Tuesday 1 December 2020

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #4 Set

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Release Date: October 2020
RRP: £19.99

With a total of four History of the Daleks sets having released in 2020, this year of B&M Store exclusives have rather nicely encompassed the First Doctor's tenure and the height of Dalekmania. By 1965 they were so popular that only six months after The Chase that they returned once more in the 12-part epic The Daleks' Master Plan. After building an alliance of various species across space, the Daleks have created their ultimate weapon - the Time Destructor. After discovering their plot the Doctor steals their supply of Taranium, the rarest mineral in the universe and key component of the weapon, in a bid to stop them. And so begins another chase across time and space. The story is notable for the first appearance of Nicholas Courtney in Doctor Who (here playing the Space Agent Brett Vyon) as well as the deaths of two companions. This two Dalek set contains both a standard Dalek drone with pyro-flame attachment, as well as the black Dalek Supreme.

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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 Daleks' Master Plan, as well as a brief paragraph on the props themselves and how quickly this story came off the back of The Chase. These sections are great at both giving the boxes a little more flair, and giving more casual fans a bit of insight on this missing piece of Doctor Who history. Of course you could just hope on the internet and read all of this, but it's nice having it there nonetheless. Inside the figures are neatly stored on a plastic tray, with a cardboard diorama of the Dalek city behind them. 

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The first Dalek of the set is a silver drone, however rather than the usual manipulator arm attachment it instead has a “pyro-flame” flamethrower, which a group of Daleks used to burn down a jungle in The Daleks’ Masterplan. A pyro-flame variant Dalek was previously released in 2011 as part of the Enemies of the First Doctor Set, alongside a Roboman and Tenth Planet Cyberman. As has been the case with all the other History of the Daleks releases so far, there are a few fair paint differences between the two. The 2020 B&M version sports shinier silver paint, lighter blue hemispheres and eyestalk discs and a light grey midsection. The dome now has accurate taller, rounded yellow lights, as opposed to the spherical orange ones on the original. While modifications like the dome lights are brilliant, other changes like the light grey midsection really don’t work as well. Given how ingrained the dark grey is into the minds of Doctor Who fans it’s very strange that Character would make this change all of a sudden. It’s also curious why this drone has much lighter hemispheres than the one included in the previous History set, given that presumably they were the same prop. The flame piece is made of translucent orange plastic and can be removed from the arm, giving you the choice of displaying it activated or inert. My biggest gripe with this figure is the QC, which as you can see from the photos isn't too great on my copy as there are two rather noticeable black spots/chips on the hemisphere. I'm going to be painting this Dalek up into something else at a later date so it doesn't bother me too much, but I'd be annoyed if this was a variant I was planning to display. Overall given how memorable the pyro-flame sequence is in the story (especially so given that it’s been missing for so many years), including this variant was a no-brainier for this set and it’s great Character have brought it back to give fans a second chance at grabbing one.

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The second Dalek in this set is the Dalek Supreme, previously released alongside the First Doctor as part of Character’s Toys R Us exclusive Doctor/Dalek two-packs back in 2013. While I never bought the original release of this figure (hence the lack of comparison pictures), I did make a custom version of it in 2012. Paint adjustments to the B&M version include the previously mentioned lighter grey midsection (which admittedly looks far better alongside black than it does silver), lighter blue hemispheres, less black paint on the eyestalk, lighter blue eyestalk discs and finally a contracted iris. As well as the light grey midsection already bringing the onscreen accuracy of the figure into question, the lack of black paint on the eyestalk is definitely a departure to how the Dalek Supreme looked in this story. Still, the Dalek still definitely looks the part and with a general lack of Dalek Supremes in the 60s stories, this is one model that will look good with any Dalek army - let alone one from its story of origin. The paint is much sharper on my copy than it is on the Drone, however as is the case with any mass produced toy this is going to vary from figure to figure.

While it’s true that many (myself included) we’re hoping for the red Dalek famously seen on the cover of “Mutation of Time” (the Target novelisation of The Dalek Master Plan’s first half), since it didn’t technically appear in the onscreen story it’s not that surprising Character went for the easy route of drone and Supreme instead. While they may have bent the rules a little with some of their other sets, re-releasing two sought after variants would have taken precedent over filling any potential gaps.

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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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Once again History of the Daleks #4 provides Doctor Who fans with a second chance to grab two highly sought after Dalek variants - improving on some aspects of the originals in terms of accuracy but perhaps lessening them in others. As great as the sharper paint and new dome lights might be, that newly coloured midsection just doesn’t feel right. Still, compared to the price the original versions of this pair were fetching on eBay no one is going to scoff at the chance to grab them at this cost. Unfortunately though that might not be as easy as you hope, given the utterly terrible distribution of this wave of figures in the UK. It’s supposedly so bad that barely any B&M stores in the south of the country got any. So if you’re lucky enough to see this set, grab it while you still can.

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