Saturday 31 October 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 5.5" Scale Missy (Purple Dress Variant)

It's taken a bit of time to find its footing again, but collectors can rejoice in the knowledge that the 5.5" line of Doctor Who figures has made its grand return. Now being billed exclusively as "collectors series"figures, these are something a bit more special than your average Who figure and the way this particular one was revealed proves it. Announced as part of a web broadcast with lead product designer Al Dewar and then sold exclusively via Character Options' website, the next character to join the 12th Doctor is none other than Missy! The latest incarnation of the Master (played by the fantastic Michelle Gomez) was released in two variants - a purple dress version with hatted-neutral expression and a black dress version with hatless grinning face. Both versions are limited to only 4,000 pieces each, although the word is that the black dress version is the rarer one as the purple variant is also to be released in the US.

However since I can't afford both and the purple dress is arguably more iconic, that's the variant I decided to go for!

One of the main ideas behind releasing these figures as a "Collectors Series" is to make them look just as appealing to the mint-in-box collectors as the ones that are content with opening their toys, so good looking packaging seems like a pretty vital aspect. I'm no box displayer by any means, but I'd certainly say this release passes that test. Just like the previous 12th Doctor release Missy comes in a nice rectangular box with minimal clutter and a nice big window that has the whole insert tray on display. An extra nice touch is that the window's ornate border is actually the border around the screen on Missy's handheld device in the show, giving it a unique touch that might be missed by some. The back simply features a single stock image of the figure, along with a two paragraph bio about Missy and her exploits in Death in Heaven/Dark Water.

Credit where it's due, the sculpting on this figure is pretty fantastic. The head has an excellent (if less-defined, much like Capaldi's) likeness to Michelle Gomez, and the trim detailing on the dress and brooch all look equally great. The same can't be said for the hat unfortunately, which has been considerably simplified in comparison to it's onscreen look. The articulation is excellent as well - even if some of it can't even be used properly. There's the obvious neck swivel, ball-cut arms, bicep swivel, elbows and hand swivels, but you may be surprised to know that under that dress there are a pair of legs with perfectly working knee joints that can also swivel at the top. Of course all of that leg articulation makes absolutely no difference under that thick plastic dress, but I was certainly surprised to see it there. Rounding things off is also a rather well hidden waist joint, which makes all the difference when your articulation is pretty much limited to the waist up.

However sadly it's the awful quality control that's letting these figures down once again. Not only are there a number of different paint scuffs and blotches on the figure (the spot on the right foot and patch on the cheek pictured above being the major examples), but the skin colour begins to flake off just from moving the parts. Turning the neck reveals a rather obvious line where the collar is rubbing against the neck and taking the paint off. Bad quality control isn't a new thing for Doctor Who figures (I once bought a 3.75" classic Dalek that was missing both screw covers on the one side) but this is pretty unacceptable for a figure that was actively promoted as a limited edition special. 

Missy comes with only two accessories, but that's still more than most Doctors come with so surely that should be counted as a success right? Those two items are of course her umbrella (sadly closed, so no evil Mary Poppins-esque descents are possible without finding a similarly scaled one) and her multi-purpose control panel device. The device could do with a brighter shade of red paint on back, but other than that these are pretty good accessories. However its when you try to get the figure to hold them the problems start showing up. With the umbrella it's a case of the paint inside the hand flaking off and noticeably marking the handle, and with the device it's a struggle to get her to hold it in the first place! While it isn't impossible to do, a tighter grip could have easily been done and not causing so many headaches of it falling out when posing. Especially since her balance isn't the greatest thing in first place thanks to those high heels.

Of course an extra head would have been nice, but part of the reason Character/Underground likely chose to release two variants with different heads is so they could get collectors to buy both. While it's a shame that the purple dress variety doesn't come with a non-hatted head, as far as the expressions go the neutral look is definitely the way to go. Michelle Gomez is a master of fantastic facial expressions, and the black dress variant doesn't quite capture that brilliance.

Despite having obvious limitations from the waist down, this Missy figure would actually be pretty fantastic if not for the horrible quality control on it. When you actively promote an exclusive limited edition figure with a huge webcast reveal one would naturally expect a higher level of quality from it, and sadly Missy just doesn't live up to that. Hopefully Character Options/Underground Toys will take note of these concerns before the next lot of "collectors' edition" figures hit. Many of them may be repaints or rereleases of older figures, but I have high hopes for that Night of the Doctor Eighth Doctor.

Still, if you're in the market for a Missy figure (or a Miss Pickwell/Sue White/insert Michelle Gomez character here figure for that matter) to face off against your 12th Doctor or add to a growing Master collection you'd better jump on this quick. No idea why exactly such a major character is being released as limited edition, but then when have toy releases ever made complete sense?

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