Friday 25 February 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'Warriors of the Deep' Collector Figure Set

Doctor Who 'Warriors of the Deep' Set 01

Release Date: February 2022
RRP: £29.99

While the various B&M store exclusive figures released by Character Options continue to excite Doctor Who fans, it's whenever they announce their next website exclusive that things get really exciting. Though there's only usually one a year (the 'Jungles of Mechanus' Dalek set in 2020 and then the Abominable Snowman Second Doctor/TARDIS set in 2021), it's a release slot reserved for some of the line's more remarkable releases. And in 2022 Character have produced the most remarkable one so far, with the Warriors of the Deep Collector Figure Set. Based on the 1984 story from the Fifth Doctor's tenure, this three-figure set includes the three Silurians featured in the story – Ichtar, Scibus and Tarpok. Not only was it released exclusively through the Character Online website, but the set is also limited to only 3000 pieces.

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Although the Warriors of the Deep set comes in packaging that shares the same design as the B&M Store exclusives of the past few years, there are a few little differences worth mentioning. The most obvious of these is the size of the box, which is considerable thicker than anything the line has produced in the last few years – it's even bigger than the Dalek boxes! In the place of the usual gold foil "limited edition" sticker there's a printed gold circle designating this release as a Character Toys exclusive. Through the front window you can get a good look at all three Silurian figures, which have all been packaged at slightly different angles – giving you both a more varied window display and a better look at the sculpt before opening it up. One side of the box features images of the three figures, while the other carries the front window around as well as directly naming the three Silurians. On the back of the box you'll find a lengthy synopsis of Warriors of the Deep, a biography about the Silurians themselves and a bit of behind the scenes information about the story. While I've always liked this aspect of the packaging (particularly the Behind the Scenes info), this particularly release does go a little too heavy on the information. The synopsis particularly reads like a modified version of the story's Wikipedia entry. Open the box up and you'll find the figures themselves tied down to their moulded plastic tray. Behind them however is the real reason this packaging is so thick – a 3D backdrop insert of the Silurian Cruiser, complete with Sea Base 4 visible in the background. The backdrops have always been a highlight of these releases and to get one enhanced even further with 3D elements is particularly cool. While the increase in packaging size means it probably won't be done all that often, it's fun to think of all the other stories that could benefit from backdrops like this.

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As with all of the Doctor Who figures released in the last few years the Silurians are built upon existing tooling, but there are also a considerable number of new parts incorporated here too. The legs and upper arms are taken from the 2008 Sea Devil figure (which is rather fitting given the relationship between the two species in-show), while the rest of the figure (head, torso, lower arms, hands and feet) are all brand new sculpts. The torso is also covered by an armoured shell-like vest, which has additional dorsal plates sculpted down the spine. The figure is largely coloured by the plastic itself, though a dark brown wash has been applied across the body to bring out all that sculpted detail. On each of the Silurians' left wrist is a communications device, painted in grey and silver with additional green panels. Given the budget limitations Character Options have when it comes to these figures, the quality here is astounding. The head sculpt is particularly brilliant – a perfect likeness to the costumes themselves as well as capturing that wonderfully goofy expression. As well as all the scaly detailing applied to the main body the vest also has a shell-like texture which further enhances the overall look.

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While Scibus and Tarpok share exactly the same mould as Ichtar so are almost identical, there is one key paint app difference. Whereas Ichtar has his Silurian third eye illuminated red, his subordinates have their third eye painted black. Of course within the episode itself this is not an indicator of who's who so each of these figures could be any of the three Silurians, but it makes sense to consider the leader to be the one painted differently. It's an extremely minor difference but it does at least prevent the three figures from being wholly identical, as well as giving you a Silurian that could be performing any number of functions. Stunning, hypnotising, killing or even just in the middle of talking – that flashing third eye has plenty of uses.

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Given that the Sea Devil is one of the oldest figures in the classic Doctor Who range one might consider the Silurians' articulation to suffer as a result, but it's actually not that bad (by the line's standards at least) despite a lot of design restrictions. Altogether they feature; 
- Swivel hinge shoulders and hips 
- Hinged elbows and knees 
- Wrist, thigh and foot swivels 
While the construction of the figure itself means that there are both head and waist swivels built in as well, the new head/neck piece and armoured shell restrict those joints to the point of being unusable. You can perhaps get a little movement out of the head, but certainly nothing to the point that poses will look any different. On the one hand it is a little disappointing from an articulation standpoint, but on the other the costumes would have been just as restrictive so they're fairly screen accurate in that respect. With so many Doctor Who figures lacking something as fundamental as swivel hinge arms it's always wonderful to get ones that do have them, especially when it's notable releases such as the Silurians. Even with the neck and waist neutered they can still lumber about like the big rubber monsters that they are, with little touches like the rotatable wrists and feet adding some extra nuance to poses. While admittedly I'd still like more poseability out of Doctor Who figures, I appreciate the fact that the line has been going for so long now it is good to keep some element of consistency.

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Character Options had already shown that their online exclusives were releases to take note of with both the 'Jungles of Mechanus' Dalek and Abominable Snowman Doctor/TARDIS sets, but the Warriors of the Deep Collector Figure Set is undoubtedly the most significant of them all – as well arguably the most important Doctor Who figure release in years. After years of new figures only really made possible by retooling/repainting existing moulds, these classic Silurians are the first time that the retooling has felt extensive enough that the figures feel almost brand new. Things like the Voord and Sensorites have been nice, but the Silurians are a far more beloved monster that not too long ago would have felt like a pipedream. £30 for three near-identical figures might seem like a bit much, but at £10 a figure and the fact you're getting ALL the Silurians that appeared in the story in one set it's actually pretty great value. There's no doubt Character will try to get as much use as possible out of these newly created parts too, so hopefully 70s Silurians (as well as a much-needed Sea Devils reissue) are in the pipeline too. Given the limited nature of fantastic set, be sure to grab yours while you still can.

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