Monday 21 February 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #8 Set

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Release Date: December 2021
RRP: £19.99

Now that we're few years into the B&M exclusive History of the Daleks sets, it's time to fully jump into 1970s era of Doctor Who with the second set from the Third Doctor's era – History of the Daleks #8. Based around the 1973 serial Planet of the Daleks, the story saw the Doctor and Jo chase the Daleks to the planet Spirdon. Teaming up with a group of Thals, they help defeat the Daleks and bury the 10,000-strong army they have lying dormant in the planet's icy caverns. This latest Dalek set from Character Options was released as part of their December 2021 assortment.

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Eight releases in and collectors will be very familiar with the History of the Daleks packaging by now, which matches the rest of the B&M exclusive Doctor Who range with its TARDIS graphics, modern series logos and blue/white colour scheme. The back of the box features a rather lengthy synopsis of Planet of the Daleks, as well as some behind the scenes information on the props that appeared in the serial (please excuse the huge rip on my box – I had to get the set via eBay as it never showed up in my local B&Ms and it arrived with a huge sticker slapped over it). Open it up and the Daleks are neatly stored on their moulded plastic tray, tied into place with some thick string. Behind them is a cardboard diorama of the Spiridon jungle, complete with the spaceship the Dalek Supreme arrives in the final episode. Take look closely and you'll also see a Thal in the doorway of the ship, referencing how they made their escape off the planet at the end of the story.

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History of the Daleks #8 features two standard Dalek drones from Planet of the Daleks, each done in the new gunmetal grey paint scheme first seen in the previous Day of the Daleks set. When this set was first announced there was a lot of disappointment expressed that it featured two identical Daleks, especially when the story also features two Dalek variants that are extremely sought after and well overdue a reissue – namely the Supreme Dalek and the anti-light wave reflecting (aka 'invisible') Dalek. However, getting Daleks in this more screen-accurate colour scheme is still something of a novelty and getting two in one set is a good way for collectors to build up their ranks if they're into army building. What they could have done however is give one of them the cutting arm used in the story – the design is extremely simple and would have paired nicely with the mutant scoop featured in the Power of the Daleks set. This Planet of the Daleks variant isn't quite the same as the Day of the Daleks version though, with this one sporting a new eyestalk with four same sized discs, clouded white dome lamps, matching grey appendage joints, dark silver gun sticks and a full band of gunmetal colouring on the top half of the fender. Even more noticeable however is the new dome piece, which features a hinge built into the back. Due to this new dome, this variant stands a little bit taller than previous versions. Paint application on the Daleks is reasonably good, however one of mine has a slightly off-centre pupil so may not be perfect.

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So why the new dome piece? Well that's because this History of the Daleks set unveils a brand new gimmick for these figures, one that Character themselves even chose to keep a secret until the set was released. The domes on both figures open up to reveal images of exposed Dalek mutants, each watching images of the Third Doctor on a viewing screen in front of them. Though the images are only stickers, they add so much colour to the otherwise relatively drab design and it's surreal to see such a significant alteration made to the mould after all these years. It isn't perfect – the dome doesn't fasten down in any way and the dome is pretty loose, meaning it tends to flap around a bit when moving the figure, but it’s an impressive gimmick nonetheless. Character even managed to do it in a way that the dome articulation isn't hindered whatsoever. It's not a gimmick that should be implemented on every Dalek going forward (both because of the way the hinge spoils the dome sculpt and that the sticker would need changing depending on the era/variant), but it was a brilliant idea for this one to separate these two drones from the Day of the Daleks one.

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Dome gimmick aside though, everything else on this Dalek figure operates just as it does on all the other Dalek figures Character Options have released over the years. Articulation-wise it features a fully 360° rotating dome with moveable eyestalk, as well as ball jointed appendages for a full range of movement. The underside of the fender has three wheels built in (two fixed and one pivoting), allowing the Dalek to roll across smooth surfaces just like the props themselves. Whereas the paint used on the Day of the Daleks drone resulted in the appendages all being a little sticky straight out of the box, that doesn't seem to be a problem here with everything moving smoothly and as it should. Ultimately extremely basic as articulation goes, but literally everything you could want from a classic Dalek figure.

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With Character Options having dismissed the more notable variants from Planet of the Daleks History of the Daleks #8 might seem like a bit of a disappointment, but the surprise gimmick loaded into these seemingly ordinary drones elevates the set to one of the more notable releases in the range so far. While a little more variation would have been nice (seriously that cutting arm is so basic it could have easily been done here), the set is a good way to both bolster your army of gunmetal coloured drones and get something a little different from the classic Daleks that have been released for the last decade or so. That is if you can get your hands on them of course, because much like the sets from the December 2020 assortment the sets released in December 2021 (History of the Daleks #6 and #8, The Five Doctors, Earthshock and the Unearthly Child TARDIS) had pretty terrible distribution. And if you were lucky enough to get them in your local B&M, you also had to get there before someone came and scalped the lot. As a result of that latter point aftermarket prices aren't particularly kind to this set, but their uniqueness definitely helps in softening the blow.

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