Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Toy Review – Doctor Who Rory Williams By Character Options/Underground Toys

Anybody that has been collecting modern Doctor Who toys has been dying for a proper Rory Williams figure. Barring the brief stints of Mickey Smith, Captain Jack, and that guy that ended up with the computer interface in his forehead; Rory is the first male companion since Turlough accompanied Doctor Five all those years ago.
People always debate over what exactly makes a companion. I’m always interested in that debate, but I find that the Brigadier usually makes it moot because if you don’t count somebody with only one TARDIS trip then you don’t count the Brigadier. And fuck you if you don’t count the Brig. Instead, I think there are degrees of companions that are defined by the longevity of their active relationship with the Doctor as seen from the point of view of us – the observers. This means that some of the most impactful and important companions would be the aforementioned Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, Sarah Jane Smith, River Song, Rose Tyler, Amy Pond, Jamie McCrimmon, and K-9.

Forgive me for not including any “expanded universe” companions. Someday I’ll get around to listening to the audio productions. Maybe when Marc Maron stops doing his podcast twice a week.

Anyway, Rory is definitely among the top companions having been involved in the Doctor’s life since the start of his eleventh incarnation and sticking around until the recent run-in with the Weeping Angels in New York – just under two-and-a-half years in our time and a longer tenure than some Doctors’.

I like Rory a lot. I didn’t at first. Nobody likes the schlubby guy who’s with the hot redhead. “What’s up with that?”, everybody says. But two things won me over – first was how real Rory was. He acts like we would act. He thinks about what is going on, he’s concerned about life, limb, and the wisdom of running after an alien into deadly situations. He is thoughtful and realistic about things and that’s something we’ve never really seen in a companion before. Honestly, it might have been off-putting if not for Arthur Darvill’s portrayal.

Second, Rory’s devotion to said hot redhead can’t be questioned. And he isn’t just mindlessly absorbed and following her around the universe like a dog. It’s a thin line, but he really established his character during the whole “Doctor or Rory” thing. He is devoted to Amy Pond and doesn’t care what you think about it. That’s good stuff.

It’s mind-boggling that it took until after his character was written out of the show to get an action figure, but now we have it as the swan song of the 5” modern Doctor Who line. No further figures will be produced in this scale, making this long-awaited release bittersweet. That may seem dramatic, but I and many others have invested a lot of time and money in our collections. After going so many years with no Doctor Who toys at all, we dove headlong into the new, relatively easy-to-obtain offerings. And now Character Options is switching scales; making our collections obsolete and forever incomplete. We’ll never have a 5”-scale Oswin Oswald or Madame Vastra or Strax. Or – and this is the one that galls me the most – a playset of the new TARDIS control room. If we want those things, we are going to have to start all over again with a new 3 ¾” line that will be an entirely separate entity. Furthermore, according to CO we will not be seeing 3 ¾” figures of things from before The Snowmen. Just adding to the frustration is the fact that the Classic Doctor Who line is continuing on at the five inch scale. Baffling.

But for right now we’ve got Rory and he does round out the collection nicely.
First Glance: This might not be the most exciting figure ever, but it certainly is Rory. I wonder of CO is going to be able to maintain the same standards of sculpting and articulation on a smaller scale.
Articulation: Rory features the same basic articulation as most other Doctor Who releases in this scale. 

Neck – swivel
Shoulders – swivel
Biceps – swivel
Elbows –pivot
Wrists – swivel
Waist - swivel
Hips – swivel/pivot
Thighs – swivel
Knees – pivot

Rory’s head just barely moves. I don’t know if it’s the design or just my figure, but I had a heck of a time getting it to turn and was a little worried about twisting it off. Not too worried, as this is a solid, durable figure.

I’m a little disappointed that Rory doesn’t have the swivel/pivot shoulders we’ve seen on some of the more recent releases from the line. I will say that his bicep swivels work a little better. Some of the other figures have very narrow arms and the bicep joints look awful when they’re anything other than neutral.

His hip movement is somewhat restricted by his low-hanging shirt and vest. Okay, well – really restricted. This guy won’t be sitting in that comfy TARDIS chair.
 
Aside from the neck, the joints are all tight and clean. Nothing sticks or is too loose. What poses the figure can achieve will be held.
Sculpt: The figure is all new parts. Even the hands. If you’re gonna go out, I guess you go out with 100% new tooling.

The head is a fantastic likeness of Arthur Darvill. It’s a bit serious while also looking slightly bewildered. Obviously this works. All of the Doctor Who releases have had a certain softness to them (appearance-wise, not material-wise), but I think this works better than overly-sculpted features. It has not only given the line’s humans a more uniform look, it also makes them look more, well – human. And yes – I understand that the doctor is not a human but Matt Smith is, so hush.

The vest and shirt covering the torso are a separate piece. This makes them look much more real and gives the figure depth. The details of both items of clothing are well done. The shirt has buttons and folds and stuff. The vest looks particularly good – the seams are stressed and have little wrinkles running out of them and the thickness is neat. It’s funny – I feel like this vest/shirt is one of the best-sculpted pieces I’ve seen in the Doctor Who line.

The jeans look good. They narrow slightly as they go down to the shoes, which are plain but also good. Rory mostly wore moccasin-type hiking boots, so these work. The joints on the legs blend particularly well.
Coloring: Mr. Williams is fairly basic, but this line hasn’t ever made extensive use of washes or highlighting.

The hair and eyebrows and eyes are well-placed and the right shades were used. Nothing is off-center or makes you feel like CO missed the mark a bit. The skin tone is also solid.
The vest and shirt are pretty much just blue and red. It’s worth noting that there is a variant of this figure with a black vest and white shirt. I like this one better.

While I love the sculpt of the torso piece, the paint job on the jeans is also notable. The timing is interesting here, because I was just bitching about denim on action figures in my John Constantine review the other day. They almost always look shitty. But not Rory’s. The paint job on these is fantastic. The wash was placed just well enough and is just dark enough to give the right look.

The shoes are brown. What can you say about a couple of brown shoes?
Flair: Nothing, really. There’s no way in hell that vest/shirt is coming off without ruining the figure, so no.
Accessories: Also nothing. I cut this line a lot of slack because it’s Doctor Who, it’s foreign, and what we do get tends to be very good. But if I was being completely fair I would say that the lack of accessories is not okay. He could have at least come with one of those cubes from “The Power of Three”. My Idris figure came with, like, six Time Lord soul cubes (or whatever).
I just realized I don’t think I ever reviewed her or the junk TARDIS. Crap. I need to get on that.
Packaging: Just a regular blister card, which is pretty much my favorite kind of packaging. There's a bio on the back:
Which tells Rory's story much more succinctly than I ever could.
Value: $17.99 plus around three dollars shipping (he came with some other stuff from BigBadToyStore) is too much. Way too much. But seeing as you’re not going to find another Rory figure in this scale anywhere, ever; I guess you have to deal with it. Keep in mind that this is an import. It’s what I keep telling myself.
Overall: Pricing aside, I am very satisfied with Rory. He does round out my collection and is the last figure I would consider essential for this era of Doctor Who. He looks great.

4 out of 5

He’s available from pretty much every online retailer for now, but I would recommend you go ahead and get him if you even ­think you might want one. As the last entry in the line I think he might be very hard to find sooner than later.

-Phantom

2 comments:

  1. Man, he'd be a perfect start for a Marty Mcfly custom. It's not like Mattel's doing one any time soon...

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    Replies
    1. Ha! Good call. It didn't even occur to em that there was more significance to the outfit they chose for the Rory figure. Obviously that's proven time-travel gear!

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