Doctor Who (The Abominable Snowmen): The 2nd Doctor & TARDIS by Character Options

Much like the good Doctor himself, Character Options’ 5 1/2-inch Doctor Who action figure line continues to defy death. Despite being more-or-less cancelled a while back, CO manages to let a slow drip of releases trickle out each year. Sure, many of these are repacks and repaints, but some are new! I’ve been picking up a lot of these sets over the last year or so, but with how bad the show has been these last two series, I wasn’t too eager to start opening them. Luckily, when I was recently on vacation I got a couple new Classic Who Blu-Ray palate cleansers and now I’m psyched up and ready to start tackling some of these!

Today I’m checking out the latest release, which is The Second Doctor and TARDIS from the 1967 serial, The Abominable Snowmen. CO teased this one, along with a prototype of The Yeti a long while back, and while I’m sad to say there’s no Yeti in here, I’m glad to see The Doctor figure finally made it out! If you’ve picked up any of the MANY of these Doctor and TARDIS releases, you should know what to expect. The goods come in a window box with the toys positioned against a printed background, making for a wonderful display if you are inclined to leave it sealed. Sadly, my box got a bumped corner while making its way across The Pond. Character Options shipped it fast, but put no packing in the box whatsoever.

Yup, while most of the recent releases have been widely available online, this one is a Character Online Exclusive, so I had to go right to the source to get it. The back of the package has a copious amount of copy about the story, which sadly remains one of the lost ones. About the only thing I don’t like about the packaging is that it’s branded for the current series. I’m not a fan of the logo, and I think one of the Classic logos would have been a lot more appropriate here. If you haven’t experienced this story, The Abominable Snowmen is currently available as an audio track drama, there are some pretty cool fan recreations online, and I’ve enjoyed the story at least a couple of times through the novelization. OK, let’s get this open! And if you stick with me until the end, I’m going to do a little bonus comparison and bonus mini-review of the last Second Doctor and TARDIS release from The War Games!

The TARDIS lands in The Himalayas in Tibet (Not India, Victoria!!!), and before going out on his expedition, The Doctor dons a mighty fur coat, which later leads to Jamie mistaking him as a Great Hairy Beastie! This coat has become something of an iconic look for The Second Doctor, probably because he wore a variation of it in The Five Doctors, which makes this figure a double treat! And what a great figure it is! The sculpting on the coat is absolutely magnificent. The texturing is brilliantly done, and the darker patches are not only painted in, but part of the sculpt as well. The wooly garment is cast in soft plastic and attached over a standard Second Doctor figure, resulting in some nice depth, while also making it look appropriately bulky. You can see his collar and tie peeking out from the top, while his checkered trousers protrude from the bottom to his brown shoes. The sleeves are sculpted as part of the new arms and match the coat perfectly. The sculpted string that ties the coat closed is a little understated. I may actually tie a real string around it for better statement.

Character Options has delivered some great portraits of Patrick Troughton in this line, and this one is another cracker! Actually, they may be all the same sculpt! His facial details are nice and sharp, as is the sculpted hair. It’s the usual serious expression that we’ve seen in the past, and while I’d love to see a smiling portrait for The Second Doctor, I realize that CO is dependent on recycling parts to keep the cost of these sets low.

The articulation here harkens back to the older figures in the line, which mainly means that the shoulders simply rotate and do not have any lateral movement. In fairness, I don’t think CO has turned out anyof the older Doctors with the updated articulation, and I’m not sure how well that would have worked with the fur coat anyway. In addition to those rotating shoulders, the arms have bicep swivels and elbow hinges which can do a full 90-degrees, which is impressive with the bulk of the coat. His wrists swivel, and I love how the hands are half obscured by the sleeves. The legs are the normal t-crotch, thigh swivels, and hinged knees, but with the coat going all the way down to the knees, the hip articulation is rendered inert. At least the knees allow him to go into a walking pose. The Doctor doesn’t come with any accessories, and while I understand that the only thing making these possible is CO doing them on the cheap, I can’t help but wish they had included the sacred Ghanta in there. Ok, let’s move on to the TARDIS!

I was extremely excited to get this TARDIS, because it’s the Error TARDIS that was used when the BBC crew rebuilt the doors on the prop and put the sign on the right door instead of the left. It appeared that way for a bunch of stories, and as such it makes this an extremely unique addition to my fleet of CO TARDISes. As we’ll see in the comparison shots in a bit, this is just a redress of The War Games TARDIS, which includes the flat roof. Although this one does omit the handle and simply has the keyhole. After watching a lot of modern Who, it’s sometimes shocking to see just how battered the old Type-40 often was in Classic Who. I actually liked it better that way. It made the TARDIS look appropriately ancient and well-traveled.

