Tuesday 19 October 2021

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #7 Set

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Release Date: September 2021
RRP: £19.99

The fact Character Options have been releasing their new History of the Daleks sets in chronological order has made it quite easy for Doctor Who fans to predict just what'll be in each set, but it does come with a worry of repetition. After all the Daleks have only changed so much over the years, with the late 60s stories in particular showing minimal differences between them. However Character have recognised this as well, and for the most recent wave of B&M Store exclusive releases they're mixing things up a bit. Rather than near-identical Daleks from both The Power of the Daleks and The Evil of the Daleks on shelves at the same time, we're jumping from 1966 with set #5 all the way to 1972 with the History of the Daleks #7 set. Number six will follow in due course, but for now we're looking back on Day of the Daleks - a significant story for a number of reasons. Not only is it the Daleks' return to the show since their "final end" in Evil, but also their first face-off against the Third Doctor AND their first appearance on the show in colour. 

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Packaging remains consistent across all of the History of the Dalek releases, which in turn is consistent with all of the current Doctor Who action figure releases. So if you if you aren't bored of seeing that modern series logo and TARDIS graphic, you're in luck because you're probably going to see a whole lot more of it before these sets are done. For the most part the front window gives you a good look at the two Daleks housed inside, though the TARDIS image does cut off the view of the gold Dalek when viewed any way other than at an angle from the opposite side. The back of the box features the usual array of product images, a little synopsis on Day of the Daleks and some production/prop notes on the Daleks' first colour television appearance. Inside the figures are neatly stored on a plastic tray, with a cardboard diorama of Bull Bridge behind them – the location the Daleks appear at the end of the story when they travel back in time to ensure that their version of the future is preserved.

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First up we have the gold Supreme Dalek, which is in charge of the Daleks' operations on Earth in the 22nd century. This Dalek variant was previously released as part of the Dalek Collectors' Set #2 all the way back in 2009, but has been given a rather significant overhaul for this release. The History of the Daleks version is considerably more screen-accurate, which can be immediately seen with its new gold coloured neck mesh. But there are plenty more changes made on top of that, including a more accurate fender with both a wider top section and gold paint around the top. Even the appendages have been overhauled, with a slightly longer eyestalk sporting light blue discs and mismatched silver/gold appendage joints. You could perhaps argue that the gold used here is a little more vibrant than it appeared in Day of the Daleks, but that seems more down to the lighting in the story rather than the choices made here. And even if you disagree, it's still a dead ringer for the one that appears in the final episode of Frontier in Space.

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At the time of release the gold Supreme included with Dalek Collectors' Set #2 seemed like a dream. Inaccurate as it may be, back then we were still pretty starved for Dalek toy releases – and especially ones that took moulding differences between the variants into account. Although it's quite hard to photograph, there is a very subtle difference in gold between the two versions. The Collectors' Set #2 version pictured above is also the original release too, which lacked the more accurate ribbed dome lamps that appeared in the 2012 revised version of the set.

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A Supreme Dalek would usually be the main draw of any set, but this time around it's playing second fiddle to something the Doctor Who figure range has been sorely lacking despite being around for over a decade – a proper metallic gunmetal grey 1970s Dalek drone. While there have been a few 70s Daleks released in the past, they've all shared the same flat grey paint job. So how fitting that the first Dalek drone to be released from Day in the Daleks, the first time the Daleks appeared on the show in colour no less, is also the best 70s drone released by far. The paint job on the figure is flawless – vibrant in the way all metallic paint jobs are, but also dark and menacing in that militant way these Daleks were. Differences between this and the Supreme are purely colour-based, with the drone sporting the usual black neck mesh and then gunmetal grey wherever there was gold on the Supreme. The drones also featured the mismatched appendage joints, an odd little touch which immediately makes the Day of the Daleks props stand out.

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But while there's plenty to say when it comes to colour schemes and accuracy improvements, functionally the Dalek mould hasn't changed at all since Character first unveiled it all those years ago. 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. It's worth noting that due to the paint used on these particular variants both the eyestalk and appendage ball joints can be a little sticky straight out the box, but with a bit of gentle working quickly work just as well as any other Dalek release.

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Day of the Daleks is a fun story, but given the limitations of the production and the admittedly strange Dalek voices (the 2011 special edition does attempt to rectify these issues) it's one that's unlikely to top anyone's list of favourite Dalek stories. History of the Daleks #7 on the other hand is quite easily the best one Character Options have put out yet. As if all the improvements to the Supreme Dalek to make it more screen accurate weren't enough to give this set praise, the metallic grey Dalek drone comes straight in at one of the best classic Dalek releases the line has ever done. From the aforementioned accuracy improvements to that sublime colour scheme, this isn't just a Dalek variant you'll want to army build because it's a standard drone – it's one you'll want multiples of because it just looks so damn good. There's more Daleks in this colour (albeit with some slight differences) coming very soon for History of the Daleks #8, but even then waiting for more might be hard. After all, two greys and a gold technically is screen accurate…

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