Sunday 6 August 2023

Toybox REVIEW: Doctor Who 'The Regeneration Set' Two Figure Collector Set

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Release Date: January 2023
RRP: £29.99

The Power of the Doctor saw Doctor Who fans bid farewell to the 13th Doctor (as played by Jodie Whittaker), with her incarnation of the iconic Time Lord regenerating and the 14th Doctor mysteriously taking the face of his tenth incarnation (both of course played by David Tennant) once more. This mystery will soon be answered in the forthcoming 60th anniversary specials due to air later this year. Character Options were even able to mark the occasion with an extremely quick announcement of 'The Regeneration Set' - a special two figure collector set made available exclusively on their website. This marks the first release from newly released episodes of Doctor Who in some time, as well as Character working closely with Russell T Davies and the production team behind the series to release the set on such a quick turnaround and ahead of the 14th Doctor's full debut.

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As a special website exclusive Character Options have opted for some special collector-grade packaging, which is both simultaneously nicely presented and rather boring. This book-style box utilises an all-white colour scheme with the new 60th anniversary Doctor Who logo (which in turn is a reworking of an older logo from the 1970s) with a glossy finish. Surrounding the logo are glossy white diamond outlines which are only really visible when the light is reflecting off them. The front also features a cutout section revealing the name of the set on a dark yellow background. Open up the front section of the box and you're greeted a much more elaborate bit of box design, with the two figures visible on against a background of golden orange regeneration energy. The inside 'cover' of the box features short bios about the 13th and 14th Doctors alongside images of them and a small description of The Power of the Doctor. Despite seeming rather wordy, the 14th Doctor bio doesn't really give away anything about his personality - instead describing the Tenth Doctor and making a vague comparison to him. At the very top of there's also a small banner denoting this as an online exclusive release.

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The 13th Doctor included in this set isn't technically based on her final appearance before she regenerates, but rather the costume the Master wore when he took over her body earlier in the episode. This is an amalgamation of several previous Doctors' outfits, including 13's coat, Seven's sweater, Five's celery, Ten's shirt/tie and of course Four's iconic scarf. Each of these items have been beautifully painted on the figure, with the sweater and scarf especially done with textured plastic to give the illusion of fabric. The scarf is made of soft plastic, with the lower halves loose from the coat. Despite all these new features however, the base figure is still the previously released 13th Doctor mould with new parts added on top. The head sculpt is also the same, but however sports much better paint apps on the hair, with a dustier shade of blonde as well as better use of a brown wash in the parting to give it some depth. This version of 13 looked great on The Power of the Doctor and it looks great here too, with the sheer number of paint apps it has really selling the idea of it being a "premium" release.

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Articulation has never been this toy line's strong point and to be fair, for the price they are collectors probably don't expect all that much out of them. Nevertheless when it comes to poseability the 13th Doctor is underwhelming to say the least. Altogether she features;
- Ball jointed head
- Shoulder, bicep and wrist swivels
- Hinged elbows and knees
- Swivel hinge hips
As one of the newest moulds in the entire line (bear in mind the B&M exclusive figures are heavy retools rather than all new figures), one would expect the 13th Doctor to have the most up to date articulation of them all. And in some respects she is a bit more advanced than others - ball jointed heads are certainly a rarity. But in others she's way behind the times, so much so that she doesn't even have swivel hinge shoulders! Now there should also be a waist swivel present too (the standard 13 has one, as does nearly every figure in the line), but if there is there's no point in mentioning it because the costume completely neuters it. The sweater is a solid piece that wraps around the entire torso, even hanging over the hip joints. Said hip joints didn't need any more restriction either, because the coat pretty much cancels out any decent movement the legs could have. And without even foot swivels, posing the figure in anything more than a neutral pose is near impossible. The bar is pretty low with this line anyway, but this figure is truly woeful.

The figure comes with her trusty Sonic Screwdriver, an accessory which was also included with the previous versions of the 13th Doctor. It does however feature no yellow paint apps this time around, instead painted entirely in silver. There is some moulded detailing on there, but at this size it's very difficult to make out. The screwdriver fits comfortably in the figure's right hand but the grip is extremely tight, so be careful not to break the accessory when removing it. It's made of soft plastic so has some flexibility, but could easily stretch and break into two if too much force is applied.

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The 14th Doctor is an all-new sculpt, with its really great body unfortunately let down by a pretty lacklustre head sculpt. It isn't awful per se, but other than the hair lacks the subtleties this more aged version of David Tennant has - the lack of stubble makes it feel a lot more baby-faced. The structure is all there though in that you look at the head and immediately see David Tennant, so it's not quite as bad as some of the initial reveal pics might have led you to believe. The body itself has been wonderfully done though, particularly 14's vibrant blue coat which has been moulded in soft textured plastic. Underneath that is a partly buttoned suit jacket with a ruffled shirt underneath and grey tie. The checkered design of the jacket continues onto the trousers, and below them are some nicely painted grey Converse. It's pretty much what you'd expect a new incarnation of the Doctor played by David Tennant to be - similar to the Tenth Doctor, but different enough to raise suspicion.

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Following the rather disappointing 13th Doctor expectations were pretty low for 14 when it comes to articulation, but thankfully this is a little more along the lines of what is to be expected from the range. That isn't necessarily good, but it is at least meeting the standard. Altogether the 14th Doctor has;
- Head, waist, bicep, waist, and wrist swivels 
- Hinged elbows and knees 
- Swivel hinge shoulders and hips
Having swivel hinge shoulders alone instantly puts it above the 13th Doctor, and though not quite the same it slightly fills the void of the 10th Doctor with updated articulation having never been officially released (it was meant to be part of a recent B&M wave, but inexplicably pulled at the last second). The waist joint is useable on this figure but to a very limited degree, as the sides of the jacket hang over it and prevent the pieces from fully turning. Again the soft plastic coat does get in the way of the leg articulation, but here it's much easier to pull the coat to the sides and move the legs forward if you so wish. Make no mistake the poses you can get out the figure are still extremely basic, but it's achieving what the line has always been able to so it's hard to be too disappointed with it.

Again the 14th Doctor doesn't include any accessories, but as his Sonic Screwdriver hadn't been revealed when this figure was produced that is to be somewhat expected. The right hand is moulded to hold a Sonic Screwdriver though, so it wouldn't surprise me if a different version of this figure is released closer to the episodes' release which does include it. 

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Both Character Options and the production team behind Doctor Who deserve commendation for both announcing and releasing The Regeneration set out as quickly after The Power of the Doctor as they did, but as a more premium priced website exclusive these two figures slightly miss the mark. The 13th Doctor figure has a brilliant sculpt but fails pretty hard at being an "action" figure, while the 14th Doctor head sculpt doesn't quite capture this non-quite-new version of the character as much as it perhaps should. On the typical B&M releases this flaws might be a little more acceptable, but £15 a figure the line really shows where it's lacking. More to the point, these are the kind of figures that shouldn't be a website exclusive - Doctor Who merchandise is in a pretty sorry state when collector pieces like this can't even make their way into specialist stores. Here's hoping that's one thing that improves significantly with the 60th anniversary specials and into the debut of the 15th Doctor.

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