Sunday 23 October 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who History of the Daleks #9 Set

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Release Date: October 2022
RRP: £24.99

When Character Options first announced their plans for History of the Daleks #8 (based on Planet of the Daleks), Doctor Who fans were surprised that they had opted to include two standard grey Daleks rather than some of the more notable variants that appeared in the story. The reveal that the Daleks featured a brand-new mutant reveal gimmick alleviated the pain somewhat, but it was still disappointing that the Supreme Dalek was nowhere to be found. Fast-forward a year and the 2022 range of B&M Store exclusive figures are finally hitting shelves, and Character Options have thrown out another surprise - History of the Daleks #9 is another Planet of the Daleks set! That's right, the 1973 serial is back for round two - this time including both the aforementioned Supreme Dalek and a new take on an "invisible" Dalek.

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Like many other toy companies Character Options are taking steps to make their packaging more environmentally friendly, starting by eliminating some of the superfluous plastic used on it. While the boxes retain their cuboid shape the window section has been completely removed, now revealing a hollow area at the front. The Daleks themselves are no longer stored on a plastic tray, instead held down by a moulded bubble glued to the inside tray. The general design of the box remains exactly the same though, using the TARDIS stencil shape and blue/white colour scheme. The back of the box once again features a rather lengthy synopsis of Planet of the Daleks as well as some behind the scenes information on these two variants. Overall these packaging changes don't make a great deal of difference, other than the tragic loss of the story-themed backing cards. They might not have been to everyone's use or tastes, but they did give the packaging a little more uniqueness and relation to their corresponding story.

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First out of the box is easily the most notable Dalek that appears in Planet of the Daleks, and quite possibly one of the most popular variants of all - the Supreme Dalek. A member of the Supreme Council, this Dalek arrives on Spiridon in the final episode to take charge of operations but is left stranded after the Thals steal its ship to return home to Skaro. The Dalek is a modified movie Dalek, sporting the enlarged base but also an alternate neck bin and thicker "jam jar" lights. Rather than a standard eyestalk, the prop was fitting with a torch which illuminated as the Dalek spoke. Originally released in the very first Character Options Classic Dalek set all the way back in 2008, this variant had not seen any re-release since and so quickly became one of the more sought after Daleks in the range.

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Changes to this version of the Supreme Dalek include a glossier black finish, a lighter and more metallic gold paint, the removal of the oval in the centre of the chest and a silver strip around the eye as opposed to the original's white. While some of these changes, the most significant of which being the removal of the chest oval, make the newer version more screen accurate, other elements - such as the shade of gold and the white band around the eye, remain more accurate on the original. The original version also has additional silver paint at the bottom of the dome lamps, which has presumably been omitted for budgetary reasons. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately are both still excellent representations of this popular Dalek variant.

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Articulation has remained the same since the very first Character Options classic Dalek release, which is in turn everything you could want from a Dalek figure. The toy features a 360 degree rotating head, moveable eyestalk and ball jointed appendages. The base also contains three free-rolling wheels (a pivoted wheel at the front and two fixed ones at the back) which allow it to move across surfaces in a realistic Dalek manner. Admittedly nothing terribly exciting, but at the same time you couldn't really ask much more from it either.

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But despite how great the Supreme Dalek is the second half of this set might perhaps be even more interesting - an "invisible" Dalek based on the reveal at the end of the story's first episode. Not much of a shocking reveal given that the story is named Planet of the Daleks AND the Doctor specifically followed the Daleks to Spiridon, but whatever. Though it also hails from Planet, it's worth noting this is not the same mould as the two drones that appeared in the previous set. Instead it's a composite of both 60s and 70s parts, lacking the oval shape on the chest but also featuring ridged dome lamps. The main selling point though is of course that it's moulded entirely in clear plastic, and wow does it look fantastic. Even though all of the screws and internal structures are slightly visible inside, there's no denying that this clear Dalek has immediate shelf presence - something which is only enhanced when light is shined on it.

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This technically isn't the first invisible Dalek released in the line, as an "Anti-Reflecting Light Wave" Dalek was alongside a version of the Third Doctor (in his Planet of the Daleks attire) as part of Toys R Us' Doctor/Dalek two-pack sets all the way back in 2014. That one was done a little differently in that it wasn't completely transparent, but instead had been sprayed with black paint to represent its reveal at the end of episode one. As such both Daleks represent the same thing, but at different points in the course of the story. While the original version remains a particularly sought-after version, I do like that Character Options took the initiative to do something a little different with it this time around. Hopefully it'll lead to further translucent Daleks being released further down the range - the glass Dalek from Revelation of the Daleks and transmat Dalek from Remembrance of the Daleks immediately spring to mind.

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Being able to see the inner workings makes no difference to the articulation of the toy, with the invisible Dalek once again featuring a 360 degree rotating dome, moveable eyestalk and ball jointed appendages alongside its wheeled base. Being made of clear plastic doesn't seem to have any affect on the movement of plastic tolerances either, so you should find that this Dalek is just as enjoyable to play around as any other.

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History of the Daleks #9 choosing to be a second stop off at Planet of the Daleks was a really pleasant surprise (many just assumed that the Supreme may come as an online exclusive somewhere down the line) and this set really doesn't disappoint. The Supreme Dalek is just as commanding as ever, while the invisible Dalek is a simple idea that was pulled off with incredible effectiveness. Sure there might be a few accuracy issues to debate about if you really want to get down to it, but nevertheless this is a fantastic set that covers off some unique variants that fans have been clamouring for a second chance of getting. Its release has also opened the idea up of other stories potentially getting more than one set, so it'll be interesting to see what Character have planned for the years to come - particularly around the time they get to Remembrance of the Daleks.

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