Monday 30 November 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #3 Set

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Release Date: October 2020
RRP: £19.99

2020 has been a pretty terrible year all around, so for Doctor Who fans the growing resurgence of Character Option’s figure range has been something of a shining light. Even though the majority of releases are still B&M Stores exclusives, the selection we’ve seen this year far outclasses anything we’ve seen since the line’s heyday. Among their October range of releases the History of the Daleks continues with this third set in the assortment, focusing on the 1965 story The Chase. This story saw the Daleks pursue the Doctor throughout time and space in their own time ship, eventually landing on the planet Mechanus and fighting a dual to the death with the Mechanoids. This two figure set features one Guard Dalek, and one standard silver Dalek drone.

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The set comes in standard rectangular packaging, using the same graphic resources Character have been using on Doctor Who figures since updating the packaging design in 2019. It's nothing particularly unique to this set, and simply just a basic TARDIS design with the new Doctor Who logo in the top corner and the set name (along with the story these variants hail from and the year it was produced) printed just under the window. That TARDIS design is then repeated on both sides of the box. Along with the stock images on the back is a brief synopsis on The Chase, as well as a small piece on the history of the props used in the story. This is a particularly good story to get into the discussion of Dalek props, given both the significant design changes made to them here and the fact the story used a number of different props of varying origins. If you ever wondered just how movie Daleks ended up in a television production, then this is a good (albeit brief) explanation. Inside the figures are neatly stored on a plastic tray, with a cardboard diorama of the Mechanus jungle behind them. Though it uses the same imagery, the card isn't quite the same as the one from The Jungles of Mechanus set and nicely adds to the growing supply of diorama backgrounds this range is delivering.

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First up is a new variation of the Guard Dalek, which onscreen were a pair of baseless movie-style Daleks (with smaller dome lamps) which appeared in the background as guards within the Dalek time machine. Character previously released this variant in 2013 as part of their Sound FX Dalek range, and it’s been highly sought after ever since. While the general appearance between the two versions might be similar, there are a few paint variations. The B&M version uses a much darker shade of blue for the dome and hemispheres as well as a flatter gold for the midsection bands, both of which are the same colour shades used on the “Jungles of Mechanus” movie Daleks. The body is also a darker shade of silver, again similar to that of the movie Daleks. One key difference between the two releases is the gun stick, with the Sound FX version having the standard 60s style gun while the B&M version has the one introduced for the movie. Other than that though the differences between the two really are negligible, and it’s fantastic to have such a unique variant back on the market again.

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The second Dalek in the set is the standard silver drone predominately seen in the story, sporting the then-new solar slat design which has been a part of the Dalek anatomy ever since. There are some considerable differences between this release and the ones originally included in the The Chase set released all the way back in 2011, not all of which are necessarily improvements. Like the previous History of the Daleks releases this drone features a much shinier silver used on the body, but also has darker blue hemispheres to reflect that change which was made on these new props. The dome now has accurate rounded yellow lamps, rather than the spherical orange ones the previous release had. The eyestalk is also considerably different, not only sporting a constricted iris but also fewer discs on the stalk. Said discs are also a much lighter shade of blue. But arguably the most noticeable change here though is to the midsection, which is now an extremely light grey as opposed to the darker shade fans have become accustomed to. While the story was in black and white so we’ll never truly know the exact shade this part of the Dalek was, dark grey has always been the standard - from toys and book illustrations to photo colourisations. To make this change now is a little strange, and the grey really struggles to stand out against the silver body. The change will take some getting used to, but it’s nice that there are some considerable differences between this and previous Chase Daleks to make it more unique. It’s a pity it couldn’t have been equipped with a seismic detector or Electrode Unit like the ones seen in the story, but Character are clearly avoiding any new tooling on these figures so that was never really on the cards.

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Dalek articulation is fairly basic so there’s not a whole lot to talk about, but at the very least you have the assurance that these figures can do everything that they need to. Altogether each figure sports a 360 degree rotating head, movable eyestalk and ball jointed appendages. There are also three wheels attached to the base (two fixed and one pivoted), which allow the toy to comfortably glide across smooth surfaces. Due to the paint used on the ball joints the appendage movement might be a little sticky at first, but that’ll wear off fairly quickly. The only other thing you could really ask for from a classic Dalek figure is a telescopic manipulator arm, but with the line having never done that before it wasn’t going to happen here either.

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History of the Daleks #3 is another winner from Character, bringing fans two sought after Daleks they may have missed back in the day while also making army building a much cheaper possibility. The Guard Dalek is the ideal kind of variant compared to the original sound FX version, but it’s a shame that the standard drone’s new accuracies had to be offset but that questionable midsection. Between this and the Jungles of Mechanus set Character have been showing a lot of love for The Chase recently, so hopefully one day soon they’ll be able to extend that love even further and put Mechanoids back on the market again. Unfortunately the distribution of this (along with all the other October B&M sets) has been fairly terrible thanks to the ongoing COVID situation in the UK, so it’s definitely not one to hesitate on picking up.

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