Saturday 28 December 2013

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who Eighth Doctor with Dalek Alpha

The eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) and Dalek Alpha

Despite 2013 being a celebration of Doctor Who's 50th anniversary, anyone remotely in the know can tell you that it hasn't been a great year for Character Options' 5" toy line. Not only have the modern series figures been replaced with a brand new 3.75" line, but the classic figures have halted to a non-existent snails pace. Its not outright stopped because thankfully there's a 5" War Doctor (with alternate eighth Doctor head) coming in February 2014, but that's still a while off. So what has the line given us this year to celebrate this momentous anniversary? More Daleks of course!

Love it or hate it, Doctors and Daleks seem to be one of the few sure sellers this scale has and so CO have decided to kill two birds with one stone by making 11 Toys R Us exclusive Doctor/Dalek sets for each Doctor. While all of these are only repaints, some of them are quite interesting - like this one for example, the Eighth Doctor and Dalek Alpha.

The packaging of this Toys R Us exclusive set

The bios on the back of the boxThe insert tray

With only a TV movie and Night of the Doctor minisode to his name, eighth Doctor Paul McGann doesn't have a whole lot of on screen appearances to draw from. Opting to go the comic route rather than draw on McGann's popular Big Finish audio stories, Character have dived into this Doctor's selection of stories from the official Doctor Who magazine and gone for Children of the Revolution, a story that acts as a sequel to the second Doctor's The Evil of the Daleks.

The box has the same standard design of all the previous Doctor Who figure sets that have been released over the past few years - blue 70s style vortex design with the 90s logo. The back features a picture of Paul McGann from the TV movie and a brief bio of the eighth Doctor and the Daleks. Its a shame that the Dalek one is just a generic "evil aliens" paragraph , because Dalek Alpha is actually one of the nice humanised Daleks. A little synopsis of the comic might have been good too, because all things considered it is fairly obscure.


The eighth Doctor - Paul McGann

Remoulds were off the table, so getting an eighth Doctor figure based on his brand new look from Big Finish's Dark Eyes (and presumably onwards) was sadly never going to happen (although with a new slightly hairless McGann coming with the War Doctor, fingers crossed for the future!). Since the Doctor's standard suit has already been made available in the 11 Doctors figure set, this figure also takes its design cues from the comics and places the eighth Doctor in a repainted version of his normal costume with a rather fetching blue coat.

The Doctor strikes a pose

The front of his comic costume......and the back

Character Options' human sculpts can be hit and miss at even the best of times, but this particular figure has a pretty good likeness to Paul McGann as he appeared in the 1996 TV movie. Looking at the face too closely through a camera with flash makes it seem like he has some sort of weird make-up on, but in hand the shading looks far more muted and adds a nice bit of depth to the eyes. As a straight repaint of the 11 Doctors set Eighth, it has been sculpted with the right hand clenched to hold his sonic screwdriver - however this release sadly does not come with the Doctor's trusty tool.

Running away from a DalekTaken prisoner by the Dalek Time Controller

Character Options' articulation still feels a bit outdated in comparison to American toylines (there's no point in even comparing them to Japanese collectors' lines), but for what it's worth this Doctor actually has a decent range. Being on a plug the head has a bit of up/down motion as well as being able to turn naturally, and the arms have four points of articulation at the shoulders, biceps, elbows and hands. Moving down the body we have a waist swivel, which is rounded off by an upper leg cut and knee hinge. The coat is made of soft plastic so will easily move out of the way when bringing the legs forward, but don't expect to the upper part to move back very far.


Dalek Alpha

One of the three original Daleks infused with the human factor in The Evil of the Daleks, Dalek Alpha is a rarity among Dalek toys as it is the first classic Dalek to be released in red (technically the first red Dalek in the line is the Supreme from The Stolen Earth/Journey's End). There has been some discrepancy as to whether this figure is accurate, as the comic strip itself has Alpha as simply red and silver for the most part. That being said, the comic doesn't have amazing detailed colour to begin with, the silver is more dark grey and the hemispheres are black in at least one panel so who knows. Personally I prefer the red/silver/black as it adds a better deal of colour variation to the toy. 

Dalek Alpha in all his red glory

From the front......and from the back.

To put it quite simply, Alpha is possibly the most beautiful looking Dalek that Character Options have released. The colour choice really makes it stand out from the endless swarm of silver and grey ones produced, and the alpha decal on the side of the dome may only be small but makes it feel like something unique. Alpha has three wheels on the base and so can be rolled along a flat service freely, and features a 360 degree rotating dome and moveable appendages. Essentially it does everything a classic Dalek should do, but looks considerably better doing it.

Alpha meets the DoctorConversing with the Daleks

It would be easy to just sit and moan about how eleven Doctor/Dalek repaint packs is both cheap and disappointing, and in many cases I'm sure it will be. However I don't think this one should be considered among them. This is only the second figure the Eighth Doctor has gotten, and with movie likeness rights possibly up in arms other characters may not end up happening. As a huge fan of the more obscurer releases, I'm ecstatic to see Character Options tried with this set to release something truly unique. They may both only be repaints, but a different McGann figure is always welcome and Dalek Alpha has never seen release before and probably never will. In terms of originality, this set without a doubt stands as the winner among all 11 and certainly the only one I'd consider a "must have" for collectors. The more love the eighth Doctor gets, the better.

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