Monday 4 October 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #5 Set

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Release Date: September 2021
RRP: £19.99

Despite limitations, Character Options' Doctor Who action figure range came back in full force in 2020 – continuing their partnership with B&M stores to deliver a selection of exclusive releases. Among the most popular of these was the History of the Daleks line – a chronological progression through the stories of the Doctor's most feared enemies in the form of double-pack releases. Starting with 1963's The Daleks and making its way to 1965's The Daleks' Master Plan last year, it has now returned in 2021 with The History of the Daleks #5 Set – The Power of the Daleks (1966). Marking the debut of the Second Doctor, this fully missing adventure (though now available as an animated recreation) sees the Doctor arrive on the planet Vulcan – where a capsule of Daleks has been discovered. Though the Daleks seem subservient, they are secretly amassing enough power to restart the capsule's hidden assembly line – with the aim of taking the colony and exterminating all life present.

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To no surprise the packaging perfectly matches that of the previous four History of the Daleks set, using the same template and graphics Character Options have used for their Doctor Who figures for the past two years. For the most part the front window gives you a good look at the two Daleks housed inside, other than that TARDIS graphic on the left-hand side cutting one off. Arguably the back is far more interesting, not only showing off the figures but also featuring a nice little synopsis of The Power of the Daleks AND some interesting tidbits about the production and Dalek props used. Open it up and inside the figures are neatly stored on a plastic tray, with a cardboard diorama of inside the Dalek Capsule behind them - perfect for a display and/or photograph background.

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The set features two standard silver Dalek drones as featured in The Power of the Daleks, however the key difference between the two is that one has the infamous mutant scoop accessory in place of the standard manipulator arm/plunger. This is a sieve-like appendage that was used in the story to transfer Dalek mutants to their casings, and despite not being the only new appendage that appears in the story (there was also an electrode arm) undoubtedly remains the most popular. The mutant scoop here is simply a silver disc like piece mounted on a standard Dalek arm, but really looks the part and immediately makes its bearer stand out as a Power Dalek. However there also one other subtle difference between the two Daleks in this set – the eyestalks. Whereas the mutant scoop Dalek features the standard 60s style eyestalk as seen on previous releases, the standard one has a slightly different design – sporting an additional section between the discs and eyepiece, as well as a constricted lens. There have been a few Daleks previously released in the History range with constricted lenses, however this is the first one to be done by painted a 70s style pupiled eyestalk in a different way. It's a great way of both illustrating the differences between the Dalek props in the story (as noted on the back of the packaging), and reusing assets that were also used in its wave-mate History of the Daleks #7. Other little changes made to these figures in regards to screen accuracy include darker blue eyestalk discs, murky orange dome lamps, silver joints on the appendages and weathering detailing on the base plates. They look great, but admittedly they aren't quite as accurate as they could be. Rather bizarrely although the front piece of the midsection has been painted grey (a welcome return for the darker grey of earlier releases, rather than the strange light grey used on History of the Daleks #3 and #4), the back of the section has been painted silver. This is apparently a factory error, and although it isn't extremely noticeable does go against the other show accurate adjustments that have been made to the figures. All in all if you aren't sick of 60s Daleks yet, this is another great set and one that would be perfect for army building.

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Compared with the Sound FX Power Dalek previously released in 2013 the changes made to this new pair become all the more apparent. Not only did the Sound FX Dalek have a standard black plastic base with no additional weathering, the dome lamps were a translucent yellow as opposed to the more screen-accurate murky orange of the new releases and the gunstick mould is slightly larger. The Sound FX Dalek shares the same eyestalk design as the standard one included in this set, however it has lighter discs that match the hemisphere colour instead of using a darker shade of blue. Accuracy-wise there are pros and cons to them both though, as at least the Sound FX Dalek has a fully grey midsection. It also has a really nice black wash on the slat piece which really brings out the mesh detailing – something I hadn't really noticed before but immediately stands out when compared with these new Power Daleks.

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As far as Daleks go though any new features these new figures have are purely cosmetic, because functionally it's the same mould Character Options have been rolling out for over a decade now. In terms of articulation it's got everything you'd expect from a Dalek, including a 360-degree rotating dome, moveable eyestalk and ball jointed appendages. On the underside of the base are three wheels (two fixed at the back and one pivoted at the front), allowing the Daleks to glide across surfaces in screen-accurate fashion.

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Even though we've had quite a few 60s Daleks sets by now History of the Daleks #5 proves to be another winner, especially with Character now showing a willingness to include alternate appendages for what would otherwise be standard Daleks. It's a shame that previous sets couldn't have included the likes of the cutter arm or seismic detector, because simple as it may be the inclusion of the mutant scoop is what really makes a difference here. The budget for new tooling is not quite at the point that we can get a mutant along with it, but at least it's not that difficult to make your own green blob if need be (and if that fails, the mutant included with the Reconnaissance Dalek makes a good alternative). The little tweaks made to improve screen accuracy are also much appreciated, although it's a shame they're somewhat spoiled by that half silver mid-section. As we now approach the end of the 60s and finally move on to some differently coloured Daleks, The Power of the Daleks continues to show why it's so beloved despite the original version being missing from the BBC Archives.

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