Thursday 28 January 2010

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who classics 'Earthshock' Cyberman

Concluding what was started with Character Options 'Men of Steel' wave of Doctor Who figures (which included every version of Cyberman bar this one) comes what will most likely prove to be the most popular figure of Classics wave 2 - the 'Earthshock' Cyberman. Well, it says 'Earthshock' on the packaging but it would make more sense to call this the 80s Cyberman, since the design would continue to be used throughout the rest of the classic series, reappearing in both 'Attack of the Cybermen' and 'Silver Nemesis'. This is probably the most well known design of the classic Cybermen, and this is most likely why its release was left until last.

As its been with the majority of CO's classic Who figures, the quality and overall attention to detail on the sculpt itself is marvellous. All the fine details of the astronaut-style suit and the array of pipes connecting the front and back of the chest unit are present, presenting a far more detailed cyberman than the one Dapol released back in the early 1990s. Another nice little touch is making the mouth piece out of clear plastic, with the Cyberman's true jaw partially visible behind it.

As far as articulation goes the Doctor Who figures have never been blessed with much but for their standard the Cyberman's is pretty good, featuring swivel joints on the hands and biceps aswell as the shoulders and pelvis, and hinge joints on the knees and elbows. The head however is static due to the size of the helmet and the chest piece over the top. So all in all its got SOME articulation, but not enough to make the figure particuarly expressive. Not that it matters, Cybermen were never really the expressive type anyway....

Its only accessory is a cyber-gun, which has a plastic shoulder strap attatched so that the Cyberman can sling it over its shoulder while carrying it like they did in the series. Again the gun's sculpt is very accurate to the series.

For £7.99 any Dr Who fan/collector is doing themselves a complete injustice by not picking one of these up, if I had more money at my disposal it would definitely be one I'd be troop building. Regardless hopefully Character Options will release a Cyberleader repaint and possibly a Cyber Controller remold and black Cyberman (both from Attack of the Cyberman). If not, well atleast 2 out of the 3 are relatively easy customs to do...

Monday 4 January 2010

Toybox REVIEW: Revoltech Arch Gurren Lagann

Due to monetary issues at his time of release (i.e. I couldn't afford him), this review is coming alot later than I originally hoped. Nevertheless, here is number 070 in the Revoltech Yamaguchi line, the giant space ganmen Arch Gurren Lagann (or Arc Gurren Lagann as it's called in the series). Arch Gurren Lagann is the result of Gurren Lagann combining with the gunman battleship Arc-Gurren, and is first seen in episode 22 of the series.

As usual when it comes to Revoltech figures, the sculpting and posability of the figure is magnificent. All the little details of the figure show off nicely and the special revolver joints let the figure make some great realistic (or epic) poses. The paint job is superb too, with the silver parts boasting a very nice metallic finish. But perhaps the nicest little feature on the figure is the decision to include pop out heels so that the figure can stand on its own without the use of a stand (which is supplied if you prefer). For anyone who hasn't seen Gurren Lagann, Arch Gurren Lagann spends what very little airtime it has in space, never actually landing anyway. Because of this it doesnt really have much in the way of stable feet. So this great little addition to the design is most welcome and I applaud Revoltech for implementing it.

However there is one problem with Arch Gurren Lagann, and its not so much in the figure itself, and more its accessories. Now this is my 7th Revoltech figure, and I'm quite used to being spoiled in terms of extras (eg they've all had about 3 pairs of extra hands, weapons and excess body parts). Arch Gurren Lagann on the other hand gets a measly extra pair of open hands and some energy punch effects (after all, it CAN punch through dimensions!). While I know AGL didn't actually do much in the series, but it would have been nice at the very least for it to get another pair of hands. And if the talk of it doing a giga drill break in the Ragan-Hen movie is true, I don't know why a drill could have been included too.

In conclusion it's a great figure and more than worthy to be in anyone's collection, but the lack of accessories makes it feel like alot less bang for your buck. Averaging around £25, its alot for a 6" figure no matter how posable it is. If you're an avid fan of the series/revoltech or the design, then this is the figure for you. If you're however merely looking for a great mecha toy, buy the miles better revoltech Gurren & Lagann figure I reviewed last year.

Sunday 3 January 2010

Reviews in Time & Space: The End of Time

So here we have it, after 5 years of Russel T Davies being head writer for the relaunched Doctor Who and David Tennant wowing us as the 10th incarnation of the Time Lord, its time to say goodbye to them both in the 2 part Christmas/New Year's special "The End of Time", also featuring John Simm's incarnation of the Master as Bernard Cribbins as Wilfred Mott. Since the episodes have only just aired and there's plenty of plot details availible on wikipedia I'm going to skip outlining the story and move straight onto my thoughts of it all, because there's a lot of them....Part OneI may aswell get this out of the way first, this was without a doubt one of the worst episodes of new Who I've seen (okay, it's not quite as bad as 'Love and Monsters', but given the hype behind EoT this felt a whole lot more grim and underwhelming). From the Master being magically resurrected by the Cult of Saxon and having what can only be described as super powers to the conviently placed "Infinity Gate", this whole story was a mess.

