Doctor Who Pop! Vinyl Giveaway!

Hey Toyhounds,

I’m starting the New Year off with a Doctor Who Pop! Vinyl Giveaway!

The prize will include the above set of five Pop!s. Just Follow me on Twitter at @FigureFanZero and reply to the pinned contest Tweet with your favorite Doctor Who companion and tag it

The winner will be randomly drawn New Years Day at noon. You must be a Follower and have a US shipping address to get the prize.

Good Luck!

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Pop! Vinyls (Doctor Who): The 9th and 10th Doctors by Funko

It’s another Transformers Thursday without any new Transformers. It’s also the day after I just pulled an all-nighter at work and I’m really tired and want to go to bed. But the show must go on, so let’s see what I have lying around here that I can do quick-and-dirty. Of course! Pop! Vinyls!!! Also, Doctor Who is back and I can’t even tell you how happy I am about it. While we’re only two episodes into Series 10, I’m really digging it so far and it made me want to get out some Doctor Who merchandise. Sadly, Character Option doesn’t seem to know what they’re doing with the license any longer and the Doctor Who action figure market has all but dried up. But if there’s one thing you can count on in this universe it’s Funko and never ending empire of Pop! Vinyls. I’ve already looked at the 11th and 12th Doctor Pop!s, so today I thought I’d round out the NuWho Doctors with a look at Nine and Ten.

The packaging here is pretty standard Pop! Vinyl fare. If you’ve bought one of these (DON’T LIE TO ME, YOU OWN AT LEAST ONE!) then you know what to expect. The adorable little figures come in window boxes branded with the series and number of the figure. These are #221 and #294, which shows that a lot of Television Pop!s have come between these two releases. Yup, it’s kind of odd that Ten comes before Nine in their numbering, but don’t worry about it, it’s all just Timey-Whimey. The boxes are collector friendly, but you can still sort of enjoy your Pop! without taking it out of the box. Indeed, this is one of the few lines of collectibles where I always keep the boxes. They’re not much bigger than the figure itself, and when they’re in the box you can stack them. Why the hell do these say Age 14+ on the boxes? These are practically chew toys, so I’m not sure how they can be dangerous. Eh, who knows? Let’s go in order and start with Nine.

To me, The 9th Doctor has one of the least distinctive looks out of all of the Time Lords’ incarnations, and yet I have to admit, I’d know who this is even if you handed it to me without the box and covered up the Sonic Screwdriver in his hand. Being able to recognize the character is the biggest compliment that I can pay one of these ridiculous things and since I don’t really find Nine’s outfit all iconic, this Pop! is doubly successful. The head isn’t bad either. I think they actually gave him bigger ears too!

Pop! Nine also has some of the best paint I’ve seen on any of my shamefully large collection of these stupid things. Granted, he’s wearing a black jacket, black trousers, and black shoes, but the jacket and shoes are glossy and the trousers are matte, so you still get a little variety in there. I really like the purple paint they used for his shirt, and the paint apps on the screwdriver are especially good. Apart from a little chipping to the flesh tone on his right hand, this is as close to an immaculate Pop! as I have ever seen. One might even say… FANTASTIC! Moving on to Ten…

The 10th Doctor is a total slam dunk, largely in part to his very iconic costume, and also to the really wonderful job the Wizards of Pop! did on this figure. I swear, I think I could probably recognize him just by the head alone, thanks to the tufted wave of hair at the front and those glorious sideburns. But if that doesn’t give it away, the brown jacket, blue suit, and red and white “sand shoes” definitely drive the point home. And, of course, he also has his trusty Sonic Screwdriver in his right hand.

And today lighting is striking twice because the paint on this one is just as good as what we just saw on Nine. Sure, there’s a little slop on the shoes, but when you buy Pop! Vinyls sight unseen like I do, you run the risk of some nightmarish paint. It’s always great to see a pair of beautiful pieces like these.