So naturally, it’s the deco that really makes this one sing to me! The distressed paint job is fantastic and really hammers home the decrepid look of some of those early TARDIS props. It appears to use a white wash in with the blue to give it that look and I just love it. Each window has two of the six panes frosted, and the POLICE BOX signs are appropriately faded stickers. As usual, the back of the TARDIS features the rather unsightly speaker. These piercings have been included on the TARDIS releases that were gutted of the electronics, but here we see the triumphant return of the lights and sounds! With the help of three AAA batteries, the roof lamp will flash yellow and the glorious wease of the engines will sound when you either pick up or put down the toy. It sounds great and, I gotta tell you, I still smile from ear to ear like a kid whenever I activate it. I simply couldn’t have imagined owning a toy like this back in the day.

Once upon a time, CO used to use printed inserts inside these TARDIS toys to show the interior, and I really wish they still did that. It would probably be pretty simple to print out an image, at least for someone with more time and motivation than me! As it is, the interior is completely unfinished. I may be content with just putting some black construction paper in there. As usual, the right door is spring loaded and will lock open, and uses a button on the floor to slam it closed. OK, let’s bring in The War Games set for some comparisons!

We get the same basic sculpt, but different coats and arm sculpts. The new release has a touch of blue in his collar, and the trousers and shoes are different colors. For the life of me, I can’t tell if the head sculpts are the same or not. They look different, but I’m possibly attributing that to the dramatic variations in the paint. The War Games release has a much more heavy handed paint job. It’s not bad, but I definitely prefer the newer release, as it just looks more natural to me. Either way, both are excellent figures.

As I mentioned, the TARDISes are the same sculpt, with the exception of the handle appearing on this one, and the older one missing the light in the roof lamp. The War Games TARDIS has a darker and more uniform paint job. Interestingly, the front POLICE BOX sign is black lettering on a white background, but that’s inverted for the other three sides. I never noticed that before getting this toy in hand. These signs are still well worn, but much easier to read than the ones on the newer release. Obviously, the PULL TO OPEN sign is back where it belongs on the left door, and it is printed with white letters on a blue backdrop with a much neater presentation. And, as I mentioned earlier, the speaker is still there despite no electronics, and the battery door is glued shut.

Any Classic Who set that Character Options releases is an instant buy for me, and The Abominable Snowmen set is an absolute treat. I had all but given up on this ever seeing the light of day. Yes, I wish it came with the Yeti we saw a while back, but getting the Error TARDIS ain’t too shabby. Besides, I would not put it past CO to re-release this Doctor with The Yeti at some point down the road, and I will happily throw my money at it if they did. Who knows? Maybe even with Victoria or Jamie. Hey, CO just revealed that we’re finally getting Ian Chesterton, so anything is possible! And with that note, I really enjoyed reviewing this release, so I’m going to make it a habit to start working some of the Doctor Who sets that I picked up over the last year or so back into my normal rotation!

Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor Adventure Doll by Character Options

To know me is to know I adore Doctor Who, and I miss the days when Character Options was pumping out an extensive line of action figures from both Classic and NuWho. It’s so bizarre that they still hold the license and yet only toss out a figure or two a year these days. My guess is that they over-extended themselves when they were pumping out figures of almost every character to appear in each current series. There’s got to be a landfill of Grandma Connollys somewhere in England. In any event, I have no doubt they’ll get around to producing the Thirteenth Doctor for their 5-inch line, but in the meantime, they managed to get this “Adventure Doll” out before the premier of the new Series with The Doctor’s latest incarnation.

And here she is in her very non-collector friendly packaging. Thirteen comes in a large plastic bubble with a cardboard backing. The insert includes a TARDIS motif on one side as well as a shot of the TARDIS and the new series logo on the bottom. It’s an attractive presentation, very bright and colorful, but as I said, not intended for collectors. I’d almost feel bad about opening it, but mine got crunched a little on the top corner during its’ trip from Merry Old England, so I won’t feel too bad about razoring it open.