Let's begin with the Master, his resurrection was
very quickly glossed over as some sort of magic reincarnation using his DNA and Lucy Saxon as some form of catalyst (I'm going to be honest, I've forgotten the finer details, because I was already considerably unimpressed by this point), but with her fighting back and him coming back as "incomplete". This of course, results in him occasionally becoming all x-ray see through, having an enourmous hunger (resulting in him eating humans and a scene of him devouring a whole turkey in seconds....which was basically RTD ramming his opinion of gluttony at Christmas down our throats in his usual blatent fashion) and being able to fly and shoot Emperor Palpatine style lightning bolts from his fingertips (this isn't the only time Star Wars would be ripped off either, just wait 'til we get to part 2. We also have his grand scheme for the episode, to turn every human being on the planet into himself. While the Master is that arrogant yes, I don't quite see the logic in him doing this. One thing I've always thought about the Master was that he wanted to rule the Universe so that he would be ruling supreme over everyone else. If everyone else is him, then its all equal. It seems more of a Dalek/Cyberman plot to me, his plan in 'Sound of Drums/Last of the Timelords' was significantly better.

Next we have the Doctor, who at the beginning seems to be quite over the result of his actions as "Time Lord Victorious" in 'Waters of Mars', and back to his old chirpy himself. But then as soon as we get to Earth we're treated to prolonged segments of the Doctor whining about how he's about to die. That's quite a big jump in character right there. But I'll go into how I feel about whiny Dr 10 at the end of the review, since its more a closing thought than anything else. Throw in some utterly pointless filler aliens (reusing the same makeup as Bannakaffalatta from 'Voyage of the Damned', but in green and less midgety) and the end result is a complete borefest as a story which was only really carried by the wonderful acting of Bernard Cribbins. The ending scene, revealing Timothy Dalton and a legion of Time Lords did give me some hope for part 2, but to be honest I was going in with extremely low expectations.
Part Two
And those low expectations paid off in a way, because part 2 was far more enjoyable. The plot went from being "awful" to "mediocre". It had some great potential, but as usual was spoiled by the typical Deus Ex Machina's and weak resolutions that have plagued RTD's "grand" finales since day one. Timothy Dalton as a resurrected Rassilon leading corrupt Time Lords committed to destroying the the fabric of time itself in order to win the Time War? Fantastic. Dalton reversing the Master's grand scheme with the click of his fingers and a 2 minute wrap up by the Doctor? Not so great. Not to mention the Doctor's wonderful Time Lock, which he used to prevent the Time Lords from carrying out their grand scheme and end the Time War...seems everything from a tiny diamond to a Dalek army could get out of that thing. And what about the mysterious woman appearing to Wilf and seemingly being recognised by the Doctor? Her identity is a question we'll probably never get answered, and if it's like reports have rumoured and it turns out to be the Doctor's mother, all I have to say is "what the hell?". His mother? Seriously? Eurgh.

But without a doubt my biggest gripe of the story is the representation of the Master. Throughout new Who he's been represented as more a man who deserves our sympathy, a man who had so much potential that was taken away by the constant drumming in his head. All he really wants to do is make the drumming go away. All of this cultivated into the reveal that the drumming in his head was placed by the Time Lords so that they could escape the Time Lock. So what you're trying to say is RTD, is that the Master is the way he is because he was being used by the Time Lords rather than just being naturally corrupt and evil, the polar opposite to the Doctor. The Joker to the Doctor's Batman if you will? Thanks RTD, you almost effectively ruined the character for me, which is a shame because I thought Simm made a damn fine Master.

We're also treated to another 2 Star Wars rip offs (a scene reminiscent of the Falcon/Tie Fighter dog fight in
A New Hope and later, a Mos Eisley style cantina) and the scene where the Doctor takes a heavy dose of radiation poisoning in order to save Wilf is HIGHLY remeniscent of Spock's death in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Ever the original writer I see Davies.

It just aswell that what we all tuned in to see, the final moments of the 10th Doctor, were excellently done. By visiting all his previous companions and seeing a host of RTD era monsters in various situations it felt like a nice homage to the last 5 years of Doctor Who. I may be critical of RTD, but the man did bring back Doctor Who so I am completely grateful to him for that. Martha and Mickey getting married was a nice little touch that I don't think anyone saw coming and even visiting Rose in 2005 before she met the Doctor was really well done (it's just a pity plastic surgery has made Billie Piper repulsive to look at). Then, when the regeneration finally comes Tennant's sad last words "I don't want to go" do make you feel like you're losing the Doctor. But luckily we're immediately treated to unveil of the ecstatic Matt Smith and the adventure continues.

I do have mixed opinions on this ending though. While from a drama standpoint within the story this did work really well, after reading various other opinions on the episode I'd have to agree that subliminally this also seemed like RTD showing us how greater writer/actor we were losing. Tennant has had almost a year of his Doctor whining about how his end was near and that he didn't want to go, while every other Doctor has met their end with dignity by accepting it and moving on, all happening withing the last few minutes of their respective episodes. While again, this added the idea that Tennant's Doctor was far more content with who he was and feared 'death' more than his predecessors, no actor is bigger than the show. Doctor Who existed before David Tennant and it'll exist without him. But I don't want to leave this review on a sour note, because I did think Tennant was a great Doctor, by far not the best or most interesting but still great. He did the character of the Doctor justice, and I thank him for that.

After watching the season 5 preview I can honestly say I'm more excited for the new series of Doctor Who than ever before. Smith looks like he'll be great in the role and I can't wait to see what Moffat will bring as head writer to the series. Goodbye Russel T Davies/David Tennant, hello Stephen Moffat/Matt Smith. All I think that's left to say is GERONIMO!