Monday 16 March 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 3.75" Asylum Dalek

Doctor Who Asylum Dalek figure

It's almost a given now that any Doctor Who figure wave is going to feature at least one Dalek, and as far as I'm concerned it's deservedly so. They're easy to produce as there's so many variants, and a sure seller to both children and collectors alike. Wave 3 of the relaunched 3.75" scale Doctor Who figures was even lucky to have two Daleks as part of it - one heralding from the classic era of the show, and one representing the relaunched version. Of course a standard bronze Dalek had already been released as part of wave 1, and both the BBC and Character Options seem quite easy to forget that the New Dalek Paradigm was even a thing. Cue a simple but effective repaint, battle-damaging things up to get an Asylum Dalek from the season seven opener Asylum of the Daleks. Which for the record I absolutely hated, but that's a different rant entirely.

Packaging front

Packaging backBubble insert

When you're so used to talking about Japanese figure packaging, it's always a bit of a drag to talk about the plainer card/bubble packages we mostly get on this side of the pond. But given that this is a toy line that's meant to appeal to all ages and not just collectors, it's not surprising Character Options went for something that's just easy to tear open to get to the goodies inside. So understandably there isn't a whole lot to say here - the bright blue/yellow shapes may look more visually striking than the darker blue vortex swirls of older Doctor Who packaging, but it certainly doesn't look as impressive nor as fitting. The back features a few images of the other figures in this particular wave (which is wave 3 as the front so kindly reminds us), as well as two of the Time Zone play sets available. Also inserted on the front of the bubble is a card displaying which figure this is and the episode it came from, along with the year of transmission. Asylum of the Daleks is already three years old? Time sure flies.

Character Options have received a lot of criticism over the past few years, since a downsize in scale has also seemingly brought about a downgrade in quality. But even though the sculpts of the humanoid characters usually leave a lot to be desired, the Dalek figures managed to come out just as good (if not better) than their 5" counterparts. But to Character Options' credit - the Asylum Dalek is one hell of a good repaint. "Battle damage" is a term thrown about very casually when it comes to toys, and more often then not a quick excuse for a lazy repaint. This though has some real quality behind it, covered in all sorts of weathering, shading and scuffing. It adds an incredible amount of depth to the figure that the cleaner versions lack, nicely bringing out all the rivets and markings added to the Dalek casings when the series returned. They even managed to get the clear plastic discs on the eyestalk to look considerably grimy! This is the kind of paint job I'd expect from a professional customiser, not a mass produced toyline.

But despite this incredibly impressive paint job, it really is just a repaint. There's no physical changes to the mould to represent the dormancy or battle damage of the Asylum Daleks, which is a shame because there's was plenty that could have been done. A damaged dome light, broken plunger, missing hemispheres...anything would have done. Little touches like that really would have made a difference, because outside of the red "Asylum" branding on the dome there's nothing about this that really screams Asylum of the Daleks. The branding itself was completely missable in the show itself, and the only truly memorable bronze Asylum Dalek in the episode was the Clara Dalek (or Clarek if you'd prefer) at the very end - which had shiny standard casing anyway. A battle damaged Dalek is never a bad thing to own, but I can't help feel that a classic silver Dalek might have felt like a better choice for an Asylum release.

Outside of the decoration, there isn't a whole lot to say about this figure. It does pretty much everything you'd expect and want to Dalek figure to do (save for a rotating chest section - an element that has so far only graced the 12" remote controlled Daleks). The dome can rotate a full 360 degrees while the eyestalk can be positioned up and down. The arm and gunstick can move on the axis of the exposed section of the ball joint they are attached to, and finally three wheels are on the base to allow the figure to be pushed along flat surfaces. As I say, pretty much everything you'd expect from a 3.75" scale mainline Dalek figure.

Enter the Asylum!

With the standard Dalek figureAnother comparison shot

The bronze new series-style Dalek is still easily the best thing to have come out of the new scale Doctor Who figures, but after so many variants and repaints it's already beginning to wear a bit thin. Thanks to this the Asylum Dalek could have easily been a completely forgettable figure, but Character Options have really knocked it out of the park with that grimy, weathered deco. If you're looking for Daleks that look like they've seen the wear and tear of battle but lack the paint skills to do it yourself, this is definitely a figure consider. But if you're fine with the clean, seamless look then there are plenty of other more exciting variants out there for you.

No comments: