Monday, 16 March 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'The Two Doctors' Collector Figure Set

Doctor Who 'The Two Doctors' Set 01

Release Date: August 2019
RRP: £19.99

2019 saw the Doctor Who figure line truly start making steps towards a comeback. Daleks were back in new Big Finish-inspired two packs, sought after figures were finally getting much-needed reissues and we even got a brand new companion figure in the form of Harry Sullivan. Sure they may be slight retoolings at best and still exclusive to B&M Stores, but the variety of characters and hype around them suggested Character Toys were finally getting serious again. Among the 2019 offerings was a three-figure set based on 1985’s The Two Doctors, once again bringing new variants of popular characters as well as a whole new character. Included in this set are Sixth Doctor companion Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown, the Androgum-spliced Second Doctor and Group Marshal Stike of the Ninth Sontaran Battle Group.

Doctor Who 'The Two Doctors' Set Box 01

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The set’s packaging is identical to that of the other three figure sets released in the 2019 assortment - sea of blue featuring a grey boxed-off image of the TARDIS and the current Doctor Who series logo. The front of the box also properly refers to this set based off of The Two Doctors in the bottom corner, with a circled section at the top listing it’s contents. Like the Sontarans set it doesn’t list them in order from left to right, but here there’s far less confusion to be had about who’s who. The rest of the space is either blank or taken up by stock photos of the figures, of which the same three are repeated both on the back and one of the spines. Inside the figures are housed on a moulded plastic tray against a blank backing card, with a number of thin elastic bands also looped through the tray to hold them in place.

Doctor Who 'The Two Doctors' Set Peri 01

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First out of the box is Peri, who has been previously released in a Vengeance on Varos two-pack with Sil, an Attack of the Cybermen two-pack with the rogue Cyberman and a Caves of Androzani two-pack with Sharaz Jek. This is a reworked version of the Androzani variant, with the shorts recoloured blue and the shirt repainted to better resemble her costume from the episode itself. Unfortunately pink and gold doesn't look anything like the plaid pattern of the actual shirt so it's far from accurate, but on a tight budget it vaguely resembles it enough to get the job done. The Peri head sculpt is definitely one of the better ones Character have done during their time with Doctor Who so the likeness to Nicola Bryant is great, and painting the headband she wore in the episode on is a really nice touch. There is however one other rather glaring flaw with the figure though. To try and match her rolled up sleeves from the episode Character longer hand pieces with exposed arms, but in doing so they've completely thrown off the length or the arms and made the proportions fairly ridiculous. Early pictures of the Androzani set suggest they were going to do the same there as well, but thankfully it was changed before release. This Peri has had no such luck, and it's made what's otherwise a decent (if inaccurate) figure pretty lacklustre.

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For articulation Peri features standard neck, waist, bicep, wrist and thigh swivels, single hinge elbows and knees and a T-joint hip build. That's the standard of articulation for most Doctor Who figures from Character until they started implementing swivel hinge shoulders in their more recent moulds, and it's about enough to get some very basic poses out of the figure and little else. Of course with Peri the other obstacle is getting her to balance in said poses, since those thin high-heel feet really don't offer a lot of support. She can stand unsupported, but just don't try to get too fancy with the posing - or about as fancy as these figures can get at least.

Doctor Who 'The Two Doctors' Set Second Doctor 01

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Although it's based on The Two Doctors there's only one Doctor for this set - the Second Doctor! Now Character could have very easily decided to simply do a grey-haired repaint for this release and it would have been fantastic - the perfect variant for this set as well as one collectors definitely wouldn't want to miss out on. However for whatever reason they decided to go for the Androgum version instead, and in doing so resulted in a somewhat mixed release. When the Doctor is "transformed" into an Androgum in addition to the ginger eyebrows (painted on here but lacking their pointedness) he also gains their trademark warts and his hair is slicked back - neither of which have been done on this mould. So what you get is a head sculpt that halfway between the two - passable but disappointing. A bit of grey paint could easily fix the eyebrows, but having to do the work yourself is definitely a knock against it. It's such a shame they missed the mark with the head because the costume looks brilliant, particularly the job they've done on recreating his checked trousers. It's not a bad figure by any measure, but had they simply decided to skip that orange paint it would have been perfect.

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The bigger body type means that he can balance a lot better than Peri can, but when it comes to joints and articulation the Second Doctor is built in pretty much exactly the same way. Standard neck, waist, bicep, wrist and thigh swivels, single hinge elbows and knees and a T-joint hip build - basic but  somewhat effective. Unfortunately those soft plastic jacket tails do get in the way of the hips somewhat, and the bicep swivels break up the sculpt in the most ghastly way imaginable. These figures aren't ever going to compete with similar collector lines at the 5.5 to 6" scale but they're still good a fair few poses.

Doctor Who 'The Two Doctors' Set Stike 01

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But the real prize of the set is of course Group Marshal Stike, as this is the first official figure for the comically-inept Sontaran and the final iteration of the classic versions that needed releasing. Stike is a reworked Linx figure - sporting a brand new head sculpt, removed armour pieces from the elbows/knees and a reworked paint scheme. While the onscreen costume may not have been a direct copy of Linx's, the different between them is minimal enough that it works perfectly here and the new head looks fantastic. It's both visibly different from the other Sontaran figures and recognisably Stike, but without any of the weird deflatedness the mask sometimes had during the episode. The paintwork is also suitably sharp, without any obvious QC issues or the cross-eyed expression the Linx and Styre re-releases suffered from. If there's one thing Character Toys have proved they can excel at, it's getting the most out of existing tooling and Stike really demonstrates that. By reusing the same body they've been able to pour all their resources into making the head sculpt as best as it can possibly be, and they've done a magnificent job with it.

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With the same base body being shared across the classic-era Sontarans (gotta love a clone race), Stike's articulation is identical to that of his brethren, as well as the other two figures in this set for that matter. What does make him stand out though is that he's the only figure out of the three to include an accessory! No Sontaran would bee complete without his helmet, and Stike's looks great with its darker eyeholes and dark silver crest just above them. Whereas the Linx and Styre re-releases had some issues with the helmets not fitting onto the collars properly there doesn't seem to be any such problem with Stike, as the helmet pops on and off with no fuss whatsoever. Given that Stike uses the traditional Sontaran baton in The Two Doctors its unfortunate that one of those wasn't also included, especially since the mould has a holster for it on the hip. Accessories seem to have been very inconsistent over the 2019 wave of figures, with some figures coming with everything they should (the Silver Nemesis Cybermen, Linx and Styre), others getting nothing at all and then Stike here falling somewhere in the middle. One accessory is better than no accessories though, and given how vital a Sontaran helmet is the uniform Character definitely made the right choice here.

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The Two Doctors Figure Set has a fair bit of variation between its three figures - you've got the disappointing Peri, a Second Doctor that oh so slightly misses the mark and then the rather excellent Stike. It has its flaws, but given its £19.99 price tag I still can't help but be at least a little impressed by it. A lot of the B&M exclusive three-packs over the past few years have been fairly underwhelming but Character really knocked it out in the park in 2019. Peri might be disappointing but it's great to see the mould back in circulation, a new Second Doctor is always welcome and Stike has been a long time coming. Peri's arms are unfortunate, but in terms of QC it's a pretty solid set as well - not a poorly painted face or blemish to be seen. If like me you've felt starved of notable Doctor Who figures for some time, then this is definitely worth grabbing even if for Stike alone.

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