The back panel has a little blurb, but no real insight into what this new Doctor will be like. I’ll admit, I was not overjoyed with the casting here. When I heard the new Doctor was going to be played by an actress from Broadchurch, I had convinced myself it was going to be Olivia Colman and I was thrilled and excited. And then I saw the teaser with Jodie Whitaker and it was like a bucket of cold water was thrown on my enthusiasm. It’s not that I dislike Whitaker, but I think while making the bold move of casting a woman, the BBC still played it safe by going with a traditionally pretty blonde. I just think Colman would have been absolutely perfect as The Doctor. She’s a can be quirky and I think she’s got good range as an actress. Plus, she’s already had a cameo in Doctor Who, which would have put her in good company with previous Doctors like Colin Baker and Peter Capaldi. With all that having been said, there hasn’t been a Doctor yet that I haven’t eventually warmed up to, so I’m still willing to be open minded and optimistic. What’s that? Oh yeah, back to the review…

Here’s The Doctor freed from her package and I have to say for what this is I’m quite pleased with it. The term “Adventure Doll” really characterizes the feel of this figure, as it’s definitely not aimed at collectors, but I could see children running around and clutching this figure by the arm and going on all sorts of adventures.  She measures in at about 10-inches, which is something of an oddball scale. Character Options released a number of similar clothed figures for NuWho in the past, but they were proper Sixth-Scale, so Thirteen isn’t really going to fit in with many of those figures, although as we’ll see in a bit, she sort of works with some of the aliens. The outfit is done entirely in soft goods and includes a pair of bright blue pants, which are cuffed just below her knees, a black T-shirt with a rainbow pattern across the chest, and a long gray coat with a hood and rainbow stripes running up the front flaps. Her boots are plastic with sculpted blue socks showing.

The tailoring on the outfit is pretty solid and the ensemble fits the figure quite well. There are some concessions, like the pockets on the coat are just stitched on and not functional, however, the hood on the jacket can be worn up. Removing the jacket reveals white sleeves on her T-shirt and a pair of thin gold suspenders. Overall, I like the design here and it feels a lot more like a trademark look, which is something I missed during The Eleventh Doctor’s tenure. It hints at some of The Doctor’s more colorful wardrobes without going full on crazy Technocolor Dreamcoat like The Sixth Doctor did. Still, I can’t help but feel this design was inspired a little too much from Mork from Orc and I just can’t unsee it.

The portrait isn’t bad for a figure in this price range. I can certainly see a likeness to Whitaker in there. The paint is very basic, but it’s clean, particularly on the eyes and lips. They even included her interesting earring, which is the first I’m noticing it. Her hair is sculpted to cover part of her face, which looks good. If I had one complaint it would be the heavy handed paint on her roots. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either.

The articulation here is surprisingly good. I will say that the integrity of the joints vary. The leg joints can be a bit loose and sometimes makes it hard to get her to stand, although I didn’t have to use a stand for any of the poses I shot, so it can be done. The arms feel OK, but the neck is curiously tight. When I first tried to turn her head, I was afraid I was going to snap it off. Even now, it still requires a fair amount of effort to get her head to turn.

In addition to her outfit, The Doctor comes with one accessory and that’s her new Sonic Screwdriver. It’s a very simple piece with a nice coat of silver paint. I’ll toss in here that I’m not at all a fan of this design. It does look more alien, but it’s looking less and less like an actual screwdriver with each new design. I always liked the idea that The Doctor just pulled his favorite accessory out of the TARDIS Toolkit one day and modified it to make it more useful. But throughout the course of NuWho it’s becoming more and more like a Magic-Wand-Slash-Tricorder and that’s never sat well with me. But that’s an old rant of mine, and not something to detract from this figure.

 

Finally, here’s a quick comparison of The Doctor with some of the aliens from CO’s 12-inch line, and I think in this case these figures work OK. I know the Cybus Cyberman aren’t really THAT tall, but I still wouldn’t have any trouble displaying Thirteen with either of these figures.

I found this figure on Amazon from a UK Seller for around $35 and jumped on it, despite the fact that I’m usually put off from ordering Internationally. Nevertheless, I’m glad I did, because it quickly went out of stock and I haven’t seen it offered anywhere else. Granted I paid something of a premium, as I would imagine this figure to sell somewhere around $25 if I found it on the shelf at a US Retailer, but as popular as Doctor Who has become here, I still don’t think the distribution on this one will be too extensive. Either way, I think she’s a fun figure and the moniker Adventure Doll fits her perfectly. Sure, I wish CO had produced her in a proper Sixth-Scale, but maybe they’ll release some other figures in this line to go with her. Eh… probably not.

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!

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!