Tuesday 4 August 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #1 Set

History of the Daleks Set #1 01

Release Date:
July 2020
RRP: £19.99

Doctor Who toys took a huge step toward recapturing their former glory last year, as the now (for the most part anyway) B&M Stores exclusive range of figures from Character Options debuted a number of new figures that included both brand new characters and designs based on the Big Finish audios. While the figures are still mostly retools and repaints, the level of ingenuity going into them to create what feel like all-new pieces boded well for the future. The line has returned for a new assortment in 2020, and that faith was certainly not misplaced. Among a range of three-packs covering both the classic and modern series, the Daleks have also made a grand return in the form of new two-packs that chronicle their evolution across Doctor Who. History of the Daleks #1 takes us all the way back to 1963 with their debut story The Daleks, with a pair of the ruthless aliens in the original livery.

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This first History of the Daleks set comes in fairly standard two-pack packaging, following the same base template most Doctor Who figures have followed since Character updated their graphic design in 2019. Whereas the Big Finish sets featured appropriate Doctor images and other little flourishes, this is just the base TARDIS design with the new Doctor Who logo in the top corner and the set name (along with the story it’s based on and the year said story was released) printed just under the window. The TARDIS design is then repeated on both sides of the box. The back of the box however is FAR more interesting, not only featuring images of the figures but also two separate text blurbs. While the first is simply a brief synopsis of The Daleks, the second is a brief description of how the props themselves were built and how the technicians working on the show distinguished each one. It’s a nice little feature for those not as well versed in Who behind the scenes, but also explains the paint variations the figures have. Open it up and the figures are neatly stored on a plastic tray, but behind them is a great cardboard diorama of the Dalek city corridors. It looks as though each of these sets will come with a different insert representing each of their respective stories, giving collectors plenty of exciting opportunities for displays, photographs and more.

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The 1963 Dalek design was previously released by Character Options as part of the first Dalek Collectors Set in 2008, and then again as part of a wave of talking 5” Daleks in 2013. The talking version sported a more vibrant silver and slightly darker blue hemispheres than the original release, and that’s the version Character have drawn from for this newest release - the big giveaway being the etched circle around the hemisphere that would have acted as the button to make the Dalek talk. Either way the colours are spot on to the on screen prop, and this time around Character have even added a little bit more accuracy into the mix. Each of the Daleks has a number of lines marked on the back of their bodies, which the production team then used to issue commands since the operators didn’t know which one was which or where they were in the scene. These two figures are Dalek #1 and Dalek #2 respectively. Dalek #2 also features another unique variant change - a constricted iris lense, a trait common among the early Dalek models from the 60s. Both figures also have some minor weathering on the bases, though it isn’t particularly noticeable nor does there seem to be any pattern in the way it’s been applied. As with most mass produced figures you can expect to a minor paint scuff here or there, but in general the application is pretty spot on. These Daleks looked amazing in black and white, but they look incredible in colour as well.

All in all the difference between the two figures is very minimal, and the prop accuracy will probably only appeal to a particular section of the fandom. Was there more Character could have done here? Possibly - though it wouldn’t have strictly been from The Daleks the orange-lighted variant used in An Adventure in Space and Time or the blue-chested one in The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar would have been great inclusions. They might not be from the story itself, but both show how that timeless original design has returned and as such worthy of inclusion in “The History of the Daleks”. The path Character took with this set makes perfect sense, but with sets going forward allowing more variation between the figures it’s not like there wasn’t any potential for the same thing here either.

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However there’s been no alterations as far as articulation is concerned, which isn’t at all surprising considering that this mould already had all the movement it was ever going to get or need. The dome can spin a full 360 degrees, with the eyestalk also able to raise and lower. Both appendages are attached to ball joints to give them a full circle of rotation, and then finally the bases sport three wheels (two fixed and one pivoted) to let the toy glide across smooth surfaces. While there may be a little resistance at first in the appendages (possibly due to sticky paint?), if you just work them gently they’ll eventually free up to allow the full range of movement. Overall it’s a very basic range of articulation that doesn’t leave much to talk about, but that doesn’t really matter since it’s everything a Dalek needs.

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Collectors have been clamouring to have classic Dalek figures back on the market again for years now and with the History of the Daleks Collectors #1 set, both Character and B&M have shown commitment to it on a scale none of us could have ever expected. Whilst the variant quality of the figures is fairly superfluous and the kind of detailing only hardcore Doctor Who fans would care about, that kind of attention to detail bodes well for the kind of thing that might be cooked up for future releases. Finally, it’s just nice to finally have this model of Dalek in circulation again. As the basis for many of the Dalek designs that appeared in the 60s (whether it be films, annuals, comics or more), the ability to purchase these at retail is as much a dream to figure customisers as it is those looking to fill the gaps in their Doctor Who collections. Of all the latest B&M exclusive sets, this is the one I don’t expect to stay on the shelves long.


Anonymous said...

Really good quality photographs and well researched background info...recomend

Ashlee Dyer said...

This is a greeat blog