VARIANTS!!! Love them or hate them, they’re a fact of life when collecting action figures. In this case, Character Options unleashed a number of variants in their 3 ¾” Doctor Who line and relegated them to severe limitations in the UK. The figures instantly began demanding high prices on the secondary market and pissing off a lot of collectors. I’ll admit, I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for those collectors, because there was no sign of these figures ever making it over here. At least those people had a chance! Well, in a bizarre turn of events, the figures not only became available in the US through Underground Toys, but were actually delivered to specialty retailers as their own wave making them no more difficult to get than the regular versions. In fact, with many of the regular versions sold out, some of these variants are currently the only ones available at the moment. Crazy! The variants range from both minor and major paint variations and even some new sculpting. Today we’re kicking things off with a look at the new Cyberman.
The packaging is identical to what we’ve already seen in this line and even the name of the figure on the insert still simply states, “Cyberman.” They’re regarded as variants because the package still states “6 Figures To Collect!” whereas if the variants counted, you’d now have 11 figures to collect. The Ice Warrior is the only one in the batch that doesn’t have a variant. Although word is that a second Dalek variant is turning up, so that would put the total number back to 12. God, this is confusing! The cards are generic across the line, although the back of the variant packages are updated to show two new “Time Zone” Playsets, in this case inspired by the episodes, “Hide” and “Angels Take Manhattan.” The Angels set is a peculiar choice, since it’s from the first half of Series 7 before the figures changed scale and before Clara became a companion. And yet there she is pictured on display in the playset! As you can see in the bubble, you still get the same “DWARTIS” style figure stand, which I still feel is a nice bonus.
Referring back to my review of the original figure, I was overall pretty happy with these guys; certainly happy enough to army build them. Yes, they strike me as being rather undersized and the sculpt is rather soft in places, but overall I think they capture the details of the new design quite well for a figure in this scale. One thing that was conspicuously missing from the original figure was the arm gun and here we have one of the only two instances of new sculpting in these variants. This Cybie comes with a brand new right arm with the gun deployed and ready. The articulation is identical to the regular version, so while there’s no swivels in the arm, the ball joint in the elbow allows you to rotate the gun to the top of the arm and give him a more credible firing position.
The other change to the figure is the addition of the blue paint app to light up the circle in the chest. I think it looks good on the figure, but it really screams “Arc Reactor” to me way too much. The new design already mingles a bit too closely with Stark Industries’ suit designs and adding the blue light in the chest completes a homage that I’m not eager to acknowledge.
The paintwork on this figure is in line with the orginal release, which means it has its ups and downs. The silver paint that’s used is quite nice and certainly achieves a metallic finish for the figure. On the other hand, it has a lot of black swirls that make him look tarnished. I don’t mind that so much, but in this case there was a large and unsightly black mark on his face, which I needed to fix with a metallic silver Sharpie. Hey, considering I had to do the same thing to my $80 Takara Masterpiece Prowl, I’m not going to make a big deal about it for a $10 3 3/4″ Doctor Who figure.
This 3 3/4″ line of figures certainly is lacking, but the Cyberman is one of the higher points and this variant is certainly a welcome release. In a perfect world I would have liked a Cyberman with the gun arm and no blue chest, but that’s something I can easily change myself if I want to. I will, however, argue that rather than be a variant, this is the way the figure should have come out originally. I mean, who wants Cybermen without their guns armed? People in the UK shouldn’t have to pay a premium for what should have been standard on the regular release. At the very least it should have been a common running change. That having been said, I’m happy to have him in my collection, and yes, I already have two more heading to me from the fine folks at Who North America. I’m happy to get them at regular price, but I certainly wouldn’t have paid a premium or lost any sleep over not getting him if he had stayed a rare chase figure.