I know I don’t spend a lot of time here showcasing my Pop! Vinyls, probably because I’m ashamed to admit I own so many. Still, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to sneak some more in here and there. If nothing else, it makes for an easy day for me, because… well, how much can you really ever say about these things? Maybe I’ll try to get through all the Doctor Who ones, while Series Ten is running. It’s worth noting that there are a number of variants for some of The Doctors, but I’m not that crazy yet to pick up all of those. Some of them? Yeah, but not all of them. And so Nine and Ten here complete my NuWho Doctors nicely. Wait, what’s that? They did a Pop! Vinyl War Doctor? Oh, for heaven sakes, I guess I have to get that one too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doctor Who: 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.

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?

Pop! Vinyls (Doctor Who): The 11th and 12th Doctors by Funko

Last month I picked up a couple of Funko’s Pop! Vinyls based on the Fallout video game franchise. This was after a long career of making fun of the fools who bought these stupid Pop! things. Nonetheless, I maintained that it wasn’t going to be a gateway drug into the deleterious habit of Pop! addiction, rather it was just because of the limited amount of real merch and toys based off of the Fallout universe. I have since picked up some more Pop! Vinyls, this time from Doctor Who. I blame Character Options for these, because if they had kept up their 5-inch Scale action figure line, I wouldn’t have to be turning to nefarious world of Pop! Vinyls to slate my Who toy cravings. And with the amazing Series 9 coming to a head, I had a really powerful need to buy some Doctor Who shit. So again, not early signs of any broader kind of Pop! addiction here, it’s just a coincidence. WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING AT ME??? Ahem, I actually have a slew of these Who Pop!s to look at, but I’m starting with the two most recent Doctors.

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The packaging consists of compact little window boxes, showing you exactly what you’re going to get. From what I’ve seen, the trend in the Pop! collecting community is to display these deformed little fellars in their boxes, making it easier to stack and store when you have like 1,000 of them. Funko even makes clear acrylic cases so you can store your Pop!s in the box and in the case. A couple thousand years into the future archaeologists are going to have a great time trying to figure these things out. Anyway, these are numbers 219 and 200, from the Pop! Television Series. That’s as opposed to the two billion other series of these things Funko churns out. I swear to God, there’s probably a series of Pop! Vinyls based on people I used to go to High School with. The back of the boxes show the nine other Who Pop!s they’ve done so far, including a Deluxe Pop! TARDIS. And yes, I’ll be getting to all of them eventually. IT’S NOT AN ADDICTION! Let’s start with Eleven…

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Yes, he’s an adorable, big-headed version of Matt Smith with black soul-less specks for eyes. Even with the accurately floppy sculpted hair, I don’t know that I could tell who this is from a head shot, but the body is spot on. He’s got his tweed jacket, complete with sculpted elbow patches, and his Sonic Screwdriver in his right hand. And yes, he’s donning his bowtie, because lest we forget bowties are cool! While I had some paint flubs on my Fallout Pop!s, the paint here is more or less perfect. There’s one glossy smudge on his jacket lapel, but I don’t know if that’s paint or just excess glue. Moving on to Twelve…

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Can there be anything more right than a super cute Peter Capaldi? I don’t think so. Oddly enough, I might be able to pick out this one from a head shot, just because they painted on his attack eyebrows. Brilliant! The body could have been more problematic, as The 12th Doctor has been rather erratic with his choice of costumes. In this case, Funko went with his original promo pic costume, blue coat with red lining, and it was a good choice. He’s also got his little sculpted ring on his left hand and his Sonic Screwdriver in his right hand. I can’t help but wonder if they’ll be a Sonic Wayfarers Exclusive like they did with The 10th Doctor and his 3D Glasses.

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I picked up these Pop! Docs during a Black Friday sale over at Dorksidetoys for about forty percent off, along with some other stuff. It worked out to be about $12 for the pair. I think they’re still up for sale, so anyone looking for some Pop! Vinyl Time Lords should go check them out. Next week, I’ll swing back around and check out The 10th and 4th Doctors.

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.