Wednesday 16 September 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 5.5" Scale Twelfth Doctor

To say that I’m not a fan of the current 3.75” Doctor Who figures would be flogging a dead horse at this point. I’ve bought a few and been pleasantly surprised by most of the Daleks, but I among many others long for the days when the 5.5” figures rule the roost again. This was the scale that produced some of the finest Doctor Who action figures ever, and sadly the sculpts of the smaller figures just don’t measure up. But while Character Options seem more preoccupied with the show’s younger audience, American distributor Underground Toys are tackling the collectors end of things. Over the past few years they’ve sprinkled a few great releases here and there (such as the War Doctor figure and Time of the Doctor 11th Doctor), but at long last comes their properly attired Twelfth Doctor 5.5” figure. Although this figure was originally slated for release in October, it was brought forward a month – coming just before Peter Capaldi returns to screens for the premiere of series nine. Perfect timing.

The Doctor Who figure range has gone through a number of different packaging types over the years, so it’s no surprise to see that the return of the 5.5” line also brings a new one along with it. The most interesting aspect I find is that, despite this revived line focusing more on the modern iteration of the series, the packaging actually uses the late 90s/early 00s series logo. To me that just screams that this line is solely aimed at collectors rather than children. It’s also good to see the Underground Toys logo having more presence on the packaging, since they’re the real reason this figure is even happening (Character’s logo is still present and correct on the back though). Anyway the box itself is simple-yet-slick rectangular packaging, with a clear front window and classic style “vortex” design. The back features a nifty little bio of the Twelfth Doctor next to a picture of the figure, along with an appropriate quote from the man himself.

There are already a fair few variations of the Twelfth Doctor’s signature costume, but for this first 5.5” figure Underground Toys have gone with the ensemble people are probably most familiar with – navy jacket with red inner lining, white shirt and black trousers and boots. It’s a pretty restrained costume compared to most of the other Doctors and thus doesn’t look particularly exciting visually, but it’s undoubtedly accurate and that’s the most important thing. The headsculpt isn’t perfect, but certainly very good. With Peter Capaldi having such defined facial features I can’t say I was expecting a perfect sculpt at this scale, but the size difference means it’s a far better attempt than the 3.75” equivalent and undoubtedly looks like Capaldi.

The Twelfth Doctor figure boasts 16 points of articulation, with ball jointed shoulders, bicep swivels and double jointed hips (so they move forwards/backwards and inwards/outward) being among the highlights. Admittedly the hand rotation is a little stiff on my figure, but it's certainly there so definitely worth counting. Besides, if most of the previous figures had them it would be very odd to drop it all of a sudden.

Doctor Who figures are hardly known for their impressive accessory counts, but it just wouldn’t be right if the Doctor didn’t come with his trusty Sonic Screwdriver would it? This tiny little piece isn’t exactly heavily detailed, but the overall shape is right and the colours are all in the right places. Due to the figure’s design, it can unfortunately only fit in the Doctor’s right hand. Can’t say I honestly expected this figure to come with anything else other than the screwdriver, but if these collectors’ figures are going to become more commonplace it would be nice to see Underground Toys explore the possibility of alternate hands. They’ve already tackled swappable heads with some of their other releases, and with so many other collectors’ lines already doing this they’d be missing a trick not to. 

The Twelfth Doctor isn’t an exceptionally exciting figure in-hand, but the fact it’s been made is undoubtedly a big deal. Though not all that much has changed since this scale was the norm for Doctor Who figures, seeing a new Peter Capaldi figure at this size is a reminder of just how much better they are in terms of sculpt and articulation and how disappointing much of the 3.75” line has been. Even if more classic series figures at this size are unlikely, there’s plenty I’d like to see Underground Toys continue to tackle. Clara, Zygons, the new Cybermen…even Missy. We saw at SDCC that there’ll be a Curator figure from Day of the Doctor coming somewhere down the line, but the potential for great figures stretches much further than just Tom Baker.

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