piping going on.

Sutekh looks like he has pretty good articulation in his legs, but it doesn’t really matter because his sculpted robes renders all articulation below the waist useless. The arms, on the other hand actually have ball jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels at the biceps and wrists. Sutekh can also swivel at the neck and waist. All in all, not bad. Sutekh doesn’t need to be able to do acrobatics.

And then you have the Guardian Mummy Robots! Hurray for Classic Who army builders, especially when you can get two in one box. The regular flavor Mummy Servo Robot was originally released as a single carded figure. The ones in this box are the special variety and identified as such by their snazzy gold wrappings. I was expecting these guys to be straight repaints of the original Mummy figures, but there’s actually some re-sculpting going on here. All of the gold bandages are newly sculpted onto the old body making them stand out pretty nicely, and they still have the control pyramids on their backs.

The Guardian Mummies feature the same articulation as the old one. The arms rotate at the shoulders; have hinged elbows, and swivels at the wrists. The legs rotate and have lateral movement at the hips, hinges at the knees, and swivels at the ankles and thighs. He can also swivel at the waist. For a lumbering mummy robot, the articulation is pretty good.

The “Pyramids of Mars” set retailed for $29.99 at WHONA, my favorite Doctor Who e-tailer. It’s not a bad price for three figures, but then this set may really divide collectors who are waiting for the masked Sutekh. More than anything else, I’m anxious to see what or who he will be released with, since CO rarely releases single carded Classic Who figures anymore. Personally, I’d be fine if they released him with two regular Servo Mummies, because having the Guardians outnumber the Servos in my collection, well that just seems wrong.

Doctor Who: K-1 Robot Build-A-Figure by Character Options

A couple of years back, Character Options actually released their Classic Doctor Who figures in waves of single carded releases, rather than episode themed boxed sets. One of the cool things about these waves is that one of them came with Build-A-Figure parts to build the K-1 Robot seen in Tom Baker’s debut story as the 4th Doctor, which was aptly but unimaginatively named “Robot.” I like “Robot” a lot. Besides the fact that it introduced us to that most iconic of all Doctors, its a pretty good story that takes the core element of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein story and runs with it. Its one of those few old Who episodes where the villain is complex enough to earn our sympathy. Let’s set aside the whole part where it has the K-1, grown huge by absorbing radiation, running around with an unconvincing Barbie doll of Sarah Jane. Of course, the other thing I love about this episode is the amazing design for the K-1 itself.

And there he is, in all his Build-A-Figure glory. No package shot, because he came scattered over eight carded figures, which included: A Sea Devil, a Zygon, two robots from “Robots of Death,” Magnus Greel, as well as the 4th, 5th, and 6th Doctors. I recall picking up this wave all in one shot, so I was able to put him together all at once. Its a good thing too, because a couple of these figures became notoriously hard to find, and I probably would have blown rent money if I had to in order to complete this beauty.
I can’t gush enough over this guy’s design. He has that classic retro kind of look and the figure is a beautiful recreation of the costume used in the episode. He’s big and has a real bulky upper body with fanned segmented shoulders and an amazing head sculpt with clear red translucent dome in his head. There are little sculpted instruments and dials on his chest and back, as well as some clear hosing. The cylindrical, mechanical arms end in soft rubber claws so that they can hold his gun. Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure I’d shit myself if this thing was coming after me.
K-1’s articulation is a tad limited, but it matches the mobility of the actual suit perfectly. The head is ball jointed and can turn and look up and down a bit. The arms have some limited movement at the shoulders. Its just enough so that he can raise his gun a bit. He has a ball joint in his waist that lets him swivel at the waist and bend a bit. His legs will swivel at the hips and he can move his legs back and front a bit. Lastly, the front of his feet are hinged.                          

There’s not a ton of paint apps on this guy, but he didn’t really need them. There’s a little black paintwork on some of his dials and his mouth and eyes. You also get a little red striping on his shoulders. The rest of the figure is cast in a really satisfying metallic silver finish.

The K-1 ranks up there as one of my all time favorite Doctor Who Classic figures. He was a perfect choice for a BAF, since he is so bulky and required a lot of special tooling and joints. He would certainly fit in one of the boxed sets CO releases now, but back then he was just too big for a standard card. He holds together perfectly and looks amazing standing at the back of one of my Doctor Who displays and towering over the rest of the figures. Looking back, I was pretty shocked that I hadn’t featured this guy here on FigureFan before, nor have I explored the wave of figures that contained the parts. Maybe I’ll try to dig those out for next week.